What the Greens Leadership Election Means for Wales
The looming leadership election of the Green Party of England and Wales is more crucial to the membership in Wales than ever before. Following a democratic vote by members at the Wales Green Party Annual General Meeting, the Wales Green Party Council will be sending out a ballot to see whether or not the membership in Wales wishes the party to split from the leadership in England to become its own independent political party, following the example of our cousins in Scotland.
This movement, which has been dubbed WEXIT, has been driven by the membership in Wales often feeling let down and ignored by the English side of the party due to the ignorance of devolution when it comes to election materials, the lack of materials that are bilingual, and little to no evident interest from the English leadership in Welsh affairs.
In the last leadership election, Jonathan Bartley, who was representing himself and Caroline Lucas, said that he believed that if he and Lucas were elected, he would push for the wage that would have gone to the second deputy to be paid to the Leader here in Wales, which at the time was Alice Hooker-Stroud. However, in this two year time scale, nothing has come of this push*.
The Welsh leader is given a seat on GPEx to be the sole representative of Wales, but as the role is voluntary, they often cannot afford to be a full-time leader, due to personal and work commitments, meaning they cannot attend. Often a Welsh representative is sent in the leader’s place, but they are not entitled to vote on their behalf, leaving Wales unrepresented in the Green Party Binational Executive Committee.
As candidates begin to announce their nomination for Leader, Co-Leader, and Deputy(s) they must remember that they are running for leadership positions of the Green Party of England and Wales, not just England, and the Welsh membership will be keeping a close eye on the candidates’ promises on what they will do for Wales, how they will fight for Wales and how much they value the Welsh membership, and even possibly how they will support Wales in becoming independent if that is the route they see as best.
Nominations have now opened for party members to put their name(s) forward to be elected to the new Leadership team. So far, Jonathan Bartley has announced his intention to once again become Co-leader, this time on a joint ticket with Sian Berry. Aimee Challenor and Andrew Cooper have also announced their intention to run for one of the potential two deputy positions, along with the current deputy, Amelia Womack. It is vital that they, and any other members who nominate themselves for any of the positions, keep in mind the Welsh membership, and how they will work for them as well as the English membership.
*Since this article was published, the author has been informed that Jonathan Bartley and Caroline Lucas supported Alice Hooker-Strouds bid for the unused leadership pay to be given to wales, however this failed when voted on by GPEx.