The UK’s 20 Most Influential Greens in 2018 – Numbers 10-6
10. Andy Wightman
Andy Wightman is perhaps less well known outside of Scotland than his MSP colleagues. But his influence in 2018 is in the impact he has had on Scottish politics. As the party’s local government spokesperson, it is an area of his brief which is at the centre of budget negotiations with the SNP. The party has given an ultimatum to the SNP government that Greens would not pass their budget without a commitment to root and branch reform of council tax – a politically astute move. Not only is council tax despised by the electorate, its abolition would additionally open the door to fair fairer methods of taxation which would allow more effective redistribution of wealth. Through this, Wightman has put Green values at the heart of Scottish politics.
9. Caroline Russell
Making up 50% of Green representation on the London Assembly, Caroline Russell is a significant political voice in the capital. As a longstanding proponent of sustainable transport, she has frequently tapped into one of the issues that has mass public salience in London. More recently, as Chair of the London Assembly Environment Committee, she has taken up the cause of sewage pollution, waging war on “unflushables”.
Aside from work in London, her national standing grew immeasurably this year. Her unflappable, calm and amusing chairing of lengthy conference plenary debates on the controversial “holistic review” of Green Party structures was warmly received by party members. She has therefore transcended her position as an effective local politician and become a well liked national figure too.
8. Amelia Womack
Now into her third term as the Green Party of England and Wales’ Deputy Leader, Amelia Womack has continued to provide an important role for the party. While the party’s Co-Leadership team alongside Caroline Lucas take up the majority of national media appearances, Womack is the party’s most reliable and regular local and rally speaker – a skill built up through her relentless touring of local party events.
Womack is also an important player in the party’s campaigning work, and its continued presentation as a young and radical political force. This year, her work pushing for misogyny to be treated as a hate crime appears likely to lead to legislative change. She has also worked to ensure that Green politics is embedded within wider social movements, including through her role as co-chair of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.
7. Adam Ramsay
Adam Ramsay is unique on our list. His status as an “influential Green” comes not from work directly related to the UK’s Green Parties. Instead, it comes from his journalism as Co-Editor of OpenDemocracy. In that role, Ramsay has, along with Peter Geoghegan among others, lifted the lid on the DUP’s dark money donations to the Brexit campaign, and allegations of inaccuracy Aaron Banks’ claims regarding the source and scale of his money. This work has had a lasting and far reaching impact. It has drawn substantial attention to political financing in the UK, an area long overdue for public scrutiny. In 2017, this even led to a change in the law on anonymity surrounding political donations in the north of Ireland.
In 2018, Ramsay has continued this cutting edge journalism. But he’s also made a substantial contribution to other areas of British politics. His chapter – Trying to Milk a Vulture – in the new book New Thinking for the British Economy argues that meaningful social and economic reform cannot be achieved within the institutions of the British state. As such, it presents a devastating challenge for left-wing reformists, particularly within the Labour Party, who have failed to advocate, or in some cases actively opposed significant democratic reform alongside their economic agendas. The work will play a role in shaping strategy and policy debates and contributes to the growing number of left voices arguing for substantive political reform.
6. Sian Berry
Sian Berry has long been a crucial figure in the London Green Party. She was the candidate for London Mayor in both 2008 and 2016. In the latter, she was also successfully elected to the London Assembly. Since, she has taken on Sadiq Khan over a whole host of issues, most notably housing, in her role as London Assembly Housing Committee Chair.
In 2018, her stature grew as she became Co-Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales alongside Jonathan Bartley. The election campaign demonstrated further what she already became known for in her previous Mayoral bids – political radicalism packaged in an easily digestable form, and with a common sense, open approach. While she is yet to fully make her mark in the leadership, this approach is likely to pay dividends in coming years. Berry is popular outside of the party, having achieved the Greens’ highest ever vote share in the 2016 Mayoral election. She also received the endorsement of both The Guardian and Independent in the 2008 election. Should she win the the party’s nomination for the 2020 Mayoral election, she could present a serious challenge to the two big parties, elevated by her leadership position.
Missed numbers 20-11? Read who made the list here.
The top 5 can also be found here.