GPEx election candidates Peter Underwood and Liam McClelland

There are just five days left until the close of nominations for the Green Party of England and Wales executive (GPEx) elections. And two positions have now had their first candidates declare.

Policy development coordinator

On June 23, Nottingham based Liam McClelland put his hat in the ring for the position of policy development coordinator. McClelland stood in the 2019 European elections as the third candidate on the Green Party’s East Midlands list. He also served as co-chair of the Young Greens from 2018-19, before losing his re-election campaign to current co-chairs Thomas Hazell and Rosie Rawle. His background in the party’s policy structures includes a stint on the drugs policy working group which brought an overhaul of the Greens’ drugs policy to Autumn conference 2019.

McClelland is pledging to create a training package to more readily enable members to form policy working groups and strengthen the party’s policy making processes, citing the successes of the aforementioned working group on drugs.

Speaking to Bright Green on his candidacy, McClelland said:

I’ve been aware of the importance of good policy and the devastating impact of bad policy since I was a teenager. I was at secondary school during the final few years of the homophobic legislation Section 28.

He continued:

Policy is incredibly important to a political party. We’ve all seen GPEW policy that becomes mainstream within an election cycle. It’s therefore our responsibility to create policy that supports inclusive environmental and social justice.

External communications coordinator

McClelland wasn’t alone in announcing his candidacy for GPEx this week. London based Peter Underwood confirmed that he is standing for the position of external communications coordinator.

Underwood is 9th on the Green Party’s list for the 2021 London Assembly elections, and was eighth on the party’s list for the London constituency in the 2019 European elections. He also stood unsuccessfully to be the party’s candidate for London Mayor – losing out to Sian Berry, and has served for five years on the Green Party Regional Council (GPRC).

Underwood’s campaign is emphasising his background in communications heavily. This includes roles he has previously held in Westminster and Whitehall. Speaking to Bright Green, Underwood said:

Having spent years working on messaging in Whitehall and helping Government Ministers to present policies to the public, I want to use those skills to help us have a greater impact. We need to improve the way we talk about ourselves and communicate with the public so that we stimulate a desire in people to become a Green Party member and help us get elected at local, city, and national levels.

Underwood remains the only candidate to so far come forward for the role. And Bright Green can exclusively reveal that he won’t be facing competition from the incumbent – Rob Shepherd.

Shepherd – who has held the role for nearly three years – told Bright Green that he won’t be seeking re-election. He said:

After almost three years with the party’s external comms brief, I believe I’m handing things onto my successor in a strong state. It has been a time of quiet transformation, which started with creating the staff post of Head of Comms and led to a proper professionalising of party communications.

In this time, we increased the party membership substantially, we did very well in the 2019 EU elections – more than doubling our MEPs to seven and within a hair’s breadth of eight – we regained our confidence in the 2019 general election, despite the polarisation of the two largest parties, we doubled our councillor base on principal authorities in a single year, and before Covid we were starting a good run for the 2020 local and mayoral elections. Our comms played a huge part in all that and I have great admiration for the comms team, led by the very able Head of Comms, Gemma Walker.

He also wished his successor well in the role, saying:

I wish my successor well. They face a different job and a different world than three years ago. For the party, for the nations and for a world in turmoil, I wish them every success.

Wider field

In total, eleven positions are up for election on GPEx this year – including the leadership and deputy leadership positions.

So far, the following candidates have come forward:

  • Leader or co-leaders – Jonathan Bartley & Sian Berry
  • Deputy Leader – Nick Humberstone; Amelia Womack
  • Chair – Benjamin Smith & Ashley Routh; Ewan Jones
  • Campaigns Co-ordinator – Daniel Laycock
  • Elections Co-ordinator – Kai Taylor & Claire Stephenson; Joe Levy & Laurie Needham
  • External Communications Co-ordinator – Peter Underwood
  • Management Co-ordinator – Florence Pollock & Matt Browne
  • International Co-ordinator – Sam Murray & Alice Hubbard; Alex Horn & Erwin Schaefer
  • Policy Development Co-ordinator – Liam McClelland
  • Publications Co-ordinator – Danny Keeling
  • Trade Union Liaison Officer – Paul Valentine & Matthew Hull; Kefentse Dennis

This means that with the addition of McClelland and Underwood, all positions up for election have at least one candidate – although several remain uncontested.

Nominations for GPEx close on June 30. Members will be voting for the new executive members throughout August.

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Editor’s note: This article initially stated that Peter Underwood is 11th on the Green Party’s list for the 2021 London Assembly election. This was based on outdated information – with Gulnar Hasnain and Scott Ainslie having withdrawn their candidacies, Underwood is now 9th on the list. This article was corrected at 23:05 on 28 June 2020 to reflect this.