Green Party leadership elections heat up

Rosemary Sexton and Cleo Lake

There are just two days until the close of nominations in the Green Party of England and Wales’ leadership elections. And this week, two more candidates have announced their intention to stand.

On June 26, former Lord Mayor of Bristol Cleo Lake announced she’s making a bid for the deputy leadership of the party. She joins incumbent deputy Amelia Womack and London Green Party member Nick Humberstone in the race.

Speaking to Bright Green on her candidacy, Lake said:

In deciding to run as deputy I am very conscious of the political landscape for women and women of colour, but representation is crucial and by standing I would hope to inspire other activists of various backgrounds to enter the political arena because I believe change can come from within and from outside of the mainstream system.

She continued by pledging to bring a “no-nonsense message” to the deputy leadership:

I would like to think that I bring a level of creativity, diplomacy and yet when needed, a no-nonsense message, particularly regarding equalities across a number of factors and in particular ‘class’ and race.

Lake’s announcement was followed two days later by Solihull councillor Rosemary Sexton throwing her hat in the ring to be the party’s next leader. Sexton is the first candidate to come forward to challenge Sian Berry and Jonathan Bartley’s bid to be re-elected as co-leaders.

Sexton told Bright Green that she was the “underdog” in the race. She said:

From my earliest experiences as a mixed-race child in a mostly white neighbourhood, to my time as a woman in male-dominated professions, I’ve always been an outsider. As a relative newcomer to Green politics, I know I’m an outsider and an underdog in this leadership contest, in much the same way that the Green Party is an outsider and an underdog in the arena of British politics. This can be a difficult position, but also offers some advantages. An outside view makes it easier to look beyond the status quo, and to avoid being caught up in tribal thinking.

She went on to claim that she represented a “fresh set of eyes”, while thanking Berry and Bartley for their time in the role. She said:

Leading a political party is a huge undertaking, requiring a great deal of commitment and sacrifice. I pay tribute to Jonathan and Sian, who have carried that burden for the last two years, and recognise their hard work on behalf of the party. I believe that a fresh set of eyes and a new approach can take the Green Party to the next level.

Nominations for the leader and deputy positions close on June 30. Members will be voting for their new leadership team throughout August.

More candidates step forward for GPEx elections

It isn’t just the leadership positions up for election this summer though. Nine other positions on the Green Party of England and Wales Executive (GPEx) are also up for grabs. And a raft of additional candidates declared they are standing in the GPEx elections this year.

On June 27, Jack Lenox announced he is standing for the publications coordinator role, joining Danny Keeling in that race. Lenox is a software engineer and is committing in his campaign to working towards returning the party’s currently digital-only official publication – Green World – to print.

Meanwhile, Nottingham based Liam McClelland announced he will be standing for policy development coordinator. McClelland is a former Young Greens co-chair and has served on the Green Party of England and Wales’ drugs policy working group. McClelland is to date the only candidate to announce they are standing for the role.

London based Peter Underwood this week put his name forward for the external communications coordinator role. Like McClelland, Underwood remains the only candidate to have thus far declared. Underwood is currently 9th on the Green Party’s list for the 2021 London Assembly elections and has previously served on the Green Party Regional Council. While no other candidate came forward for external communications coordinator this week, the current holder of the role – Rob Shepherd – confirmed that he will not be seeking re-election.

And finally, the management coordinator position also had its first candidate announce. Florence Pollock and Matt Browne announced they were standing for the position as a job share. Pollock is a former co-chair of the Young Greens senate and an HR professional, while Browne previously worked for the Green Party as its policy and governance manager.

At least two further candidates are expected to announce their intention to stand tomorrow.

Like the leadership race, nominations for GPEx positions close on June 30. The full list of candidates at the time of publication are as follows:

  • Leader or co-leaders – Jonathan Bartley & Sian Berry; Rosemary Sexton
  • Deputy Leader – Nick Humberstone; Amelia Womack; Cleo Lake
  • 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; Jack Lenox
  • Trade Union Liaison Officer – Paul Valentine & Matthew Hull; Kefentse Dennis

Alison Johnstone calls for urgent action on green jobs

Alison Johnstone
Image credit: Creative Commons Edinburgh Green Party

Earlier this week, the Scottish Government’s independent advisory group on economic recovery gave a bleak outlook for the future of employment in Scotland. It warned of a “potential tsunami” of job losses in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

In response, the Scottish Greens have called for urgent action to deliver green jobs. Co-convener of the Scottish Green Party parliamentary group Alison Johnstone called for the SNP run government in Scotland to invest in green and sustainable jobs.

Johnstone said:

Half of working Scots are concerned about losing their jobs. Thousands already have, so I welcome that the jobs guarantee from our 2016 manifesto now has cross-party support. This needs urgent action, and as the chief executive of Scottish Power said, ‘reports and plans don’t create jobs’.

The jobs we need are in the sectors that will build a fairer, greener future, and one of these is ensuring all homes are warm and energy efficient. Earlier this year the Greens secured tens of millions of pounds for these programmes, but by going further and faster with this investment now, the Scottish Government could create thousands of jobs as well as tackling fuel poverty and the climate emergency.

Carla Denyer named one of top 50 women in engineering

Bristol Green Party
Image credit: Bristol Green Party

The Green candidate for Bristol West in December’s general election and current Bristol councillor Carla Denyer has been named as one of the top 50 women in engineering by the Women’s Engineering Society.

The awards highlight the exceptional attainments made by women engineers across the country. Denyer is a Mechanical Engineer by trade, and received the award in recognition of her work on tackling climate change in Bristol.

Speaking on her receipt of the ward, Denyer described herself as “thrilled”. She said:

I am thrilled to receive this award and grateful to Nicola for nominating me. Even though I am not currently working in the industry I will always be an engineer at heart, and I bring that to all the work I do, including politics. It feels great to be recognised for my contribution in the global fight against climate change.

Denyer also drew attention to other women in the Green Party of England and Wales with a background in science and engineering. She said:

People often comment on how many impressive, capable and knowledgeable women there are in leadership roles in the Green Party, but what is less well known is how many of them are scientists and engineers. From my fellow Bristol Green councillors Eleanor Combley (physics and software engineering) and Jude English (physics) to national figures such as Green Party co-leader Siân Berry (metallurgy) and deputy leader Amelia Womack (environmental biology and environmental technology), there are many Green Party women whose politics is informed by their strong STEM background. I consider this a great strength.

Ross Greer calls for BAME risk assessment before schools reopen

Schools in Scotland are due to re-open on August 11. And Green MSP Ross Greer has called for local councils to conduct a risk assessment of the impact of this on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people before they re-open.

Greer said:

The Scottish Government have recognised that the virus likely poses a greater risk to people of colour and have reflected that in their recommendation that Health Boards carry out appropriate risk assessments for their BAME staff. If they believe this is necessary for healthcare staff, it should be necessary for school staff and pupils as well.

Pupils, staff and their families need to be given every reassurance that their health and safety is being protected before they return on 11th August. With so many unanswered questions around how the government and councils will ensure this is the case, Greens believe assessing the risk for BAME communities, who are already at greater risk, is the least that should be done.

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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.