Interview with Molly Scott Cato – External Communications Co-ordinator candidate for GPEx
Throughout August, members of the Green Party for England & Wales will be voting to elect members of the next Green Party Executive (GPEx). In all, members will vote to determine which representatives will carry out eleven different roles – including that of leader and deputy leader. There is also a ballot to determine who will be the party’s third member in the House of Lords should the party be asked to put forward another peer.
Former Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, is set to stand for the role of External Communications Co-ordinator. In August she will face Green Party Regional Council veteran, Peter Underwood.
What do you think are the main challenges currently facing the Green Party, and how would you work to overcome them?
I am concerned that the party has trouble making timely and effective decisions. Now that I have time, I hope that I can contribute to the smooth running of GPEX so that it can better support our leadership, councillors and local parties through its decision-making processes, with a clear strategy, and make good decisions about how to allocate our resources.
I have always been ambitious for the Green Party and deeply committed to the policy agenda we advocate together. As a member of GPEx I would prioritise good and timely decision-making and the wise investment of our limited funds in ways that would progress and support green politics.
What skills do you bring that would make you an effective member of the executive?
I have worked with and researched cooperatives and would use this experience and knowledge to help rebuild some of the party’s structures that have not been working well recently.
I’ve worked a lot on the theory of strategy building, have experience of developing political strategy, and sat on the board and in management or governance positions on a range of organisations from Stroud Community Agriculture, and Stroud Commonwealth, to the European Green Group and Stroud District Council.
I’ve been a Green Party member for 30 years and believe I have developed sensitive political antennae and sound political judgement during that time.
What experience do you have in communications, and how would you put it to use in the role?
During the past decade I have built up a strong reputation for media appearances, including on most of the flagship broadcast programmes, and have a wide network of media contacts. I have been interviewed about tax policy by Mishal Husain on the Today programme and by Andrew Neil on Sunday Politics. I have discussed climate change with the government’s former chief scientific advisor Sir David King on the World Tonight, debated free trade with (current) Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on the World at One, and appeared several times on Any Questions. I also have published articles in a range of high-profile outlets.
Molly went on to emphasise:
However, this post is not primarily about my skills it is about working with the media team to showcase and maximise the impact of others.
What do you think the central messages should be for the Green Party over the next year?
The External Communications job doesn’t give anybody the power to decide this, so I’m sharing my personal opinions that I would then discuss with others to develop a clear media message.
We need the power that our electoral support deserves and so I think a campaign and strong message about constitutional reform, and especially a fair voting system, should play a more central role in our communications. Behind all the crises we are facing lies a political crisis and a crisis of democracy.
Our top political priority is still the climate emergency and we should link that with the post-Covid sense of solidarity and with the need to ‘Build Back Better’ as recession bites over the next year. We have an opportunity to achieve the triple win of creating thousands of jobs across the country, reducing CO2 emissions, and providing warmer homes and better, more accessible public transport and active travel options.
We have much to say about the economy and I always think this should be a central message, not just about the Green New Deal but how to fund it, taxing the wealthy and preventing tax avoidance, and our radical proposals like Universal Basic Income. As Labour moves to the centre ground there is a real opportunity for us to win members and voters by inhabiting this more radical ground.
What do you think isn’t working with the Green Party’s current messaging?
I think we need a clear strategy that connects with our political strategy. I would be glad to work with the media team and leadership team to develop this. I think we have been less effective than we might have been because of a lack of focus.
But, more importantly, media success is about relationships and my priority would be to build, enhance and use the relationships that party leaders and staff have with key journalists and producers in a more systematic way.
I would like to see a more diverse range of faces representing the Green Party in the media, both younger and from a range of different ethnicities.
Molly also summarised her objectives for us:
My objectives are to:
– Work with the media team to develop the party’s media strategy with clear but achievable targets for media appearances, press releases, and self-generated content like reports;
– Engage proactively with media gatekeepers to ensure that the Party has access to the media platforms our electoral support merits;
– Help to build us a strong reputation in particular areas extending beyond stereotypical green issues;
– Reactivate the regular media mailing and add pro forma press releases that can be tweaked to local context;
– Build on and extend the useful platform provided by Green World.
Keep your eyes peeled as we continue to find out the aspirations and experiences of this year’s GPEx candidates.
PS. We hope you enjoyed this article. Bright Green has got big plans for the future to publish many more articles like this. You can help make that happen. Please donate to Bright Green now.