Jonathan Bartley

Jonathan Bartley – the current co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales – has announced he will be standing down from his position at the end of July. Bartley has been co-leader of the party since 2016, having been first elected on a joint ticket with Caroline Lucas. He was re-elected alongside Sian Berry in leadership contests in 2018 and 2020.

Speaking on the decision to resign, Bartley said he was proud of what the party had achieved since he had been in a leadership position. He said:

I am hugely proud of what the Green Party has achieved over the last five years. We have become a major electoral force, vying to be the country’s third party.

We beat the governing party in the last European elections and trebled our number of councillors, going from opposition on a handful of authorities to playing a part in running more than a dozen. And despite the challenging circumstances of two snap general elections, we built up strong votes in key seats and are now in a position to win more Parliamentary seats.

He continued by saying he believed now was the time for new leadership, citing the likelihood of a general election being called before 2024, and the need for a new leadership team to make their mark in advance of that. Bartley said:

I have always believed that leadership is about empowering and encouraging others and this is something I’ve done throughout my time as co-leader. I now feel that the time is right to step down so that new leaders can be elected.

It has been an immense privilege to have been the longest serving leader the party has had – first with Caroline Lucas for two years and then with Siân Berry for three, with Amelia Womack completing the leadership team throughout. During this time so many talented people have emerged.

It’s also increasingly clear that we may have an earlier than expected general election and a new leadership team needs time to get used to the role, which makes it the right time to step down now and allow the party to choose new leaders.

Bartley’s resignation will trigger a leadership election. His fellow co-leader Sian Berry has not yet stated whether she will be standing in that election.

Bartley went on to speak of the policies he had advocated in public debate while a part of the Green Party’s leadership team. He said:

I have been immensely grateful for the opportunity to put the climate emergency front and centre on the political agenda and to speak up uncompromisingly for migrants, refugees, disabled people and other protected groups who are so often forgotten and ignored, or at worst demonised, exploited and oppressed.

I have also been grateful for the opportunity to advocate for the need for progressive parties to work together to defeat the government, tackle the climate emergency, eliminate poverty and reform the electoral system.

This is something I believe is needed now more than ever. And so, I plan to use the experience I have gained during my time as co-leader to continue to develop the wider movement for a progressive alliance once I have stepped down from my current position.

The road down which this Conservative government is taking the country has many of the hallmarks of neo-fascism. I have said this repeatedly over the last five years and it is now more evident than ever – and the need for progressive parties to come together to defeat it is more urgent than ever. But until progressive parties work together, there is a risk of Conservative governments for years to come.

Bartley concluded his resignation statement on a personal note, thanking his family. He said:

I would like to put on record my huge thanks to all my family including my three amazing children who have put up with so much over the last five years but never wavered in their support for me.

As some may know I will be getting married to my partner Sarah next year and so I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with them all. I also look forward to playing a full, if different role in the Green Party in the future, wherever I can be most helpful.

Bartley’s resignation will take effect from August 1. Sian Berry will hold the position of acting leader until a leadership election takes place.

Speaking on his resignation, Berry said that Bartley was a “tremendous colleague” and that he was “full of insight”. She said:

Jonathan has been a tremendous colleague. Hard-working, thoughtful, kind, collegiate and full of insight and ideas.

Every member should applaud the huge part he has played in the Green Party’s progress over the past five years. His departure leaves many impressive pairs of shoes to fill.

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Image credit: Jwslubbock – Creative Commons