Adrian Ramsay and Carla Denyer

With one day until the close of nominations in the Green Party of England and Wales’ leadership election, a third candidate has stepped forward. Bristol Councillor Carla Denyer and former deputy leader of the party Adrian Ramsay have announced their candidacy on a co-leadership ticket.

Denyer has been a prominent figure in the party in recent years. In the 2019 general election, she was the Green candidate for Bristol West, the party’s primary target seat, coming second. Having first been elected as a Councillor in 2015, she has since earnt a reputation for utilising her position in local government to push for action on the climate crisis. In 2018, she proposed the first motion calling for a council to declare a climate emergency in Europe, triggering a wave of similar motions across the UK.

Ramsay has a similarly high profile among Greens. From 2008 to 2012 he was deputy leader of the party, serving under the leadership of Caroline Lucas. He was first elected as a City Councillor in Norwich in 2003 aged 21, and remained on the Council until 2011. During this time, Ramsay was regarded as a key figure in professionalising Norwich Green Party’s elections operation, playing an important role in pushing the strategy which led to the Greens holding 15 seats on Norwich City Council and seven on Norfolk County Council. Since stepping down from the deputy leadership in 2012, he has held a number of roles including a stint as CEO of the Centre for Alternative Technology.

Winning the second Green MP

Denyer and Ramsay’s pitch to the membership is centred around professionalising the party, getting more Greens elected and pushing for action on the climate. Central to this is a commitment that under their leadership the Greens will be on track to win their second MP and their first member of the Welsh Parliament.

Speaking on their announcement, Ramsay said that he wanted to see the Greens as “a real electoral force across every corner of England and Wales”. He said:

The IPCC report is crystal clear. The time for action on the climate is running out. It’s clear this government doesn’t understand the urgency of the Climate Emergency. We need a strong Green Party to secure change.

I’m coming back into politics because it’s evident to me that getting more Greens elected into positions of power is our best way of securing change. Greens are currently in administration in 14 councils, leading the charge for action from Lancaster to Brighton & Hove. But that’s not enough. We’re committed to making the Green Party a real electoral force across every corner of England and Wales.

With the Green Party frequently polling in third place in the national polls, and growing public concern on climate, we have a huge opportunity to take the party to the next level. To seize this moment we need a leadership team with a track record of electoral success, delivering real change for our communities and helping professionalise the party.

On their candidacy, Denyer similarly emphasised their pledge to get more Greens elected at a local and national level. But she also turned internally, stating there was a need to “make sure that the party is a welcoming and inclusive place”. She said:

Politics desperately needs an overhaul. People are sick and tired of Westminster, with MPs shouting and heckling at each other. We can do politics differently.

That’s why we’re standing on a platform of putting compassion back into politics. Compassion for each other, our communities and the natural world. And that starts with the Green Party itself. We want to make sure that the party is a welcoming and inclusive place, that makes the most of everyone’s talents, respects lived experience and stands together for human rights and the environment.

Politics today is dominated by reckless nationalism and culture wars, or a type of vacuous idea-free politics obsessed with image over substance. The perfect antidote is more elected Greens. We’re committed to being the duo who secure a second Green MP to join Caroline Lucas in Westminster and our first Green in the Senedd.

Other candidates

Denyer and Ramsay’s announcement comes following another high profile candidacy was announced. Current deputy leader of the Greens Amelia Womack confirmed she’d be standing on a joint leadership ticket with climate activist Tamsin Omond. They joined Tina Rothery and Martin Hemingway, who threw their hat into the ring on a co-leadership ticket at the end of July. Rothery is a prominent anti-fracking campaigner, and Hemingway is a former Labour Councillor and a member of the Green Party’s standing orders committee.

Other potential candidates are yet to come forward. On August 3, former Lord Mayor of Bristol Cleo lake tweeted “I am deciding on whether to go for @TheGreenParty leadership”. Former deputy leader Shahrar Ali, who stood unsuccessfully for leader in 2018 and 2020 has not yet declared whether he will be standing. 

The Greens’ leadership election is taking place outside of the normal cycle. It has been triggered by Jonathan Bartley’s resignation at the end of July. His co-leader, Sian Berry, has continued as caretaker leader but ruled out standing in the by-election due what she sees as an “inconsistency” between the party’s position in favour on trans rights and the appointment of party spokespeople earlier in 2021.

Nominations in the leadership election close on August 17. Members will vote between August 31 and September 21.

This article is jointly published by Bright Green and Left Foot Forward.

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Editor’s note – this article was amended at 21:23 on August 16 to correct the dates of Carla Denyer’s time as a Councillor. Denyer was elected in 2015, not 2016 as originally written.