Iain Dale chairing the Green Party leadership debate

Leadership candidates clash on LBC

This year’s Green Party of England and Wales leadership election has attracted unprecedented levels of media interest. This week saw the most notable media coverage to date, with leadership candidates going head to head in a debate on LBC.

All five tickets were present for the debate. Adrian Ramsay represented the Ramsay-Denyer ticket. Martin Hemingway represented Hemingway-Rothery and Amelia Womack represented Womack-Omond. Hosted by Iain Dale, the debate saw candidates quizzed on a range of issues – from how Greens should respond to Extinction Rebellion to the personal qualities they had that made them well suited for leadership. The debate saw disagreement between candidates on two key issues – progressive alliances and trans rights.

Ashley Gunstock restated his strong support for progressive alliances as a strategy for removing the Tories from office. Shahrar Ali reiterated his long standing opposition to this approach. The other candidates all expressed a more nuanced position – broadly accepting the potential utility as a strategy, but acknowledging the challenges in making such alliances happen in reality, particularly with regards to bringing Labour round the table.

On trans rights – the candidates largely confirmed positions they had previously taken in hustings, articles and their formal statements to members. The response to this question did, however, produce probably the most heated exchange we’ve seen thus far in the campaign, with Womack and Ali clashing extensively over the issue. The full debate can be watched here:

Ashley Gunstock apologises following Bright Green interview

Ashley Gunstock this week issued an apology following comments he made in an interview with Bright Green. In the interview, Gunstock implied he was best placed to lead the Green Party as he is a white, cisgender man.

Gunstock posted the apology on Twitter. In it, he said he accepted the criticism of his comments and apologised to those who had been offended by them. He said:

As someone who has strong views against sexism, racism, misogyny and transphobia, it is unfortunate that my honest intentions during this Green Party leader election campaign have not been expressed in the ways in which I had hoped.

He continued;

I accept the criticism which has been sent my way that has proved to be a learning curve for me and I am thankful to those who have offered it.

In view of that, I sincerely apologise to all those I have offended and will, as always, strive to do better.

Sian Berry encourages members not to vote for three leadership candidates in now deleted video

On August 31, outgoing party leader Sian Berry intervened in the election contest. In a video released on Twitter, she called for members to give their first and second preference votes to either Tamsin Omond and Amelia Womack, or to Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay.

She went on to say that members should use their third preference for “re-open nominations” above any of the other candidates. Berry said:

My personal view is that there are two really strong teams standing. Amelia and Tamsin and Carla and Adrian are all brilliant people that I’ve worked with in the past.

They are strong on values, inclusive, brave and experienced – and I would have total confidence in them. These teams of co-leaders should be your decision for first and second preference votes.

She went on to say:

when you’ve run out of choices that you believe can do the job well, and who share your values, you should use your next preference for the option that many people often forget, which is re-open nominations – RON.

The intervention proved controversial. According to Berry, the election’s Electoral Returning Officer (ERO) instructed her to delete the video. It is not yet clear which election rule she was deemed to have broken in her decision to publicise her voting intentions.

Prior to the ERO’s instruction, her video had already caused controversy among leadership candidates. Shahrar Ali published an open letter to Berry following her posting the video. The letter began:

I was disappointed and upset to see you actively campaigning yesterday (31 August) against three of the leadership candidates, including me, by publicly advocating that members should place RON ahead of us.

Ali continued:

You have every right to vote as you please but I do think that the position of Acting Leader, and the use of that platform, carries with it certain duties towards the well-being and reputation of the Party, especially in one’s public statements. Most people would regard it as an unwritten rule that an outgoing incumbent would not try to exert undue influence over the election of their successor.

Maggie Chapman MSP backs Amelia Womack and Tamsin Omond

Another week, another long, long list of the great and good from the within and outside the party have thrown their weight behind the various candidates. Amelia Womack and Tamsin Omond have picked up an eye catching list of supporters,

Chief among them is former co-convener of the Scottish Green Party Maggie Chapman MSP. Chapman said Womack and Omond “will be the force for good”. She said:

Amelia’s knowledge of party development and election campaigning are perfectly complemented by Tamsin’s movement building and activism. Together, they will be the force for good, for equality, for social and environmental justice, that GPEW and the world so desperately need.

The pair have also been backed by a raft of Councillors, including Brighton & Hove’s Marianna Ebel, Sheffield’s Martin Phipps, and Peterborough’s Nicola Day. Former deputy leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland Tanya Jones has also come out to support the Womack-Omond campaign.

Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay rack up impressive list of endorsements

Amelia Womack and Tamsin Omond weren’t alone in picking up high profile backers this week. Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay have again announced a batch of significant endorsements, with two thirds of the living current or former Green parliamentarians now having endorsed their campaign.

Green MP Caroline Lucas had previously announced her support, as had former MEP Gina Dowding. Now more former MEPs have thrown their weight behind the campaign. Alex Phillips, Molly Scott Cato and Scott Ainslie all announced they are backing Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay. They were joined by one of the two Green members of the House of Lords, Jenny Jones. Catherine Rowett has endorsed both Denyer and Ramsay as well as Amelia Womack and Tamsin Omond and has not indicated which ticket she will be giving her first preference to.

Denyer and Ramsay have also picked up endorsements from the Green candidate for Bristol Mayor in 2021 Sandy Hore Ruthven, and a flurry of Councillors including Ben Price, Joanna Young and Mohamed Makawi.

Amelia Womack and Tamsin Omond launch ‘elections manifesto’ pledging to put party on track for 10 MPs

Amelia Womack and Tamsin Omond launched an ‘Elections Manifesto’ this week, setting out their plan for the party’s electoral success in the coming years.

The headline grabber is that they’re pledging to put the party on track for ten MPs by 2030. They’re also seeking to double the number of Green Councillors every four years, and get the first Greens elected to the Senedd in Wales. As part of this pledge, the pair promise to work with campaign teams across all regions of England and Wales to develop an organising strategy and support the sharing of elections best practice.

Speaking on the manifesto launch, Womack said:

I’ve spent seven years as deputy leader supporting local parties in election campaigns – and I know the huge amount of work that goes into winning elections.

The Greens that spend hours each week delivering leaflets, knocking on doors and co-ordinating campaigns are the absolute lifeblood of the party, and as co-leaders Tamsin and I will see our key role as supporting them.

The only other leadership contender in this year’s leadership election to put numbers on electoral success is the co-leadership ticket of Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay. They’ve said they will seek to get at least one more Green MP and 900 Councillors elected by 2025.

Shahrar Ali sets out vision for leadership in interview with London Green Left

This election has seen interviews galore. The London Green Left blog has been among those running interviews with the candidates. This week it was Shahrar Ali’s turn.

In his interview, Ali once again highlighted his key campaign messages, in a similar vein to his previous interview with the Morning Star. Central to these is action on the climate crisis, with Ali saying if he elected he would “boldly make the case” for climate action. He said:

I will boldly make that case for immediate action on the climate and ecological emergency. It’s hard for us to get our heads round the scale of transformation required to overcome the worst of climate degradation, much of which has already been set in train. The prize for humanity is great: our continued existence.

Elsewhere in the interview, Ali reiterated his other key campaign talking points. He argued that women have “felt prevented from organising around campaigns to preserve and protect their sex-based rights”, and called for the Green Party to reject the “bogus, politicised IHRA definition” of antisemitism.

He also set out his vision for a future Green government’s initial policy programme, which – according to Ali – would include an end to airport expansion, the introduction of a carbon tax and the expansion of renewable energy.

Amelia Womack calls for the pandemic recovery to be ‘a moment for real change’

There have been endless op-eds from candidates and their outriders in this year’s leadership contest. Amelia Womack penned a piece for The London Economic this week, which set out another iteration of her and Tamsin Omond’s vision for the party leadership.

Among other things, Womack used the piece to talk about how the pandemic recovery should be an opportunity for transformative change. She wrote:

The huge structural failings exposed by the pandemic require serious, radical solutions. Take inequality: with many people sitting on huge caches of wealth often in the form of property, tinkering around the edges with changes to income tax simply won’t cut it. But research last year suggested that a wealth tax – levying one per cent on all individual wealth over £500,000 for just five years – could raise a staggering £260 billion. And while Labour’s proposed solution to the cruel, punitive mess that is the UK’s benefits system is to change its name, what we need is a safety net that not only keeps people out of poverty but gives everyone the chance to thrive. A Universal Basic Income, according to researchers, could eradicate absolute poverty in the UK at a cost of £67 billion per year – a little more than the cost of the furlough scheme.

She concluded by writing:

Tamsin Omond and I are standing for the leadership of the Green Party to lead a movement making these demands: a four-day week, a wealth tax, a Universal Basic Income. Rewilding our countrysides and returning the railways to public ownership. Funding our public services and respecting those who work in them. This is a moment to demand real change – join us and together we can make it happen.

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