A photo of Lauren James

After the failure of COP26, now more than ever, we need leaders who will inspire people who care about the climate and social justice to join the Green Party.

That is precisely what Lauren James did when she first encouraged me, a disillusioned member of the Labour Party, to change the colour of my membership card from red to green.

As someone who joined the Labour Party via trade unionism, it was difficult for me to break that inextricable link between the party and the trade union movement. That marriage was one of the reasons I stuck with Labour after years of frustration. From the broken ten pledges of Keir Starmer’s leadership campaign to the Welsh Labour Party remaining adamant that we should stay in a demonstrably broken Union – it was painful, to say the least.

But Lauren showed me there is a space for people on the left who want an independent Wales, social justice, trade unionism and systematic change that will ensure we leave behind a planet that is habitable for our children.

Of course, one of the central policies of the Green Party is a Universal Basic Income (UBI). Lauren played a key role, as part of UBI Lab Cymru, in securing a commitment from the Welsh Government to trial a Basic Income during this Senedd term. We have our concerns about the current design of the trial – but that’s a conversation for another day.

Our Pledge for UBI campaign in the run up to the Senedd elections was instrumental in that commitment, and it was Lauren who organised the Green candidates to sign our pledge. Her social media expertise were invaluable, particularly given that we were all locked up at the time – it was the only way in which anyone could campaign!

Lauren has gone on to launch UBI Lab Newport in the hope that Newport County Council will make the same commitment as Cardiff, RCT, Swansea and Gwynedd council have. Those councils have stated that they want to be at the front of the queue if a geographic Basic Income pilot is launched in Wales.

I’m sure this will be central feature of her campaign next year to be elected on Newport County Council, as will her advocacy of Welsh independence, empowering women to become active in politics, social justice and the promotion of meaningful action on climate change.

In her time as deputy leader, Lauren has played a key role in increasing the membership, she was instrumental in our best Senedd result, and she has inspired people like myself to become active members of the party – and not just someone who pays their fees every month.

That’s why I will be voting for Lauren to continue in her role as deputy leader. I implore Wales Green Party members to do the same.

And, finally, from one watermelon to another: Good luck, Lauren.

Jonathan Rhys Williams is the co-founder of UBI Lab Cymru and a solicitor at Watkins and Gunn