The race to be the next Green Party leader

Caroline Lucas is standing down as Green Party leader. Who is in the running to replace her?

Current Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP is standing down, and closing date for the ballot for who will replace her is fast approaching. Although Lucas is the party's only MP, she said at the time of the announcement that she wanted to broaden the focus to the rest of her party. She said:

We're lucky to have a wealth of capability and experience in our Party. Now feels like the right time to step aside, to allow more of that ability to come forward and help the party to grow.

The danger for the Greens, clearly identified by Lucas here, is that the party is still perceived as single-issue. By moving the leadership away from their sole Westminster MP, they perhaps hope to place the focus more on their council seats and broadening local government work.

So who is in the running to replace her? I asked each candidate to make a brief pitch, and reproduce them below with some biographical information. Voting closes on 31 August, and the result will be announced on 3 September. More information is available here.

Pippa Bartolotti

Background Entrepreneur and current leader of the Wales Green Party

Pitch I am standing for leader because this country is at a pivotal time requiring change on every level. The economy is cracking up before our eyes, and government bays for growth, refusing to admit that their type of growth has been the root of our problems. Atmospheric  CO2 has risen beyond the danger point and even the IPCC says we have less than 10 years to mitigate the effects of climate change. Green growth is progressive, sustainable, locally focussed and clean. Our challenge is to be heard above the cacophony of politics as usual.

My background as an entrepreneur brings a fresh perspective to the Green Party. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy we wish to see, and growth in the Green economies is what the world desperately needs. Business people are more likely to listen to someone who understands the issues from their perspective, who has a decent track record, and who is showing them a clear way forward.

The modern Green Party is about facing reality, and it is impossible to talk about climate change without being passionate about the economic and social policies which will establish a way of life concerned with ethical prosperity and greater equality.

Greens must turn round and face outwards. We must engage with the media, the people around us and with other politicians. Our communications, our messaging must change. I would like us to open an online information exchange, encouraging dialogue and interchange of ideas. This could make the difference between us being a party on the margins, to being a positive democratic force.

I am a mature business woman with a forthright manner and a world of experience. Time is not on the side of the fainthearted, and Greens have little to lose by being more radical, more urgent,  and more outspoken.

More at: pippabartolotti.com

Natalie Bennett

Background Former editor of Guardian Weekly, founding chair of Green Party Women, chair of Camden Green Party.

Pitch Today Britons understandably feel insecure, uncertain about their jobs, fearful about the security of their homes, worried about the lives their children will have.

They fear, rightly, for the future of the NHS, which is still being handed over wholesale to outsourcing firms, despite G4S, A4e and PFI.

It's clear that the old neoliberal economics has failed, even in its own terms - yet the three largest political parties still cling to it. 

And Labour and the coalition won't speak up for the low-paid, people with disabilities, benefit recipients, immigrants and refugees - instead they demonise them.

Choosing to specialise in financial services, the running of tax havens and a low wage economy in which a few earn giant bonuses is no long an option - just as we can't continue to treat the planet as though it were a mine and a dumping ground.

The Green Party is the only political party in Britain that understands the need for radical change - and that we can create a society that offers a better life for everyone as we restructure, relocalise and remutualise our economy.

We have the potential to make big strides in the next couple of years, but new Green Party seats in Brussels won't fall into our laps, new councillors won't just appear. We've got to be on the doorsteps and television screens of voters, in their letterboxes and on their Twitter feeds.

As a party we need to work smarter, to make sure every effort is going towards electing more Greens, helping our elected people be more effective, or promoting our policies. As leader, I want to work with Greens around England and Wales to treble to six our number of MEPs in 2014 and see nationwide growth like that in the West Midlands (leaping in two years from three councillors on three councils to 13 on seven.)

More at: natalie4leader.org

Peter Cranie

Background Currently teaches in further and higher education, longstanding Green Party candidate and activist in the north-west of England.

Pitch I’ve had extensive experience of fighting elections at all levels, in wards where we’ve taken council seats from Lib Dems, in a city where we now outpoll the Conservatives in city-wide elections, in a region where in the last Euro-elections I was a hair’s breadth from winning our first MEP seat.

I have experience of being the party’s national Elections Coordinator, of leading a regional election campaign as target candidate, of being a national spokesperson, of dealing effectively with national, regional and local media.

I want to see more Greens win elections in the near future and my leadership would aim to deliver an extra electoral gear for the party.

We need to grow as a party. We have already broadened our appeal in terms of gender, ethnicity and class, but it’s crucial that we see a greater diversity amongst high profile Greens. I speak as someone from a working class background brought up in council housing.

My role would include improving how we raise money. The leader can help focus our fundraising efforts, closely linking-up our media operation with fundraising and recruitment. Fundraising is the key that removes many of barriers to our future success as a party. As leader I would aim to deliver the Green Party’s message to more people than ever before and to communicate that message professionally, and we must raise sufficient funds to be able to do this.

We were never a single issue party but now it is time to dispel that myth once and for all, to reach a broader national audience and connect with people in language that is understandable and relevant. I’d seek to emulate Caroline Lucas’s success in broadening our appeal at a constituency level enabling us to win our first ever Westminster seat.

More at: petercranie.org.uk

Romayne Phoenix

Background Former teacher of Art and Design and mother of three teenagers, Chair of the Coalition of Resistance, National Green Party Trade Union group Co-Convenor and Green Party Social Officer for London.

Pitch The current economic and environmental crises are two sides of the same struggle; neither exists independently of the other. Both have been caused by the greed and recklessness endemic in our economic system, and will not be solved by tax cuts for the very rich and service cuts for the rest of us. We need to create a movement capable of resisting and ultimately replacing this "turbo capitalism". The Green Party can play a key role in the creation of that movement, and as leader of the Green Party I would aim to position us at the heart of the battles against austerity, privatisation and ecological vandalism.

As the Chair of the Coalition of Resistance (COR), I am working closely with MPs, trade union leaders and many other campaign group representatives, building a broad movement of active resistance to the austerity and privatisation agenda. COR is committed to a low carbon and anti-nuclear future, and fighting to prevent the scapegoating of vulnerable social groups. 

The Green Party’s policies point the way to a just transition, to a sustainable future and a more equal society. Environmentalists, trade unionists and socialists should see us as a natural political home.  A 'post growth' steady state economic model may be seen as a challenge to some potential supporters as well as political opponents, but we can cut carbon and create jobs. The Greens are ready to contribute to the debate about the future as we all consider "what sort of society do we want to live in ?"

I want to reinvigorate the party's campaigning spirit and increase our membership and activist base - particularly within working class and minority ethnic communities. Our continuing and increasing electoral successes will be supported by training and resources for our local and regional parties.

More at: romayneandwillforgreenleadership.org.uk

A Green Party campaigner canvassing. Photograph: Getty Images

Caroline Crampton is web editor of the New Statesman.

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Will Euroscepticism prove an unbeatable advantage in the Conservative leadership race?

Conservative members who are eager for Brexit are still searching for a heavyweight champion - and they could yet inherit the earth.

Put your money on Liam Fox? The former Defence Secretary has been given a boost by the news that ConservativeHome’s rolling survey of party members preferences for the next Conservative leader. Jeremy Wilson at BusinessInsider and James Millar at the Sunday Post have both tipped Fox for the top job.

Are they right? The expectation among Conservative MPs is that there will be several candidates from the Tory right: Dominic Raab, Priti Patel and potentially Owen Paterson could all be candidates, while Boris Johnson, in the words of one: “rides both horses – is he the candidate of the left, of the right, or both?”

MPs will whittle down the field of candidates to a top two, who will then be voted on by the membership.  (As Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, notes in his interview with my colleague George Eaton, Conservative MPs could choose to offer a wider field if they so desired, but would be unlikely to surrender more power to party activists.)

The extreme likelihood is that that contest will be between two candidates: George Osborne and not-George Osborne.  “We know that the Chancellor has a bye to the final,” one minister observes, “But once you’re in the final – well, then it’s anyone’s game.”

Could “not-George Osborne” be Liam Fox? Well, the difficulty, as one MP observes, is we don’t really know what the Conservative leadership election is about:

“We don’t even know what the questions are to which the candidates will attempt to present themselves as the answer. Usually, that question would be: who can win us the election? But now that Labour have Corbyn, that question is taken care of.”

So what’s the question that MPs will be asking? We simply don’t know – and it may be that they come to a very different conclusion to their members, just as in 2001, when Ken Clarke won among MPs – before being defeated in a landslide by Conservative activists.

Much depends not only on the outcome of the European referendum, but also on its conduct. If the contest is particularly bruising, it may be that MPs are looking for a candidate who will “heal and settle”, in the words of one. That would disadvantage Fox, who will likely be a combative presence in the European referendum, and could benefit Boris Johnson, who, as one MP put it, “rides both horses” and will be less intimately linked with the referendum and its outcome than Osborne.

But equally, it could be that Euroscepticism proves to be a less powerful card than we currently expect. Ignoring the not inconsiderable organisational hurdles that have to be cleared to beat Theresa May, Boris Johnson, and potentially any or all of the “next generation” of Sajid Javid, Nicky Morgan or Stephen Crabb, we simply don’t know what the reaction of Conservative members to the In-Out referendum will be.

Firstly, there’s a non-trivial possibility that Leave could still win, despite its difficulties at centre-forward. The incentive to “reward” an Outer will be smaller. But if Britain votes to Remain – and if that vote is seen by Conservative members as the result of “dirty tricks” by the Conservative leadership – it could be that many members, far from sticking around for another three to four years to vote in the election, simply decide to leave. The last time that Cameron went against the dearest instincts of many of his party grassroots, the result was victory for the Prime Minister – and an activist base that, as the result of defections to Ukip and cancelled membership fees, is more socially liberal and more sympathetic to Cameron than it was before. Don’t forget that, for all the worry about “entryism” in the Labour leadership, it was “exitism” – of Labour members who supported David Miliband and liked the New Labour years  - that shifted that party towards Jeremy Corbyn.

It could be that if – as Brady predicts in this week’s New Statesman – the final two is an Inner and an Outer, the Eurosceptic candidate finds that the members who might have backed them are simply no longer around.

It comes back to the biggest known unknown in the race to succeed Cameron: Conservative members. For the first time in British political history, a Prime Minister will be chosen, not by MPs with an electoral mandate of their own or by voters at a general election but by an entirelyself-selecting group: party members. And we simply don't know enough about what they feel - yet. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog. He usually writes about politics.