Environmental viagra and the Green Goddess…

I heard on the Sunday of conference that I had been elected as the new female Principal Speaker of the Green Party, which is nice. Slight understatement; in reality it’s incredibly exciting, and a huge honour to be trusted by the Greens with being the public voice of the party, particularly as I’m taking over from Caroline Lucas MEP who has done such a fantastic job over the past three years.

Whenever I speak to anyone from outside the Greens, Caroline is always the person they know best from our elected representatives and always their favourite too. If we’re honest, she’s head and shoulders above the rest of us in public speaking terms and an almost impossible act to follow. I didn’t get into this for an easy life though, so I’ll press on and see what happens.

The title ‘Principal Speaker’ probably requires a bit of explanation too. In keeping with our radical roots, we eschew the ‘traditional’ models of leadership of the other parties, and the Shakespearean notion of concentrating power in one fragile individual. Instead we have a whole team of people who share the running of our affairs, including an executive committee with a Chair and a regional council made up of reps from the various regions, which performs check-and-balance type functions on the executive. Within the executive, we have two people - one man and one woman - who fulfill all the public functions that a ‘Leader’ from the other parties might. These include speaking engagements, TV and radio appearances and so on – hence they are called our ‘Principal Speakers’.

There you go, all perfectly simple, but most journalists refuse to include the above 128-word paragraph in their articles in order to explain our progressive stance on this matter. I can’t imagine why.

The first bit of coverage for my new role was an interview with the Independent on Sunday, who met me on the Friday of conference and then went away and produced this article. It was a pleasingly large bit of coverage, and the way they arranged the pictures with me on one side versus the three leaders of the other parties on the other (each with their eco-betrayals splashed across their portraits) was great, but the various nicknames I was given were a bit grating. ‘Green goddess’ is just too obvious and the best response I’ve had so far to the ‘pure environmental viagra’ line was from one of my day-job colleagues: “Nice work, keep it up!” Worth a prize I think.

I’m meeting the Daily Mail later on today. Given that the viagra comment came from the IoS of all places, it will be interesting to see what they come up with.