|Yesterday evening I attended the Leadership Hustings in Cardiff. All four candidates were present:
An Englishman, a Scotsman, a Welshman and an Australian man went into an Irish pub ………Except three of them were women and this was no joke, but the very serious matter of working out who is the best person to take over from Caroline Lucas as Leader of the Green Party of England & Wales. I do not propose to cover the content of their addresses and answers to questions from the audience, as their views and stance on key issues can be seen on their websites (see links above).
I know of quite a lot of Greens who dislike the notion of a leader altogether, but I believe they have two key roles to play:
The first point is the reason why many shy away from the notion of leaders altogether, but in the world we live in today, it would be a high risk strategy to swim against this particular tide. And I don’t think anyone could say that Caroline was not a big success in this role and thereby has been an asset to us all.
So in terms of this aspect of the role, how do the the candidates shape up?
All are highly intelligent and confident, articulate people, as I am sure you would expect, but as much as we may despise it, this aspect of the job boils down to persona, charisma and communication skills.
For me, this rules out Natalie and Pippa, for very different reasons.
So this leaves Peter and Romayne.
As for strategic leadership, they all have a lot to offer, but again, not necessarily in the Leader’s role.
Peter has a particularly strong vision of what is needed to help us here at the grass roots and has a strong socialist agenda in terms of human rights, housing etc., but I am unconvinced about his long term vision for the party. He talks repeatedly about being against ‘debt capitalism’ as if the right type of capitalism may be ok. I feel confident that he would help the Party develop and, as I said before, be a relatively safe pair of hands, but is this enough, I keep asking myself? One huge advantage he does have is that, with the Party constitution as it currently stands, he would probably come packaged with the very impressive Alexandra Phillips as his Deputy – http://alexfordeputy.org.uk/ . They have similar priorities and I believe Alex offers leadership skills that could effectively complement Peter’s. How well they know each other and would work together, I am not sure. (Update: please read comment below from Caroline Allen – also a candidate for Deputy)
This again leaves me with Romayne, on balance, as my preferred choice. Romayne not only has the fullest, most rounded CV for the job, but she has the strongest socialist, anti-capitalist vision. She does not come across as a career politician, but as passionate would-be revolutionary (peaceful, of course). She also comes with a declared running mate, in Will Duckworth. Again, he provides complementary qualities and they come with an assured symbiosis between the two of them. Some may perceive them as a riskier option to Peter/Alex, but I firmly believe that we need to be more outspoken and provocative, but in a controlled and measured way. If we want to start ridding ourselves of the white, middle-class, do-gooder image, and start connecting with the disaffected, disillusioned traditional Labour voter, then it simply has to be Romayne and Will.