Stepping into a new role can be difficult at the best of the times. For Natalie Bennett, replacing the highly respected Caroline Lucas MP as Green Party Leader must have been a daunting prospect last September. For the party membership as a whole, the last year has involved an amount of adjustment to a new vision for the party. How exactly is the Green Party faring under new leadership?
In some important ways, there have been real successes. A significant portion of the media coverage that Caroline had nurtured during her time in post has been diversified to include Natalie, who has carefully chosen to develop a distinctive voice on issues that her predecessor spoke less frequently upon.After the expected media flurry that met her election, Natalie has become a regular contributor to a number of BBC politics television and radio shows, as well as writing regularly for the Guardian and Huffington Post. Even if the quantity of coverage has not discernably increased, we have consolidated our presence in political debates with two strong communicators. Overall, our external communication presence feels more professional and polished. Elsewhere, the Green Party has negotiated accreditation as a Living Wage Employer for our staff.
The spirit of decentralised democracy within the Green Party has also come under scrutiny in the last year, as the actions of local parties or regions begin to affect perceptions of the party on the national stage.
Continuing to operate in an invidious economic climate, there are semi-visible tensions flaring within the Brighton & Hove GP membership around the cuts their Green Group of councillors are forced to intact. This disquiet spreads amongst Greens nationally, most vocally from Green Left activists unhappy with the political calculations made by the first Green Council. Under the new leadership team, Green Left find themselves with a stronger voice on GPEx due to the election of Will Duckworth as Deputy Leader last year. Yet for all the jagged nerves, the actions of Brighton & Hove GP do not seem to figure highly in the reasons given for member resignations so far.
The inclusion of the Welsh Leader as a voting member on GPEx has also had a complicating effect, with a distinct impression that opposing priorities and strategic power bases are wrestling over the scant resources available to the Party Executive. Whilst I agree that putting the party on the political agenda in Wales is essential in broadening our reach, I can also see that with a target constituency or region strategy, other areas are more likely to reap results for us in the medium term. Managing the reasonable expectations of the Welsh Greens for increased support and weight within the party within the financial envelope we operate with will be a tough balancing act in the coming months as we move towards an election footing.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll be examining the records in office of some of the key players within the Green Party and launching a survey amongst readers to gauge your evaluations of their performances too. With the announcement last week of nominations for half of the Green Party Executive (GPEx) at this year’s autumn conference, I’ll also try to examine some of the issues they have been tackling and how successful their efforts have been.
Central to providing a useful analysis will be in hearing from politicians and activists within the Green Party for their views on our performance over the last year. If you have a view on the record of any of our elected politicians and officers, I’d really like to hear from you. Similarly, any positive views or concerns about the party as a whole are incredibly useful in helping me get a sense of the current party mood. Please contact me confidentially at firstname.lastname@example.org
Any feedback you provide will be treated as anonymous.