Taking the Green Party temperature: what is the current state of play?

Natalie Bennett featured on the BBC Andrew Marr show in February 2013.

Natalie Bennett featured on the BBC Andrew Marr show in February 2013.

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 stephen_a_wood@yahoo.co.uk

Any feedback you provide will be treated as anonymous.

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5 thoughts on “Taking the Green Party temperature: what is the current state of play?

  1. In many ways, I don’t really have a right to comment anymore. However, as a still sympathetic Green ‘fellow traveller’, perhaps my impressions might be useful. To be honest, it isn’t great. It’s not that I disagree with anything I’ve heard or feel that the party is going in the wrong direction, particularly. It’s that, having left the Party, I’ve heard almost *nothing*.

    I think it is really difficult to understand as a Party member, particularly as an activist, how low a profile the Greens actually have. If I wasn’t still hearing from the many friends I made during a decade in the party, I honestly believe I would have heard from the Party *once* since leaving, which was a brief flick through Question Time when Natalie was on it.

    I guess I’m not making any useful positive point here – just trying to inject a little reality check from outside the ‘Green bubble’. If, like me, you live in a non Green area, it is entirely possible *never* to hear from the Party. Literally, never. On any medium. At all. That can’t be great…..

  2. I hear what you’re saying, Matt. If it wasn’t for me publicising my blog posts to my friends on Facebook, I suspect they’d be equally in the dark about Green Party policies. In some ways, I think we need to be better at ‘making the news’, by throwing the occasional political grenade into the increasingly stagnant pool of modern politics.

    Say what you like about UKIP, but they have been quite savvy at stirring up controversy, picking fights and tipping many of the totems of conservative/working class politics on their head. Sometimes, there is the sense that we are the slightly more reasonable voice of the Lib Dems, which can be an incredibly dry and worthy place to stand.

    • Actually, I disagree with both of you. As a shopkeeper, I am in daily contact with the public in a non-political context, and I can tell you that knowledge of the GP is now the highest it’s been in over 20 years. Not as much as I would like, but it is finally inpinging of the public’s sub-conscious.

  3. Pingback: SURVEY: How well are Green Party politicians performing? | Green Politics: Sustainable Futures

  4. Pingback: SURVEY: How well are Green Party politicians performing? | Bridgend Green Party

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