Three principles that won Natalie Bennett the Green leadership election


5:26 pm - September 3rd 2012

by Jim Jepps    


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This morning the Green Party announced that Australian-born journalist Natalie Bennett was elected to lead the party. In a hotly fought contest Bennett polled 42% of the first preference votes and was elected after second and third preferences were redistributed.

As her campaign manager I’m really proud that the party has chosen Natalie to lead them and that decision signals both an increasing willingness to professionalise the party while maintaining its distinct, radical politics.

Though-out the campaign we had three clear themes. And we stuck to them from start to finish.

First, that the party needed to raise its electoral sights beyond a few more councillors a year and holding our single (if excellent) MP – but that we also needed to draw on the concrete work that was being done to do this in practice rather than just setting unrealistic targets and then brushing them under the carpet when they didn’t come to pass.

Second, that in order to do that the Greens needed to build a party that was “fit for purpose”. By creating a stronger, happier party where every institution and part of the party was either building the party’s vote, building its influence or making our elected representatives more effective. That we need to support each other more and change the culture of leaving local parties to sink or swim.

And the third, most important theme, was that the Greens needed to be more confident about their distinct, radical politics. As Natalie says “We need to stop treating the planet as though it were a mine and a dumping ground, and the poor as though they were rubbish.”

That means investing in the future rather than the current swathe of false economies and deregulation. It also means linking the crucial environmental agenda with the equally important social and economic agenda on which everything else must rest.

It’s no wonder that Labour find it difficult to put up a decent opposition to the cuts in disability benefit, the war in Afghanistan, unregulated financial markets, or a host of other issues because they are responsible for identical policies.

If the Greens don’t lend their weight to opposing these policies who will?

In fact, politics is key to the future of the Greens in developing committed Green voters rather than, as we have in the past, borrowing voters from other parties at specific elections without creating a larger core constituency.

There is space for a radical, left of centre party, but it needs to be built.

Natalie’s campaign did not give easy promises, inventing an easy route to new MPs – the Green Party has a lot of growing up to do before it truly becomes the third force in British politics – but it’s a task it needs to set itself.


Natalie Bennett’s statement on winning the Green leadership election.

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About the author
Jim Jepps is a socialist in the Green Party and formerly blogged at the Daily (Maybe). He currently writes on London politics, community and the environment at Big Smoke.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Environment ,Green party ,Westminster

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Reader comments


Firstly, secondly and thirdly. We’re not Americans!

Good luck. I may even vote for you next time.

Do you not think it a bit strange to advocate localism and then import a leader from, er, Australia?

At least it wasn’t the one who posed with the flag of the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party, and later decided to admit she drives a ‘gas-guzzler’.

Its all there though. Based on this, the core concerns of the Greens will be:

a. A total and absolute suspicion of economic growth and industrial development. Which ironically would suppress living standards for the poorest in this country and abroad. China has seen the greatest lifting of people out of poverty in human history – bascially by taking the Green manifesto and doing the exact opposite.

b. Absolute surrender to the Taliban.

Those who vote for these nutters deserve everything they get – like with Galloway (who I now notice is advocating ‘Jihad’ on the ‘enemies of Palestine’ from his new tv show).

“then import a leader from, er, Australia?”

The number two, runner up, was a Scot, and haven’t we had enough of that in England recently?

Anyway, Natalie’s win was clearly down to my early and enthusiasitc endorsement. So, when do I get the peerage then?

Tim, your been a tad facecious there! At least wait till your company helps bring through breakthroughs with turbines…

@Richard W
We’re not importing a leader from overseas. Having been born in one country does not mean that you’re not local to the place you’ve been living for many years.

@tory
You’re deliberately distorting our policies, or you’re the sort of person who actually believes everything in the Daily Mail, or you’re just trying to wind people up. Sadly it’s difficult to be sure which.

I saw her twice on TV today. Utterly shambolic performance.

9. Chaise Guevara

@ 3 Richard W

“Do you not think it a bit strange to advocate localism and then import a leader from, er, Australia?”

Is “W” code for “Littlejohn”? Or are you some poor soul who genuinely can’t tell the difference between a) reducing carbon dioxide output and b) mindless nationalism? They’re kinda different concepts, y’see.

10. Lynton North

Worth pointing out that the author of this piece is not a member of the Green Party.

He resigned a day or so before his partner was elected as leader.

Natalie ran an interesting campaign. Dismissing those organized on the left of the party by claiming to be “post watermelon”, whilst trying to appeal to the Syriza effect.

Clearly she has the cunning and ambition (and lack of principal) that political leadership calls for.

Not quite sure what the miserable 25% of my party that bothered to vote in the leadership election have in mind. I fear they may be aspiring to become the LibDems (pre-coalition). Alas, such a strategy may lead to us becoming LibDems after they are destroyed in the next election.

It will be interesting to hear what our new leader has to say about the debacle that is Brighton and Hove council; our sole minority controlled political “success”. I do hope our new leader can help the Councillors of B&H to avoid instituting more Labour/Tory cuts. Perhaps Natalie can work with Alex Phillips, who stood for Deputy Leader, who refused to vote through these cuts.

It is understandable that Caroline Lucas stepped down, in order to defend her seat. I doubt we have a new Caroline Lucas as our new leader.

With Caroline Lucas as MP/Leader GPEW membership increased dramatically. Alas, only a quarter of them bothered to return their voting papers in the pre-paid envelope. I wonder how many people will be enthused enough to renew their membership to a party if it decides to become Lib Dem 2.0?

@10

Do you really believe that the Greens attaining the political presence of the LDs would be a failure? Did you have some kind of leap to world domination in mind? Pray tell.

Regarding the power of any council to implement policies, you do realise its the government that makes most of the decisions, holds the purse strings etc? Don’t you?

9. Chaise Guevara

” Is “W” code for “Littlejohn”? Or are you some poor soul who genuinely can’t tell the difference between a) reducing carbon dioxide output and b) mindless nationalism? They’re kinda different concepts, y’see. ”

The point has nothing to do with the nationality of the person. Greens like localism so they dislike importing stuff from other parts of the world believing that things are better grown or produced locally. So the fact that they appoint a leader grown in Australia is kinda ironic, y’see.

@ 4: Well..er…yes, and well said. The Greens’ policy agenda would plunge the UK economy into a deep shrinkage – and would inevitably increase poverty. But, hey, we’d have ever more largely useless wind turbines, not to mention thousands of hydro-electric schemes that would reduce fish stocks and river flows….Meet you in the teepee for a herbal tea…

14. Chaise Guevara

@ 12 Richard

“The point has nothing to do with the nationality of the person. Greens like localism so they dislike importing stuff from other parts of the world believing that things are better grown or produced locally. So the fact that they appoint a leader grown in Australia is kinda ironic, y’see.”

In a really, really specious way, maybe. But not in a way that should affect a grown-up’s thoughts on politics. I’m not even sure whether a) you’re saying it’s hypocritical to oppose overuse of longhaul transport if you’ve ever been on a long journey yourself, b) you think that the Greem position on localism comes down to “stuff from nearby is higher quality” or c) you can’t tell the difference between people and carrots.

Good luck!


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  2. Jim Jepps

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  3. Ben

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  5. Jim Jepps

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    Three principles that won Natalie Bennett the Green leadership el… – http://t.co/KA9G4kMt – from @Taptu

  7. Anne

    Three principles that won Natalie Bennett the Green leadership election | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/S9KfVHHt via @libcon

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  10. S. Matheson

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  11. Rachel

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