Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ashley Gunstock launches leadership bid

Yes, I can confirm that the election for Leader of the Green Party will definitely be contested. Caroline Lucas will have at least one opponent, that of Ashley Gunstock, a veteran of many Principal Speaker elections and a member of the Green Party for a whacking twenty years (before I go on: a declaration of interest, I signed Ashley's nomination papers).

You can read Ashley's launch statement over at his new blog that's been set up for his leadership bid. I think this is clearly not something he'd been initially intending to do, so it's great to see the candidates raising the bar for these elections, hopefully making for a livelier and fuller debate than we may have had in previous years.

The design of his blog is quick and simple - and to my eye uncluttered, svelte and readable. It's impressive to think that something like this can be set up in an afternoon and for free. I was particularly glad to see that all of the obvious pitfalls of the novice blogger have been avoided (Son of Moto template, five hundred different shaped logos in the side bar, bells and whistles that add nothing except clutter). Good stuff.

There are probably a couple of the tiniest of niggles or improvements that could be made to the design but I've sent them on direct as to immortalise what are essentially minor points seems a little disproportionate. Now obviously it doesn't quite stand up to Caroline's site - but then they've spent some money and put someone with serious skills on the case, what I think Ashley's site shows is that these days you can create a decent info point on the web without much difficulty - which he has done.

On to the content. He's posted up a number of press items - including annoying Starbucks, calling for cheaper tube travel, opposing nuclear weapons and climate change. All good stuff I'm sure you'll agree. There's also a call for something called a "compassionate charter" calling for councils and the GLA to promote animal rights. I doubt this would be the way I'd lay out my red-green manifesto but that's not where Ashley's coming from.

If we look at Ashley's statement I think he outlines the kind of credentials that would play very well when seeking to get elected locally, although again not having had the leading role Caroline has had, nor her level of electoral success (although he's fought hard and improved the Green Party performance in his area) it's always going to be something that's difficult to match her on.

I'd also point out that the campaigning areas he outlines in this statement (on homelessness, fair trade, road safety, anti-fascism and others) indicate a consistently compassionate set of politics, one that promotes the desire for a better, fairer world but on a human scale.

I don't quite know why it tickles me so much but I love the fact that he's a soccer coach and that he says this "attun[es] me to what is happening with today’s youth". In fact, although I happen to quite like that flourish if I were to look for something to nitpick it would be in this area of style rather than the substance of what he has to say. I wonder how positive the reference to a "Green agenda" and "our agenda" would look to someone newer to the party, or more hostile to Green politics generally. Also the terms "televisual" and "resolute" don't quite flow, but I'm torn between enjoying the rhetorical style and wondering how this might play more generally.

But these are niggles, and I'm sure you don't expect me to lavish praise without a few critical thoughts thrown into the mix. At the end of the day Ashley is going to have his work cut out for him over the next month and a bit. I suspect he'll improve on his result from last year for Male Principal Speaker where he got just under ten percent of first preference votes, but it certainly indicates a big hill to climb.

NB: Don't forget that I'll be hosting an online hustings for the leadership candidates early next week. If you want to submit a question for that simply email me, you don't have to be a Green Party member or resident of England or Wales to take part, but you can't submit anonymously. What do you want to ask the candidates?

7 comments:

Rayyan Mirza said...

I really like his launch statement - I am voting for Caroline for Leader and it's a good thing she has some principled competition but I would definitely like to see Ashley take up a role on the national GPEW stage, as it is clear he has a lot to offer, especially in setting up and providing training for new local parties.

Green Gordon said...

Yes, for goodness sake, why haven't I seen Ashley running for GPEx yet? External comms or campaigns could be good roles to run for, demonstrate his skills, and increase his chance of getting into a leadership role in the future.

weggis said...

There is now more stuff on Ashley's blog, but it's backdated. However, there is now also a categories list to help visitors move around.

Jim Jay said...

Gordon: I don't know what Ashley's plans are but in the unlikely event that he does not win this time, because the leadership terms are two years (which I voted against but never mind that now), it means he has a year's grace to go for one of these roles that you mention to give himself some practice at this level of the party and the rest of us more experience of what he's like...

Anonymous said...

Ashley HAS run for GPEx - he has stood for Principal Speaker for the last two years (which IS a GPEx post, before anyone says otherwise). So he hasn't succeeded yet, but sometimes you don't win at the first attempt.
Don't forget that this is the same role under a new name, and there have been plenty of Principal Speakers for whom it was their first GPEx post.

Green Gordon said...

Sorry, what I should have said was a "voting member of GPEx". Have there been many Principal Speakers (post-Green 2000) who have not had a national or party profile? Without wanting to do Ashley down, I think his party profile is mostly around running for Principal Speaker. Good on Ashley, though, anyway. It's a shame there's not a contest for Deputy. If Ashley wins we'll have to hold another election...

weggis said...

....and wouldn't that be fun?