Well, leadership nominations have not closed as yet and you still have time to put yourself forward for this or any other national executive position, offer ends 31st July. Personally I'd like to see every position contested, not just the "sexy" top jobs of leader and deputy leader as it presents a unique opportunity to shape the direction of the party.
As Matt Sellwood mentioned a couple of weeks ago on this very blog; "An internal election has the potential to generate much-needed debate about what the Green Party is about, where we are going, what our priorities should be, and what form of organisation is best able to deliver them. It is difficult to have that debate if positions are uncontested."
So it's good to see people taking the contest seriously and Caroline Lucas has launched her campaign to become leader of the party today, which includes this very well designed website. I thought I'd take a look at what she has to say as an indicator of the kind of leader Caroline aspires to be.
She begins by defining the Party as "a radical voice in British politics" which is building into an "effective and credible force". Her constant references to a "leadership team" as opposed to either a soppy "all of us together" or an unrealistic "what I'll do for you" approach I find particularly appealing because once again it seems to fuse pragmatism with an optimistic, positive outlook.
The political content is laid out in a very well defined and succinct fashion. The party should be about climate change and social justice. She states that "we face a country more unequal than it has been for decades. Only the Green Party has coherent alternatives to government policies that are privatising public services, increasing inequalities, and leading to greater violence and exclusion."
In terms of a strategic vision it seems to me that the over arching theme is one where we should become far more electorally ambitious, not just in those key target areas but across the country in local and European elections. If I can be frank for a moment though, the stated aim that "at the next General Election, I would love the Party to be in a position to offer everyone in the country the opportunity to vote Green" seems not just far fetched but cuts against what otherwise is a very strong and realistic approach.
That's not to say that the principle of throwing the net wide whilst focusing on key seats is wrong, but to pour money and resources into standing in areas where we have neither a functioning party nor any reason to think the area will be fertile ground for us seems like an unnecessary and unwanted distraction. Oh well, we disagree on this point. The key point where we do agree is that the Green Party is "already putting in place our most professional campaigns ever" and ones that have a good chance of success.
I particularly liked the get involved section of the campaign site, with its focus on signing local members up as national members, and ensuring that supporters are paid up members by July 24th so they can play a full part in this important political decision making process.
For internal democracy to be meaningful it has to be both inclusive and vibrant in a very concrete way - I've no doubt some will be sniffy about the idea of any campaigning at all but without reaching out and spreading the discussion executive posts would inevitably go to those best placed to gain profile in the party, or factions within it, rather than allowing the members as whole to make genuinely informed decisions.
A healthy and active internal democracy is also something that attracts those who have not yet joined the party rather than repels them. Personally I don't give any credit to the idea that internal democracy is something that should held in secret - because this inevitably ends up shielding the members themselves from discussion and does nothing to increase transparency and accountability of the executive to the members and of the party to the public.
From my perspective members need to base their decisions in this election on a number of factors;
- whether they trust the candidate will do a good job. I think the vast majority of members will agree Caroline will certainly do that.
- whether the Candidate is strategically placed in a way that, by electing them as leader, they advance the party as a whole. In terms of giving Brighton Pavilion an edge at the general election this is clearly an important element in Caroline's favour.
- whether Caroline's politics and tactical vision encapsulate the views of Party members. I think this would be the area that anyone seeking to take Caroline on would have to target if they were to stand any chance of making a credible challenge. For me the message of a radical vision combined with no nonsense professionalism is extremely attractive, but I'm certain there are other points, both political and strategic, that can be made that members will have sympathy with, we'll have to wait and see if anyone chooses to make those arguments.