'the lesson is, I would argue, to build structures that guard against high star figures dominating and to anticipate lows to follow highs and to expect attempts at destabilisation. I would imagine this happening to the Greens should there be any chance of electoral breakthrough'
PB443 We seek a society in which people are empowered and involved in making the decisions which affect them. We reject the hierarchical structure of leaders and followers, and, instead advocate participatory politics. For this reason the Green Party itself does not have an individual leader."span> - Philosophical Basis of the Green Party of England and Wales
The leadership debate is likely to be in the air at the Green Party Autumn Conference in September. Lots of members are frustrated and feel a leader could give the party a boost; Caroline Lucas MEP (pictured below) cuts an obvious figure. She is good on TV and has an attractive passion. Of course, from the perspective of those suspicious of leadership, she is a good bet - Caroline is a radical with a good record on social justice and anti-capitalism but also cautious and happy to get the opinion of others. She is no control freak, she would make an excellent leader. The concept of a 'leader' is very problematic
However, the real reason for the lack of Green parliamentarians is the absence of Proportional Representation (PR). Leaders generally move parties in a less radical direction and those who seek to lead are often psychologically damaged, using external focus as a salve for innner wounds.
A green society will not be achieve via leadership: people have to be self motivated. Certainly, a green society will require grassroots change.
The Green Movement could also become vulnerable if it is associated with one figure. The Anti-Roads Movement was strong because it was based on mass participation and direct action. When 'Swampy' was elected as 'leader' by the media, this was very double-edged.
Venezuela has been empowered by an effective leader - but unless leadership is taken on by millions of people, social change will be fragile.
One of my co-ecosocialists noted (on the consistently fascinating Green Left e-list) these comments about the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) and its leader Tommy Sheridan:
"... Tommy Sheridan appears to be cold shouldered amongst various allegations, including sexual misdemeanours. Various sources indicate M15 invovlement and attempts to destabilise the party. Whatever the ins and outs, I think the SSP has been a relatively positive development and it is sad to see it go down this road... although the SSP was in part developed as a result of Sheridan's base in the anti-poll tax movement, the lesson is, I would argue, to build structures that guard against high star figures dominating and to anticipate lows to follow highs and to expect attempts at destabilisation. I would imagine this happening to the Greens should there be any chance of electoral breakthrough."
The Scottish Socialist Party .August bulletin notes
By rights, the SSP should now be
preparing to emerge as a major force in
Scottish politics. But instead of looking
forward to spectacular advances in next
year's Holyrood and council elections, the
party is now on the brink of destruction.
crisis in the party
For 20 months the party has not put in writing the situation
regarding Tommy Sheridan’s resignation as
Now the court case is over, Alan McCombes, national
policy and press coordinator, has prepared this article
to ensure that party members hear the true situation
from the party.
Along with this members’ bulletin, you will find a copy
of the Executive Committee minutes of 9 November
2004. At the end of this meeting there were 19 people
in attendance who all agreed that Tommy should be
asked to resign. The following members, who were at
the meeting can verify that Tommy admmitted to
attending Cupids Club in Manchester and that he
intended to lie about this: Carolyn Leckie, Jo Harvie,
Felicity Garvie, Colin Fox, Catriona Grant, Rosie Kane,
Keith Baldassara’ Allan Green, Frances Curran, Richie
Venton, Steven Nimmo, Alan McCombes, Barbara
Scott, Allison Kane and Kevin McVey.'
Stroppyblog has an interest take on this and there are lots of articles on the Sheridan debacle here
Whether you are for or against 'leaders', a host of barriers to a green society, including the MI5, hostile media, US pressure and the habits of a far from green society, will make things tough.
Green politics demand deep and critical thought about how we change society so we can sustain our beautiful world. One thing is for certain - there ain't no quick fix.