5 Nov 2007

Who needs Leaders?

Every time there is a leadership election for the Lib Dems, the Green party gains members. Let's keep the traffic flowing in the right direction rather than having high profile and divisive contests for a figure built up and then knocked down by the media.

Disobedience not "followership" is a Green virtue. This is a point well made by radicals in other parties. Donnachadh McCarthy, environmental journalist and former deputy chair of the Lib Dems has argued:

"Over 600,000 people have died in Iraq because the Labour party has a unified leadership system that allowed their leader, almost single-handedly to drag the UK into an illegal war. My experience as Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats was that a single leadership allows big business to bypass the democratic structures of the party, thus no matter who we vote for, they are always in power. The Greens alone currently have a leadership system that prevents this. It is crucial they retain it for the sake of the wider body politic."

Leaders provide an easy target for manipulation by the corporations and often manipulate members to make their parties less radical, evoking short-term electoral gain. Votes for principles ultimately are a gamble that sacrifices both ethics and success.

More here


Dean Walton said...

Seeing as Derek appears to consider that a quote from an ex-Lib Dem, who has not as far as I am aware joined the flow of members to the Greens from the Lib Dems, should have some influence in the Party, readers to his blog might want to hear alternative views from those who have recent & relevant experience of standing for and winning elections in the Party and more importantly recruiting members into the Party too. The result being to put Greens into positions where we can directly influence and take decisions - from protecting adult social care budgets here in Lewisham, to halting plans for a massive motorway (sorry local six-lane road bridge) over the Thames in East London, to making the case for an end to airport expansion madness everywhere generally. We shouldn't forget that elected Greens are there as a constant reminder that society has less than ten years to act if we are to avoid the worst excesses of man-made climate change - fact!

Mike Woodin:
“Individual personalities. We all know that Robin Harper and Darren Johnson are, what shall we say, strong personalities? Leaders? And didn't it help them and us get elected? And doesn't it boost our media profile. It's the same at the local level, I know from personal experience, you do not get to be the person who first wins a target ward without a bit of an ego, without being driven, without pushing yourself forward, and without inspiring a team of people to work their socks off yes for the party, but also for you.

“The electorate relate to personalities not complex concepts, just as complex concepts like Marxism and Thatcherism often take the names of those who invented them. There are problems with modern political leaders, but in going as far as we do to avoid those problems we frequently deny ourselves and the electorate leadership, and force our representatives to walk a tightrope, which in my experience undermines their credibility and denies them exposure.

“I believe there are concessions we could make to the human nature of the electorate and the media that would not involve handing the entire party over to an un-sackable despot.”

The late Dr Mike Woodin, former Principal Speaker, in a speech to Green Party Conference September 2001. Quote by kind permission of Deborah Glass-Woodin.

Caroline Lucas:
“This referendum offers us a vital opportunity to demonstrate that alternative models of leadership are possible - not top-down and authoritarian, but inspirational and persuasive. Given the scale and urgency of the Green message, we owe it to ourselves, and to the electorate, to make our Party as effective as we can - I believe that developing authentic leadership models is a major part of that process.”

Caroline Lucas MEP, South East England

“This motion does not concentrate power in a single, all-powerful leader but will give a clearer focus for the public and help to bring the Greens more firmly in to the political arena. I now believe the lack of a clear "face" for the Party makes it more difficult for the general public to identify us and for us to take the next leap in our political development. We have changed our "leadership" structures before to help our political advancement. There is nothing in this motion that prevents other Party members from showing leadership, gaining a public profile and helping to empower ourselves and others. I shall vote for change because I think it is now necessary.”

Jean Lambert MEP, London

“We the Green Party in Northern Ireland have been through some major changes in the last four years. From nowhere on the political landscape, we are now the sixth largest party. This year we won our first seat in the local assembly elections, when Brian Wilson was elected as MLA for North Down.

“Having a clearly identifiable leader, who is passionate and inspiring about our green party message, someone who can voice our concerns, our ideas, and our answers will help communicate more efficiently. I hope to see a Green Party leader up there debating, with the Camerons’ and the Browns’ of our society. Then we will have a real opportunity to highlight the flaws in their policies, show how un-green they really are.

“I would encourage all members to vote for a leader; help get our message out and save our environment.”

Kelly Andrews, Co-leader, Northern Ireland Green Party

Oh, and I'll be voting 'YES' by the way!!

More of these on www.greenyes.org

Derek Wall said...

The Greens formed political parties in order to bring change to the mainstream parties by forcing green issues onto the political agenda and they have had undeniable success in this endeavour.
However, if a Green party is seeking a 'leader' of all things then clearly the influence has been two ways and the Greens are on their way to becoming 'just another bunch of self-serving politicians who believe 'representative democracy' is the way to go.
If this initiative succeeds then before long they will have parliamentary caucuses which will determine policy and the bulk of members will become mere spear carriers.
They will end up like Greenpeace - a corporation run by excutives who merely solicit donations from a passive membership; and there goes the planet.

is one comment on the other blog....One Leader to rule us I don't think so!

Matt Ledbury said...

It's quite an impressive claim to say that "Every time there is a leadership election for the Lib Dems, the Green party gains members", but as someone who sees the party's membership figures every time an issue of Green World is about to go out, I can recall no discernible extra increase at all when they last had a leadership election in early 2006. So do you have any evidence for your claim, or is it just at best a blend of anecdotal evidence and wishful thinking?

Anonymous said...

As someone who will be voting No, I just feel like its the Ecology to Green thing all over again. It will just keep coming back until it eventually gets accepted.

With the name change it was almost a relief, because at last the party could get back to focusing on things beyond the party itself.

PS Still think we should be called Ecology - if I bring the idea before conferance again and.........

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