Caroline Lucas elected Green Party ‘Principal Speaker’ by huge margin

The results of this year’s elections to the Green Party’s National Executive have just been announced. The results were all close, except for the most striking result: the enormous majority for Caroline Lucas, elected to the position of female ‘Principal Speaker’. Caroline garnered 78% of the vote; her opponent, Jenny Jones A.M., got just 22%.

Caroline is the main standard-bearer for the ‘Yes’ campaign, who are looking to get the Green Party a Leader in the unprecedented binding membership referendum on this topic next month. Jenny is the main standard-bearer for the ‘No’ campaign, who are fighting to preserve the status quo.

So: If this result is anything to go by — and it may of course turn out that it isn’t, but IF it is — then the ‘Yes’ campaign clearly stands a strong chance of winning the two thirds majority it needs in order to win the referendum, and transform the public image of the Green Party. And then Caroline would surely stand a very strong chance of being elected the first Leader of the Green Party — tonight’s results clearly confirm her status as very much the number one figure within the Party. That would place her in a powerful position to challenge the political status quo in Britain — it would empower her to lead…

With Ming Campbell’s rapid resignation this evening, political attention will focus strongly once more on the question of who will lead Britain through the crises we currently face; above all, the crisis of dangerous climate change [see my post on this from Oct. 5, http://rupertsread.blogspot.com/2007/10/will-it-be-tories-or-greens-who-offer.html ]. Announcing Campbell’s resignation this evening, Vince Cable, Acting Leader now of the LibDems, said that Campbell had clearly shown that the LibDems are the “only Party” campaigning for a “fairer and greener Britain”. The Green Party are about to step up to the plate, to vigorously and publicly contest that claim, and to make a serious case for why it is the Green Party that deserves public trust in fighting for a fairer and greener Britain.

Whoever is chosen to lead the LibDems next, they may have a real fight on their hands. I for one relish the prospect of Caroline Lucas being able to take on on equal terms Chris Huhne or Nick Clegg. . .

p.s. For an account of why I chose to leave the LibDems and join the Greens, see http://www.socialistunitynetwork.co.uk/voices/read.htm

Generation Less

Exclusive to this blog, here is a DRAFT of my next One World Column (see www.oneworldcolumn.org or http://new.edp24.co.uk/content/commentary/OneWorld.aspx for previous columns by myself and fellow columnists.).
Constructively critical comments welcome! Any help improving what will go into the paper would be welcome.
best, and thanks in anticipation; Rupert.

GENERATION LESS

How do we go from Generation Stressed to what could perhaps be termed Generation Blessed? Since ‘X’, one negative term after another has described the rising generation; how can we break the circle, and at last create a new generation that is… blessed?

That we – and in fact not just children, but all of us (http://society.guardian.co.uk/children/story/0,,1871309,00.html ), are Generation Stressed, is scarcely to be denied (for the uptodate evidence, see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6897485.stm ). To verify this, just ask yourself when the last time was that, when you asked someone how they are, they replied, “Yeah, just fine; really relaxed. Totally unstressed.” For many of us, I suspect it was sometime in the 1970s…

I want to propose a way forward. I propose that the way to start to de-stress, is to see that one is actually rich if one has much less than virtually all of us in a country like contemporary Britain have. We can be rich, while living in every sense within our means; and if we live with less, we will have a chance of turning the tide, and showering blessings thereby on our children and their children. We can create Generation Blessed, only by first becoming Generation Less.

‘Generation Less’. At first blush, it can sound negative. But being taught that what we need is more more more is what has made us Generation Stressed in the first place. The cult of consumerism is a treadmill – what used to be called the rat race – that terminally stresses individuals, families, cultures, and ecosystems. I stress “terminally”. The ultimate stress we are under is that cloud hanging over us in the form of a climate that we are changing such that human civilisation itself is under threat. Worse than the threat of non-state terrorism, or of the mushroom cloud, or of the exhaustion of natural resources (according now even to the FT — see www.thepeakist.com/world-will-face-oil-crunch-%e2%80%98in-five-years%e2%80%99/ — ‘Peak Oil’, which will lead to an economic crisis and to a speeding up of dangerous climate change – see my http://oneworldcolumn.org/132.html — may be less than five years away), the abundance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is the ultimate stressor, the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. Our endless more is coming back to haunt us. More: to consume us. With each more throwaway ‘good’ that is produced, we add another brick to the CO2 wall that we are throwing up around our planetary home, and bring terminal over-heat one step closer.

It is the rising tide materialism and consumerism that has brought us to this literal rising tide. Generation Stressed is literally a product of ‘the affluent society’. The way out of stress is through: less.

But less needn’t translate to lack.

Because: Less really is more.

Less stuff. Less waste. Less junk. Less impatience. Less marketing. Less competitiveness. Less working hours. Less travelling. Less carbon emissions. Less fear. Less mental illness. And yes: less speed, and less choice. The speed of life and the amount of choice we are faced with are making us ill and distressed. Just as they make the planet burn.

We’re not talking about hairshirts and deprivation. We’re talking in fact about a better way to live (www.marklynas.org/2007/7/10/a-better-way-to-live ). The convenient truth of the matter is that the very things we need to do in order to stop climate catastrophe are the very things we need to do in order to become happier. Happiness comes not from affluence, not from material goods, but from the recreation of community, security, and simple human kindness. As we relocalise our society, as we reverse the neo-liberal globalisation that has brought us to the edge of catastrophe, we will willy-nilly recreate the seeds of well-being that have been withering since roughly the 70s.

Generation Blessed can come to us. But only if we take the road of Less.

We know that, in the true sense of the words, less is more. So let’s seize the day:

Let’s be Generation Less.

Norwich: congestion capital of the East

The Conservative County Council in Norfolk, in their desperation to fund their beloved Northern Development Road, are looking at all options, including congestion charging. Therefore, a pilot study is being undertaken into congestion charging for Norwich. This is only a study, mind you, and the results aren’t in yet. Nevertheless, the old Parties have all decided that they don’t have to wait for the results…
Some time ago, the Conservative Party in Norwich itself came out all populist guns blazing against the possibility of a congestion charge for Norwich. The LibDems then said that they didn’t think there was enough congestion in and around Norwich to justify a congestion charge being looked into. Now Labour have come out and said exactly the same thing as the LibDems (Norwich Evening News, front page, yesterday (Monday)).
This morning, I travelled out to Easton College, to speak to the students there about dangerous climate change and what we can do about it (e.g. encourage people to drive a little less…). I was travelling out from Norwich, just as the morning rush was travelling in. I have to tell you, I was gob-smacked by the appalling volume of traffic on the B1108 (Earlham Road / Watton Road). Traffic was backed up all the way — a continuous queue — from the Outer Ring Road to well beyond the A47, not far short of Barford. To those who don’t know the area: that is about 5 miles of continuous queued traffic.
To those who say that Norwich is not congested enough to even merit studying a possible congestion charge for the city, I say: please spend a few minutes on the Earlham Road or Watton Road, at rush hour…
Anyone who thinks that Norwich is not a congested place is living in a different universe from the one that I and all those thousands of drivers are living in!

Be prepared: An inspector calls…

So, as predicted in my post of the 5th, no election after all.
This long false alarm, this false inspector calling, has helped all us politicians get prepared… and hopefully that will put us in the Green Party in really good stead for when it really is next time, in 2009 (or 10).
We’ll have more candidates in place, and we’ll be in much better shape to win a Parliamentary seat in Brighton, and maybe in Norwich and Lewisham and Oxford, too.
So overall, I’m pleased by Brown’s announcement. It would have been exciting to have had a crack at kicking some Labour MPs out; but another couple of years will significantly increase our chances of success.

Will it be the Tories or the Greens who offer ‘Green leadership’?

Events, dear Prime Minister, events… Cameron’s unexpectedly impressive polls-bouncing Conference speech – on the back of a ‘populist’ (though appallingly regressive) pledge to give tens of thousands of pounds to the children of dead near-millionaires – seems to have changed the landscape somewhat. The prospects of a November poll are receding a little. Unless Labour’s private polling over the next few days indicates a recovery of the Labour lead to at least 7 points (which remains altogether possible), I now believe that Brown will probably not go this year.
And what of the content of Cameron’s speech? The line that struck me the most was this: “what we must be is the party of sensible, Green leadership, and that is exactly what we are going to stay”. “Sensible” is code for “not actually proposing to do very much”. But it must nevertheless worry every Green Party member that Cameron – the Leader the Party of the super-rich and of John Redwood – can so much as talk about the Conservatives as exhibiting “Green leadership”, and seemingly get away with it. The Conservatives as Green leaders is a total joke; it’s the equivalent of New Labour claiming to be true socialists or the LibDems claiming not to be opportunists… But Cameron does get away with it, because of how invisible the Green Party is on the national media stage. (That we have some local and regional media impact where we are strong does not gainsay our deeply-worrying lack of national coverage, at the very time when ‘our issues’ are more prominent on the national stage than they have ever been.) We were quoted in none of the newspaper articles which quoted this line from Cameron’s speech.
And, while it is true that there is naturally bias against us in the corporate media, it is inaccurate sour grapes for us to blame the corporate media alone for this lack of coverage of the Green Party. The truth is that, despite real strength in our top target areas (we are at last truly in contention, in seats like Brighton Pavillion and Norwich South), we are in low single-figures in the national polls, and we still lack a single MP. We need to give the media a reason to take us seriously, so that they start conveying our message to the public for us for free, as they already do with Cameron’s vapidities. If it is after all going to be 2-3 years before we can get our first MPs, then we need to take maximum advantage of that period. We need to show – now– that we are serious about taking power in the existing system, which is of course what we are going to have to do before we can transform that system.
If the Green Party is to have any hope of competing on an equal footing with Cameron, Brown and Campbell, then we need to be ready to _show_ the public our leadership. The first symbol of this must be for us to move to having a national Leader. When someone like Caroline Lucas is empowered to respond directly, on an equal footing, to Cameron, then we might start seeing the kind of poll bounce that the Conservatives right now are delighting in. I say to my fellow Greens ((and to the rest of you, dear readers: do join! Just click the button at left to get started!…)): Lets be the Party of radical Green leadership — lets show that that is what we are going to stay, by giving our Leader the tools to do the job. Radical policy prescriptions are what is sensible, at this tipping-point in history. Let’s give ourselves a shot at power, when the world desperately needs us to have that power. Let’s lead, proudly and without apology.

No more blood for oil: looking back at the Falklands

Everyone now acknowledges that the Iraq war was about oil. But what about the Falklands conflict? At the time, a few small voices put forward the oil hypothesis: that vast oil deposits surrounded the Falklands/Malvinas and that that, rather than the alleged ‘paramountcy’ of the wishes of a couple of thousand vaguely-English sheep farmers, explained the Conservatives’ risky decision to go to war to recover them. Those voices were shouted down in an outraged and gushing chorus of patriotic fervour that engulfed the country, cheerled by the ‘Gotcha’ press. But now, 25 years on, it is plain to see (check out for example www.guardian.co.uk/oil/story/0,,2174615,00.html ) that those voices were right. The British government couldn’t care less for a couple of thousand of distant nobodies – just contrast the fate of the Chagos islanders, who stood in the way of our imperial designs, with that of the Falkland islanders, whose presence fortuitously assisted those same designs.

An ugly dotted line of savage militarist oil and gas grabs connects the Falklands war with the Iraq debacle (going by way of the 1st Gulf War and the attack on Afghanistan). Next time our soldiers’ lives and our own security from non-state terrorism, — not to mention the lives of millions of Hispanics, Arabs – or Persians – are recklessly put at risk for the sake of a shot at the very same black sticky stuff whose over-combustion is over-heating our fragile Earth, let us rise up, one and all, and say to our home-grown oil-addicted empire of short-sighted selfishness: Never again. We won’t be fooled again.

Who will lead on combatting dangerous climate change?

Listening to Radio 4’s _Today_ programme this morning, I had some trouble digesting my breakfast; I couldn’t help laughing over the repeated claims from Conservatives at Blackpool that their’s is “the green party”. What a total joke. For in fact, this Conference has already seen them junking most of their headline green-leaning policy-recommendations from Zac Goldsmith’s ‘Quality of Life’ policy group. John Redwood’s triumphant ‘Competitiveness’ agenda is clearly winning the day. Poor Zac must already be wondering when to return to the real Green Party. If you want to Go Green, you’ve got to VOTE Green. There is only one Green Party…

No-one can take seriously the fantasy that the number 1 Party of big business, the Tories, would truly have a green agenda. It is more interesting to turn one’s attention to the claims of Blair, Brown, and Brown’s most likely successor (if he manages somehow to blow the upcoming General Election), David Miliband, to have something to say about dangerous climate change. Opinion polls show that the populace do not trust the claims of Cameron (with his bicycle and his chauffeur-driven Lexus riding quietly along behind the bike) to be serious about the environment. But an alarming number do believe that New Labour’s commitment to tackling dangerous climate change is more than just spin, more than just dangerous hot air…

I am especially concerned that David Miliband has lyingly spun his government’s ‘achievements’ on dangerous climate change, and thereby lulled the populace into a false sense of security: such that most people don’t even realise that our CO2 emissions here in Britain are still going remorselessly up, each year. Miliband has misleadingly claimed on numerous occasions that the fact that the government is perhaps going to meet the Kyoto target in narrow technical terms implies that it is actually reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But this is simply not the case.
Milliband has claimed that the UK had achieved major cuts in greenhouse gases since 1990 (incredibly, he has often cited alleged figures of Britain being on course to achieve 25% reductions in CO2 emissions by 2012). The figures that Miliband and his successors at DEFRA are using leave out embodied energy, the quite proper inclusion of which would make a
complete nonsense of any such notions (Britain is in fact ‘exporting’ its carbon emissions to China).
Even on the most generous figures available to the government (not only excluding embodied energy but also excluding international transport — see below), CO2 has more or less flatlined since Labour came to power, rising in recent years, and thus showing an overall
small rise and is only slightly (a few percentage points) below 1990 (Kyoto baseline) levels. The greenhouse gas “basket”, which Mr. Milliband and other Ministers are probably referring to is down more significantly on 1990 … BUT this measure EXCLUDES AVIATION AND SHIPPING !! When those are included, there has been little or no reduction even since 1990.
And in fact, there has been and remains a further systematic massive under-estimate of Britain‘s contribution to CO2 emissions from air travel, because only aircraft taking off from Britain are counted. That sounds reasonable, UNTIL ONE NOTICES that almost 70% of the passengers taking off and landing in Britain are Britons. I.e. Defra ought to be attributing 70% — not 50% — of the emissions of planes taking off from and landing in Britain to the UK. This makes a huge difference.
Between 1990 and 2003, estimated CO2 emissions from aviation rose by 90%, a staggering increase. And even then the government stats do _not_ take into account the full effects of ‘radiative forcing’ — the increased global heating effect of emissions at high altitude, with the cocktail of gases and water vapour that planes emit.

So New Labour’s claims as to its record on emissions are at best very partial and very deeply misleading. If the full effects of the increase in aviation, avidly promoted by this government, are included, then it is quite possible that there has been a significant _increase_ in global warming gas emissions due to Britain since 1990, and there _certainly_ has since 1997. A long long way from what Mr. Miliband and other leading New Labourites have claimed in print, repeatedly. For how can Britain possibly be “on course” to achieve the substantial reductions that they claims, in just a few years from now, if in fact there has been an increase in emissions, since New Labour came to power?!

[ p.s. Shamefully, Gordon Brown didn’t even mention global over-heat in his speech closing Labour Party Conference last week. But, in case you think that David Miliband would be likely to be any better, the following newspaper article is of potential interest. It sets out some of the ways in which even the Labour Party doesn’t really think that Miliband, behind the spin, is green…Perhaps this might help explain why Miliband was, in a surprise to many, moved on from DEFRA, after Mr. Brown took over?…: http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.1300488.0.labour_green_group_seeks_to_oust_pronuclear_miliband.php ]

The ‘Northern lots-of-unwanted-new-Development Road’ [‘NDR’]

A little while ago, I was on Radio Norwich, talking about the extraordinary and highly-unusual decision of Norfolk County Council not to competitively tender for the building of the Norwich ‘Northern Distributor Road’ [or the Norwich ‘Northern lots-of-unwanted-new-Development Road’ (see http://www.norwichn25.org/ for details) as it should perhaps more accurately be called…]. The Norfolk Tories decided to award the £106.5m contract [though the road will actually likely cost over £140m] to May Gurney [their ‘partners’] without even considering any alternative bidders.
How nice, to see such a trusting relationship in local politics/business…
Some might call it a friendly relationship
They might possibly even call it chummy
[I couldn’t possibly comment…]
A few hours later, news came to me by phone of a well-placed industry source who was incensed at this “collusive tendering”, and who questions whether the County’s plans were legal
So it was no surprise to me whatsoever when the government rejected out of hand the County’s intentions. The _Eastern Daily Press_ reported (
“Government veto for bypass contract”) on 20 September that this desperately-bad County Council decision, that the government has now vetoed, will cost Council taxpayers “hundreds” of pounds. That is, to put it mildly, an under-estimate. The wasted money from all the Council-officer time spent on this, for wasted work by May Gurney which we will end up paying for, and (above all) the legal fees that the County Council will now have spent out on checking out whether or not their “collusive tendering” was legal (which presumably the government thinks it was not) is just the latest in a string of disastrous financial decisions made by the Tory County Administration (most notably, the PFI Contracts for school-building which have cost Council-Tax-payers here untold wasted millions)…
Rest assured that this blog will keep a close eye on any cronyism at County Hall, and everywhere in East Anglia where it appears to be taking place.
p.s. Perhaps the supposed political consensus outside the Green Party in favour of the NDR is a paper tiger, in any case. Consider the following quote: “Not many of us support the NDR really but we say we support it in principle to get other improvements.” Spoken by Councillor Brian Morrey, outspoken Labour Executive member, at the City Council Executive meeting, 11th July 2007. Comment is superfluous…

Why the Green Party needs Leadership

I’ve written this little essay for this blog, to explain where I stand on the question of leadership in the Green Party. Comments are welcome!

The OED’s first definition of the verb ‘to lead’ is: ‘to accompany and show the way to’ – implying both community and enlightenment – ‘showing’ the way, rather than forcing down a particular path…

Green leadership: Introduction

Blair. Brown. Campbell. Cameron. Owen. Steel. Thatcher.

Leaders? Hardly. Elective dictators, more like it. Dictatorial wielders of power over their own Parties and (when they are given the opportunity) the country. Miniature Caesars or Saddams. Forced to some extent to be that way by the media culture of this country, which (absurdly) equates being strong with brooking no internal division or opposition – when actually a mark of real strength is precisely a leader’s being big enough to allow real internal division and debate.

The Green Party is having an open, transparent democratic debate at present, on a very important issue – whether or not to have a Leader, or Co-Leaders; or to stick with the present system, in which we have no leader, but we do have two ‘Principal Speakers’ (whatever that means). Within a couple of months, the Green Party’s membership will make a momentous decision in a referendum – whether to change its existing system for a new system, in which we will have a Leader / Co-Leaders.

Not a dictator. Green Party policy will still be made by Party Conference. The leader’s responsibility will not be to dictate policy, but… to lead the Party. In terms of communication, strategy, and day-to-day direction.

Real leadership is about something very different from what Blair, Brown et al have offered. It is about inspiration, service — and teamwork.

It is easy to react against the dire state of leadership in this country, and against the very-centralised way in which the ‘main’ Parties are run, by proposing the ‘radical’ alternative that at present grips the Green Party: having no leaders at all. But as radical political activists have known for a long time, ‘leaderlessness’ or anarchy is just as tyrannical as tyranny: take a look at the wonderful essay, “The tyranny of structurelessness”, from 1970, for an account of why [ www.bopsecrets.org/CF/structurelessness.htm ]. Without accountable Leaders, picked by the Party, the Party will be led (if led at all) in practice by those simply with the most time, the most cunning, or the most bombasticness. And without accountable Leaders, agreed upon by the Party, that Party will in the end have its leaders picked for it by the media, who will home in on their own preferred ‘stars’ within the Party. As happened to us in the late 1980s.

And never forget that the cleverest way for a big ego to hide itself is for its owner to pretend to be against leadership. An egoist has the perfect alibi, if they claim not to want to be a leader…

Acountability: Formal acknowledgement of Power is better than covering up “Informal Power

If somebody is essentially running the Green party, or sounding off and making Green Party policy on the hoof in the process, but without being elected to any “leadership” position, is that an accountable thing? I say not; but that is the model the “No-to-leadership” advocates in the Green Party prefer. I believe in clearly marking WHO has power in our structures, so we as members, Councillors etc. know who to turn to for help, we know who is responsible for what, and we know who to make accountable for their decisions if things go wrong.

Power is everywhere. Informal power abounds. Named Leadership positions in the Green Party are about RECOGNISING and acknowledging who has power. Let’s give the lie to so-called flat-leadership structures and expose where power really lies in our organisation, and make the power relations transparent.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if – in the real world – as well as voting for which political parties ruled us, we had a vote on the REAL people that largely lead our country, our economy, our world … THE CORPORATIONS..!!! The UK‘s political system HIDES the real power relations in the world by offering us a pseudo-democratic front. Because it fails to name and expose the REAL leaders, they are not held to account. The problem is not the leaders — after all, don’t WE want to lead Britain to a better more ethical and sustainable world…? The problem is that the REAL leaders are covered-up, hidden from sight. We must not let the same happen in the Green Party.

But that is what is happening in the Green Party at present. We are led by… no-one, and thus have a lack of direction and purpose in the Party. We are led by… about 40 people, distributed around various internal organisations (the ‘Green Party Regional Council’, the ‘Green Party Executive’ etc.) – this enables lots of handy buck-passing… . We are led by… two Principal Speakers, who can choose to act like leaders if they want to, and lead us by the nose through making statements on the hoof, and can then conveniently deny that they are leaders at all, …they are only ‘Speakers’; so how can they be guilty of careerism or of being more than a mouthpiece?…

We need real accountable leadership. We need to know where the buck stops.

Identification with the leader: why the public want leaders, and why they are right

My experience, when talking to ordinary voters about this issue, is that it is just common-sense for a political Party to have a Leader. People want a face, a person, who they can connect to. Not merely an anonymous organisation or set of principles. We aren’t brought up on such anonymity. We aren’t used to it. Our social forms sit ill with it. That’s why we introduce ourselves at meetings. Indeed, at any social gatherings.

Our psychology has built into it a need to embody what we hear and understand and believe in.

The need to connect, to identify, is rooted deep in our heritage as human animals who flourish best in relatively small-scale localised groups where trust is relatively easy because the people in the group are mostly known to us.

This is a Green ideal. Not anonymous mass society.

Leadership works for us humans cognitively – it gives us a name, a face, a person, who is recognisable, accountable, knowable. You can get to know a person; You can’t really get to know a principle or an organisation. You can get to know Jenny Jones or Caroline Lucas or Adrian Ramsay.

But, under the Green Party’s current rules, you aren’t allowed to really project one of them as a personality, as someone whose name is on the line, as someone who can embody what the Party stands for… The public want us to have a Leader because they want us to be successful; but, more than that, they want us to have a leader just so that they can get to know us. So that they can see who we are.

And I think that it would work really well for us to have one or two figures actually at our head, to go up directly against Brown or Campbell or Cameron (or (God forbid) Griffin…); because for instance while these grey politicians cannot point to living a seriously green lifestyle themselves, our leader(s) could.

You would never catch Caroline Lucas cycling along with a chauffeured Lexus driving along quietly behind her!

We are missing a huge opportunity to communicate our message effectively to the public, by not having a face that they can identify, a life that they can measure up to our ideals, a person embodying our Party that represents it to them. A leader.


Provisional conclusion

Our country, and our world — this one and only world that we have — desperately needs real leadership, at this pivotal moment in human history. The long emergency of diminishing oil supplies and escalating climate change is underway: there is no external enemy to fight anymore. The enemy, in a way, is us humans: our own desires, manipulated and magnified by the markets, until we threaten to consume our one and only planetary home. This ought to be the overwhelming issue in the General Election campaign now in effect beginning. That it is not, is an indictment of our political system and of the corporations which in effect run that system.

We only have one Earth, and one chance to treat it right. Now is not the time for dictatorship or for anarchy; now is the time for true leadership. Nations and political Parties need leaders, who are prepared to inspire, to lead from the front, and thereby to work as part of a team, to face the vast challenges which we must respond to fast, if we are not to fail our children in the most disastrous way possible.

That is my argument. I think it is pretty evident that it is right… But before leaving the topic, a little more on why the other point of view is wrong…:

Leaderlessness: a liberal empiricist fantasy

It is an individualist fantasy to think that everyone is equally suited to leading. There are very few who are genuinely and consistently capable of leading (as opposed to being tyrants or dictators, which is easier). Let me explain this in a little more detail:

Anti-leadership is a liberal or libertarian fantasy. It is not radical or left-wing. It is covertly right-wing. It is in the end just as silly – as quite literally absurd — as ‘the American dream’, the absurd notion that everyone can be a millionaire, if only they work hard enough. Participatory democracy etc. is great; but there are still always leaders, and to pretend otherwise is to stick one’s head in the sand. (Actually, anyone who believes in representative democracy at all already believes in leadership. I am an elected Councillor. Only my fellow Councillors and I can speak and vote, at full City Council meetings. A consistent anti-leadership position would abolish this rule. Would the anarchy that followed really have much to recommend it? ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES ARE ALWAYS ALREADY LEADERS. Right now, we in the Green Party are working hard to get outstanding individuals elected to Westminster: Caroline Lucas in Brighton, Adrian Ramsay in Norwich, Darren Johnson in Lewisham. It is just inconsistent to go along with that, to work for that crucially-necessary outcome, and yet not to allow groups of elected reps, or Parties, to have leaders.) Some of us are well-suited to lead in various ways, others are not. Precisely to what extent this is a result of nature or nurture is ultimately irrelevant – it is an empiricist fantasy to pretend that we are all equally suited ‘in principle’ to lead. We are (become) different. Some (few) of us are good at leading. They/we should be supported and enabled to flourish — not attacked or kept in chains.

Anarchism is a fine political tradition, with much to warn us about and much to teach us. But when it teaches an absence of leadership, it teaches wrong — and it teaches, moreover, in ways that are merely liberal and empiricist. As greens, we ought to be way beyond such dismal theories.

Being green is not about being ‘liberal’. A good dash of social liberalism – fomenting a pluralist society, that welcomes people of different ethnicities and sexualities, that includes the disabled, and so on – is welcome. But being liberal for the sake of it is wrong. It is wrong to be liberal — tolerant — towards everything, including ideologies of hate, such as racism, holocaust denial, dangerous-climate-change denial, and ‘greed is good’. Liberalism encourages each individual to be and to say and to do and to consume what they want, provided only that other actual individuals are not directly harmed: Being green (by contrast) is about entering into a covenant with the future, and holding future beings and all our ecosystem sacred. This is among other things a spiritual calling which is anethma to liberalism (for liberalism holds that spiritual matters can only ever be matters of ‘private’ conscience). Being green is about us acting and living naturally as teams, as collectivities, as communities, as unities. Not as individuals each with the alleged same capacity to lead. We function naturally as collectivities, teams, unities – and some of us, in these ways of working organically as teams, are better than others at inspiring, at co-ordinating, at planning, at arguing, at communicating. These are the leaders.

Leaderlessness-advocates claim that we are all of us and none of us leaders – all of us because we can all lead, and none of us because none of us ought to follow. This is the same kind of fantasy that drives advertising that implies that we can all have the best car, all have the best body, etc. . It’s a lie.

Anti-leadership people have been sucked into a right-wing [liberal, consumerist, etc.] ideology without realising it. Leaderlessness is a liberal fantasy. It is not an ideal. And it is not green. And it is certainly a quite hopeless basis on which to run a political party.

The only difference between right-wing liberals/libertarians and ‘left-wing’ (actually, there is nothing at all ‘left’ about leaderlessness)/anarchist liberals/libertarians, on the issue of leadership, is: that the self-styled ‘left-wing’ anti-leader people say that we can all become leaders, with enough help. But this just isn’t true. It is nonsense, to pretend that everyone whose door we knock on could, with enough assistance, become the next Caroline Lucas. Such nonsense holds us back, as a Party, from achieving what we need to. The British people want us to win, and to win big. To save the future. Lacking a Leader is getting in the way of this vital ambition.

Real leadership, is leading – co-ordinating, inspiring, and strategically spearheading –a team of others who have complementary skills. That is what the Green Party needs.

[For an excellent actually-empirically-grounded ‘green’ account of the skills needed in a successful team, including liberatory political leadership skills, I recommend Roy Madron’s Schumacher Briefing book, ‘Gaian democracies’. (http://www.gaiandemocracy.net/articles/SB%20Summary.pdf for a summary; see also http://www.feasta.org/documents/review2/gaian_democracies.htm )]

Conclusion

The Green Party’s system of ‘Principal Speakers’ has been monumentally ineffective. It has not changed the political culture of this country one jot. Meanwhile, it has positively hindered Greens from getting our messages over to the general public.

But there is a way that we could start to change the political culture of this country: By making progress in its political system, and by doing leadership differently, along the way.

We could show that real leadership is far from what our ‘leaders’ to date have believed. We could demonstrate, by practising leadership in a different way, what leadership really is.

And we could lead the country toward safety and a better future, in the process.

To safeguard our sacred home and our sacred salves is our sacred task.

We are of the Earth. We are of each other. We are not discrete individuals. Leading (and yes, sometimes following) is being one. A whole. Anarchism – the fantasy that all of us and none of us are leaders – is a fantasy that is attractive in (dangerously) individualistic times, and in times where mainstream leaders (most of whom operate as dictators) have given real leadership a bad name.

But if there is a way to save our society, our souls, and our descendants, it will not be individualistic. It will be by means of true team-working. And true teamwork requires true leadership, as part thereof.

Leadership needs to be reclaimed. As a virtue. As something that is not dictatorship, but is… leadership.

Let us be ready to value and support true leaders, at this fateful moment in humanity’s story. Leaders who inspire and yet remain humble; who want to serve, not merely to glorify themselves; who do not pretend to do it all themselves, but rather are willing to be democratic; who have overcome the tendency to authoritarianism, dishonesty and manipulation, but who are ready to step up to the plate and say that they will take responsibility, and not merely hide behind a collective organisation… these are the women and men who may yet lead us through the crisis of our times.

In sum: It is nothing less than vital for the wider world that the Green Party embraces this conclusion, by the membership voting for Leadership, in the referendum later this year.

[ Links: For my recent Eastern Daily Press column exploring similar issues in the context of Shakespeare’s Henry V, please goto http://oneworldcolumn.org/158.html ]

For more to convince you of the need for the Green Party to go for Leadership, please goto www.greenyes.org or http://www.greenyes.org/rupert_read.html ]