Jonathan is standing for election as co-Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales alongside Caroline Lucas MP.
This is a watershed moment. We’ve been building to it for some time now. Our broken political system is leaving huge swathes of the UK abandoned and voiceless. The Green Surge, Corbynmania, the rise of UKIP, the EU referendum result, however much we may agree of disagree with them, are all signs of a fierce rejection of the status quo and a cry for something new. The Green Party has something new to offer.
We are the party for the future
Ours is the vision that will revolutionise the politics of old and transform it into something that not only speaks to, but works with and is led by the many, rather than the few. At this pivotal moment, we must make sure that our vision is shared loud and clear and sets a Green fire alight in communities in every corner of the country.
I’ve spent years focused on doing exactly that in my home borough of Lambeth, South London. Lambeth is a battleground for divided Britain. One of the most unequal boroughs. One of the boroughs with the highest levels of deprivation. Failed regeneration schemes have left a palpable divide between the “haves” and the “have nots”. There’s a trail of destruction from harsh government cuts, and a painful disconnect between those pulling the political strings and those suffering the consequences.
I have stood arm-in-arm with elderly residents being evicted from their sheltered accommodation. I have mobilised members behind resident-led campaigns to fight the demolition of local council estates and to save libraries. And I managed the campaign to elect one of London’s four Green councillors in a traditionally unwinnable seat. Through nurturing relationships with communities, and hours spent printing flyers, pacing the streets and knocking on doors, I’ve witnessed the power that can be unleashed when people organise together.
That’s why I wanted to stand for Green Party leader. My experience of grassroots organising has given me a first-hand perspective of supporting local parties to build power from the ground up – to engage and mobilise members and reach out to diverse communities. I want to make our party one that is rooted in communities; breaking open politics for people from all walks of life.
Caroline is a formidable partner. As the party’s sole MP, she’s been blazing a Green trail since 2010. She’s a fantastic politician who understands her way around parliament. She’s articulated an inspirational vision for the future.
A new kind of politics
Aside from bringing together in a job share two skillsets that we believe match the needs of the Green Party right now, Caroline and I are trying to model a new kind of politics: one that is open, accessible and community-led.
As a father and support to a disabled son, I simply could not take a full time role as leader of the party. As the Green Party’s sole MP, Caroline also has important commitments in parliament and in her constituency. For both of us, a job share was the only way this role could work – and we hope it will help pave the way for people typically excluded from and underrepresented in politics.
Greens are the progressive party, and we ought to be living our values. We need to build our work – often pioneered by Young Greens – around equalities and liberation, to set a strong example for British politics; creating and supporting a space where voices from every community are welcomed and valued. If elected as co-leaders, Caroline and I want to see an Equalities Commission set up, to develop concrete recommendations with the Equalities Coordinators to include and empower traditionally oppressed and underrepresented groups.
Building and sharing power
The electoral system is holding Greens back, but it’s also stifling democracy. Punch and Judy politics is disenfranchising so many. Rather than pulling no punches, we should be working with other parties to push forward the values that unite us.
Caroline and I are suggesting a one-off alliance – led by local parties – with other progressives at the next general election. We hope to see more Greens elected as MPs, and crucially, we want to bind this alliance with a cross-party pledge to push for proportional representation in parliament, cementing a more democratic future for our country.
We are all sick and tired of a system that rides roughshod over those who need help the most. There is an energy; a hunger that we can use to build a new power from the ground up. Caroline and I want to see the Green Party harness that energy in every community. We don’t want to attract followers – we want to build leaders.
This means giving local parties even better support in regions all over the country. Caroline and I have valuable experience from our own local parties, and would like to see a series of measures to support members to engage in issue-based local campaigning, as well as running effective election campaigns. We will recommend a new staff role of head of elections to ensure brilliant election campaigns at every level, but also to implement a strategy for long term support of elected Greens.
A Green Vision with a distinct voice
While we share values with other parties and want to work cooperatively, we must maintain our own, radical, progressive identity. We must communicate effectively what we stand for and our place in modern Britain.
Caroline has proven herself over the years in this respect. From national TV, to live debates, rallies and radio shows. She can articulate the Green vision and take it to the hearts of the many.
As work and pensions spokesperson for the Green Party, I’ve represented the party on national TV and radio. I’ve gone toe-to-toe with Iain Duncan Smith on live election debates – calling him out on his destructive benefit cuts – and I’ve stood for Universal Basic Income alongside John McDonnell.
Together Caroline and I can represent the Green Party in the national media, but we want to make sure the party has a presence in many more facets. If elected, we’ll work with members up and down the country to build a unified Green vision. We’ll make sure there’s a Green voice in every community – a voice that is representative of the people it stands for, and the values we, as a party, build together.
I’m hopeful in this election and I’m hopeful for the Green Party. We’re at a watershed moment, for the party and for the country. We can’t afford to miss this opportunity. I truly believe Caroline and I are the team to take the party to the next Green Surge, and beyond.