I've been a member of the Party for 15 years and over that time the 'Leadership' issue has been a regular discussion point at our Conferences and elsewhere. Put simply the issue is whether the Party should have a Leader and Deputy leader (or co-leaders) or whether we should reject the very idea of 'Leadership'.
As a political party which places both environmental sustainability and a fair society at the very heart of its policies why does 'Leadership' keep cropping up? Why doesn't the party at large accept that what unites those on either side of the 'Leadership'
debate - our general political aims - and leave this issue for another day? There are a number of good reasons - but to my mind the following two are the most important ones:
(1) A clear majority of the membership believe that we should have a proper 'Leader' or 'Leaders' but the requirement for a 2/3rds majority at our Conference for such change have thwarted the efforts of those fighting for change. Until the majority feel the issue is settled they will feel there is a strong democratic case for change. The Party has settled for a member-wide referendum as a way of answering the question for some time to come.
(2) There is a desparate message about the impacts of man-made climate change that needs to be got out...those on either side of the 'divide' hold different views.
Whilst I am quite clear why I'll be voting 'YES' (see the Green Yes website for more information) I find two of the arguments commonly advocated by the 'NO's very disappointing.
One of these goes like this 'power corrupts' and that 'people will inevitably exploit the position for their own ends'. I think this is very sad - it is a very conservative position too - seeing humans as essentially 'bad' and only a few generations from being wild and uncivilised. It is cyncial and panders to those in society that think that all politicians are generally selfish people in it for themselves! Hardly a ringing endorsement for electing more Greens... The solution to the this problem put by the 'No' side is to reject the very idea of a leader and to shackle whoever dares to take a 'Leadership' position so as to make them impotent. We wouldn't sanction the tethering of animals in a Zoo why do we allow it in our politics? Our leading members need to be trusted and be given the freedom to develop fully into truly great
ambassadors for the Party.
The 'No' side regularly make reference to 'tradition' (again a rather conservative argument which is worrying in its own right) yet this has no basis in fact. Clive Lord, one of the Party's founder members, reminded us that back in the 1970s the absence of a leader was just that they were waiting for the right person to emerge...it was never a major philosophical principle. I don't think anyone could doubt that the Party now has a good range of people to choose from. The experience of other ('less Green'?) Parties around the world shows that perhaps 'traditions' are quite are solid
as they are claimed. Yet if a radical party can't break out of 'traditions' that what hope is there for others.
There's more, but I'd like to end on a positive note - Vote YES!