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Caroline Lucas elected Green Party's first ever leader

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Rupert Read was a Green Party councillor in Norwich and a candidate in the 2009 European Parliamentary elections. He is Chair of the Green House thinktank.

Rupert Read (Norwich, The Green Party): Last night, on September 5th, the Green Party made an historic decision.  We elected our first leader. This result, achieved after years of exhaustive internal debate, cannot be underestimated, for three reasons.

Firstly, as I've said previously here on OurKingdom, I believe our new leader Caroline Lucas MEP to be the most inspirational, intelligent, passionate and relevant politician in British politics today.  Faced with the looming triple crisis of the credit crunch, potential climate catastrophe and a peak in oil production that is causing energy prices to sky-rocket, the Greens are the only Party bold enough to take a stand and say what needs to be said, whether it be popular already or not. Caroline has embodied that spirit for over a decade, spearheading our Party in Europe and increasingly on the national stage.

Secondly, our election of Caroline as Green Party Leader (by a thumping 2559 to 210 margin over her opponent, actor Ashley Gunstock) and of my Norwich Councillor colleague Adrian Ramsay as Deputy should provide electoral momentum within Brighton Pavilion and Norwich South respectively, two of our very strongest target seats prospects.  In Pavilion, Caroline's Westminster target seat, the Green Party took 30 per cent of the vote to Labour's 25 per cent at the last local elections, a share we need only to hold in the next general election to win, taking the seat from New Labour's new candidate and finally making the crucial breakthrough into Parliament.  Likewise in Norwich South; in the 2008 local elections, the Green Party came first, with 33 per cent of the vote, fully three thousand votes ahead of Labour, meaning that Adrian Ramsay would be elected, by defeating the deeply-unpopular (and increasingly-desperate – about losing his own seat…) Blairite loyalist Charles Clarke.

Lastly, but most importantly, this is a kind of ‘Year Zero’ for the Green Party. The next couple of years are the biggest opportunity the Greens have had for a generation.  This is the time when the Party wakes from its (sometimes) navel-gazing slumbers and takes British politics by the scruff of the neck. Our adoption of a proper leadership structure, and our election yesterday of this superb leadership team, is a clear, visible sign that we have professionalized our presentation, and that we are ready now to step up and deliver what so many voters want us to. The Green Party offers the electorate the only genuine political alternative to the profit-before-people, public-service-privatising, neo-liberal parties of the post-Thatcherite programme that all three of the ‘main’ Parties largely share. We provide a politics of hope, of ideas whose time have come, of inspiration, and the leadership framework offered by Caroline and Adrian will allow the Greens the prospect of converting the strong support that we have already enjoyed in many local and Euro elections into a step-change move forward in next year’s Euro-elections and a Westminster win the year after. A leadership team of  Lucas and Ramsay will - as I have said here before and maintain with redoubled conviction today - change the face of British politics forever.

I cheered to the rafters the result announcement last night; because it is the start of something deeply deeply important and necessary.


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