Rupert Read (Norwich, The Green Party): I am a local Councillor. Green Councillors want a Party that works well, a Party that punches above its weight, a Party that will deliver the successes and the desperately-needed policy-changes nationally that Greens are already achieving all over the country, locally.
That prospect is perhaps now within sight. For, in a fortnight's time, the Green Party will make history. Having had a system of ‘Principal Speakers' for the last generation, the Party is currently holding its first-ever election for a Leader (see here and here for the history of how this came to be). The entire membership has been balloted; the final votes will be cast at our national Party Conference on Sept. 5; the result will come out on Sept. 6.
My friend and colleague Adrian Ramsay is unopposed for Deputy Leader. For the Leadership position itself there is an intriguing contest going on, between our MEP and current Principal Speaker Caroline Lucas, and Ashley Gunstock, a grassroots member mainly well-known for his acting appearances on TV's "The Bill".
I will be voting for Lucas, simply because I believe that she is nothing less than the best politician - the most inspirational, the most intelligent, the most passionate, the most on-the mark - in Britain today, never mind just in the Green Party.
In any case, whoever is elected, it will be a historic moment when our first-ever Leader finally stands up to give their inaugural address to Party Conference on the morning of Monday September 8th. Our momentum should then snowball: and with excellent timing, because the next two years are the biggest opportunity the Greens have had for twenty years.
In 1989, we scored 15% in the Euro-elections. In 1999, with a fairer electoral system, we broke through and got our first two MEPs elected. In 2009, we aim to at least double that number. Such clear momentum will give us the platform we need in order to get into the Westminster Parliament for the first time, in the likely 2010 general election.
Within Brighton Pavilion's constituency boundaries, the Green Party took 30% of the vote to Labour's 25% at the last local elections, a share we need only to hold in the next general election to elect Caroline Lucas, taking the seat from Labour's new candidate.
Across Norwich South Westminster constituency in the 2008 local elections, the Green Party came first, with 33% of the vote, three thousand votes ahead of Labour, meaning that Adrian Ramsay would be elected, by defeating the unpopular Charles Clarke.
With a Leader for the first time, we have in prospect the chance of converting the strong support that we have enjoyed in local and Euro elections into a Westminster win. A Leadership team of Lucas and Ramsay will, I believe, change the face of British politics forever, by seeing the Green Party's Parliamentary representation mushroom, in Brussels, and at last come to be, in Westminster.