Leadership pitch: The Green Party needs to represent ‘the outsiders’

Why Rosi Sexton - a mathematician, cage fighter and councillor - is challenging incumbents Jonathan Bartley and Siân Berry for the Green leadership.

I’ve always been an outsider: from growing up as a mixed race woman in a predominantly white area, to being a maths and computer science graduate working in overwhelmingly male professions, or a woman in the unforgiving world of mixed martial arts.

As anyone from a minority will tell you, you always feel you have to be twice as good as the next person just to get your due. You learn to fight and to stand your ground.

But my experiences have also made me value inclusion. I look around and see how Britain has changed in forty years and I see a country with the potential to inspire others. We’re diverse, original and have never been afraid to do things differently. And in that respect the Green Party has the potential to be Britain in microcosm.

This is part of the reason I want to be the next Leader of the Green Party. We need to leave no one in any doubt that we are a party for everyone who shares our values; that whoever you are, whatever you look like, whoever you love, however you identify, you will find a home with us. The Green Party should look and feel like the very best of Britain; a movement that brings us all together and fights to make sure that no-one is forgotten, no-one left behind.

Our hard work has got us to where we are. We’re now recognised as the fourth party of British politics, which is no small achievement. I want us to go further, and take the next step to becoming a party that could one day be in government. We are not a pressure group or lifestyle movement; we have a responsibility to be the effective political voice of the Green movement.

I know as well as anyone that the odds are stacked against us. We have an electoral system that favours the same old two-party politics. We have a billionaire’s media with a billionaire’s agenda at its heart. At the same time, we’re facing the challenges of climate change and inequality; but, like I said, I’m a fighter.

I want to focus on three things.

1. We must be serious about inclusion.

We must meet people where they are and bring them with us, while holding firm to our values and principles. From families living in poverty to small business owners, we need to ensure that we speak to the everyday challenges of those who may not think of themselves as Greens with the same passion that we bring to our environmental policies. We must be vocal about issues of social justice, fairness and equality and never stop asking “whose voice isn’t represented here?” and “why?”.

2. We must be serious about credibility.

We need to ensure that what we are saying is consistent, and in line with the scientific evidence. This means reforming our policy making. At the moment, policies that don’t stand up to the glare of reality can still get the nod at conference.

We’re quite rightly proud to have policy that is made by our members, but we must ensure scrutiny and expert input are an integral part of that process. We need a method for reviewing and retiring outdated policies, and a transparent selection process and clear responsibilities for spokespeople.

3. We must be serious about winning elections.

As a small party in a first-past-the-post system, we have a mountain to climb. We can’t keep expecting other parties to carry our cause for us, and nor can we wait for the system to change. We’ve proved we can be successful in local elections, now we must go further. It’s time to translate that into wins in Westminster and the Welsh Parliament, and ensuring a green voice on more than half the councils in England and Wales.

I’ve already brought my drive to local government in Solihull where I sit as a councillor, now I want to bring the same determination that served me well in the ring to leading this party. The road ahead will take clear thinking, careful strategy, compassion and courage. Join me, and let’s do this together.

Cllr Rosemary Sexton is running to be leader of the Green Party of England and Wales. Voting runs until the end of August.

Left Foot Forward is providing a platform for all the leader and deputy leadership candidates. See also: “Greens announce leadership candidates

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