Green Party leadership team re-elected – but few members turn out

Jonathan Bartley and Siân Berry will serve a second joint term, following a long and often heated contest.

Sian Berry Jonathan Bartley

The Green Party’s co-leadership team has been re-elected following a vote of members.

Jonathan Bartley and Siân Berry were re-elected with 49% of the first preference votes. Rosi Sexton received 27% of first preference votes, while Shahrar Ali received 24% of first preferences.

A total of 7,503 ballots were across all the internal elections, giving a turnout of 16%, according to the party. There are nearly 48,000 members of the Green Party of England and Wales.

Turnout for the leadership – at around 14% – was the lowest since Natalie Bennett was elected unopposed in 2014. Many members expressed disappointment at the low turnout.

Bartley and Berry were first elected co-leaders on a joint ticket in 2018 with 75.5% of the vote – again against two other candidates. Bartley had served as Green Party co-leader for two years previously with Caroline Lucas MP.

Deputy leader Amelia Womack was re-elected to serve her fourth term with 47% of first preferences. Bristol councillor and former Lord Mayor Cleo Lake came in second.

The party also held elections for its national executive. LFF is awaiting a full breakdown of resuls, but understands that current chair Liz Reason was re-elected, despite controversy during the election.

Former South West MEP Molly Scott Cato was picked by members to be the Green Party’s next member of the House of Lords, in a unique ballot. LFF understands that the party has not been offered another peerage yet.

The party said on Twitter: “Thank you to all candidates for such a vibrant campaign and congratulations to all winners.”

The votes were conducted using a preferential voting system.

The contest saw heated discussions over issues ranging from antisemitism, to the idea of a ‘progressive alliance’ and trans rights. Read more here.

Co-leader Berry said she “cannot honestly see” a future electoral pact with Labour or the Lib Dems during a hustings in the campaign, marking a shift from previous openness to a pact. Greens activists have expressed growing concern about a lack of reciprocity in so-called progressive alliance arrangements.

Results for the Green Party executive elections are available here.

Winners react

The co-leaders say they want to build a grassroots mass movement for a Green recovery. Jonathan Bartley said: “The economic, climate and health crises have put the country at a crossroads. We can continue down the same old road or we can choose a transformative Green recovery that ensures the wellbeing of us all, now and in the future.

“Only the Greens have a clear, positive vision for what the country could be, and the ambition to build a grassroots mass movement which will demand, and work for, better than what came before.

“We want to thank the members of the Green Party for re-electing us at such a crucial time for our movement and the country. Thank you, too, to all the candidates who put themselves forward and ran powerful campaigns that generated vibrant discussions and new ideas – the lifeblood of a democratic party.”

The pair have set their sights on reproducing last year’s stunning local election results, which saw the party increase its number of councillors from 178 to 362 on 122 councils.

Sian Berry said: “We’re growing fast. Last year we doubled the number of Green councillors, and the 18 councils where Greens are part of the administration are among the most innovative and exciting in the country. But we can do so much more.

“Next year people will have a chance to bring real change to their area by electing more Green councils, putting Green voices in the Senedd, and electing a Green Mayor for London.

“Green politics is built on grassroots action, co-operation and democratic participation. We believe in a democracy where every voice is heard and politicians’ power comes from an active citizenry, not big-money donors.”

About the leadership candidates

Bartley is a councillor in Lambeth, while Berry is a London Assembly member and is the party’s candidate for London Mayor in the delayed 2021 election.

Former deputy leader Shahrar Ali also stood for the leadership of the party and lost. He stood for the leadership in 2018, polling 17.5% of the vote, coming in a distant second to Bartley and Berry. Ali is currently the home affairs spokesperson for the Green Party.

In an LGBTIQA+ Greens ‘scorecard’ for Green Party internal election candidates, Ali received 3.5 points out of 8, largely for his views on trans issues, while Bartley, Berry and Rosi Sexton received the full 8 points.

Dr Rosemary Sexton – a councillor in Solihull who came second in the ballot – first came to fame as a mixed martial artists, becoming the first British woman to fight in the UFC. Sexton is the Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council Green group spokesperson for adult social care and health. In her leadership pitch for LFF, she said the party needed an ‘outsider’ like her.

Deputy leader

There was a bumper crop of candidates for the deputy leadership this year, with six people vying for the role.

Current Deputy Leader Amelia Womack was first elected in 2014, and is the lead candidate for the Green Party in the South Wales East region in the 2021 Welsh Parliament elections.

Cleo Lake who came second is the former lord mayor of Bristol, and has been a councillor since 2016. She was also second on the party’s list for the 2019 European elections in South West England.

Green activist and writer Tom Pashby also took a shot at the deputy leadership. Pashby previously served on GPEx as internal communications coordinator, in addition to a previous stint on the Young Greens executive.

Lewisham-based Andrea Carey Fuller stood for the Greens in December’s general election.

London Green Party member Nick Humberstone was the first to announce he was standing for the deputy leadership. He currently sits on the Young Greens structures and procedures committee.

James Booth – who stood for the Green Party in Macclesfield in both the 2017 and 2019 general elections.

The Green Party’s rules state that if a single leader is elected, there are to be two deputy leaders, whereas if a co-leadership team are elected, there shall be only one deputy. There is also a gender balancing system in place.

House of Lords

Four candidates put their names forward for the House of Lords ballot. They are:

  • Former MEP Molly Scott Cato (selected)
  • Kirklees councillor Andrew Cooper
  • Former Norwich councillor Rupert Read
  • Current deputy leader Amelia Womack

The House of Lords election included members of The Green Party of Northern Ireland. The total electorate for this was 48,283. A total of 6,721 ballots were cast giving a turnout of 14%.

LFF offered a platform to all the candidates during the leadership contest.

See also: Green leadership candidates make final push for votes as polls close

Josiah Mortimer is co-editor of Left Foot Forward.

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