Caroline Lucas to step down as Green leader

Posted on May 13, 2012 by | 8 Comments

Caroline Lucas will not run for a third time when her current two-year term as Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales ends in September. Her decision was announced in a press release on the Green Party website, and she discusses it in an exclusive interview in tomorrow’s Independent.

Caroline served as Female Principal Speaker of the party from 2001-2006, when she was succeeded by London Mayoral candidate Si├ón Berry. Caroline returned to the office in 2007. In 2008, when the Principal Speaker system was abolished, Caroline became the party’s first ever Leader.

Caroline’s leadership has seen her elected as the first Green MP, Greens take control of their first council (Brighton and Hove which includes Caroline’s Brighton Pavilion Constituency), and overtake the Lib Dems to become London’s third party.

In the party’s statement, Caroline said:

I look forward to continuing to do all I can in my very demanding role as the MP for Brighton Pavilion, representing my constituents and defending them against the Coalition Government’s disastrous economic policies and its refusal to accept its environmental and social responsibilities. I will also be able to dedicate even more of my work to the political frontline, putting the Green case for change in Parliament and in all circles of national political debate.

After a long period of focus on making a beachhead in Parliament ended in success two years ago, the new leader will be charged with shaping the party’s next goals and delivering on them, including expanding European representation beyond the South-East and London in 2014, and capitalising on Caroline’s victory to add more Green MPs in 2015.

Who would you like to see run to succeed Caroline? What should be the priorities for the new leader? Is it time for our first team of Co-Leaders? Please comment below.

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8 Responses to “Caroline Lucas to step down as Green leader”

  1. Matt SellwoodNo Gravatar
    May 13th, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

    We’ve never had a successful debate about the role of the Leader, partly because Caroline has always been the obvious choice.

    It seems clear to me that Caroline will continue to get the lions share of the media attention whether we like it or not. It is equally clear that the state of the party internally is, in many ways, not good.

    I’d like to see the new leader committing to take the party by the scruff of the neck and really energising internal change, so that we become fit for our purpose – which is meant to be catalysing rapid and grassroots social change through the electoral process.

    As for candidates, it probably won’t surprise anyone to know that I think Peter Cranie should run. If he did, I’d back him wholeheartedly. Beyond that, my list of credible, radical and competent candidates gets thin pretty quickly, I’m sad to admit.


  2. DougNo Gravatar
    May 13th, 2012 @ 10:46 pm

    I’m generally a bit amused that there is a Green Party equivalent of Malcolm Tucker shouting down the phone at someone from the Independent for breaking the embargo on this story, seemingly by accident.

    I’m sure there is some comedy gold in there somewhere.

  3. RossNo Gravatar
    May 14th, 2012 @ 12:23 am

    I have a huge amount of respect for Peter Cranie and I by no means think he would be a bad leader, I would even have him as my preferred choice for deputy leader if my choice for leader wasn’t also a guy, triggering the gender balancing mechanisms.

    I really do think that Adrian is the obvious choice to succeed Caroline. He has vast amounts of experience as deputy leader, even treating it as a full time job despite not drawing a salary from it. He has respect from every group within the party and led what was the largest group of elected Greens anywhere in the UK for some time.

    Both Adrian and Peter could very easily be MEPs in 2014 (assuming Adrian is selected for East of England) though on a slightly more pragmatic note, Adrian will be the next Green MP unless there is some massive shifts in voting intentions and party targetting.

  4. Paul Graham MorrisNo Gravatar
    May 14th, 2012 @ 12:25 am

    It is characteristic of Caroline Lucas that she is standing down for good reasons and at a good time, to help enable others within the Green Party gain a wider profile.

    I imagine Matt is right that Caroline will continue to gather media attention. Personally I view that as a good thing. She has been, and hopefully will continue to be, a great ambassador for green issues and the Green Party.

    There are however several other good candidates within the Green Party and, together with the prospect of further Green MPs and MSPs following the next elections, this will help broaden public awareness of the Green Parties.

  5. Matt SellwoodNo Gravatar
    May 14th, 2012 @ 12:28 am

    I’m going to have to be a bit careful about what I say here, as I like Adrian and greatly respect both his astonishing work ethic and his undoubted achievements in Norwich.

    I am unconvinced that he has been a particularly effective Deputy Leader. As a grassroots member, I haven’t felt that he has stepped up to the slight vacuum left by Caroline’s insane schedule and suggested a direction for the Party or projected any real strategy for change.

    I have also never found him to be a particularly inspiring speaker, although that is less of an issue because – as Adam points out in another post on this site – Caroline is likely to still be doing most of that by default, and the new leader is likely to be more internally focused.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that Adrian feels like the safe, moderate choice, and we can’t really afford safe. Perhaps I’m being unfair, and lord knows it’s a difficult job. I just feel the need to be inspired – and an orderly succession from Deputy to Leader doesn’t really inspire me immediately.

    We’ll see!


  6. Jim JeppsNo Gravatar
    May 14th, 2012 @ 12:56 am

    I think Matt’s right about needing to go beyond safe – although we could do far worse than Adrian’s capable hands. I certainly think someone talking big but who isn’t able to deliver would be the last thing the Greens need.

    I’ve always hankered after a female leader and deputy leader combo – but the rules need to be changed for that to happen so it wont be this time.

    I think there are lots of potentially good and bad choices the Greens could make here – and I have my reasonably short list of those I might campaign for. I’ll see if any of them run.

    However, what the Party needs to do is have a wider discussion about how it supports the leadership team, what it wants from them and how it turns that into developing the party into a more dangerous organisation :)


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