The Green Party’s manifesto and key issues for next year’s elections aren’t in the gift of Mayoral candidates, so why develop and push ideas in the selection process?
In my bid to be the Mayoral candidate and to top the Assembly list, I’ve set out some policy ideas alongside my experience and skills. I was asked today why policies were in the mix, and in thinking about it through the day I decided it’s worth setting this out in public.
In the 2012 elections I led on writing our manifesto. I decided to run a year’s worth of policy workshops for members, and held dozens of meetings with outside experts. I am very keen that our policies are shaped by both, and ultimately signed off by members at a London Green Party meeting. Our mayoral candidate Jenny Jones was happy with it, but it wasn’t her manifesto.
It’s one of the things that makes us different – the members are in control, and no candidates should be in a position to fundamentally change the party’s strategy or philosophy.
So why pitch policy ideas and visions of London? Here are three reasons:
To engage members and the wider public in the process. Biographies and process are important, but can be dry on their own. You only have to look at the press coverage of the prospective Labour and Conservative candidates to see the public interest in their policy ideas. The Evening Standard covered our process for the first time this week, in part because of my efforts to pitch ideas to their City Hall editor:
To promote discussion about Green politics. Selection processes can be a fantastic opportunity to float bold ideas and test them out in debate with other members, the public and the press. We can get people talking about our ideas before the election campaign even starts.
I’ve taken care to choose ideas that fit within our overall strategy, and whether I’m selected or not, I hope to have already achieved one of my goals – to show that the Green Party has fresh ideas for London.
To show the sort of candidate and politician you’d be. Three years ago I backed Caroline Allen for the European Parliament and wrote about some of the qualities I felt she had that would make her a great MEP. I think those qualities still hold. The choice of policies we pitch, and the way we pitch them, can illuminate whether we have these qualities. For example:
- A firm understanding of the policy issues facing London – with Jenny and Darren stepping down, it helps to have people who can hit the ground running and handle tough interviews.
- The right balance between radicalism and pragmatism – I want politicians who go for big changes that the Mayor actually has the power to implement, and are able to get them adopted with the cross-party support you need in City Hall.
- A proven ability to communicate our politics through the media – it’s essential that we exercise good judgement in choosing the issues that will actually spark some interest, and can put them across in a convincing way.
I also think we need to choose a Mayoral candidate who can communicate with conviction. Just recall any number of bland or cringing interviews with politicians droning along a party line. So if you want a candidate who can talk about housing with real conviction, or who is stridently left-wing in their politics, or who will effuse care for non-human animals, then vote for them!
When the results come in on the 2nd September I will support our democratic manifesto process and work with our campaign team as I have always done. I’ll share and further develop my ideas, and if they’re rejected I’ll accept that.
I hope to have the privilege of being the face of that campaign, and getting that manifesto implemented after the elections as a London Assembly Member.