Does the Green Party need a leader? The case for

There is nothing left about having no leader _ By Rupert Read

November 23, 2007
4 min read

Dear Shahrar,

It is plain obvious that the Green Party would benefit significantly from an increased public profile, if it were to do what both its MEPs and 70 per cent of its councillors want it to do, and have a leader. In the words of the Guardian’s John Vidal: ‘Not having a leader has stopped mainstream political reporting of the Green Party for years. Having a leader would make for a better platform. It would make sense to change.’

It’s a no-brainer. But as a radical democrat, I believe that there’s a deeper reason for change. We need real accountable leadership. We need to know where the buck stops. If the government does something truly appalling, the PM resigns (think Eden, or Blair – well, actually Blair never did resign over Iraq, but you take my point, all the same).

Think the unthinkable: if the Green Party at the highest level did something appalling, who would take responsibility? In those circumstances, our leader or co-leaders should resign … But if we don’t have any such leaders, what is going to happen: will the media and the membership call for our ‘principal speakers’ to resign?! It just doesn’t make any sense.

Without leadership, there can be no genuine accountability. We need to have this referendum go through, not just so that we can reach the public more easily: we also need it, for us.

I imagine that one major objection to all this will be to say that green leftists ought to object on principle to having leaders. But we eco-socialists need to be quite clear that it is a merely individualistic fantasy to think that everyone is equally suited to leading. There are very, very few who are genuinely and consistently capable of leading (as opposed to being tyrants or dictators, which is somewhat easier).

Socialist and communist parties have long known that anti-leadership is not in the slightest radical or left-wing. Anti-leader-ness is in the end as quite literally absurd as ‘the American dream’, the nonsensical notion that everyone can be a millionaire, if only they work hard enough.

Being green is about us acting and living naturally as teams. Not as individuals each with the alleged same capacity to lead. Leaderlessness-advocates claim that all and none of us are leaders – all of us because we can all lead, and none of us because none of us ought to follow. This is the same false fantasy that drives advertising implying that we can all have the best car, the best body … Anti-leadership advocates have bought into a right-wing [liberal, consumerist] fantasy.

Anti-leadership is at best a misguided anarchist ideal: NOT a left or green ideal. And it is certainly a quite hopeless basis on which to run a political party.

It is utter nonsense to pretend that anyone whose door we knock on could, with enough assistance, become the next Caroline Lucas. Such nonsense holds us back, as a party, from achieving what we need to: nothing less than saving the future.

Lacking a leader is getting in the way of this utterly vital ambition.

Real leadership is leading – co-ordinating, inspiring, and strategically spearheading – a team of others who have complementary skills. That is what the Green Party needs.

Yours,

Rupert

Cllr Rupert Read is the lead Green Party candidate in the 2009 Euro-elections for Eastern Region; Dr Read is also reader in philosophy at the University of East Anglia (Norwich), where he specialises in political and environmental ethics

Read Shahrar Ali\’s reply to Rupert Read, join the debate on the Red Pepper Forum and vote in our poll

More from the campaigns:

http://www.greenyes.org ‘Yes’ campaign for a single leader to replace ‘principal speaker’ positions

http://www.greenempowerment.org.uk ‘No’ campaign – advocates collective leadership rather than appointing a single leader


✹ Try our new pay-as-you-feel subscription — you choose how much to pay.

Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen

Short story: Syrenka
A short story by Kirsten Irving

Utopia: Industrial Workers Taking the Wheel
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry – and its lessons for today

Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant

Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’

Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue

Utopia: Room for all
Nadhira Halim and Andy Edwards report on the range of creative responses to the housing crisis that are providing secure, affordable housing across the UK

A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank

News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions

Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release

Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts

‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette

The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.

How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op

Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU

Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity

Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson

Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release

University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.

Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.

Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History

Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.

A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas

Book Review: Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
'In spite of the odds Corbyn is still standing' - Alex Doherty reviews Seymour's analysis of the rise of Corbyn

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
'A small manifesto for black liberation through socialist revolution' - Graham Campbell reviews Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's 'From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation'

The Fashion Revolution: Turn to the left
Bryony Moore profiles Stitched Up, a non-profit group reimagining the future of fashion

The abolition of Art History A-Level will exacerbate social inequality
This is a massive blow to the rights of ordinary kids to have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. Danielle Child reports.

Mass civil disobedience in Sudan
A three-day general strike has brought Sudan to a stand still as people mobilise against the government and inequality. Jenny Nelson writes.

Mustang film review: Three fingers to Erdogan
Laura Nicholson reviews Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven’s unashamedly feminist film critique of Turkey’s creeping conservatism

What if the workers were in control?
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry