Saturday, September 03, 2016

You've got to love the Greens - but they can be very silly at times!

I like the Green Party. I have voted Green once or twice and would do so again. They deserve many more members in our Parliament and I hope they get them. To me part of their appeal is that they can be charmingly bonkers at times. And their decision to job-share their leadership is an example of this !

The overlap between party and personality/character at the top of politics is obvious. The political brand is underpinned (or damaged) by the public perception of the leader. David Cameron was not a particularly popular figure at the time of the 2015 General Election but he didn't need to be. He just needed to be perceived as better than Ed Milliband by a sufficient number of people to win. He was. He won. He was hugely helped by a popular media which destroyed Milliband's campaign. In my view Ed was worth ten David Camerons but that's not how, on the margin, the floating voter saw it.

Strong, credible leaders are the vital asset that political parties strive for. In my lifetime, in their very different ways, Attlee, Churchill, Macmillan, Wilson, Thatcher and Blair were such leaders. They did not (as Cameron did) win by default. They won because of what they were perceived to be. They led their parties and added value to them. 

In modern times the phenomenon of the leader adding value to the party has also been seen with Nigel Farage and UKIP. The Farage story is a very uncomfortable one for those of us who despise all he stands for. But for UKIP to "win" the last EU Elections, secure 4m votes in 2015 and to be the crucial factor in the EU Referendum is almost entirely attributable to Farage. Without him UKIP will struggle to be anything like the force they have been.

Back to the Greens. They are analogous with UKIP as a small party trying to break through when the electoral system is stacked against them. Their only chance is to find a Farage. Not a dysfunctional, bigoted Nasty like him of course, but someone with his vote-gathering potential. The core proposition of the Greens is a marketable one - but it has to be sold. A charismatic, credible leader could do this. But there must be focus. The public must not be confused as to who is in charge. To have the party leader as a "job share" just cannot to that. Can you imagine the two creators of New Labour (Blair and Brown) sharing the leadership job? Of course not. 

As I said I like the Greens. But they do have a predisposition, at times, to silliness. To have their leadership as a job share is very silly indeed! 


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