Time for a Leader -- the _Guardian_ says vote yes
Time for a leaderLeader article
Monday November 12, 2007
Both sides can claim support from previous experience. Those who believe that only a single leader can lift the party's electoral standing cite Green support in opinion polls, which is hovering just above the statistically negligible. At the last election, they garnered 283,000 votes, just 3.4% for each candidate fielded. That it was their best-ever result in a general election indicates how far there is still to travel before the party can hope to be in a position to implement any policies at all. The other side can argue that under its novel dual leadership of two principal speakers, the party has won 92 local council seats, and has high-profile London Assembly members and MEPs. Most powerfully of all, they can point to the greening of the three main parties.
The Greens have a unique advantage. If few know quite how challenging their policies are in detail, their core message is brilliantly clear. Every vote is unarguably a vote for environmental sustainability. But it is an asset only for as long they are genuinely seeking power. That means conforming rather than conducting interesting field trials of new forms of organisation; those look dangerously like a way of avoiding the hard realities of daily politics.
If they want to contest elections within the existing system, if there is going to be a Green party, as opposed to a green pressure group, they have to act like players. And in a context of minimal voter attention and celebrity politics, that means the party's enviably simple message has to be put across by a single leader.