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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Green party to offer ‘young, intersectional feminist leadership’

Amelia Womack will stand for election as co-leader with Tamsin Omond, who identifies as trans and non-binary

A chance to offer voters young, intersectional feminist political leadership will be one of the key planks of the plan to run the Green party announced by Tamsin Omond and Amelia Womack.

Tamsin Omond, who identifies as trans and non-binary, will stand with Amelia Womack for election as co-leaders of the Green party, in an attempt to increase the party’s national membership and prepare for a general election. It is believed that this will be the first time a non-binary person has contested the leadership of a national political party.

Omond, a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion and a longtime activist against airport expansion and other climate issues, told the Guardian: “There is a stranded majority of people who are desperate to do something about the climate emergency, who are feeling anxious, who are doing everything they can … They need a national political party that has transformative policies, and the Green party is here for this moment.”

Womack, currently deputy leader of the Greens, pointed to the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published on Monday, which warned of climate calamity within the next two decades unless drastic action is taken urgently on greenhouse gas emissions. “People are desperate for a clear vision,” she said. “It’s not about individual action but genuine political change, structural change.”

The Green party’s leadership has fallen vacant since the previous co-leaders resigned. Jonathan Bartley resigned in early July, citing changed personal circumstances, and his co-leader Sian Berry followed less than 10 days later.

Berry’s resignation came after an internal party row over trans rights. Berry said in a statement: “There is now an inconsistency between the sincere promise to fight for trans rights and inclusion in my work and the message sent by the party’s choice of frontbench representatives … My conscience simply cannot agree with the argument that there is anything positive in sending these mixed messages.”

She is understood to have been referring to the appointment of Shahrar Ali, an academic, as party spokesperson for policing and domestic safety. He published a statement online in July 2020 defining a woman as an adult human female.

Two other co-leader candidates have also declared in the race: Martin Hemingway and Tina Rothery, longstanding environmental activists based in the north of England. Hemingway said he brought “50 years of political campaigning experience, including 12 years as a councillor on Leeds city council, the second largest council in the country” and had contested European elections and general elections for the Green party, which he joined in 2003.

Rothery co-founded the pressure group Nanas UK to protest against fracking, and worked for Gina Dowding, former Green MEP for the north-west, in Brussels.

Omond and Womack, both 36, said their candidacy was aimed at getting more young people involved in the party. Omond is based in London, Womack lives in Newport, Wales. “We are offering young intersectional feminist leadership,” said Omond, pointing to leading figures in other countries such as Jacinta Ardern in New Zealand, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the US, and Annalena Baerbock, co-leader of the Green party in Germany.

“Young people are coming into their own, in political agency, on these issues,” Omond added, pointing to a “green surge” in support for the party in the past year. “They are recognising that their future has not been safeguarded.”

The Green party made record advances in this spring’s local elections, making a net gain of 91 council seats in the local elections, taking its national total to a record 444. The party received 850,000 votes in the 2019 general election, but the first-past-the-post system meant it still had only one MP, Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion.

Under the Green party constitution, the post of leader is open to a single candidate or as a job-share to two co-leaders. If there is a single candidate, the position of deputy leader must be opened to a job-share.

The constitution states that in the case of co-leadership, the leaders must be “of different genders”. Omond, who uses the pronoun they, and Womack believe their status covers this criterion, and the Guardian understands the party’s standing orders committee is shortly to rule on this.More candidates may come forward before nominations close on Tuesday, and any new members who join before 27 August will be eligible to vote, alongside the 54,000 existing Green Party members. Voting will take place in September.

 This article was amended on 12 August 2021. Amelia Womack is based in Newport, Wales, not London as previously stated. And an incorrect reference to “British voters” introduced during editing was removed; the election is only in England and Wales.[SOURCE]

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