Natalie Bennett to step down as Green Party Leader
Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett has announced that she will not run for re-election in the Leadership elections this summer, bringing her two-term, four-year stint to an end this August.
Bennett said she was making the announcement to allow possible successors plenty of time to come forward, and insisted she was confident that the Green Party would become “increasingly influential” on the political scene in years to come.
“I have been proud to lead a party through a period of phenomenal expansion and increased impact. With the support of our passionate members and supporters we have been able to achieve much in a relatively short period,” Bennett said.
“The Green Party offers a genuine alternative to the tired status quo and I am proud that Greens do politics differently. There’s greatly increased public understanding that when you want the honest, caring, committed view – one that isn’t guided by the views of the latest focus group or fear of a tabloid backlash but by fundamental principles and values – you should come to the Green Party.”
During her tenure, the Green Party grew in prominence on the domestic stage with vastly increased membership and improved voter percentages in regional and national elections. She told edie that the Government’s 'Greenest Ever' label had become a "sick joke" after years of mixed political messages, failed green policies and a lack of urgency on the transition to renewable energy sources.
Bennett continued: “Looking to the future, in which I intend to remain fully engaged in Green Party politics, I’m confident the Green Party is going to become increasingly influential on the political scene. We’re the only party with a platform that recognises the essential interrelationship between economic and environmental justice – that we must have a society in which no one fears hunger or homelessness while we collectively live within the environmental limits of our one fragile planet.”
The former journalist took over as party leader from Caroline Lucas, the MP for Brighton Pavilion and the party’s only representative at Westminster. In recent weeks, Lucas has played a vocal role in highlighting the environmental benefits of remaining in the European Union ahead of the upcoming referendum.
Last month, Lucas told edie that a vote to leave the EU would result in energy policies rolling back, demand for environmental experts falling and Britain's voice on international climate change negotiations being lost.
The Green Party recently recorded its best-ever performance in the London Mayoral election, where the party are now ranked an undisputed third. The Green's Sian Berry - who had campaigned to challenge “half-hearted" efforts to tackle air pollution in London - won the largest number of second preference votes in the London Mayoral elections, in a "standout" result for the party. Berry received 468,318 of those votes, making up 21% of the total.
New London Mayor Khan will now face scrutiny from Green Party candidate Berry in her new role as a London Assembly member.