On July 14th, le Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Sian Berry announced that she will be stepping down as leader this fall. This announcement comes only a few days after her co-leader, Jonathan Bartley, decided that he will not be seeking re-election. Berry indicated that the party’s inconsistency over transgender rights led her to resign. Bartley cited that he wanted to leave enough time for his successor to take power before the next election as his reason for leaving.
Berry has been co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales since 2018 alongside Jonathan Bartley. Berry will remain a London Assembly member.
Inconsistency in the fight for transgender rights
Dans un letter to members on her resignation, Berry explained that there was “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 front-bench representatives” She also added that, “my conscience simply cannot agree with the argument that there is anything positive in sending these mixed messages, especially when the inclusive attitudes of our membership and wider society are clear”
Last year, the government ruled out amendments to the 2004 ‘Gender Recognition Act’, which would allow transgender people to change the gender on their birth certificates without a medical diagnosis. While the Green Party’s official position supports transgender rights, there have been internal disputes over this motion between party members.
Berry explained that she will be directing more energy towards her position as a London Assembly member this coming fall.
Building a progressive alliance across left-leaning parties
Bartley, on the other hand, has co-led the Green Party for the past five years, first alongside Green MP Caroline Lucas and then current co-leader, Sian Berry. The London councillor explained that he wants to concentrate on building a progressive alliance across left-leaning parties.
In the 2019 general election, the left-leaning parties collectively attracted more votes than the Conservatives and smaller right-wing, Eurocentric parties combined. Ultimately, the Left coalition fell to Boris Johnson in an upsetting defeat.
In an interview with the Guardian, Bartley highlighted the need for a fair voting system in the UK.
“There is a progressive majority in this country but we will have Conservative governments as far as we can see because of first past the post.”
Under a fair voting system, the Green Party would have fifty MP’s on its current poll ratings instead of a single MP, Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion.
In early July, the Labour party introduced a bill that would force people to carry identification to cast a ballot. The shadow democracy minister, Cat Smith compared the sweeping changes to US Republican-style “voter suppression”.
A national requirement for voters to carry ID would cost UK taxpayers nearly forty million Euros over the next decade. A Cabinet office commissioned study released in May found that more than 2 million voters lacked the proper identification to take part in upcoming elections.
Bartley explained to the Guardian that he is pushing for a complete overhaul of the democratic system.
“We need to change the democratic system. This government recognizes the threat to it from that, which is why they have these moves to change the voting system”– Jonathan Bartley
The co-leaders of the Green Party of England and Wales are resigning shortly after the Greens had a record showing in the delayed local elections in May. The party earned a net gain of 91 council seats, taking its national total to a record 444 seats. It remains unclear how their resignations will impact the success of the Green Party as they approach a general election in 2024.