Green Party co-leader Sian Berry has announced she will not contest the party’s forthcoming leadership by-election.
The move comes just over a week after co-leader Jonathan Bartley announced he would be stepping down at the end of July, triggering an autumn leadership contest.
Berry said on social media that she would remain in place during the leadership contest but would not be a candidate, citing issues over the party’s “mixed messages” on trans rights.
Bartley and Berry were elected co-leaders of the national Green Party on a joint ticket in 2018, taking over from the party’s only MP, Caroline Lucas.
In a statement, the London Assembly member said:
I have been considering my position as co-leader since the decision was made to announce our new front bench spokespeople.
And though I will stay on as acting leader through the leadership by-election, I am writing today to say that I have decided not to stand as a candidate in that by-election.
Berry said it had been “incredibly rewarding” working with Bartley and that she was “proud of the progress the party” had made in recent years, with the Greens racking up an impressive performance at the local elections in May.
But, despite successes, Berry added she could “no longer make the claim that the party speaks unequivocally, with one voice” on the issue of “trans rights and inclusion”.
Explaining her decision, the Oxford graduate said the election of new front bench representatives by the membership meant there was “inconsistency” between her own and the party’s stance.
Fight for trans rights
I must stand by our policies and my pledges made to Londoners in the recent election, and 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 front bench representatives.
This inconsistency has left me in a very difficult position. I can no longer make the claim that the party speaks unequivocally, with one voice, on this issue.
And 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.
Failing to win the confidence of a majority of my colleagues to reflect these is also a failure of leadership. Green leaders do not hold power but we do have a duty to influence, so I must apologise to you all for this failure and hold myself to account.”
She called for members to consider whether the Greens would “continue to embrace the principles of listening and solidarity when minority groups are singled out for attack” when electing a new leadership team.
Brighton and Hove Green councillor Hannah Clare joined the praise for Berry, saying:
— Cllr Hannah Clare 💚 (she/her) (@hannalytical) July 14, 2021
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?