The Green Party ‘establishment’ at sixes and sevens over Jason Kitcat’s decision to stand for the European Parliament

My post last night regarding the decision of councillor Jason Kitcat to put his name forward has attracted a reaction from the Green Party ‘establishment’. I received one email that aimed to set out the correct facts (something that has never unduly influenced me):

“We began our selection process for the 2014 (not 2013) European Parliamentary elections last Autumn. … That’s before Bill publicly announced he’d be standing down; let alone Jason emerging as our nominee for Leader of the Council. We are currently selecting a list of ten candidates from a total of 18 nominees. This process will end on 9th April. At that point we’ll know where Jason has been selected on the list, if at all. Since 1999 we’ve had one MEP in the Region. We are hopeful that we might make that two this time. Therefore, unless Jason is selected first or second; his chances of being elected as an MEP are more or less zero. Even if he is selected in first or second place; the election isn’t until June 2014. That’s 2 1/4 years away. I can’t see any reason why this should interfere with his work as Leader of the Council. This is especially true as we elect our Group Leader once a year, so in order for Jason to still be Leader of the Council by the time of the European Elections, he’d have to stand and be re-elected twice by the Group and Local Party.”

I’m not sure if I entirely agree that an election two and a quarter years away would not interfere with his work as Leader of the Council. I would hope it would not, but then it would be a pity if a candidate selected so early did not campaign energetically across the south east constituency during that time.

There were comments left on my earlier post that tend to contradict each other. Rob Shepherd writes: “It is not the case that Bill Randall decided to stand down after just one year in office. In fact, he made it clear when he took office that it would be only for one year” while Ben Duncan writes: “All candidates (Jason included) seeking nomination to the Green Party’s list for the European Parliamentary election put their names forward last year… well before the role of Leader of Brighton and Hove City Council became vacant”.

It could be that both are correct but it means that the right and left of the Greens aren’t aware of what the other is up to. Whatever the situation, I coninue to hold the view that Brighton and Hove City Council needs someone of the calibre of Jason Kitcat as its Leader. His effectiveness will be watered down if he was to be selected as a candidate for the European elections.
 

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Is Jason Kitcat right to be seeking selection as a candidate for the European elections?

The decision of the leader-elect of the Green Party in Brighton and Hove, Jason Kitcat, to put his name forward for the panel for candidates for the European Parliament is, unsurprisingly, attracting criticism. Conservative councillor Graham Cox, for example, has tweeted “New Green Council leaders pledge lasted 14 days. Already trying to leave for Brussels.” He tweeted later “Why are the Green leaders so keen to head for Brussels? Are they bored with us locals in Brighton and Hove already?”

It is inevitable that a newly elected administration will make some mistakes and it is expected that some of what they do will be misinterpreted and misrepresented. However, some things can be avoided. Putting one’s name forward for election to a different body within weeks of being chosen to be your party’s leader on a local authority is something that could have been avoided.

Questions were raised when the current leader, Bill Randall, decided to stand down after just one year in office. He is likely to be formally elected as the Mayor at the May Council Meeting. I personally understand why councillor Randall has made his decision. As you would expect with someone like councillor Randall, it was done for very proper reasons and came as no surprise to many, including this Blogger.

Should councillor Kitcat be elected in 2013 to the European Parliament, the Greens on the City Council will have their third leader in just over a year. I for one would hope that councillor Kitcat withdraws his name from the Green list for the European Parliament in order to focus on leading the Greens up to and beyond the City Council elections in 2015. He is extremely able and should he go to the European Parliament, he would be a huge loss to the City as there are few to match his ability.