I was in Birmingham ten days ago, for the Green Party Conference, and arrived at the very moment that Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley were declared the new Co-Leaders of the Green Party – the first formal job share for any party leadership position.

This is such good news for the Green Party. As I have written elsewhere, Caroline is a quite extraordinary politician, courageous, unbelievably conscientious, with that rare combination of total integrity and smart, fleet-of-foot pragmatism. And it looks as if Jonathan’s no slouch either!

The handover from Natalie Bennett to Caroline and Jonathan was extremely well-handled, and it was clear that the Party really appreciated the continuity here. Natalie gave an excellent valedictory speech, and I was reminded just how good a party leader she’s been in terms of her support for local Green Parties – their respect and affection for her was very moving.

This time last year was the first Green Party Conference that I’d been at for decades. Though I’ve stayed a member since the mid-1970s, my roles at Friends of the Earth, the UK Sustainable Development Commission and Forum for the Future just made it easier to stay out of the cut and thrust of party politics. But I’ve spent a lot of time supporting Caroline personally, and advocating more broadly for radical Green policies.

So it’s great to have Caroline back as Co-Leader, and I am looking forward to continuing to support her in whatever way I can.
One of the most interesting themes running through this year’s Green Party Conference was the whole idea of a ‘progressive alliance’ coming together over the next few years – and the potential contribution that the Green Party has in helping to fashion just such an alliance.

I’ll be returning to this theme in a couple of days.