Green Party members are celebrating the appointment of Natalie Bennett to the House of Lords, after the announcement of Theresa May’s resignation honours list today (Tuesday 10 September).
Earlier today, Bennett tweeted that it had been an “exciting morning” and she has the chance to “represent millions of Green voters, to be [the] voice of the anti-fracking protectors, supporters of universal basic income, disability and Climate Emergency campaigners I've spent years on the streets with, in the corridors of power.”
Bennett was the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales from 2012 to 2016 and it was under her leadership in 2015 that the party’s general election result totalled more votes than in all of the previous general elections added together. She was also the first Green to take part in national television debates that year.
After stepping down as party leader in 2016, Bennett moved to the Manor Castle area of Sheffield, reflected in her new title: Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle.
Sheffield Councillor Alison Teal said: “Natalie’s relentless passion is evident at every public event she attends. I have found her to be an inspiration, and a wonderful mentor. Soon after we met she said to me, ‘If in doubt, be bold.’ I have taken her advice to heart, and she helped me find courage. I have no doubt that Natalie will be a brilliant member of the House of Lords, and I am so thrilled that she has made Sheffield her home, and she will represent us in Parliament.”
Exciting morning: chance to represent millions of Green voters, to be voice of the anti-#fracking protectors, supporters of #universalbasicincome, disability & #ClimateEmergency campaigners I've spent years on the streets with, in the corridors of power. https://t.co/NKlgCfw9Ve— Natalie Bennett (@natalieben) 10 September 2019
Bennett will be joining current Green peer, Jenny Jones – Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb – who was introduced to the House of Lords on 5 November 2013, after being elected to represent the Green Party there by party members. She has been a member of the Green Party since 1988 and has held several prominent political roles, including Deputy Mayor of London, Deputy Chair of the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee, Green Councillor for Southwark and Chair of the Green Party of England and Wales. In 2004 she was named as one of 200 ‘women of achievement’ by Buckingham Palace.
Baroness Jones has been the sole Green spokesperson in the House of Lords up until this point and commenting on Bennet’s peerage said: “I am delighted to have Natalie joining me in the House, the chance to double our opportunities to hold the government to account and be the advocate for great Green ideas like the Green New Deal and universal basic income.”
Green representation in the House of Lords will now technically be doubled, but Bennett and Jones will still be standing amongst over 230 Conservative, 170 Labour, and 180 Crossbench peers.
With Bennett bringing the Green Party’s total parliamentary representation to three – Caroline Lucas is the sole Green MP in the House of Commons – Green Party Co-leader Sian Berry said: “This 50 per cent increase in the Greens’ parliamentary representation is still only 0.2 per cent of the total parliament – a reminder of just how far we have to go to make the UK a democracy.”
Berry also stated, however: “This is recognition of the views of the two million Green voters in this year’s European elections, the huge numbers who backed us in the council elections, and the 1.1 million votes we won when Natalie was leader in 2015.”
“Having worked with Natalie in Camden Green Party over many years, I know that Natalie will be a voice for the many who have not been sufficiently heard in parliament. She will bring into the Lords the voice of the anti-fracking protectors, the supporters of universal basic income and our nation's beleaguered wildlife, disability and refugee rights and Climate Emergency campaigners.”