29 July 2015
IN reaction to a High Court judge's decision to deny Green Party members Sarah Cope and Clare Phipps permission to pursue a Judicial review into their bid to joint candidacy for Parliament, the pair said:
"We are disappointed by the judge's decision not to grant a Judicial Review. Today was an opportunity for the judiciary to pave the way towards a more representative and democratic parliament. Job-shares are a well-established working arrangement and should be a feature of any modern parliament.
"However, the support we have received for this campaign from across the political spectrum and the electorate shows just how important an issue this is.
"Indeed, Mr Justice Wilkie, in his summing-up, said 'there can be no doubt as to the seriousness of this issue, which is fundamental to the function of democracy, or that job-shares would increase diversity in Parliament'.
"The court has, in effect, passed the buck back to parliament. We will continue to fight for a fairer system which allows more people with disabilities and more women to stand for parliament."
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, who attended the oral hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday (July 28), said:
“As the court was told yesterday, a free and fair democracy is one where not only everyone has the chance to vote, but everyone has the chance to stand. That's clearly not the case now.
“The lack of the opportunity to stand in a job-share is clearly one barrier to a truly representative parliament, as the Speaker's Conference identified in 2010.
“The Green Party will continue the fight to allow job-share MPs, and indeed for even more comprehensive reform to our failed electoral system, which has just delivered the least proportional election result in history, and another parliament which fails to represent the demographic balance and views of the electorate.”
Sarah Cope, chair of Green Party Women, the women's sub-group within the Green Party, and Clare Phipps, who sits on the Green Party Executive, submitted joint nomination papers for the General Election in May, but their combined candidacy was ruled as invalid by the returning officer in the constituency of Basingstoke. Neither Cope nor Phipps would be able to serve as a full-time MP. Cope is the main carer for two young children, and Phipps suffers from a disability which would prevent her from working full-time.
Cope and Phipps are now seeking advice from their lawyers, in liaison with the Green Party, as to the most appropriate way to continue their campaign.