The Green Party of England and Wales this weekend enacted what they describe as clause IV moment in reverse, as delegates at its 40th Spring Conference in Nottingham voted for a left-turn in the constitution.
The statement of core values, which previously focused only on environmental principles, was amended to include a commitment to social justice and a transformation of society for the benefit of the many not the few, on the day that the party celebrated being 40-years old.
A substantial majority 71% of conference delegates voted in support of the change, which condemns the dominant economic system based on inequality and exploitation and calls for a world based on cooperation and democracy.
Student member Josiah Mortimer proposed the motion, saying in his speech The past few years have shown that the Greens are the real party of social justice this motion is therefore fundamental in enshrining that shift into the partys core.
He added: At a time when Labour are failing to stand up to the coalitions austerity policies, it is essential the Greens make our position clear that we are on the side of ordinary people and the planet.
Party leader Natalie Bennett said: The Green Party has for many years been the chief champion of social justice in British politics. Our elected representatives and campaigners have led the way in living wage campaigns, in protecting essential public services and speaking up for benefit recipients, asylum-seekers and refugees and the disabled, in the face of demonisation. This change reflects the existing nature of the party.
At the same conference, Bennett called for an end to poverty wages, child poverty and pensioners being unable to heat their homes in her keynote speech.
|By Positive Money’s Ben Dyson – guest speaker at the Conference in Nottingham last weekend:
Positive Money is apolitical and doesn’t support or endorse any particular political party. However, I thought the Green Partys policy document on money was well worth highlighting, as much of it is entirely consistent with Positive Money proposals. It is also by far the most detailed policy document Ive ever seen from any UK political party.
Here are some key paragraphs, with our emphasis in bold:
Note in particular:
This is entirely consistent with Positive Moneys full reserve proposals, with the caveat that we would rather see banks lose all of their ability to create money (rather than simply have it partially limited through the use of regulation).
Of course, as with our draft bill its easier to get it on paper than to get it through parliament, but its encouraging to see that there is at least one party with an understanding of the monetary system and its effect on the economy.
Introducing Howard Thorp
I am a member of the Green Party, and the Green Party Campaigns Coordinator.
I believe in social justice, the importance of living in harmony with the environment and the economics of need – not greed. We can have thriving businesses without damaging the environment and without exploitation of working people. I believe that public services are best delivered by the public sector without the profit motive. Views expressed here are my own.
Since the general election in 2010 the Coalition government has been waging class war against the people of the UK. In his ’emergency’ budget in 2010 Chancellor George Osborne inflicted £81 billion of austerity cuts on the poorest and most vulnerable people in our country, including the low paid, the unemployed and disabled people. Women have been disproportionately hit by these cuts and 700,000 public sector workers have lost or will lose their jobs as a result. And all this after those very people helped to bail out the banks and financial capitalism with their hard earned taxes.
We are told that the purpose of the austerity cuts is to ‘reduce the deficit’ and save the economy. But that is a lie, and austerity hasn’t reduced the deficit. The real aim of austerity is to use the economic crisis to destroy the welfare state, and privatize the NHS and public services for the benefit of capitalists and their corporations. Austerity is working, and working very well for the richest, who are gaining wealth whilst living standards for the rest of us have fallen. Austerity is class war. Those who have read the book ‘The Shock Doctrine’, by Naomi Klein, will know that, in times of crisis, capitalists and their tame politicians use the crisis to roll back the social and economic gains made by the 99% by imposing ‘free’ market ‘policies’ such as welfare cuts, privatisation and deregulation.
In the UK, the Coalition government has tried to deflect blame for the cuts by making councils impose them at a local level. Councils have already had to impose cuts but we are now at a stage where some of the most savage cuts in benefits are being introduced, including changes to council tax and the so-called ‘bedroom tax’, affecting the disabled, unemployed and low paid. I have always opposed all of the government’s austerity cuts but now, as more and more people are becoming aware of the brutal nature of the cuts, we have reached a stage where it is possible to launch a real fightback and make the ‘bedroom tax’ into this government’s poll tax.
As far as the Green Party is concerned we have opposed the cuts from day one, and we showed in our 2010 manifesto how the crisis could be resolved without privatization or cutting public services. Our Green council in Brighton and Hove has worked hard to do its best for the local people in very difficult circumstances and has been supported by the Party. The question is – are there any red lines for our councillors? When do we reach a point where we can no longer impose austerity cuts on the poorest? The answer to that has to be now, with the advent of the ‘bedroom tax’ in a months time.
We need to resist the bedroom tax with all the peaceful democratic means at our disposal. We need to learn from the successes of UKUncut, by using protest action and direct action, including supporting victims of these benefit changes whom councils try to evict. We also need to look at all the measures that councils can use to mitigate the effects of the bedroom tax, including the re-classification of rooms in social housing. Its heartening to see that a recent meeting of B&H Green Party passed a motion on the bedroom tax, supported by our MP Caroline Lucas, which stated: “The Green Party of Brighton and Hove therefore resolves to:
1. Publicly condemn the ‘Bedroom Tax’ as an ideologically-driven attack On the least well-off in our society.
2. Request that the Convenor of the Green Group makes a clear public statement that no household will be evicted from a Brighton and Hove City Council owned home as a result of rent arrears accrued solely as a result of this cut to Housing Benefit
3. Request that the Chair of the council’s Housing Committee instructs officers accordingly.
4. Publicise this position, externally and in our own publications and websites.”
Its time for our councillors to grasp the nettle and lead the fight against this pernicious bedroom tax. If they fail to do so we will lose credibility as a Party nationally. Parties which support austerity get rightly punished by the electorate as recent elections in Europe have shown. As a Party, we have to make a breakthrough to make a real difference in UK politics. We can only do this by leading the resistance to further cuts and providing people in England and Wales with hope for the future with our positive alternatives to austerity.
Peter Allen (Green Left) has invited us to sign a pledge
“Here’s the chance to do our part. Take the pledge with me today.”
|Thankfully, I have rarely heard the words I’m offended by that! in debates at Green Party Conferences. It is the resort of people that are in danger of losing the argument and would rather shut the debate down. It is also a statement at the heart of the culture of over-zealous political correctness. Anyone, at any time, can claim to be offended by anothers words or actions and immediately the offending party is scourged. The claimed right not to be offended seems to trump all other rights and the debate is duly shut down.
Lets consider that for a moment. It may come as a surprise to some, but nowhere in the Green Party Constitution is there a Right Not to be Offended. The right that is protected is the Right to Free Speech, the right to be heard. A freely expressed opinion is always likely be offensive to someone, but we tend to assume that it will generally be our political opponents – generally not our supposed comrades in the same Party.
Some issues, however, legitimately divide opinion in even the most cohesive of Parties. Those that follow this blog will probably be thinking of a couple of issues that I have flagged up recently that would fall into that category for the Green Party – namely the Hospital Chaplaincy issue and, much more significantly, Population Policy. The former was aired at Conference in a very considered and dignified manner; the latter was aired in an atmosphere of thinly veiled contempt. At least three times the phrase “I find that offensive” was uttered by antagonists on one side of the argument. It undermined not only their arguments (which I actually share in part), but also their pretensions to be serious politicians.
We need to get over being offended as a means to win a debate, and instead construct sound arguments to defend our point of view in a considered, rational and (when among colleagues at least) unemotive way. Stifling free speech, even if it offends, will inevitably lead to a loss of essential freedoms, and we cannot allow that to happen – in society as a whole, but within the Party for certain.
|You may recall the letters that we delivered to Downing Street on 1st December:
plus one from the Vale Says NO! Group.This illicited this initial response in mid January:
Part 1 , part 2 , part 3
This was clearly a poorly thought through ‘fob off’ response to which I duly responded on 22 January.
I am pleased to report a rather more considered response from the DECC Correspondence Unit this time around, which still contains too many subjective opinions, alongside acknowledgement of lots of uncertainties. It also, particularly in the Ministerial Extract (pts 3&4) details the seismicity precautions they are supposedly putting in place that should, if applied stringently, put a considerable spanner in the works of Cuadrilla and co.
See the attachments:
|I am just back from the Nottingham Conference, and as usual it was full of interest, inspiration and a fair dollop of controversy.
It was particularly inspiring to see our latest Bridgend Green recruit, 16 year old Adam Taylor, taking to Conference like the proverbial duck to water. He immersed himself in the full Conference experience and found himself comfortably at home among the other Young Greens. We may well have a rising star in our midst.
Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience of co-chairing a whole Conference Plenary Session in the Main Hall alongside the experience of Moira Dunworth from the Scottish Green Party. I am not alone in thinking it was the best chaired plenary of the weekend. Moira is a class act and I learned an enormous amount from her.
Unfortunately our Charitable Hospital Chaplaincy did not make it to the Conference floor, and as such we will need to re-present it to next Conference and put a bit more effort to getting it prioritised higher. The workshop on the motion did go ahead and went predictably enough with the those with religious affiliations largely against and the rationalists present in favour.
Other highlights included a revision to the Party’s Philosophical Basis to emphasise our Social Justice objectives; a successful motion to strengthen Trade Union links; helping the Welsh team in the Young Greens Quiz Night to a creditable 4th place; and the start of a process to air the divisive Population issue, which I hope (perhaps over-optimistically) will produce a better understanding of the issue on both sides of the divide. The Open Mic Night was also a highly entretaining mix of music, comedy and poetry presented by Party members. We are fortunate to have such a fabulous array of talent in this Party.
I was disappointed with the outcome of the Green World meeting that produced no evidence that the board have learned anything from the debacle over the Population Matters advert. The two members that created the problem by imposing their own ideological viewpoint have recruited a like-minded friend to step into the vacancy my resignation created. I therefore feel that there can only be turbulent times ahead for GWEB, if for no other reason that I am not finished with this issue yet.
In terms of the set piece speeches, you can judge these for yourself below.
Leader Natalie Bennett’s speech to Conference:
Deputy Leader Will Duckworth’s speech at Conference:
Brighton Council Leader Jason Kitcat’s speech at Conference:
Peter Tatchell speaks at the Green Party 40th anniversary party:
As a member of a Welsh local party, I have always found the WGP Leader’s speech at National Conference cringe worthy. It was bad enough having Jake Griffiths boring everyone in a language that not even the other Welsh delegates could understand, but at least we couldn’t understand what he was saying!! It is fortunate that Pippa Bartolotti’s speech to this Conference has not made it to youtube (yet) as it was ill-judged and poorly received. I will say no more!
Overall then, a thoroughly enjoyable experience yet again. The next Conference takes us down Brighton – where we can immerse ourselves in the delights of the Greenest town in the land!