Blog Posts

A report from #Greens2017

Introduction

Global Greens Congress was without doubt one of the best weekends of my life. A coming together of compassionate, hard-working greens from across the globe with a shared passion for green politics. Hearing some of the struggles faced by our friends in other countries, in some cases putting themselves in mortal danger to promote the green cause, really gives our campaigning in England & Wales a new perspective.

Meeting so many people from across the planet with shared goals really brought home the feeling that we have far more in common than that which divides us.

Green Party of England and Wales conference ran efficiently alongside the Global Greens Congress and we managed to pass some really important changes to our policies and organisational structure.

National Policy Changes

All five of the accredited C motions brought to conference were passed by the attendees, as were many of the non-accredited E motions. This means there are a lot of policy changes to take note of so be sure to brush up on PSS!

The headline changes are as follows:

  • The Green Party is now calling for an animal abusers register similar to the ViSOR register to protect animals from abusive owners. We will also seek to redefine “pest control” and protect vertebrates from unnecessary suffering.
  • It is now officially Green Party policy to defend the EU’s single market, encouraging green-minded reform of the trade area. We are also calling on the government to protect EU environmental regulations, the right to free movement and migrants’ rights as we leave the EU. Finally on this point, we are calling for a ratification referendum at the end of the negotiation process to ensure that this is still what the public wants.
  • Our intersex rights policy has finally been updated to give intersex people the support they need from the Green Party. This comes after the issue has failed to be heard at the last few conferences and is a welcome update to PSS.

Organisational Changes

Conference D motions allow for changes to internal party organisation. Without a doubt the biggest and most controversial discussion in this respect has been the idea of progressive alliances. Conference passed a motion over the weekend to officially support the idea of progressive alliances and lay out a kind of framework to help local parties (and the media) understand what is meant by “progressive alliance”. From the point of view of a local party, not much has actually changed. Local members will still decide whether or not to stand a candidate in a given seat.

Motions were also passed to update our subscription rates and capitations, to facilitate the selection of a more diverse range of candidates, and to allow the party to become a limited liability entity.

What does this all mean for South Glos?

When campaigning locally in South Gloucestershire we should now be aware of the party’s official position on the EU, which may be a huge talking point on the doorstep. We also now have a clearer idea of the scope of “progressive alliances” and how we can pursue them in consultation with the national party. Not much else changes for us locally, so we can concentrate on getting on with our dedicated activism and turning South Glos Green!

What does this mean for South West Young Greens?

We should be aware that the SWYG committee may now be a point of access for Young Greens wishing to pursue the idea of progressive alliances and liaise with us on that. SWYGs can also be confident that pro-European activism is now in keeping with party policy and use that fact to better develop our campaigns.

Summary

GPEW conference was pretty straightforward. Almost every motion that was heard passed without controversy, but there were a few moments of drama as passions ran high. But for me the weekend will always be about the Global Greens Congress. The ties we share with our green friends all over the world are unbreakable. We are strong, we are compassionate and we are willing to do what is right for people and planet. GGC has given me a weekend I’ll never forget and I’d like to thank all the wonderful people I met in Liverpool for making this such an exciting and uplifting event.

Distractions: Favourite Pokemon II

Back in June 2016 I posted about the awesome (read: distracting, nerdy) tool over at Dragonfly Cave which lets you pit Pokemon against each other until you find your favourites. Seven months later the playing field has changed and we’ve got a whole lotta new Pokemon, new forms and Z-moves to take into account. As such, here’s my 2017 take on Pokemon:

Top 6

FavePokes6_2
The dream team, complete with in-game nicknames: Serenity (Primarina), Nippy (Flygon), Tiddles (Sceptile), Lola (Skuntank), Pikaboo (Mimikyu), Teeny (Empoleon)

Top 20

Fave Pokes 20 #2
To be honest I think I played the game a bit wonky this time. Everything that made the list last time would beat Giratina in a heartbeat, so maybe substitute that in your head with Raichu or Pumpkaboo.

Favourite Type: WATER & FAIRY
(Kicking Grass & Dragon to the curb from the previous time)

Favourite Generation: THREE & SEVEN
(Gen III retains the top spot, but VII joins it. Maybe it’s the novelty of new Pokemon?)

Link to my results.

Time to flood the Conservatives with NHS pleas

The NHS has hit crisis point. It’s no longer enough to stand idly by while the Conservatives deliberately run down our most precious institution, praying that it survives until someone else gets into power. People forget how powerful writing can be and it’s time to utilise it now. Use WriteToThem to write to your local Conservative MP, MEPs and Councillors about the NHS crisis.

If you have a Conservative MP, it is likely that they are fully aware of the situation in the NHS and have actively contributed in government to the deliberate underfunding, understaffing and ultimate privatisation of the service. However, the Conservative majority in the house of commons is vulnerable, and there are some decent and compassionate Conservatives in there who would enjoy an excuse to rebel against Theresa May’s whip. Be firm but polite and try to use some personal instance of NHS issues in your local constituency to tug on their heart strings.

MEPs and Councillors are less heavily whipped into line by their party than their Westminster counterparts. There are many long-serving Conservative councillors who genuinely want to do the best for their communities and aren’t driven by blind faith in the free market. These people have more power than they realise, and you should write to them encouraging them to stand down their party colors and sit as an independent to send a message to the Conservatives in central government.

2017 is a year that we can no longer wait for the opposition to take a stand. It’s a year that we have to organise as ordinary, decent people to protect our vital public services. And you can start by telling your representatives exactly how you feel. I’m off to do it right now.

Don’t slide to the right, cha cha real smooth

Warning: article has nothing to do with novelty hip-hop from the late 90s.

The number of think-pieces floating around saying that Labour (and other liberal or left-leaning parties) should get tough on immigration is getting a bit silly. They all seem to be missing something important.

Despite their intricate policy differences, Labour, the Lib Dems, the Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP all share a common attachment to liberal values. They don’t see immigration as the main threat to British society, which it isn’t, and they don’t want to abandon their principles in pursuit of socially conservative voters, which is commendable.

The latest polls suggest that these 5 parties combined are sitting on about 45% of the popular vote. Now I’m not daft, I know that’s not a “winning” score, but it’s a massive chunk of the population who clearly have liberal values. To abandon this solid voter-base in the hopes of scooping up a few floating voters would show incredible strategic ineptitude.

Trying to out-UKIP UKIP or out-Tory the Tories is never going to work. Why would significant numbers of UKIP and Tory voters defect to UKIP-lite or Tory-lite when they can have the real deal? And, in the process, you stand to lose liberal voters for whom anti-immigration rhetoric is a red-line issue.

There is a decent chunk of the population who have no fixed ideology and can be persuaded to vote for pretty much any party as long as they are offered genuine solutions to their problems. There is still a massive chunk of the population who do not vote at all. If there is a path to electoral victory, to turning 45% in the opinion polls into more than 50% in a general election, it surely lies with the non-voters and the great undecided. We need to find messages, and maybe even activities, that engage and inspire those voters – and keep our principles in tact at the same time.

So please, if you’re a journalist with an article in your drafts titled “the left must get tough on immigration”, have a good think about the consequences and maybe just move it quietly to the recycle bin.