We have a situation in the Green Party which has been noticed by a number of people, and it becomes even clearer at conference. As a party, we have grown very quickly in the last year and we already have great structures in place for making sure that people feel welcome. No matter what background you come from, there is probably a sub-group of like-minded Greens you can talk to about everything from daily issues to party policy. The problem is, there is currently no decent path of communication from these smaller groups to the rest of the party.
This problem was magnified a few times at the recent autumn conference, most notably in the first plenary session where members were invited to vote on accepting or rejecting the reports submitted by various committees. Often a group of Greens will make a decision, with little feedback from the growing membership of the party, and then present their opinion to conference. With the limited time for debate at conference, and the limited ability of members to check into the background of the points being discussed, motions are often rejected or referred back. This is often perceived as a split between the smaller group and the party at large, when in reality some members just feel that they needed more time to make an informed decision. In the most heated of these exchanges, a large group of Young Greens were left feeling like the party is falling behind on equality and diversity issues. When I asked around, the reason a lot of people voted against the motion in question is that they didn’t understand what was going on – because they didn’t have enough information presented to them. Obviously we can’t have every speaker at conference giving the entire background story for their motion, so we need to look at other ways of improving party communication.
Currently smaller groups of Greens are not encouraged to pass on their feelings through GPEx or the YGNC, and their opinions aren’t given enough exposure in official media channels such as the Green Party Facebook Page, Green Party Newsletters and Green World Magazine. As a member of the YGNC, I would encourage these groups to nominate a member, or group of members, to compile opinions and discussions from their group and present them to the Young Greens National Committee. From there the committee can share this information in an official capacity with other members of the Young Greens using social media channels to gather feedback from the wider party and also to gain exposure for the ideas so that, at conference, people already have a good idea of the background behind submitted motions. I will also lobby GPEx to arrange a similar system for non-YG members of GPEW, and bring the two systems together for maximum cohesion. If we can present the Young Greens’ opinions on important issues before policy-making stage, with ample discussion and feedback from older members of the party, this may reduce the hostilities we’ve encountered at bigger events like national conference.
If you think this is a good idea, please make me your first preference for a non-portfolio position on the Young Greens National Committee.