Monday, 5 September 2016

My thoughts on the Autumn 2016 Green Party conference

This weekend, Green Party conference occurred at Birmingham for the second time since 2013 when I first attended Green Party conference, albeit in Edgbaston rather than Aston. I had learned that I failed to be elected as Deputy Leader of the Green Party; Amelia Womack won re-election easily, with Andrew Cooper finishing a strong second and incumbent Shahrar Ali finishing only third. The strong outside contender who finished fourth proved to be Kat Boettge, who was going to be the Green Party's lead candidate for the East Midlands region until Britain voted to exit the EU.

As for Green Party leader, the election proved to be a foregone conclusion, with Caroline Lucas MP and Jonathan Bartley, our Work & Pensions Spokesperson, jointly winning with 87.7% of the 1st preference votes (if RON's votes are not included) and a majority of 12,614 votes; hundreds of MPs in Britain have majorities less than that and they have to convince sometimes as many as 80,000 voters, not the 43,000 Green Party members who were registered at election time. David Malone proved to be the only losing contender to 'save his deposit', with 6.1% of 1st preferences. Meanwhile, two of my three favourites for the contest, Simon Cross and Martie Warin, only polled 108 and 133 1st preferences respectively, considerably less than the 179 I received in the Deputy Leader contest; David Williams managed a respectable 527 votes. The RON campaign, sponsored by some Young Greens unhappy with Sian Berry being ineligible to stand and a lack of candidate diversity, proved to be more talk than trousers, as only 306 votes were cast for re-open nominations in the leader contest. This was however more than the 173 polled by Citizens' Income activist and Green Party veteran Clive Lord.

On a happy note, almost every candidate I endorsed for GPEx (except John Coyne) won election to their respective GPEx post. One incumbent was defeated (Chris Jarvis, who stood on a job-share platform with Cadi Cliff) but my good friend Judy Maciejowska had to go through an extra round to win re-election to her post.

The Birmingham conference could have been livelier, but we never managed to reach the more contentious motions, and the most controversial by far (a motion to repeal anti-GMO policies) was referred back instead of being heard. The committee elections were more competitive than last year as well, especially with a shorter window in which to vote.

Here are my good points about this Green Party conference:

1. Many attendees who I had never met commended me for standing for Deputy Leader even though I did not actually win the contest.
2. Important motions on reviewing voting at conference and the policy process were passed, as were motions opposing the 2016 Trade Union Act, proposing a statutory right of access for trade union representatives, and foundations for a heritage policy.
3. My Green Politics for Everyone session on Saturday 3rd proved to be a success in spite of a not particularly high attendance, with some excellent if short discussions and a blast from the past with our 1989 election broadcast.
4. I enjoyed an excellent meal with my comrades Martin, Malcolm, Jay, Jim, Sue, Peter M, Peter A, Tony, and Jane on the night of Saturday 3rd; it was certainly worth giving up being at the Green Party Quiz for.
5. I managed to make a good speech about why the Green Party should not ally with Labour at the panel on 'Progressive Alliances'.

And here are my not-so-good points:

1. I failed to be elected onto the Green Party's Standing Orders Committee despite my best efforts and recommendations from friends of mine, including Jill Mills who was re-elected. I am pleased about my friend Kat being elected onto SOC even though she was one of my rivals in the Deputy Leadership election. My friends Ben Samuel and David Raby also lost their places on Policy Committee and the International Committee; also Simon Hales did not win a seat on the Green World Editorial Board and Jemima Luanga did not defend her seat on the E&D committee. However, Bernard Ekbery retained his seat on the Disputes Resolution Committee, Ricky Knight retained his seat on the Conferences Committee, and pro-GMO advocate Andrew Donegan was defeated in his bid for Policy Committee, so I do have something to be pleased about
2. The heavy doors and steps presented significant accessibility issues for disabled members, especially given the layout of the Edgbaston campus.
3. None of the three motions I proposed got heard at conference (although after much discussion on one of them, I would have requested its referral back)
4. An emergency motion for a proper democratic debate on Progressive Alliances failed to pass for lack of a 2/3 majority.
5. I felt rather unwell on the morning of the last day of conference-of all days (sigh) and could not work out how.

Let the Green Flag keep flying across Britain, for we, not Labour, will prove ourselves to be the real opposition to the Conservatives and Theresa May's regime.



  1. You can't be a real opposition with 1 MP and 1 Lord and an outgoing and incoming Leader in Jeremy Corbyn's shirt pocket.
    Tim Farron and the 76,000 plus members of the Liberal Democrats are the opposition in England & Wales, SNP in Scotland.
    the 11 new Liberal Democrat councillors since May versus Green Parties (all 3 of them) 1 speak for that. As for Progressive Alliances why don't the Green Parties have one with themselves or do you want to break up the Union as well as the European Union? Since was it not yourself proposed a #brexit motion for Spring Conference in harrogate?

  2. Thanks for this Alan.

    Nick- you can't be an opposition with 7 MPs (even if they're all in one place, like the Ulster Unionists). The LibDems can't even offer paper candidates for councils in many areas.

    Bill Mc, Dudley GP