The Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) (Template:Lang-cy) is the principal Green political party in England and Wales. The party is unrepresented in the House of Commons, but did have a life peer within the House of Lords until his death in April 2008. Members have been elected to the European Parliament, the London Assembly and in local government. The party leader is Caroline Lucas.
- Main article: History of the Green Party of England and Wales
The Green Party of England and Wales has its roots in the PEOPLE party started by Tony Whittaker in 1973. It then changed its name to the more descriptive Ecology Party in 1975, to the Green Party ten years later, and finally to The Green Party of England and Wales in 1990.
In the 1999 European elections, two Greens were elected Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Dr Caroline Lucas (South East England) and Jean Lambert (London). They retained their seats in the 2004 European elections, despite a reduction in number of seats available. Overall, the Party gained 1,033,093 votes in the 2004 European election.
However the Greens have not yet managed to breakthrough into other European electoral regions or the Welsh Assembly. Three Greens were elected to the first London Assembly. It currently has two Green Party members out of 25. These are Cllr. Darren Johnson AM, and Cllr. Jenny Jones AM.
The Green Party achieved its highest ever UK General Election result in the 2005 General Election with a total of 281,780 votes. During the 2005 General Election, Cllr. Keith Taylor received 22% in Brighton Pavilion.
The Party has 116 local councillors after a gain of 5 councillors during the 2008 local elections. The Greens have significant representation on Brighton & Hove City Council, Lancaster City Council, Norwich, Lewisham, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Kirklees Council and Stroud District Council. The Green Party are the official opposition on Norwich City Council, form part of the ruling coalition that controls Lancaster City Council alongside the Liberal Democrats and Labour, and Castle Morpeth Council as part of an all party administration.
According to MORI, Green issues are currently rated as importantly as during the Green Party's last high point in the late 1980s. The party currently has record local candidate numbers and high electoral support.
The party has held its first ever leadership election in September 2008. Caroline Lucas was elected to the position of Leader, and Adrian Ramsay to the position of Deputy Leader.
In 2010 Lucas won the Brighton Pavilion seat, which the "Greens" had assiduously nursed, unlike their usual policy of standing for election and holding no meetings.
The Green Party was founded to counter what they see as the threats to the environment and that remains its main focus. Like other parties, it produces a new manifesto for each election, but it also maintains a long-term strategy known as the Manifesto for a Sustainable Society (MfSS). This document contains the Philosophical Basis and a statement of the Core Values of the Green Party, as well as its detailed policies on a range of issues. The document is around 124,520 words long. However, it is not very widely read and contains several policies that are much more radical than anything that other parties in Britain propose.
Animal welfare, farming and foodEdit
The Green Party is opposed to all animal experiments and believes in replacing them with non-animal alternatives. It also wants to end factory farming. The Party seeks to ban live exports, genetic manipulation, patenting of animals, bloodsports, badger-baiting, circuses, zoos and fur products.
They support the subsidisation of organic farming in small free-range units and want to phase out all forms of intensive farming, including fish farms. The Party are against the production and importation of genetically-modified (GM) foods. They support Fair Trade over free trade. The Party encourages a reduction in the consumption of meat and promotes "more healthy and humane" foods.
The Green Party have a twelve-point plan to deal with climate change. It supports the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol but does not see that as anything more than a first step. It is strongly behind the 'Contraction and Convergence' model as a method of reducing carbon emissions. Within Britain it supports tradable carbon quotas. A proportion of the quotas would be distributed on a per head basis. The remainder would be sold to firms and organizations. The quotas would be reduced on a year by year basis in line with the 'Contraction and Convergence' model.
The party have set a goal of 90% carbon dioxide emissions reductions by 2050. They believe in scrapping the national roadbuilding programme and investing the estimated £30bn from the programme in green transport. They wish to end the £9bn annual tax break to the aviation industry by 2010 and pass the Air Traffic Emissions Reduction Bill, aiming for 50% CO2 reductions in aviation by 2050. The Party are strictly against the use of nuclear energy because they believe it is too expensive, too much of security risk and that it uses huge amounts of carbon dioxide in the extraction and production process, and is therefore an unsuitable response to climate change.
Green Party states that "the prohibition of drugs doesn't work". They support the legalisation of the possession, trade and cultivation of cannabis. Furthermore, the Party would decriminalise small-scale possession of recreational drugs like ecstasy and gradually move towards the legalisation of all recreational drugs. It hopes that this would "take the drug trade out of criminal control and place it within a regulated and controlled legal environment". The Party has run a Green Party Drugs Group Website to promote research into ending addiction and ensuring safe use of recreational drugs. The Party want to ban advertising or sponsorship by alcohol and tobacco firms.
Like many Green parties, the Green Party of England and Wales does not consider economic growth to be the only or the best indicator of progress, as it believes that endless growth is incompatible with a planet of finite resources. They are against mass consumption and destructive consumer lifestyles and hope to encourage an economy that is built on sustainability and long-term use. In fact their recipe for the recession is GROWTH.
The Party supports economic localisation on grounds of environmental concern, social justice and democracy, as detailed in Green Alternatives to Globalisation: A Manifesto, the book by Dr. Caroline Lucas, MEP, and the late Dr. Mike Woodin, two former Principal Speakers of the party. This includes helping local businesses through subsidies and import tariffs, "democratisation" of the banking system with the creation of a "network of publicly owned community banks", and encouragement of informal economies in local areas.
The Green Party seek to address the 'Poverty Trap' by introducing a "Citizen’s Income" (also known as a Citizen's Dividend and similar to the Basic Income), an unconditional, non means-tested, weekly payment made to every citizen whether they are working or not. This would replace benefits such as Job Seeker’s Allowance, as well as replacing personal tax-free allowances. The Party hope that this would ensure that people can take a job and come off benefits without falling into the Poverty Trap, and make working part-time or becoming self-employed easier by eliminating the Poverty Trap. Clive Lord, a member of the Green Party of England and Wales, published A Citizen's Income, a book that sets out how to fund the Citizen's Income with an increase to the top bracket of Income Tax. Lord suggests that the Citizen's Income is a means by which to achieve prosperity within a zero-growth economy.
On taxation, the Green Party believe in increasing the top rate of Income Tax to make the system more redistributive. It is in favour of a more progressive system of corporation tax to encourage small businesses over large corporations. They support eco-taxes, such as those on packaging and carbon emissions, along the lines of the 'polluter pays' principle. Also, the Party wants an increase in trade union rights and the renationalisation of the railways and other public utilities.
The party is moderately Eurosceptic and supports UK membership of the European Union subject to democratic reform. It opposes the euro on economic localisation and democracy grounds, and was also against the proposed EU constitution for similar reasons. It favours the disbandment of NATO, and its replacement by a well-resourced OSCE.
The Green Party wants "to modernise and decentralise" the current governmental system in England and Wales. It wants to end the place of the monarchy in the British constitution and replace the House of Lords with an elected second chamber. The party supports elected Regional Assemblies in England and the creation of more Parish and Community Councils. On issues of voting, the Green Party is campaigning to introduce Proportional Representation (specifically the Additional Member System (AMS) used in Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament elections) and reduce the voting age to 16.
It is usually to be found on the civil liberties side of the liberties versus security debate and opposes the national ID cards and New Labour's anti-terror legislation. It is strongly opposed to measures like the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act.
The Green Party would increase funding to and reform the United Nations by abolishing the right of veto and democratising the UN Security Council. They would ban arms exports and the use of depleted Uranium-tipped shells. Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Party believes in boycotting Israel until it complies with the 80 UN resolutions it is defying,Template:Fact whilst urging Palestinians "not to perpetuate the cycle of violence".
The party opposed the Iraq War, both prior to, during, and after the invasion. It has claimed that it did so "on principle", criticising the Liberal Democrats for "only opposing the war because no second UN Resolution was obtained". It has in turn been criticised for either attempting to manufacture a spurious distinction in policy for electoral purposes, or for adopting a position which is essentially pacifist in nature. Previously, the party had opposed the Kosovo WarTemplate:Ndash a rare stance in Britain. Although they supported "self-determination" for the Kosovo Albanians, they did not support independence for Kosovo, and stated that the media had ignored the crimes of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
The Green Party supports the right to asylum and "seeks to change negative attitudes and stereotypes associated with refugees". The party concentrates on the causes of immigration, aiming "to alleviate problems caused by war, the arms trade, environmental devastation, past colonial actions and human rights abuses".
The Green Party meets to vote on issues of organisation and policy at bi-annual Party Conferences (the Spring Conference and Autumn Conference). It is bound by a Constitution, which can only be amended by a two-thirds majority vote at one of these Conferences; policy motions need only a simple majority (more than 50%).
Leadership and Principal SpeakersEdit
- Main article: Principal Speakers
The Green Party has in the past consciously chosen not to have a single leader for ideological reasons; its organisation provided for two Principal Speakers, a Male and Female Principal Speaker, who sit but do not vote on the party's Executive (GPEx). However, a referendum of the party membership in 2007 on the question of creating a Leader and Deputy Leader (or, if candidates choose to run together and are gender balanced, Co-Leaders without a Deputy Leader), who would be elected every two years (instead of annually) and able to vote on GPEx, passed by 73%.
The final Principal Speakers were Dr Caroline Lucas MEP (who succeeded Siân Berry in October 2007), and Dr Derek Wall, who succeeded Keith Taylor, a councillor in Brighton & Hove, in November 2006 (Taylor had been elected in 2004 after the death of Dr. Mike Woodin). The roles of Principal Speaker no longer exist.
The declared candidates in the leadership election were Caroline Lucas and Ashley Gunstock for the post of Leader and Adrian Ramsay for the post of Deputy Leader. Nominations closed on 31 July and the result was declared at the Autumn Conference on Friday 5 September.
The national Green Party Executive (GPEx) consists of the following positions:
|Green Party of England and Wales Executive (GPEx)|
|Leader||Caroline Lucas MEP|
|Deputy Leader||Cllr. Adrian Ramsay|
|Campaigns Co-ordinator||Sarah Mitchell|
|Elections Co-ordinator||Chris Haine|
|Equality and Diversity Co-ordinator||Maya de Souza|
|External Communications Co-ordinator||Tracy Dighton-Brown|
|Finance Co-ordinator||Khalid Hussenbux and Joe Hulm (as a job share)|
|Internal Communications Co-ordinator||Natalie Bennett|
|International Co-ordinator||Michael Coffey|
|Local Party Support Co-ordinator||Jon Lucas|
|Management Co-ordinator||Tony Cooper|
|Policy Development Co-ordinator||Brian Heatley and Matt Follett (as a job share)|
|Publications Co-ordinator||Polly Lane|
For the purposes of its registration with the Electoral Commission, the party used to designate the Chair of the Executive as the Leader of the party. This is currently James Humphreys, former head of Corporate Communications at Number 10 Downing Street. A previous Chair, Hugo Charlton (2003 to 2005), was removed from the post after nominating himself for a House of Lords peerage on behalf of the party without following the party's agreed selection procedure. Subsequently Cllr. Jenny Jones, AM, was elected to be the party's nominee in the event of the party again being asked, but this was too late for the current round.
The Party's Leader and Deputy Leader are elected every two years by a postal ballot of all party members. All other GPEx positions are elected annually by postal ballot or by a vote at Conference (depending on the number of candidates). To become a member of the Executive, the candidate must have been a member of the party for at least two years (or if the candidate has been a member for one complete year preceding the date of close of nominations, their nomination will be allowed if it is supported by a majority of Green Party Regional Council (GPRC) members in attendance at a quorate official GPRC meeting).
Members of GPEx are individually responsible for every action taken within their area of responsibility (except decisions taken collectively within GPEx itself). GPEx meets at least once every six weeks, and whenever a meeting is necessary.
The Executive has the power to create committees and posts "it considers necessary for the efficient conduct of its business". It appoints a Panel of Speakers as spokespeople for policy areas, a Treasurer and the National Election Agent. GPEx is responsible for implementing the decisions made at Conferences, and controlling expenditure and fundraising.
In the Party's Autumn Conference of 2008, members elected the first Equality and Diversity Co-ordinator.
The Green Party Regional Council (GPRC) is a body that coordinates discussions between Regional Green Parties. It supports the Executive (GPEx) and is responsible for interim policy statements between Conferences and enforcing constitutional procedures.
Each Regional Green Party elects two members by postal ballot to be sent to the GPRC. These delegates' terms last two years before re-election. GPRC meets at least four times a year. The Council elects Male and Female Co-Chairs and a Secretary. GPEx members are often required to give reports on their area of responsibility to the GPRC; the GPRC also has the power to recall any member of GPEx (by a two-thirds majority vote), who is then suspended until a re-election for the post is held; similarly, if GPEx suspends one of its own members, GPRC has the authority to decide whether that member should be reinstated or not (again, by a two-thirds majority vote).
The Green Party of England and Wales holds a Spring and Autumn Conference every year. Conferences are governed by the Constitution and Standing Orders, and feature votes on policy and organisational matters. The Autumn Conference is the party's "supreme forum", with elections to GPEx, committees and other bodies; the Conference held in the Spring, although having the same powers as the Autumn Conference on policy and organisational votes, only holds elections for vacant posts and can have its priorities decided by the preceding Autumn Conference. The conference itself is organised by Conferences Committee, but the Standing Order Committee (SOC) is responsible for interpreting the Constitution and arranging the order of business..
The Green Party Conference features fringes, talks and plenary sessions. The agenda for plenary sessions is usually:
- Section A - Reports from various bodies within the party, including SOC, GPEx, GPRC and others
- Section B - Policy Voting Papers (a motion, either submitted by members or chosen by the Policy Committee, which submits a section of the Manifesto for a Sustainable Society (MfSS) for review and amendments, which are then voted on)
- Section C - Policy Motions (motions from members on different sections of the MfSS, but also including those which express a policy position without altering the MfSS, and Enabling Motions, which start the process of building policy on a specified area)
- Section D - Organisational Motions (motions from members that amend the Constitution)
Policy making within the GPEW is a long process that involves consultation with various bodies and individuals. The party has released leaflets and books on how to properly amend policy.
The Constitution of the Green Party of England and Wales governs all of the party's activities, from the selection of election candidates by local parties, to nominations for the House of Lords, to the conduct of GPEx and so on. The Constitution stresses "openness, accountability and confidentiality" in its decision-making guidelines. It can be amended only by a two-thirds majority vote at a Conference or by a two thirds majority in ballot of the membership.
Status of the Wales Green PartyEdit
- Main article: Wales Green Party
Unlike any other regional party within the Green Party, the Wales Green Party (WGP) (Plaid Werdd Cymru in Welsh) is a "semi-autonomous regional party" within the GPEW. It has greater control over its finances, and produces its own manifesto and newsletters. Wales Green Party members are automatically members of the Green Party of England and Wales.
Also differently from the full party, the Wales Green Party (and the North West region of England) elects a Principal Speaker who may refer to themselves as the 'Leader' of the Wales Green Party, although, like the Green Party's Principal Speakers, they have no powers of leadership. The current leader of the Wales Green Party is Leila Kiersch.
- Main article: Young Greens of England and Wales
The youth wing of the Green Party, the Young Greens (of England and Wales), have developed independently from around 2002. The Young Greens have their own Constitution, National Committee, campaigns and meetings, and have become an active presence at Green Party Conferences and election campaigns. There are now many Young Greens groups on UK university, college and higher education institution campuses. Several Green Party Councillors are Young Greens, as are some members of GPEx and other internal party organs.
Membership and financesEdit
According to 2007 accounts filed with the Electoral Commission it had a membership of 7,441 (an increase of 422 on the previous year) at year-end and had an income of £366,525 with expenditure of £394,887.
Groups within the PartyEdit
Several groups are active within the party. These include groups designed to address certain areas of policy or representation, including the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Group, the Trade Union Group, the Drugs Group (on drugs policy and research), the Monetary Reform Policy Working Group, and others. The centrist faction known as Green 2000 sought to achieve a Green Party government by the year 2000; the group fell apart in the early 1990s. Green Left represent anti-capitalists and eco-socialists in the party who want to engage with the broader Left in the UK and attract Left-wing activists to the Green Party.
See also Edit
- Category:Green Party of England and Wales
- Politics of the United Kingdom
- Manifesto for a Sustainable Society (MfSS)
- Principal Speaker
- Young Greens of England and Wales (YG[EW])
- Wales Green Party (WGP)
- Green Left (UK) (unofficial faction)
- LSESU Green Party (London School of Economics Young Greens group)
- Green 2000 (1990s constitutional reform movement)
- The Green Party of England and Wales
- Siân Berry for London Mayor - Green Party
- Wales Green Party
- Young Greens: the youth organization of the Green Party of England and Wales
- Unofficial Web Directory of Green Party websites
- Guardian Unlimited Politics - Special Report: Green Politics
- BBC News: Greens rally for a 'real change'
- Green Bloggers website
- Alternative list of 100 U.K. Green blogs
- Green Left - an Anti-Capitalist and Eco-socialist current within the Green Party of England and Wales
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