The Norwich Radical aims to offer wide and fair coverage of both national and international politics, including elections, campaigns, and movements affecting local and wider scale policies. In light of this, we have contacted all the candidates standing in both the Leadership and Deputy Leadership elections for The Green Party of England and Wales, asking them to explain their vision for the Party and the country. We will be publishing their responses over the week leading up to the elections.
by Jonathan Chilvers
My favourite part of Question of Sport used to be ‘What Happens Next?’ A piece of recorded sporting action would be paused and the teams would guess what amusing blunder was about to happen before it was revealed by the presenter.
In British politics at the moment nobody knows what is going to happen next. Politics is always unpredictable, but in UK even the most powerful players just don’t know what Brexit deal will happen or what that will mean for the country. This is before we all try and predict the impact of Trump, Russia and Climate Change. This is deeply unsettling for most of the public. What most people want whether they voted leave or remain is for politicians to get on and sort it out. To protect stability, prosperity and a general sense of everyone rubbing along without being too upset.
But the scale of the challenges we face as a nation don’t allow for the status quo. Change is going to continue to come and the Green party is well placed to make a significant positive era to a new political and economic settlement.
A distinctive Green philosophy
The Green Party has a unique and distinctive political philosophy based around principles of environmental wisdom, social justice, grassroots democracy and non-violence. Unlike all the other parties our Green economics address how we live within our means on a finite planet. A commitment to empowering grassroots democracy is in our DNA even when it’s messy, providing an important critique of top-down state based solutions. Non-violence provides a framework for solving problems from neighbourhood disagreements to international disputes: not shying away, but facing hard realities; engaging with those we disagree and pursuing peace with the same rigour and courage some pursue war.
On the EU we can apply those principles and unify the country if we address the reasons people voted leave head on and make the case for staying in. We need a radical programme offering a huge investment in skills addressing dead-end jobs, extensive devolution of budgets and power to counter the feeling of powerlessness and investment in health and education infrastructure to address population growth including migration.
I’m proud of our Green principles and policies, but too often our voice is not heard. Sometimes we blame the media for not covering what we have to say, but we have to be real. Why should the press publish our words if we don’t have the ability to influence policy? Why should radio report our words if we only represent 0.1% of the population? Sometimes we get frustrated that people don’t listen to what we’re saying. But why should they listen when we don’t meet them where they’re at and understand their concerns? Why should they listen if we use language that only a narrow section of the politically active left understand?
Getting the message out
I want to be deputy leader of a party that gets the message out. That is prepared to get out our bubble and puts our green principles into words and actions that people on the doorstep that connect with. That means caring for our green spaces, showing how dangerously poor air quality affects people on their journey to work and enabling residents to improve the streets around them. It means listening to and engaging with people who do not consider themselves naturally Green and bridging the gap of understanding.
As a twice elected County Councillor I’ve shown that this is possible. I’ve also seen how winning local elections transforms our local influence. We have the ability to influence the debate in town halls which gives us a platform in the local media. We’re no longer representing a tiny fringe minority, but a plurality of people in a geographical area.
We’re no longer representing a tiny fringe minority, but a plurality of people in a geographical area.
To have a long lasting impact we must build our political base and credibility by winning local and regional elections. We can reach people across the political spectrum in a way Labour cannot if we communicate about our big Green principles in ways that connect with what people can see on their street and in their city. As an elected councillor I have the skills and experience to be Deputy Leader and help the party bring the change we need and get the message out.
What happens next
The British public is desperate for political leadership which brings integrity, democracy, a vision and a realistic roadmap to get there.
We don’t know what’s going to happen next, but we can head towards the centre of the action. I am determined to help build a Green party that is a strong electoral force that stays true that our values so that we can help forge a positive and secure future for our country.
Featured image via Jonathan Chilvers
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