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 Andrew Cooper
Political parties are increasingly viewed with contempt by many people. Though you don’t have to have abhorrent sexist and racist views to be in the Conservative Party it is the Party where this is most tolerated. In Government the Conservatives have largely been fronted by ‘characters’ or probably more accurate to say cartoon-like caricatures. Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson and William Gove. The point is that they are often so bizarre in behaviour as well as their politics that they are completely unrelatable to by millions of people.
Labour started off with Jeremy Corbyn viewed as a Party that had rediscovered its principles but has become the Party that has failed to back the NHS Reinstatement Bill and a clear majority of its MPs voted for a third runway at Heathrow. Labour support nuclear weapons and nuclear power and their opposition to ratification referendum on the outcome of the Brexit talks limits the life chances of millions of young people and threatens the many social and environmental protections the EU has brought us. For many, the Lib Dems are holed below the waterline following their disastrous collaboration with the Conservatives in Government but more recently their absence for crucial Brexit votes has seen them blow the one card they have to play as a pro-EU party.
UKIP has collapsed following Brexit and the demise of its local government base bodes badly for the future. Its toxic legacy however remains with the lack of respect for facts and the triumph of populism over logic.
The Green Party’s role in a changing political landscape
Our key advantage in the Green Party is that we are seen as a Party of principle. We have not compromised our values in pursuit of votes or finance. Conversely we are often viewed by many as not being realistic. We are seen as an effective Party of protest, on Fracking, on trees in Sheffield, on the streets with the Green Bloc presence on many demos. If we are to progress at all beyond our 3% in the opinion polls we also have to be seen as the problem solvers, the Party with practical ideas and the Party that delivers solutions when we have the opportunities.
With our growing number of Councillors we will grow in influence and how we use it will be key to growing our support. As a Kirklees Councillor I proposed the UK’s first universally free insulation scheme that insulated 50,000 homes. This reduced emissions certainly but also put money back in local peoples pockets in terms of saved energy costs equivalent to £4 million/year. This is one example but one where we can show that Green policies are not backwards put taking us forward.
Should Brexit occur next March we could be in for a time of considerable political and economic instability that will hardwire austerity in our public spending for the foreseeable future. A Party that is able to provide hope for a sustainable and secure future with that backdrop will be needed. That Party should be the Green Party.
What the Green Party should be
Staying true to our values is vital but we also need to be authoritative and respected for the rigour in our policies and statements. Our lack of a strong research function in the Party is a weakness that we need to address. So I will be seeing how we can embed a research and policy analysis function in the Party.
We need to grow our membership to progress but we also have to build stronger relationships with green NGOs and green businesses where we share common interests and values. As a small party these alliances will be essential to get our message across in an increasingly crowded political environment. With my strong links and background in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors I would seek to build strong relationships with key industry bodies representing the ‘green’ sector.
We need to up our profile at the United Nations COP Climate Change Talks each year to show we are involved at a global level, working hard on solutions and challenging vested interests that threaten all our futures. We have lacked visibility on this important stage. I will be attending the COP24 Climate Talks in Katowice in December as part of the EU delegation and pushing hard on giving more power at the local level to tackle climate change, making real the slogan ‘Think Global Act Local’.
Personal policies and promises
I am keen to produce a regularly updated Deputy Leader Blog if elected. It is something that is needed to give greater visibility both to our membership and to the wider public of the activity of our leadership team. I’ve been a blogger for nearly 10 years now and enjoy it as a medium to get our message across. If you want to check out my blog, you can follow it here.
I want to get around as many local parties as possible and I wouldn’t see that changing as a Deputy Leader function if I was elected. I’d like my engagement with local parties to be more than just a ‘Royal Visit’ but I’d be seeking to bring practical help and advice on campaigning and local policy initiatives based on nearly 20 years as a Councillor getting Green Party Initiatives implemented. One particular pledge would be to visit every Green Councillor in England and Wales in the 2 year term as Deputy.
Our future lies in growing our local government base and growing our membership.
Our future lies in growing our local government base and growing our membership. The Target to Win strategy is bearing fruit but we have no national strategy in place to support our Councillors once they are elected. Yes we want to elect Green Councillors but we also need to elect great councillors. We should provide mentoring and ongoing support through model motions, model questions to the administration and briefings. In this way we will be able to ensure that when we gain Concillors we keep them. This is something I would progress as Deputy Leader.
To conclude I believe we need someone in the Deputy Leadership Team who doesn’t either work or live in London. We have become a far too London centric Party. We are really lacking in voices that can give an informed perspective that is genuinely from the regions. So I pledge not to move to London if elected as Deputy Leader. My family are quite pleased about this.
Featured image via Andrew Cooper
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