4 March 2016

The national Green Party Conference, held twice a year in Spring and Autumn, is an extraordinary event which I'd urge every Green Party member to attend at least once. I've been going when I can for the last few years and each Conference has been bigger, and in some ways, better.

The atmosphere is really supportive. It's rather like that in our local Green Party: all are made welcome, people disagree but respectfully, we try to focus on consensus. But unlike in our local party, at the national level the Green Party has a majority of the lead roles taken by women.

There's an eclectic mix of delegates: many young people (a third of our 60,000 membership is under 30), people in sandals and woolly jumpers but also people in sharp suits, many people who are really, really knowledgeable about their pet topic (I felt very undereducated when I realised I was discussing a topic I thought I knew a lot about with a retired university professor and a retired very senior civil servant).

There are plenary sessions where policy and organisational motions are passed. Before a motion can reach this point it has to have been debated on the My Green Party members website and also been the topic of a workshop session at the Conference itself. The most far-reaching policies passed this time were on housing and planning, where the previous policies were completely updated. The overall thrust of the policies was explained by the proposer as being "essentially the exact opposite of current Government policy" - so more social housing not less, more rights for tenants rather than fewer, more control on planning to local communities not less.

Alongside the plenary sessions there are also training sessions on a range of topics: how to campaign, how to canvass, how to make banners, etc. There are panel sessions where leading Party members debate and discuss topics, and fringe sessions, where those with a particular interest can get outside speakers in to speak or lead discussions.

The European referendum was bubbling under. Although there is a small dissident minority I gained the view that the overwhelming majority of those attending will be voting "In" and in many cases actively campaigning for an "In" result.

I went to several informal meetings with colleagues from across the South West Region to discuss work in our Region over the next period.

There are further details of the Conference, including video of the speeches and, in time, all of the plenary sessions (do watch Shahrar Ali, one of our Deputy Leaders, who is a real rhetorician), as well as details of all of the decisions made, at:

https://my.greenparty.org.uk/group/conference/
https://www.greenparty.org.uk/conference/

Clive Martin
Taunton Deane Green Party PPC

 






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