In the run up to the Campaigns Coordinator election, I answered these questions asked to me by Green Left members. Green Left is a leading Ecosocialist group that was set up in 2006 by Green Party members to fight climate change and for social and economic justice.
They are now published here for all members to read. Please feel free to ask me a question.
- A Campaigning Party vs Elections?
Within a flawed electoral system, are we focusing on winning elections, one by one seat? Above being a Campaigning Party within the mass movement needed to fight capitalism and transform society before the climate change emergency becomes irreversible? Are we paying lip service to the warning from the brave climate change activists especially the youth who recognise time is running out?
We are quite simply, a political party. Political parties fight elections. Winning seats on all levels equates to decision-making power and influence, which we need to strive for to ensure Green policies become conventional. However, we cannot win elections without appealing to the general public, so relevant and timely campaigns matter.
2. An accountable party?
How can the Green Party be an effective campaigning political party, with transparent internal democracy and accountability, supporting local party campaigns with devolved resources? Do we need delegate conferences to ensure policy is properly discussed at local level before conference decides?
The Green Party is led by members. Members decide the policy, leadership and priorities. Members therefore have a duty to hold their elected officials accountable. Delegate conferences in other parties are elitist and exclusive. We need to ensure our decision-making remains open to any member and should utilise technology to engage more members in our democratic processes.
3. A party that understands working-class communities?
Many people (with some progress) still see the green movement and subsequently the GPEW as being well meaning but not relevant to the everyday struggles of working people and working-class communities. How can we challenge that idea?
The Green Party has policies and campaigns that support and liberate our most marginalised and oppressed groups of people. However, we still appear to many as a white, middle class crowd. As a working class northern young woman, I can see the divide very clearly. To tackle this, we need to elect people from diverse communities. People need to see people like them in elected positions and our campaigns need to be spearheaded by people with lived experience.
4. Austerity and reversing public service cuts
After over 10 years of cruel Tory austerity which has trashed public services for millions, we must restore those essential services which we all rely on. Not only the NHS and social care but all the local government services like environmental health, trading standards, pollution control, libraries, public toilets, parks etc and the Green Party has not focused on this sufficiently for several years. Do you agree?
I very much agree that 10 years of cruel Tory austerity has left our public services in tatters. I have first-hand experience of this as a youth worker where youth and children’s services have decimated over the past 10 years. Campaigns to protect public services have been successful for local parties on a local level, where the decision-making power for many of these services is devolved.
5. The Movement for Green Jobs and a Green Socialist future
What do you know of the Trade Union backed Campaign Against Climate Change, Lucas Plan, The Million Green Jobs campaign and the Greener Jobs Alliance of trade unions? How would you work with these campaigns and ensure all parts of the party are engaging with these groups? Do understand and support what Just Transition means?
I believe all Green Party campaigns must be evidence-based, relevant and formed through interactions and partnerships with pressure groups and civil society. The party should form bonds with these knowledgeable and active campaigning groups to attract more members and have an equal campaigning stake. I support ‘Just Transition’ and think we should advocate this framework to secure workers’ rights and livelihoods when shifting to sustainable production. This, for me is the direct link between environmental and social justice that the party needs to bridge the gap.
6. Are you an eco-socialist?
What does eco-socialism mean to you? What links do you see between climate change and the need for social, economic and democratic change?
I am an eco-socialist. Similarly to my answer to the last question, there is a vital need for a complementary ‘Just Transition’ approach protecting people and planet. We cannot stop climate change under capitalism as the need for growth will always lead to us producing and consuming more and more. Eco-socialism to me means a society without class divisions living in harmony and balance with the environment, nature and wildlife.
7. Support native and oppressed peoples
Greens need to expand our world solidarity by working to liberate millions of indigenous peoples in the Americas, Asia: Kurdistan, Middle East, Tibet, and many parts of Africa etc. Internationalism is still too weak in Green culture. How would you improve this in the GPEW?
Building strong international relations is vital to expand our global solidarity, understanding and cohesion. We are lucky to have a very hard working International Committee who have built strong links around the world. I have been lucky enough to do some of this work: from supporting a Kenyan Green Party young woman running for leadership, to establishing a training programme for Young Greens in Macedonia. It’s about sharing good ideas and successes from the UK with other parties to help them develop, and implementing their good ideas and successes to try new things right here in the UK too.
8. Minority rights
Do you oppose the colonialist oppression of minorities such as Kashmiris, the Uighurs and Tibetans in China, and support the Palestinian-led global campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)? Palestine solidarity groups world-wide have opposed the so-called ‘IHRA definition of antisemitism’ as an attack on Palestinian rights. Do you support or oppose this definition?
I oppose colonialism in all of its forms, and especially with the oppression of minority groups and nations. I support the Palestinian-led global campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) however; I do not support the IHRA definition of antisemitism in its entirety. I am in total opposition to all manifestations of racism/antisemitism wherever they arise in society. I think the Green Party have faltered in our weak positioning and guidance for candidates on this issue.
9. Making campaigning for PR a Green Party priority
It’s clear the electoral system is holding back Green Party advance at local and parliamentary elections. How can we campaign to convince members of the Labour Party, Trade Unions and Labour MPs to support this left democratic change to bring elections in line with other parts of the UK? Do you see this as a major priority for the Green Party in the next period?
I support proportional electoral reform in all levels of Government. Under a first past the post system, we will continue to be left behind. Collaborating with the Electoral Reform Society, I think The Green Party could make this a priority, advocating for an end to the sterile two-party state, fewer wasted votes, better election accountability and ensuring Parliament is more representative of the diversity of political opinion within the UK.
10. Oppose Nuclear Power
Green Left is supporting a motion to the forthcoming GPEW Conference that calls on the Green Party to demand the government abandons the Hinkley Point nuclear project and plans for the follow-up Sizewell C nuclear project, including the regulated asset-based model and any further development of the hazardous and expensive nuclear power programme. The Green Party should also calls for all existing nuclear power plants to be shut down. No power sourced from nuclear should be imported – only renewable. Will you support this motion?
I support this motion and the calls for existing nuclear power plants to be shut down. Nuclear power is my inclination when the only alternatives are oil and gas under the Conservative Government; however, my preference will always be for a decarbonised system: moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources and clean electricity generation.