Questions posed by Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU) to GPEx candidates – 22/07/20

In the run up to the Campaigns Coordinator election on the Green Party Executive (GPEx), I answered these questions asked to me by the Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU).

GGPTU aims to further good relations between GPEW and Trade Unions and the labour movement nationally, internationally, locally and regionally, by putting forward policy and campaign proposals to GPEW and to Trades Unions. It campaigns on behalf of GPEW by participating in Trades Union and other political and cultural events and by drafting and distributing appropriate publicity materials. GPTU aims to encourage Trades Unions to give financial and other support to GPEW.

They are now published here for all members to read. Please feel free to ask me a question

Why are the GPEW considering a reorganisation, which would get rid of the Trade Union Liaison Officer Post when we need to win workers and Trade Unions to a Just Transition to fight Climate Change?

Is it not a serious mistake by the GPEW to ignore 6.3 million workers in Trade Unions and millions who want to be in Trade Unions but are prevented by the Tories Anti Trade Union laws?

Should the GPEW be sending such a negative message? What will you do if elected to keep the post of the Trade Union Liaison Officer and recognise the work of the Green Party Trade Union group?

Thank you for your question, and for the continued work of the Green Party Trade Union group.

I realise this reorganisation is part of the ongoing Green Party Holistic Review process, which I strongly oppose. When the Holistic Review was first proposed, I was Young Greens Co-Chair. I share exactly the same concerns as you about representation on the new bodies, because Young Greens and other bodies in the party also face the threat of having roles removed on the new structures.

At every point possible (whether this be on GPEx, at various Conferences or on my personal social media), I have condemned the acts of the Holistic Review, and voted against it.

On the Trade Union Liaison Officer (TULO) post, I absolutely agree with you. It is a serious mistake by the GPEW to ignore the concerns and voices of our members and supporters in Trade Unions, but also to the wider Trade Union membership (6.3 million people) as a whole.

I personally think it reinforces the white, middle-class stereotype that the party quite rightly is branded with often. The vast majority of members of Trade Unions are working-class and are often workers from blue-collar professions, labourers and emergency services. The Green Party should be the party that stands up for the marginalised and the oppressed: this includes all groups, and not just a select few.

If elected as Campaigns Co-ordinator, I would continue my record of campaigning hard against the Holistic Review, but if the inevitable happens, I will carry on advocating for the inclusion of posts that represent groups in the party: TULO is one of the biggest priorities to retain.

Questions posed by Greens for Animal Protection (GAP) to GPEx candidates – 21/07/20

In the run up to the Campaigns Coordinator election on the Green Party Executive (GPEx), I answered these questions asked to me by Greens for Animal Protection (GAP).

Greens for Animal Protection (GAP) is a Green Party initiative which aims to develop policy on animal protection issues and also campaign for animals.

They are now published here for all members to read. Please feel free to ask me a question

  1. Are you aware that there is a group within the Green Party that was formed specifically to advocate for non-human animals both within the Green Party, and externally through campaigning? Do you believe the Greens For Animal Protection should be represented on the new Green Party council?

Yes I am fully aware of the Greens for Animal Protection group and I support the work of the group. I take the view that humankind should live harmoniously with wildlife, nature and the environment and that includes the protection of animals.

I think the new Green Party council structure that is being proposed as part of the Holistic Review should aim to be as diverse as possible, and more importantly representative of our different groups in the party. I do believe that Greens for Animal Protection should be represented, alongside many other essential bodies in the party: Young Greens, Greens of Colour, Jewish Greens, LGBTQIA+ Greens to name just a few.

2. Greens for Animal Protection (GAP) have consulted on and written amendments for the Agriculture Bill currently going through Parliament, to support our Green Peers and MP.

Will you make sure in your role that you encourage others in the Green Party to use and recognise the expertise and knowledge of GAP members, and how might you do that?

I think it is great that GAP have been mobilising members to respond to this consultation about the Agriculture Bill. As Campaign’s Officer, I want to ensure our campaigns are evidence-based, relevant and formed in partnership with pressure groups and allied organisations.

Firstly, it’s great that GAP have captured the evidence needed to be able to run a very relevant campaign around the Agriculture Bill, but also that GAP have really strong links with campaigning groups and organisations who we can work alongside to ensure it’s not just the Green Party banging the drum.

I believe in autonomy of groups in the party, and therefore I would love to work with and consult GAP members in the event of any animal-rights/animal-welfare campaign or issue that may present itself during my term, but ensuring that GAP, as experts in this field are taking the lead.

3. There is a campaign currently being run by an animal advocacy organisation that is calling for changes to the statutory requirements for schools to serve meat, fish, eggs and dairy a number of times per week. Would you support this campaign?

I had not already heard of this campaign, but I would like to say that in my professional career I currently work at the World Association of Girl Guides & Girl Scouts on a programme called Girl Powered Nutrition. I work with Girl Guides all over the world to help them to advocate for injustices around adolescent nutrition.

Adolescence is a time when young people’s bodies are changing, and they require nutritious food, vitamins and minerals to ensure life-long good health. Good nutrition is essential for young people. Eating too little, too much or the wrong types of food can affect school performance and healthy development.

The girls participate in a badge through the programme, where they learn that it is essential to eat a ‘Rainbow Plate’, a diverse mix of different food groups in order to stay healthy. In many countries we work, meat and fish along with rice are often the cheapest things for the girls to eat, and they often struggle to find fruit and vegetables.

Of course this is different in the UK, but I do worry about opposition to this campaign on the basis that young people do require a mixture of carbohydrates, proteins, fibres, fats and vitamins and minerals in order to stay healthy. If many protein elements were to be taken away, young people run the risk of underdevelopment. The meat, fish, eggs and dairy would have to be substituted by a reasonable supplement or nutritious alternative for this to work.

4. The Green Party has opposed the badger cull since it was trialled by Labour in 1997. There has been little on GPEW campaigning platforms since the announcement of new cull licenses and an extension to the cull was made in June by Natural England.

Do you think the Green Party should be more vocal on this topic and support those campaigning against it?

I think Greens for Animal Protection have been incredibly strong on this issue, encouraging members to write to their MP and local councillors demanding the cull is stopped, and to take direct action in their area and on a national platform.

It’s current Green Party policy that we would replace the cull with a humane vaccinations programme for both badgers and cows, and introduce rigorous TB testing, tighter controls for the movement of cattle and take action on the intensification of farming which worsens the spread of disease in cows.

It’s shocking to me that the Conservatives continue to make the badger cull an election promise. I think The Green Party have a strong position to call out their negligence publicly: using our communication channels and elected officials in both Houses of Parliament.

5. Green Party Core Value 5 states: ‘Our actions should take account of the well-being of other nations, other species and future generations. We should not pursue our well-being to the detriment of others.’

How will you take account of the well-being of other species in your role representing the Green Party and members?

Like I have said previously, I believe that Green Party campaigns must be evidence-based, relevant and formed through interactions and partnerships with pressure groups and civil society. I am a progressive and radical campaigner, a believer in direct action, and an advocate for diversity and inclusion of marginalised groups (and this includes animals).

It is important our campaigns are relevant and spearheaded by people with lived experience. So where animals cannot speak for themselves, I would consult the Greens for Animal Protection on any issue or relevant campaign that tackles an animal-rights or animal-welfare issue.

6. The loss of biodiversity around the planet is something that many scientists are very worried about. Many call it the 6th Great Extinction. Core Value 2 states: ‘Humankind depends on the diversity of the natural world for its existence. We do not believe that other species are expendable.’ The percentage of farmed animals is now estimated to be 60% of all mammals on earth.

Do you feel the Green Party should be more vocal about the harm that farming animals is doing to the planet and non-farmed animals?

We are on the verge of an unprecedented climate crisis with unparalleled mass extinction of human and animal kind, and loss of our natural world. But species extinction and ecosystem degradation are as big a thread as climate change. We depend on the functions of the natural world to pollinate our crops and purify the air we breathe. Biodiversity is our foundation. If we ignore the damage that foundation will collapse.

I think for a start, advocating to eat less meat, go vegetarian or vegan is a great way for us to reduce demand for farming animals in the UK, and in turn reduce methane gas into the atmosphere, but also the carbon footprint of the meat and fish we eat. I think the party has been very vocal on this so far, in every public speaking opportunity, on social media channels and even our very own Co-Leader going vegan hit the headlines.

But more must be done. I worry that too much of this message makes us seem too much like the righteous, virtuous and often white, middle-class stereotype we are often branded. But there are other ways we can combat this message too. By talking about alternatives to meat, fish and dairy, which often the general public are completely unaware of, and talking about other ways to reduce our impact on the environment: stopping flying, airport expansion, unnecessary transport infrastructure for example.

7. Green Party policy AR411 states: ‘A reduction in the consumption of animal products would have benefits for the environment, human health and animal welfare…The Green Party believes it is imperative to act and will actively promote an immediate transition from diets dominated by meat and other animal products to increasingly plant-based diets…’

Do you believe the Green Party should demonstrate a belief in its own policies and principles by making Green Party events and premises a minimum of vegetarian, and preferably all plant-based, including Conference?

Like I said in my previous answer, The Green Party should do all it can to promote the reduction in consumption of meat, fish, dairy products for example. But I believe people should have the autonomy over their own choices, and especially ones that concern their body or their health.

From my experience on the Green Party Conference Committee, I know that often there are greater costs to incur with ensuring a venue is completely plant-based, both for the party and for the end consumer. Many of our members simply would not be able to afford any extra costs on top of the expense of Conference accommodation, travel, entrance ticket etc. Many members also face allergies or eating disorders which mean they only eat a certain type of food.

I think it’s definitely important for Conference Committee to ensure venues offer a large variety of food: plant-based, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, halal, kosher and other food to ensure all our members are catered for, but it should be down to the individual to make their own choice.

8. There have been 2053 deaths of racehorses in the last 10 years, Dusty’s Choice was the most recent casualty, who fell and broke his neck at Uttoxeter on the 6th July. In one year, 2018, 4,970 greyhounds were injured whilst 710 died or were destroyed as part of the sports industry. If you were asked the question would you support the banning of these sports?

Unquestionably, yes. It’s Green Party policy to end the exploitation of animals in horse racing, greyhound racing and all situations where animals are commercially raced. I support this policy and support the banning of these sports. Animals should not be used for personal entertainment or gain in the sports industry.

9. Using animals for scientific and military purposes continues to grow. Funding for and acceptance of non-animal alternatives has been almost non-existent, and in many cases blocked.

Will you support GAP in campaigning against the use of animals in science and the military, except where it is being done to benefit individual animals?

I support the Green Party policy to ban all experimentation and research which harms animals, including harmful procedures used to obtain animal-derived materials. I support Government funds that are currently funding animal tests to be transferred to non-animal technologies.

10. A court ruled recently that veganism is a protected characteristic under equality laws, and that ethical vegans should have protection from discrimination.

Will you commit to protecting the rights of vegans in receiving support from not only wider society, but specifically the Green Party, to ensure they come to no harm either from discrimination or by being exposed to prejudice and lack of respect or care for their beliefs?

I found it very interesting that the tribunal in Norwich ruled that Jordi Casamitjana’s case about ethical veganism being a philosophical belief that is protected by law against discrimination. I support this, because I think many people have experienced discrimination for being ethical vegans, and for standing up for what they believe in. Nobody should be discriminated on for what they believe in or for what they care about, and this is just one example of that.

Young Greens Executive Committee Questions – 13/07/20

In the run up to the Campaigns Coordinator election, I answered these questions asked to me by the Young Greens Executive Committee.

Young Greens are the youth and student branch of the Green Party. They aim to harness the energy and ideas of young people, and change the direction of our society towards a sustainable and just future.

They are now published here for all members to read. Please feel free to ask me a question

  1. Why did you decide to stand for GPEx? What’s your vision for the Green Party, and how will you help us get there?

I decided to stand for GPEx, and in particular the Campaigns Co-ordinator role because in the last couple of years I’ve felt a total disconnect from the membership to the Executive. Decisions have been made without consultation of the wider membership, lack of transparency and accountability and almost non-existent representation from diverse and marginalised groups.

For far too long, I have attended demonstrations and supported campaigns where the Green Party has appeared to be in the background. It’s time for the party to have an equal stake in campaigning, especially when we have the right policies to back our actions up! 

Recent attacks on our basic human rights have shown that more than ever we need campaigners to face threats head-on and mobilise people for a progressive alternative. It is important our campaigns are relevant and spearheaded by people with lived experience.

One of my first priorities would be to support the staff by creating a process to ensure we are more responsive in our comms, through producing reactive video and social content for when events happen (like government announcements and campaign wins) and that members have a stake in this. I’d really like to set up a group of members who are interested in campaigns and press work who can quickly draft statements or create content that can be passed to staff for sign off or posted in our leaders names. This would support the staff by ensuring there was diverse and creative content for our channels.

I am a progressive and radical campaigner, a believer in direct action, and an advocate for diversity and inclusion of marginalised groups. I’ve led many high-profile campaigns and I work full time in civil society so I’m the right person to get us there.

2. Why should Young Greens vote for you?

Young Greens are not one homogenous group, so I would never assume that all Young Greens think the same way, or vote the same way. I would not expect all Young Greens to vote for me, but I can give you some good reasons as to why you might like to.

I am a former Young Greens Co-Chair. I was elected to this role alongside Ben Parker during the period 2017-2018. During this time we also held the Young Greens seat on the Green Party Executive Committee (GPEx), so I am experienced in how it is structured, and how it works. As Co-Chairs of the Young Greens, Ben and I worked really hard to re-invigorate and re-energise a strong Young Green presence after a difficult 2017 General Election left member engagement at a low.

We launched the Young Greens Candidate Community, a platform aimed at supporting more Young Greens to be elected into local government and we facilitated a fantastic practical and skills-based 30 Under 30 scheme, seeing many participants go on to be further involved in the party.

As Co-Chairs we led the Young Greens EC to run priority campaigns about Reforming Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and on ending immigration detention. The #PeopleNotNumbers campaign saw us build relationships with allied campaigning groups to lead demonstrations to Yarl’s Wood and produce a report investigating the hostile environment and forced deportations.

We worked really hard to build bridges with groups and bodies in the main party, the benefits of these relationships becoming clear already as we secured the Young Greens access to support and resources previously untapped. There’s still lots of work to be done in this area and my experience doing this in the Young Greens puts me in good stead to do this as Campaigns Co-ordinator too.

3. How do you plan to support and work with the Young Greens in a way relevant to your role if you get elected? How will you ensure that young people’s voices are heard and supported on GPEx?

I will make efforts to bridge the gap between party groups and factions and the Executive, to ensure our campaigns are evidence-based, relevant and formed through interactions and partnerships with pressure groups, civil society and people with lived experience.

I would start by going back to basics. Re-building relationships between GPEx and different groups in the party. Firstly, the Campaigns Committee and campaigns staff, but also liberation groups, regions of England and Wales, and of course Young Greens who are achieving real change and results through your campaigning efforts on an ongoing basis.

Now I’m not suggesting our campaigns should be coordinated as it’s very important that groups have their own autonomy, but we should support each other with allied messaging, timing and should have clear communication channels to amplify each other’s campaigning work.

As I mentioned earlier, I would like to set up a group where we could write, to ensure diverse and creative content for our communication channels. Alternatively, this group could reach out to groups in the party to gain quotes, campaign ideas or pledges in order to amplify the messages of people with lived experience through the party’s main communication channels. I would love for Young Greens to be part of this group. I’d really love to create opportunities for Young Greens who are established campaigners, or who are completely new to the party to speak out and have their say through mainstream media channels.

Finally, I’ve done this before. I have held the position of Young Greens Co-Chair, as part of the GPEx. I work full-time for a youth campaigning organisation, assisting young people to take action and speak out. I’m no stranger to speaking up for the rights of young people and I will continue to prioritise youth rights and interests wherever I go.

4. What do you think, with reference to the role you are standing for, the Green Party should do to become better at attracting and mobilising young people and students?

In order to appeal to the mass public, our campaigns need to stay relevant. And that’s not just in the issues and campaigns we tackle, it’s in the strategies we use and the different channels and mediums we use to engage others.

Young people have taken the world by storm in recent years. The climate strike movement is one of the fastest growing campaigning movements I have seen in my lifetime, and one that has captivated the globe due to being totally spearheaded by young people. The Green Party have been slow to respond, often in the background of demonstrations and missing the chance to work alongside these movements.

To stay relevant, we need tailored messaging to groups in different areas of England and Wales, and targeted messaging to different demographics, not being afraid to innovate using new channels and media.

Ultimately, these decisions lie with our excellent communications staff, however I would coordinate with the staff to ensure new, diverse channels of communication are accessed with tailored messages on different platforms to ensure our campaigns are attractive to new, young first-time voters and are reaching people we have not been able to reach before.

Then there is the issue of our spokespeople. Who are our spokespeople? How are they chosen? How representative are they? I aim to get to the bottom of this minefield of questions and ensure we start putting forward young, diverse candidates with lived experience of the issues they are chosen to represent. People need to see people like them in media to be energised and awakened by a cause. To have young, diverse spokespeople would attract and mobilise more young people and students as we would connect to people in ways we haven’t before. The more personal we can be, the better we will connect.

Proud to support all 8 LGBTQIA+ Greens pledges

I am proud to support all 8 LGBTQIA+ Greens pledges in the upcoming Campaigns Coordinator election for the Green Party Executive (GPEx). It’s been great working with the group, in just a short time they have achieved so much! I will work tirelessly to fight for LGBTQIA+ equality if elected as Campaigns Coordinator.

Full text version of the pledges below the image.

LGBTIQA+ rights are human rights. The Green Party has always been at the forefront of supporting equality. At a time where rights are under attack it’s vital we elect people who are committed wholeheartedly to our struggle.

LGBTIQA+ Greens are asking candidates for our internal election to sign the LGBTIQA+ Greens pledge. We want to know that you’ll work tirelessly to fight for LGBTIQA+ equality.

We ask you to commit to:

  • Campaign with the LGBTIQA+ Greens to protect trans rights in the Equality Act and fight for reform of the Gender Recognition Act. For a kinder and less bureaucratic process for recognising trans people’s gender
  • Recognise non binary identities are valid and promise to ensure they are recognised in internal processes and in wider society
  • Supporting reserved places on the Green Party Council for LGBTIQA+ people
  • Supporting efforts to get more LGBTIQA+ people elected to be Councillors and more
  • Supporting gender affirming healthcare for trans youth rejecting ideological interference with current practice
  • Calling for proper funding for trans healthcare in the NHS to reduce 3 year+ waiting lists 
  • Supporting LGBT+ inclusive schools in line with the new Relationship and Sex Education curriculum due to roll out from September
  • Agree to press for full implementation of the government’s LGBT+ Action plan including legislating a ban on conversion therapy

Questions posed by Green Left members to Campaigns Coordinator candidates

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

  1. 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.

Hannah Graham standing to be Campaigns Coordinator on the Green Party’s Executive (GPEx)

From its very start, our party emerged from powerful social movements and campaigns for progressive change. Campaigning is and always has been a vital thread in the fabric of our party and movement. My name is Hannah Graham, and I am standing to be the Green Party’s next Campaigns Coordinator.

I have been a Party member for 6 years, and am a former Young Greens Co-Chair and parliamentary candidate. I hail from Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire, but over the last four years, have lived in London, where I’ve stood as a local elections candidate, and am on the candidate list for next year’s London Assembly elections. 

I joined the Green Party back in 2014 because it was the only party liberating the marginalised, championing diversity and giving a platform to people like me: a working class young woman from rural Lincolnshire. 

It was defending free education on my university campus that inspired me to take action against the growing inter-generational and cultural divides in our society. After being elected to the role of Vice President of my students’ union, I led the free education strikes on campus, joined the Green Party then stood as the first ever Green Party parliamentary candidate in Middlesbrough in 2015. 

I’m an experienced policy specialist and campaigner, with 8 years’ experience in professional campaigning roles in youth policy, gender equality and international development. 

Currently, I work full-time as Advocacy Manager for the World Association of Girl Guides and Scouts. In this role, I work with young women and girls from around the world to give them the tools they need to influence decision-makers on issues that disproportionately affect them. I work at the grassroots level with hundreds of girls, empowering them to take action and speak out about a whole host of gendered injustices: malnutrition, gender-based violence and menstrual health to name just a few. 

My campaigning and advocacy work in the last year has led to Girl Guides in Tanzania meeting with their Prime Minister, and Girl Guides in Madagascar directly influencing an increase to their National Food and Agriculture budget.

I believe that Green Party campaigns must be evidence-based, relevant and formed through interactions and partnerships with pressure groups and civil society. I am a progressive and radical campaigner, a believer in direct action, and an advocate for diversity and inclusion of marginalised groups. 

For far too long, I have attended demonstrations and supported campaigns where the Green Party has appeared to be in the background. It’s time for the party to have an equal stake in campaigning, especially when we have the right policies to back our actions up! 

Recent attacks on our basic human rights have shown that more than ever we need campaigners to face threats head-on and mobilise people for a progressive alternative. It’s important our campaigns are relevant and spearheaded by people with lived experience. I will make efforts to bridge the gap between The Green Party and campaigning groups, ensuring we are on the right side of history.

‘Use your voice to continue to learn and grow’ – Interview with Hannah Graham for Talent Prep Academy

The Talent Prep Academy is on a mission to provide Gen Z & Millennials with the tools to become leaders in Careers & the Future Economy. I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Shayne Tshabalala (pictured below), the academy’s founder for one if its inaugural interviews.

Can you describe a bit about your journey to your career today? Where you’ve worked and where you are working now, and how you navigated that path?

Currently, I work as Advocacy Manager at the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. My roles involve leading on the delivery and scale-up of the advocacy and community action strategy for the Girl Powered Nutrition (GPN) programme, empowering young women and girls to take action and speak out about malnutrition to influence decision-makers on a local, national and global scale.

It’s been an interesting journey to get here, and my interests weren’t always in politics. After arriving at Teesside University at 18 to study Computer Science with no interest in politics and with very little international and travelling experience, I came across the Students’ Union during my induction period. The following day my Course Leader announced that there were to be two course representatives to represent the cohort in discussions with the University and Students’ Union, and that they were to be one female, and one male representative. Being the only female on the course, I was instantly and unwillingly given the title.

Now, if I had known then what I know now about the fact that gender isn’t binary and this method excludes non-binary identities, I would have challenged this approach. At the time, I was a young, fresh-faced and naive undergrad who only really wanted to focus on my studies and nothing else. Nevertheless, I was committed to fulfil my duties and on my first meeting with the Students’ Union the first question I was asked was why I wanted to be the course representative for my class. I responded with dumbfoundment and reiterated the scenario from the appointment process in class. The Students’ Union were shocked by this revelation and in just a few short weeks of being a course representative I realised that as a student you can shape your education, and given the right opportunity people will listen.

That opened up a world of new possibilities which if we fast forward a few years led to me representing my University and speaking on behalf of my fellow students at NUS Conference, and then becoming Vice President of my Students’ Union just a few years later. I soon learnt that my real passion was in policy which led to me working for various campaigning and advocacy roles in Higher Education and the youth and voluntary sectors before moving to a more humanitarian and international development based role at WAGGGS which gives me the opportunity to not just develop young women and girls, but also travel the world.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced getting into your career and how did you overcome these challenges?

  • Ageism in the workplace: I think this is definitely something that will relate to many young people entering the workplace. When I worked in the Students’ Union and Higher Education world, especially as an elected officer I would face continous ageism from older staff members and University officials during meetings, conferences etc. I would overcome this by continuing to remind myself that even though it was sensitive, it was important to never let my age become an issue and if someone else made it an issue I was prepared to speak up and challenge others. I would always try to divert a conversation back to my innovative and fresh ideas and remind others that innovation is an asset, not a liability.
  • Moving to London: This was definitely a huge challenge for me for many reasons. Over-stimulation, saturation of opportunity and difficulty in channeling my skills into a path that was really right for me was very hard. I overcame this by surrounding myself with a great network of people and activities. I became a member of my local Green Party which enabled me to meet many different people with similar values and I would spend my weekends canvassing, campaigning or just going for a drink, well needed after a week in the city.
  • Career pivoting: In the 21st century, for many different reasons people are changing jobs more frequently than ever before and many also choose to make a complete career change or new path. I never really experienced this when I lived in the North of England as job loyalty definitely still exists there, but in London people seem to change jobs, friends and houses every three months! This took a while to get used to, and I do believe that loyalty still counts to a certain extent, but ultimately if you’re not happy in a role or don’t visualise any progression, pack up, pick yourself up and move on.

Can you tell us any tips and hacks you use to find and get jobs?

I would say that LinkedIn is a total blessing when it comes to finding a job. 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn as part of their candidate search. I sign up for email updates related to key words like policy, or advocacy and get notifications whenever there is a new job posted. You can let recruiters know that you’re available, just at the click of a button, and this isn’t shared with the wider world so your current employer need not know.

Build your network, everyone you come into contact with in a professional sense, don’t be afraid to connect with them. I think it’s definitely more impersonal than Facebook so people are 9 times out of 10 willing to connect. The trick is to also constantly update your profile on a weekly basis, and you’ll stay at the top of search results, and you’ll appear more active. I even use LinkedIn to research interviewers, or even my potential future boss before an interview.

Another tip is if there is a selection of organisations who you would like to work for, or even your dream to work for these companies – monitor them. Even if you’re not currently looking, sign up for job updates and monitor the salaries or ongoing job vacancies to gain a picture of what the hiring processes and organisation looks like ahead of time. Then when it comes to you applying for a job in the future, you’re first off the mark to getting your application in and you already know how long the previous person has been in the role and how long they take to recruit.

One final tip is think about what else can you do outside of your work that gives you relevant experience and ‘the edge’ over other candidates for future applications. Could you be a school governor, a charity trustee, volunteer for an organisation outside work etc? There are websites that you can register your preferences for who will do all the hard work and place you in an opportunity outside work that suits your interests.

Do you have any advice for Generation Z and Millennials entering the job market?

I think this generation has much more of an entrepreneurial spirit than the last, as the younger generation have grown up through the recession and have got a slightly different outlook on life. This is really great, and that spirit will ensure that people speak up when working practices aren’t to their preference, or when there’s something they disagree with, and they won’t settle for a poor work/life balance.

I think it’s so important to speak up and ask as many questions as possible, an interview is a two way conversation – if you ask questions and even challenge an employer in an interview you will appear interesting and invaluable to a performing team. It’s important you use your voice to continue to learn and grow. It’s much better than staying silent and making a mistake or an inaccurate assumption.

Any parting advice or final words?

I think some final advice from me is don’t worry too much if you’re not sure where you want to be in 10 years or what you’re looking for. I’ve learned that it’s ok to move around a bit if you find yourself in a job you’re not sure about. You don’t need to (and won’t) have it all figured out straight away, but you do have to put in the time and effort to be rewarded and that unfortunately, sometimes takes years.

Questions posed by London Green Party members post-hustings

After the London Assembly hustings, I answered these questions asked to me by London Green Party members. I have removed their names to protect their identities. They are now published here for all members to read. Please feel free to ask me a question

Many music venues face closure in London due to business rates or noise abatement orders what will you do to support and protect grassroots music in the city?

I support the Green Party’s policy on redistribution of wealth in the music industry, rebalancing the relationship between cultural ‘superstars’ and smaller artists. In a vibrant city such as London, it’s important to explore the feasibility of a tax on these superstar performances which is hypothecated to local cultural enterprises. This would pay for licensing and business rate relief for smaller and more independent venues. In terms of noise abatement orders, there should be clear differentiation between the noise pollution from large multiplex venues and small, independent, local venues.

What are the cultural opportunities from closing London city airport? How can we use the space in an interesting way like Tempelhof park in Berlin?

I have yet to visit the Tempelhof park in Berlin however I have heard great things. Among the obvious benefits in less air travel and carbon emissions, there are also vast cultural opportunities from closing London City Airport. The space could be transformed into a cultural hub including a mixture of community services and activities for all ages. Community housing organisations, local and independent businesses, permanent markets & pop up stores, community schools, youth clubs and faith organisations would enable people to live amongst others, sharing exciting and interesting services with their neighbours. Also, it’s important to include plenty of green spaces and arts spaces such as an arts-hub with museums, theatres, galleries and studios. These are just ideas, but to sustain a space that continues to meet the needs of such a changing population, consultation and listening to the needs of London’s residents is important.

How will you support London’s vast night time economy?

Like my answer to the previous question around supporting and protecting grassroots music in the city, I support rebalancing the wealth by taxing the big, superstar performances and hypothecate this tax to local cultural enterprises. There should be a balance for resident needs and a choice of night time entertainments to enjoy. I welcome the report ‘Think Night: London’s Neighbourhoods from 6pm to 6am’ into London’s Night Time economy, outlining ways to use culture and business to boost local economies and help the capitals hard-up high streets. But I share concerns with current Assembly Member Caroline Russell in that the report fails to include recommendations on workers rights. Over half a million of people working at night are already paid below the London Living Wage, almost double the number of people working during the day. The Mayor should ensure clear guidelines and support to employers in the Night Time Economy to help pay their staff a decent wage and respect their rights to a decent contract, holiday and sick pay.

What developments do you wish to see in London’s cultural strategy?

I welcomed London’s Culture Strategy upon it’s launch earlier last year. It’s great that the Mayor is aiming to improve access and participation in culture and the arts for all Londoners. Culture and the creative industries contribute £47bn to London’s economy every year and account for one in six jobs in the capital. There’s some great plans listed in the strategy such as the introduction of small grants to be made available to individuals and organisations to support grassroots, cultural activity, reaching communities detached from grant or seed funding. However, I was disappointed not to see clear leadership from the Mayor on fair pay for those working in the creative industries. As I stated in the previous question, there should be clear guidelines and support to employers to ensure creative industry professionals can earn a decent living wage and their rights are respected.

Why in your view is The Green Party continuing to average around 1-2% in the polls and how will your approach as a candidate seek to address this?

It was incredible to see Sian clinch the third place in the London Mayor election last time, bringing the Green Party into the mainstream more than ever before. When we are door-knocking, we need to let people know on the door that we can win and talk about the successes of our local councillors and assembly members. We need to listen to the concerns of people in our communities, take their cases on board, then go back to them and deliver results.

We must make the Green Party relevant for ordinary people. Diverse candidates are great, but that must translate into diverse people being elected. To build trust and inspire others to get involved and tell us their concerns and problems, people must see people they relate to in elected positions.

Finally, we must stay radical, continuing to build links with campaigning groups in communities. Stansted 15, Anti-fracking groups, immigration detention campaigning groups. Let’s be bold in our vision and stay relevant, current and visibly radical.

The nuances of the London electoral system means that the Greens normally do well on the London-wide list for the Assembly. Do you believe that this will affect your campaign messaging and, if so, how will you explain what this means for the voters and how they should cast their London-wide vote?

It was brilliant to see the Greens retain two Assembly members last time round and to see massive gains for the Greens on local councils in the local elections last year. Due to this increasing success, it will be fantastic to see more Assembly members elected this time around. The proportional system benefits us as a smaller, but progressive party that people from other parties are likely to give 2nd and 3rd preferences to.

I believe we had such a strong campaign last year in the local elections as the campaign was decided centrally but delivered locally with unique and targeted issues depending on location in London. For the London-wide list, I see a similar model. The campaign should be decided centrally so I would follow the centralised messaging, with small tweaks to show my individuality and personality as a candidate. Personally, I can be an approachable and accessible candidate with a working-class background filled with personal anecdotes aimed to ensure my relatability to the residents of London.

As someone who is classifiable as a BME woman, but who does not see herself as representative of BME people and womankind, and who finds BME-only and female-only short lists, and BME and gender quotas, to be deeply problematic, I am interested to know what the candidates think of positive discrimination.

Rather than positive discrimination, I see these measures as positive action. Positive action is a way of changing society for the better, by making it more equal. Actively encouraging people with protected characteristics to roles will result in them succeeding. And evidence shows it works. The Labour Party’s implementation of all women shortlists has seen huge growth in the numbers of not just women, but people of all marginalised groups being elected, improving the overall representation of these groups in Parliament significantly.

I joined the Green Party because I wanted a more equal society. Even in 2019 we still only have 32% women MPs elected to the House of Commons, and only 8% of MPs are BME. When you intersect the two, only 4% of the House of Commons are both BME and women. We live in a society where people of marginalised groups are unfairly and systematically oppressed day-in, day-out – in political life, at work and in the home. All women shortlists, quotas and positive action is not about giving people an advantage, it’s about creating a level playing field and combatting the disadvantage that holds people back.

In Merton, we are fortunate to have 67 parks and nature conservation areas, but unfortunate to have a Labour-led council who have: (a) outsourced the management of our green spaces to a distinctly mediocre company; and (b) started allowing unsuitable events to be held in our green spaces. They say that they want to ‘sweat our assets’ because of ‘austerity’. What do you make of this behaviour, and how might the London Assembly help Mertonians to defend their right to have access to good quality public green spaces?

I am very concerned to hear of Merton Council’s outsourcing of the management and maintenance of Merton’s green spaces. I agree with the local Friends of Parks groups, the overall funding for parks is already very low, compared to other boroughs in London – reducing it further will harm the quality of Merton’s open spaces. I admire the efforts of Merton Green Party in campaigning against the proposed events for Morden Park including festivals and parties. I support the campaign to protect residents, other park users, wildlife (particularly owls and kestrels) from harm. I am in favour of the call to the Council to draw up a policy in consultation with residents, setting out what types of events are suitable for its major parks, in order that the right balance can be struck between generating revenue, maintaining residents’ ability to enjoy green spaces, and protecting wildlife. I think this is an admirable step that Council’s in other boroughs could follow.

With young people feeling undervalued and often voiceless in both society and politics, what would you prioritize to support young people in London? 

At the hustings, all candidates talked a lot about youth services. Why? Because they are bloody important! Young people deserve a choice of opportunities to be safe, and away from harm. Young people deserve a clean, safe and sustainable environment in which to thrive. I work at UK Youth, the largest national youth charity supporting young people to campaign on issues that matter to them. I see first-hand the devastating effects of austerity against young people and the working class daily.

I support a young girl currently, who has lived her whole life with a chronic disability. Vulnerable to bullying, ill mental health and exploitation. All of this left her open to threat. She was raped by a family member at a very young age but through youth services we have helped her overcome barriers, find work and apply to University. Youth services exist because of years of Government and local authority cuts. The Mayors £45million Young Londoners Fund is but a scratch on the surface. Finally, young people should be on decision making bodies about issues that affect them and have the power to influence change. I would establish a youth advisory board made up of the capital’s local authorities, youth service providers and their beneficiaries.

Given London’s chronic housing crisis, what are the candidates’ solutions, specifically in relation to renting, which disproportionately effects Londoners from a lower socio-economic background?

London like many other capital cities is undergoing a crisis with its housing. But Londoners face the highest rates in Europe. Everybody deserves the right to an affordable, safe place to live. The housing market is stacked in favour of landlords and investors who profit at our expense. Our rigged housing system is making our city more unequal.

Rent controls should be introduced to stunt the growth in house prices and limit the amount of ‘affordable housing’ that can be purchased by international investors trading on gig economy market sites such as Airbnb. For the homeless, I would campaign for the many empty buildings in London to become open accommodation for the thousands of rough sleepers in London, this is especially important in such cold weather. I would also lobby the London Assembly to formally support the London Renters Union (of whom I am a member) to ensure that renters get organised, support each other, stand up to landlords and speak with a collective voice to win lower rents, longer tenancies and better housing for everyone.

Could the mayor and assembly narrow the wide distribution of income in London and the UK?

Even in 2019, and despite the Mayor’s efforts to increase the London Living Wage to £10.55 per hour, up to a fifth of Londoners earn less than the living wage. Low pay contributes to poverty which contributes to poorer health in London. The people most likely to be low paid are those with low-level qualifications, ethnic minorities, young people, those over 50, women and part-time workers.

As a London Assembly member, I would first encourage more organisations and employers to adopt not just the London Living Wage, but the Real Living Wage, which is independently calculated and based on the cost of living, rather than the minimum. I’d also encourage training and skills development to help those in low-paid jobs progress up the labour market.

What is your position on Brexit and would you push for a People’s Vote and then campaign for Remain if selected?

Very simply, my position on Brexit is that I am faultlessly pro-remain. I campaigned hard in the run up to the 2016 referendum with Green campaigns and pro-remain groups and I was devastated on the morning of the result. I voted by postal vote as I was visiting my Swedish partner in Umeå, north of Sweden on the day of the vote and was returning home the next day. I remember going to bed feeling positive but waking up with the feeling of huge existential dread and worry, not just for the future of the UK, but also for my journey flying home that day.

In the two years since the result was announced, I have tirelessly campaigned for a second referendum, a People’s Vote to ensure we have a right to say what makes up the final deal. I have campaigned with groups both in and out of the Green Party and have been able to deliver rallying speeches at events such as the People’s Vote marches in London. I have been impressed with how Caroline Lucas has truly led and pioneered the campaign and as an issue very personal to me, with my EU national partner now living in the UK, it’s an issue that will continue to be a priority.

Some candidates allude specifically to the unquestionable need for more housing, particularly social and affordable housing. My concerns are that, often, large-scale developments are in direct conflict with environmental objectives. Have you/will you consider improved legislation and regulation around planning and development to ensure that the much-needed developments also maintain and preferably increase our city’s green infrastructure and environmental credentials?

With homelessness drastically on the rise and more people renting than ever before, it’s vital that some drastic changes are made to tackle London’s housing crisis. Rent controls, monitoring of rogue landlords and opening empty buildings for rough sleepers are all necessary to help tackle the growing problem. London needs more affordable housing with restrictions on purchases to ensure that young people, families and people in need of affordable housing can access it.

But I agree, these measures shouldn’t weaken or hinder our green infrastructure and environmental credentials. Social housing is being put in direct competition with green space, causing conflict between two of the most important issues in the capital. Green spaces that are a public and social good should be protected and cherished. Perhaps improved regulation around the minimum percentage of green space in each borough could be considered, to mitigate endless planning applications to build on parks, allotments and greens. Research shows that contrary to claims by developers, building on green spaces did ‘virtually nothing’ to address the crisis of affordability of housing, especially for young people. We need stronger and more efficient regulation of protected green spaces to ensure irreparable damage to the London’s protected land.

A positive force for young people: Hannah Graham, candidate for Green London Assembly list

In 2020, London will go to the polls to elect a new Mayor and members of the London Assembly. The London Green Party are now in the process of selecting their candidates for those elections. Bright Green is offering every candidate seeking selection an opportunity to tell our readers why they should be selected. One of these candidates is Hannah Graham, and this is what she has to say:

[Cross-post from Bright Green. Read the original article here]

The last few years have seen a remarkable shift in the success of the Green Party in London. This is not only down to the hard work and commitment of our activists, but also the quality and diversity of our candidates. Our candidates have not only become more representative of London’s population, but also more relatable and relevant to our capital. We absolutely must continue to develop in this way to move forward as a party, building relationships and working alongside community groups in order to remain the best and most radical choice for London’s voters. It’s vital we select candidates who understand the true diversity of experiences found in our capital city.

My background

I joined the Green Party back in 2014 because it was the only party liberating the marginalised, championing diversity and giving a platform to people like me: a working class young woman from rural Lincolnshire. I grew up attending my local youth club and was devastated when lack of funding meant it had to close. The place that offered me essential life skills, a supportive network of peers and the place that believed in me when my school teachers didn’t.

Nevertheless, I made it to University and it was defending Free Education on campus that inspired and compelled me to take action against the growing inter-generational and cultural divides in our society. I stood as parliamentary candidate in Middlesbrough in 2015, achieving 4.3% of the vote and standing as the first Green candidate.

I challenged the ever incumbent Labour Party in the region, holding them to account for decades of complacency and poor decision making. I look forward to providing the same scrutiny if elected to City Hall.

Since moving to London around 3 years ago, I have been an active campaigner in Islington, working to re-elect our sole Green Councillor on Islington Council and only narrowly missing out on electing two more in Highbury East. I stood as a candidate myself in Caledonian ward in the 2018 Local Elections, achieving 3.3% of the vote.

In the last year, I have served as Young Greens Co-Chair, co-leading the youth and student wing of the Green Party of England and Wales. In this role I held a seat on the Green Party Executive (GPEx) and acted as a lead spokesperson for the Young Greens on press and media enquiries. I’m proud to have co-authored our 2017 Youth Manifesto and to have led a well-regarded training scheme – ’30 under 30’, equipping thirty of our most promising young members with the skills to take their next plunge in the world of Green politics. Last year, I also co-founded the Young Greens Candidate Community, a support network designed to encourage and elect more young people to public office.

As a Policy Manager and Youth Worker at one of the UK’s largest youth charities, I know full well the effects of years of austerity targeting our youth services and I witness daily the impact of these cuts on our young people. The tragic cumulative loss of up to £145 million that has been snatched away from our young people’s hands in the last 7 years is a far cry from the recent £45 million fund announced by the Mayor last year. Whilst this is welcomed, it only scratches the surface of the total that has been lost and is often out of reach of the smaller, locally run organisations that have felt the strain the hardest.

What I would do for London

Early intervention of skills-based programmes and a full, standardised youth service are the key to putting right some of these wrongs. The work of Sian Berry in highlighting the effects of years of austerity and becoming successful in reinstating £45 million of this funding is a phenomenal achievement.

But there’s still work to do. The rising pressures on youth and education services for young people in London are now at a critical level, resulting in a knife crime epidemic as the Mayor fails to face up to the blood that is on his hands. We must work to ensure young people are occupied, away from harm, aware of the wider world and their impact on it, and able to form their identities in a safe place supported by trusted adults. We need to understand and recognise the strengths and needs of our young people, working in partnership with community groups to raise their ambitions and steer them away from violent crime.

I believe in sustainability, in social equality and investing in the future of our young people.

It’s high time that politicians view and treat young people as assets rather than problems to be solved. I’ve always been a champion of youth empowerment and believe in giving young people the power to shape their own lives. As a Green candidate, I would be in a privileged position to tackle this problem by lobbying for the Mayor’s Youth Londoners fund to reinstate the entirety of the cuts to our vital services. I’d also create an advisory board made up of London’s youth services and their beneficiaries to ensure that any measures proposed do meet, and are able to adapt to, the ever-changing needs of London’s youth.

My experience makes me the perfect candidate to be a vibrant, positive force to fight for young people in our capital. I am proud to have nominations from a whole host of great campaigners in the city and ask for you to put your faith in me to join our current members in City Hall. Please consider placing me as first preference on the Green Party London Assembly list and I will work tirelessly to increase our Green vote share in time for 2020.

Hannah Graham is a Green Party activist based in London. She was Co-Chair of the Young Greens from 2017-2018. She has been an active part of youth and student movements, currently working for UK Youth and previously having been an elected Sabbatical Officer at Teeside University Students’ Union, and a member of the NUS National Executive Committee.