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The Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) ( ) is the principal Green political party in England and Wales which includes among its regional divisions the semi-autonomous Wales Green Party. The party is unrepresented in the House of Commonsmarker, but did have a life peer in the House of Lordsmarker until his death in April 2008. Members have been elected to the European Parliamentmarker, the London Assembly and in local government. The party leader is Caroline Lucas.

It is affiliated with the Global Greens and the European Green Party, and has friendly relations with the Scottish Green Party and the Green Party of Northern Ireland.

History

The Green Party of England and Wales has its roots in the PEOPLE party started by Tony Whittaker in 1973. It changed its name to the Ecology Party in 1975, to the Green Party ten years later, and to The Green Party of England and Wales in 1990.

Present

In the 1999 European elections, two Greens were elected Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Dr Caroline Lucas (South East England) and Jean Lambert (London). They retained their seats in the 2004 European elections, despite a reduction in number of seats available. Overall, the Party gained 1,033,093 votes in the 2004 European election.

However, the Greens have not yet managed to break through in other European electoral regions in the UK or the Welsh Assembly.Three Greens were elected to the first London Assembly. It currently has two Green Party members out of 25. These are Cllr. Darren Johnson AM, and Cllr. Jenny Jones AM.

The Green Party achieved its highest-ever UK General Election result in the 2005 General Election with a total of 281,780 votes. During the 2005 General Election, Cllr. Keith Taylor received 22% in Brighton Pavilionmarker.

The party has 125 local councillors following the 2009 local elections. The Greens have significant representation on Brighton & Hove City Councilmarker, Lancaster City Councilmarker, Norwichmarker, Lewishammarker, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Kirklees Councilmarker and Stroud District Councilmarker. The Green Party is the official opposition on Norwich City Council, and forms part of the ruling coalition that controls Lancaster City Councilmarker alongside the Liberal Democrats and Labour.

The Green Party of England and Wales had one member of the (unelected) House of Lordsmarker, the Upper Chamber of Parliament, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, who died in 2008.

According to MORI, Green issues are currently rated as importantly as during the Green Party's last high point in the late 1980s. The party currently has record local candidate numbers and high electoral support.

The party held its first-ever leadership election in September 2008. Caroline Lucas was elected Leader, and Adrian Ramsay Deputy Leader.

2009 European Parliament election

In the June 2009 European Parliament election the party secured 1,223,303 votes or 8.7% of the popular vote compared to its 2004 vote share of 6.1%. Green MEPs Caroline Lucas in the South East and Jean Lambert in London were re-elected. The Greens came first in Norwichmarker with 25%, Oxfordmarker with 26% and Brighton and Hovemarker with 31%, the latter a clear 6000 votes ahead of the Conservatives in second place, but despite making steady progress all over the country with its share of the vote substantially increasing compared to the 2004 European Parliament election it failed to gain any extra MEPs. This is thought to have been partly because of the re-apportionment of seats from 78 to 72.

The regional breakdown of the vote was as follows:

Constituency Candidates Votes % ±%
East Midlands Sue Blount, Richard Mallender, Ashley Baxter, Matthew Follett, Barney Smith 83,939 6.8 +1.4
East of England Rupert Read, Peter Lynn, James Abbott, Marc Scheimann, Angela Thomson, Andrew Stringer, Amy Drayson 141,016 8.8 +3.2
London Jean Lambert MEP, Ute Michel, Shahrar Ali, Joseph Healy, Miranda Dunn, Shasha Khan, George Graham, Priya Shah 190,589 10.9 +2.5
North East England Shirley Ford, Iris Ryder, Nic Best 34,081 5.8 +1.0
North West England Peter Cranie, Maria Whitelegg, Ruth Bergan, Samir Chatterjee, Jill Perry, Justine Hall, Margaret Westbrook, Geoff Smith 127,133 7.7 +2.1
South East England Caroline Lucas MEP, Keith Taylor, Derek Wall, Miriam Kennet, Jason Kitcat, Hazel Dawe, Jonathan Essex, Matthew Ledbury, Steve Dawe, Beverley Golden 271,506 11.6 +3.8
South West England Ricky Knight, Roger Creagh-Osborne, Molly-Scott Cato, Richard Lawson, Chloë Somers, David Taylor 144,179 9.3 +2.1
West Midlands Felicity Norman, Peter Tinsley, Chris Williams, Ian Davison, Vicky Dunn, Dave Wall 88,244 6.2 +1.1
Yorkshire and the Humber Martin Hemingway, Shan Oakes, Leslie Rowe, Rick Rolt, Kevin Warnes, Lesley Hedges 104,456 8.5 +2.8
Wales Jake Griffiths, Kay Roney, Ann Were, John Matthews 38,160 5.6 +2.0


Policy

The Green Party was founded to counter what it sees as threats to the environment, and that remains its main focus. Like other parties, it produces a new manifesto for each election, but it also maintains a long-term strategy known as the Manifesto for a Sustainable Society . This document contains the Philosophical Basis and a statement of the Core Values of the party, as well as detailed policies on a range of issues. The document is around 124,520 words long.

Animal welfare, farming and food

The Green Party is opposed to all animal experiments and believes in replacing them with non-animal alternatives. It also wants to end factory farming. The party seeks to ban live exports, genetic manipulation, patenting of animals, bloodsports, badger-baiting, circuses, zoos except for the benefit of the animals concerned, seal and fur products.

It proposes an end to the Common Agricultural Policy subsidisation of industrial agribusiness that in 2007 gave almost half of the UK's €6.45 bn subsidy to 10% of the biggest recipients. Instead it supports the subsidisation of local consumption and organic farming in small free-range units with an eventual aim of phasing out all forms of intensive farming, including fish farms. The party is against the production and importation of genetically-modified foods. It supports Fair Trade over free trade. It encourages a reduction in the consumption of meat, and promotes "more healthy and humane" foods.

Climate change

The Green Party has a twelve-point plan to deal with climate change. It supports the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol but does not see that as anything more than a first step. It is strongly behind the 'Contraction and Convergence' model as a method of reducing carbon emissions. Within Britain it supports tradable carbon quotas. A proportion of the quotas would be distributed on a per-head basis. The remainder would be sold to firms and organizations. The quotas would be reduced on a year-by-year basis in line with the 'Contraction and Convergence' model.

The party has set a goal of 90% carbon dioxide emissions reductions by 2050. It proposes scrapping the national roadbuilding programme and investing the estimated £30bn from the programme in green transport. It wishes to end the £9bn annual tax break to the aviation industry by 2010 and to pass the Air Traffic Emissions Reduction Bill, aiming for 50% CO2 reductions in aviation by 2050. The party is opposed to the use of nuclear energy because it believes it is too expensive and too much of security risk, and that it uses huge amounts of carbon dioxide in the extraction and production process, and is therefore an unsuitable response to climate change.

Drugs

The Green Party believes that the prohibition of drugs does not work. It supports the legalisation of the possession, trade and cultivation of cannabis. It would decriminalise small-scale possession of recreational drugs like ecstasy and gradually move towards the legalisation of all recreational drugs. It hopes that this would "take the drug trade out of criminal control and place it within a regulated and controlled legal environment" and cites studies that show in countries where cannabis is decriminalized, the use is much lower than in the UK. The party has run a Green Party Drugs Group Website to promote research into ending addiction and ensuring the safe use of recreational drugs. The party wants to ban advertising or sponsorship by alcohol and tobacco firms.

Economy

Like many Green parties, the Green Party of England and Wales does not consider economic growth to be the only or the best indicator of progress, as it sees endless growth as incompatible with a planet of finite resources. It is against mass consumption and destructive consumer lifestyles and hopes to encourage an economy built on sustainability and long-term use.

The party supports economic localisation on grounds of environmental concern, social justice and democracy, as detailed in Green Alternatives to Globalisation: A Manifesto, by Dr. Caroline Lucas, MEP, currently leader of the party and the late Dr. Mike Woodin, former Principal Speaker of the party. This includes helping local businesses through subsidies and import tariffs, "democratisation" of the banking system with the creation of a "network of publicly owned community banks", and encouragement of informal economies in local areas.

The Green Party seeks to address the "poverty trap" by introducing a "Citizen's Income" (also known as a Citizen's Dividend and similar to the Basic Income and Living wage), an unconditional, non-means-tested, weekly payment made to every citizen whether they are working or not. This would replace benefits such as Job Seeker's Allowance, as well as replacing personal tax-free allowances. The party hopes that this would ensure that people can take a job and come off benefits without falling into the poverty trap, and make working part-time or becoming self-employed easier by eliminating the poverty trap. Clive Lord, a member of the Green Party of England and Wales, published A Citizen's Income, a book that sets out how to fund the Citizen's Income with an increase to the top bracket of Income Tax. Lord suggests that the Citizen's Income is a means by which to achieve prosperity within a zero-growth economy.

Green members of the London Assembly Cllr. Darren Johnson AM, and Cllr. Jenny Jones AM demonstrated their commitment to this policy in 2007 by using their casting vote over Mayor Ken Livingstone's budget to back the Living Wage Unit's campaign and increase the minimum wage for employees of the London government - then just £5.35 - to £7.45 an hour.

On taxation, the Green Party believes in increasing the top rate of income tax to make the system more redistributive. It is in favour of a more progressive system of corporation tax to encourage small businesses over large corporations. It supports eco-taxes, such as those on packaging and carbon emissions, along the lines of the 'polluter pays' principle. Also, the party wants an increase in trade union rights and the renationalisation of the railways and other public utilities.

Europe

The party is moderately Eurosceptic but supports UK membership of the European Union subject to democratic reform and is open to working with those that share common goals within the European Union. It opposes the euro on economic localisation and democracy grounds, including concerns over the unaccountability of the European Central Bankmarker. It was also against the proposed EU constitution for similar reasons. It opposes the militarisation of the European Union and favours the disbandment of NATOmarker to be replaced by a well-resourced OSCE.

Other issues concerning the European Parliamentmarker that are pursued by the Green Party include mandatory disclosure and registration of all lobbying, gender equality in parliament and an end to the monthly rotation of Parliament between Brusselsmarker and Strasbourgmarker.

Government

The Green Party wants "to modernise and decentralise" the current governmental system in England and Wales. It wants to end the place of the monarchy in the British constitution and replace the House of Lordsmarker with an elected second chamber. The party supports elected Regional Assemblies in England and the creation of more Parish and Community Councils. On issues of voting, the Green Party is campaigning to introduce Proportional Representation (specifically the Additional Member System (AMS) used in Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliamentmarker elections) and reduce the voting age to 16.

It is usually to be found on the civil liberties side of the "liberties versus security" debate, and opposes national ID cards and New Labour's anti-terror legislation. It is strongly opposed to measures like the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act.

Health

The Greens support the deprivatisation of the NHS, and reducing the influence of the major pharmaceutical companies. It intends to promote health services that place as much emphasis on illness prevention, health promotion and community self-reliance as on the treatment and cure of disease while particularly tackling the growing and preventable mental health crisis being caused by an over-competitive and market-driven culture. It wishes to make healthcare more local and introduce free eye tests and dentistry under the increased authorities of the NHS in addition to abolishing the "confused and discriminatory" practice of prescription charges. It plans to increase public funding of the health service to at least the pre-2004 EU average of around 9% of GDP. The Green Party's health manifesto states that health services must be "effective, efficient,comprehensive, accountable" and also supports the use of alternative medicine.

International issues

The Green Party would increase funding to and reform the United Nations by abolishing the right of veto and democratising the UN Security Council. It would ban arms exports and attempt to mitigate lasting damage caused by military use of depleted-uranium-tipped shells. On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the party believes in boycotting Israel until it complies with the 80 UN resolutions it is defying and making the EU-Israel Association Agreement conditional on an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territoriesmarker whilst urging Palestinians "not to perpetuate the cycle of violence".

The party opposed the Iraq War, both prior to, during, and after the US-led invasion. It has claimed that it did so "on principle", criticising the Liberal Democrats for "only opposing the war because no second UN Resolution was obtained". Previously, the party had opposed the Kosovo War a rare stance in Britain. Although it supported "self-determination" for the Kosovo Albanians, it did not support independence for Kosovo, and stated that the media had ignored the crimes of the Kosovo Liberation Army.

The Green Party supports the right of asylum and "seeks to change negative attitudes and stereotypes associated with refugees". The party concentrates on the causes of immigration, aiming "to alleviate problems caused by war, the arms trade, environmental devastation, past colonial actions and human-rights abuses".

Transport

The Greens support giving priority to more sustainable methods of transport, favouring low emission and public transport over high emission, private transport. By diverting money allocated by the government to road building schemes it would reduce dependency on the car by improving public transport to a point where it is substantially cheaper and more efficient than private motoring. New systems such as urban tram and light rail would be expanded and all transport systems fully integrated with each other to provide comprehensive and integrated ticketing systems. Walking and cycling would be promoted as alternative means of transport by Home Zones, Safe Routes to School, pedestrianisation and mixed-use development.

It would not renew private-sector train operating companies' contracts and instead return railways and tube systems to public ownership, citing the strategic failure of the introduction of private competition. Higher priority would be given to railways, new lines introduced, the rail freight network expanded, land adjacent to tracks set aside for freight distribution projects, additional stations opened on existing routes and investment allocated to new light rail systems.

Where effective and appropriate, existing schemes such as road pricing and congestion charging would be extended. A move to fuel-efficent cars would be encouraged by increasing fuel duty and abolishing the tax disc for cars. Some of the revenue raised would be used to support research and development into more sustainable forms of transport with an emphasis on energy efficiency.

With air travel predicted to reach 15% of total UK emissions by 2050, the Green Party will work towards a shift from shorter air journeys to the railways (45% of all air trips in the EU are under 500km), resist further expansion of UK airports such as that of Heathrowmarker and ban night flying. It would also address the absence of fuel tax and VAT on ticketing or aircraft that is in effect a public subsidy of the industry worth around £9 bn a year (2005).

Organisation

The Green Party meets to vote on issues of organisation and policy at bi-annual Party Conferences (the Spring Conference and Autumn Conference). It is bound by a Constitution, which can be amended only by a two-thirds majority vote at one of these Conferences; policy motions need only a simple majority (more than 50%).

Leadership and Principal Speakers

The Green Party has in the past consciously chosen not to have a single leader for ideological reasons; its organisation provided for two Principal Speakers, a male and female Principal Speaker, who sit but do not vote on the party's Executive (GPEx). However, a referendum of the party membership in 2007 on the question of creating a Leader and Deputy Leader (or, if candidates choose to run together and are gender balanced, Co-Leaders without a Deputy Leader), who would be elected every two years (instead of annually) and able to vote on GPEx, passed by 73%.

The final Principal Speakers were Dr Caroline Lucas MEP (who succeeded Siân Berry in October 2007), and Dr Derek Wall, who succeeded Keith Taylor, a councillor in Brighton & Hovemarker, in November 2006 (Taylor had been elected in 2004 after the death of Dr. Mike Woodin). The roles of Principal Speaker no longer exist and Dr Caroline Lucas MEP is currently the party leader.

Leadership election

The declared candidates in the leadership election were Caroline Lucas and Ashley Gunstock for the post of Leader and Adrian Ramsay for the post of Deputy Leader. Nominations closed on 31 July and the result was declared at the Autumn Conference on Friday 5 September.

Green Party conference, 2004


Executive

The national Green Party Executive (GPEx) consists of the following positions:

Green Party of England and Wales Executive (GPEx)
Leader Caroline Lucas MEP
Deputy Leader Cllr. Adrian Ramsay
Chair Jayne Forbes
Campaigns Co-ordinator Andy Hewett
Elections Co-ordinator Judy Maciejowska
Equality and Diversity Co-ordinator Polly Lane
External Communications Co-ordinator Tracy Dighton-Brown
Finance Co-ordinator Dean Walton
Internal Communications Co-ordinator Natalie Bennett
International Co-ordinator Farid Bakht & Phelim MacCafferty (job share)
Local Party Support Co-ordinator Jon Lucas
Management Co-ordinator Vacant
Policy Co-ordinator Matt Follett & Maria Iacovou (job-share)
Publications Co-ordinator Edward Milford


The party's Leader and Deputy Leader are elected every two years by a postal ballot of all party members. All other GPEx positions are elected annually by postal ballot or by a vote at Conference (depending on the number of candidates). To become a member of the Executive, the candidate must have been a member of the party for at least two years (or if the candidate has been a member for one complete year preceding the date of close of nominations, their nomination will be allowed if it is supported by a majority of Green Party Regional Council (GPRC) members in attendance at a quorate official GPRC meeting).

The chair is currently Jayne Forbes, a former chair of the World Development Movement and Tourism Concern. The 2008/09 chair was James Humphreys, former head of Corporate Communications at 10 Downing Street. A previous Chair, Hugo Charlton (2003 to 2005), resigned following criticism of his nomination to the House of Lords before the Party had carried out its internal selection process.. Subsequently Cllr. Jenny Jones , AM, was elected to be the party's nominee in the event of the party again being asked, but this was too late for the current round. For the purposes of its registration with the Electoral Commission, the party used to designate the Chair of the Executive as the Leader of the party, until the first formal leader was elected in 2008.

Members of GPEx are individually responsible for every action taken within their area of responsibility (except decisions taken collectively within GPEx itself). GPEx meets at least once every six weeks, and whenever a meeting is necessary. The Executive has the power to create whatever committees and posts "it considers necessary for the efficient conduct of its business". It appoints a Panel of Speakers as spokespeople for policy areas, a Treasurer and the National Election Agent. GPEx is responsible for implementing the decisions made at Conferences, and controlling expenditure and fundraising.

In the party's Autumn Conference of 2008, members elected the first Equality and Diversity Co-ordinator.

Regional Council

Oxfordshire Green Party holds a Green Fair in the Town Hall during Christmastime every year for more than a quarter century.
The Green Party Regional Council (GPRC) is a body that coordinates discussions between Regional Green Parties. It supports the Executive (GPEx) and is responsible for interim policy statements between Conferences and enforcing constitutional procedures.

Each Regional Green Party elects two members by postal ballot to be sent to the GPRC. These delegates' terms last two years before re-election. GPRC meets at least four times a year. The Council elects male and female Co-Chairs and a Secretary. GPEx members are often required to give reports on their area of responsibility to the GPRC; the GPRC also has the power to recall any member of GPEx (by a two-thirds majority vote), who is then suspended until a re-election for the post is held; similarly, if GPEx suspends one of its own members, GPRC has the authority to decide whether that member should be reinstated or not (again, by a two-thirds majority vote). Although The Cornish Green Party (Bagas Gwer Kernewek) is an umbrella of the party itself which promotes for enhanced autonomy for the Cornish people within the UKmarker.

Conferences

The Green Party of England and Wales holds a Spring and Autumn Conference every year. Conferences are governed by the Constitution and Standing Orders, and feature votes on policy and organisational matters. The Autumn Conference is the party's "supreme forum", with elections to GPEx, committees and other bodies; the Conference held in the Spring, although having the same powers as the Autumn Conference on policy and organisational votes, holds elections only for vacant posts and can have its priorities decided by the preceding Autumn Conference. The conference itself is organised by Conferences Committee, but the Standing Order Committee (SOC) is responsible for interpreting the Constitution and arranging the order of business..

The Green Party Conference features fringes, talks and plenary sessions. The agenda for plenary sessions is usually:

  • Section A - Reports from various bodies within the party, including SOC, GPEx, GPRC and others
  • Section B - Policy Voting Papers (a motion, either submitted by members or chosen by the Policy Committee, which submits a section of the Manifesto for a Sustainable Society (MfSS) for review and amendments, which are then voted on)
  • Section C - Policy Motions (motions from members on different sections of the MfSS, but also including those which express a policy position without altering the MfSS, and Enabling Motions, which start the process of building policy on a specified area)
  • Section D - Organisational Motions (motions from members that amend the Constitution)


Policymaking within the GPEW is a long process involving consultation with various bodies and individuals. The party has released leaflets and books on how to properly amend policy.

The Constitution

The Constitution of the Green Party of England and Wales governs all of the party's activities, from the selection of election candidates by local parties, to nominations for the House of Lordsmarker, to the conduct of GPEx and so on. The Constitution stresses "openness, accountability and confidentiality" in its decision-making guidelines. It can be amended only by a two-thirds majority vote at a Conference or by a two-thirds majority in a ballot of the membership.

Status of the Wales Green Party

Unlike any other regional party within the Green Party, the Wales Green Party (WGP) (Plaid Werdd Cymru in Welsh) is a "semi-autonomous regional party" within the GPEW. It has greater control over its finances, and produces its own manifesto and newsletters. Wales Green Party members are automatically members of the Green Party of England and Wales.

Also differently from the full party, the Wales Green Party (and the North West region of England) elects a Principal Speaker who may refer to themselves as the 'Leader' of the Wales Green Party, although, like the Green Party of England and Wales's former Principal Speakers, they have no powers of leadership. The current leader of the Wales Green Party is Leila Kiersch.

Young Greens

The youth wing of the Green Party, the Young Greens (of England and Wales), have developed independently from around 2002. The Young Greens have their own Constitution, National Committee, campaigns and meetings, and have become an active presence at Green Party Conferences and election campaigns. There are now many Young Greens groups on UK university, college and higher-education institution campuses. Several Green Party Councillors are Young Greens, as are some members of GPEx and other internal party organs.

Membership and finances

According to 2007 accounts filed with the Electoral Commission, the party had a membership of 7,441 (an increase of 422 on the previous year) at year-end and had an income of £366,525 with expenditure of £394,887.

Groups within the Party

Several groups are active within the party. These include groups designed to address certain areas of policy or representation, including the Green Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Group (LGBT) , the Green Trades Union Group, the Drugs Group (on drugs policy and research), the Monetary Reform Policy Working Group, and others. The centrist faction known as Green 2000 sought to achieve a Green Party government by the year 2000; the group fell apart in the early 1990s. The Green Left represent some of the anti-capitalists and eco-socialists in the party who want to engage with the broader Left in the UK and attract Left-wing activists to the Green Party.

See also

Subdivisions: Related organisations:

References

  1. Dr. Caroline Lucas MEP's Website
  2. Jean Lambert MEP's Website
  3. Green Party Website
  4. MORI Polling Trends data
  5. Big challenge from small parties, BBC News website
  6. The Green Party launch local election campaign from Millbank, Green Party website
  7. [1]
  8. [2]
  9. Young Greens (youth section of the Green Party of England and Wales) Policy Website
  10. Green Party of England and Wales Policy Website: Climate Change Section of the Manifesto for a Sustainable Society (MfSS)
  11. cite="http://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies/health.html"
  12. Green Party Drugs Group Website
  13. Green Party of England and Wales Policy Website
  14. Lord, C., A Citizen's Income, 2003
  15. cite="http://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies/living-wage.html A Living Wage"
  16. http://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies/health.html
  17. http://younggreens.greenparty.org.uk/AboutUs/Policy/InternationalIssues
  18. BBC NEWS | Politics | Greens vote to have single leader
  19. Greens elect new spokeswoman | Politics | guardian.co.uk
  20. Green Party Website Press Release 24th November 2006 - Siân Berry and Dr. Derek Wall elected as Principal Speakers
  21. http://www.carolinelucas.org.uk
  22. http://ashleygunstock.blogspot.com/
  23. http://www.adrianramsay.org.uk
  24. Independent on Sunday Article
  25. Green Party Constitution (only available to party members from the Members' Website or the Policy Coordinator
  26. Wales Green Party Website
  27. Young Greens Website
  28. [3]
  29. Green Party LGBT Group Website
  30. Green Party Trades Union Group Website
  31. Monetary Reform Policy Working Group of the Green Party of England and Wales
  32. Green Left Website


External links




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