Green Party of England and Wales

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Green Party of England and Wales
Leader Natalie Bennett[1][2][3]
Deputy leader Will Duckworth
Founded 1990 (1990)
Preceded by Green Party
Headquarters Development House, 56-64 Leonard Street, London, EC2A 4LT
Youth wing Young Greens of England and Wales
Membership  (2012) Increase 16,000[4]
Ideology Green politics,
Political position Left-wing[5]
International affiliation Global Greens
European Parliament group The Greens–European Free Alliance
Colours Green
House of Commons English & Welsh seats
1 / 573
House of Lords
1 / 724
European Parliament English & Welsh seats
2 / 64
London Assembly
2 / 25
Welsh Assembly
0 / 60
Local government (England & Wales)[6]
145 / 19,370
Police and Crime Commissioners
0 / 41
Politics of the United Kingdom
Political parties

The Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW; Welsh: Plaid Werdd Cymru a Lloegr) is a political party in England and Wales. It is the largest Green party in the United Kingdom, containing within it various regional divisions including the semi-autonomous Wales Green Party. The party has one Member of Parliament in the House of Commons, Caroline Lucas, who represents the constituency of Brighton Pavilion after winning her seat in the 2010 general election[7] and was the party's first leader, serving from 2008 until 2012, when she was succeeded by Natalie Bennett. They also have one life peer, two MEPs in the European Parliament and two members of the London Assembly, as well as 139 councillors in various local councils across England and Wales.

The Green Party of England and Wales was created in 1990 when the former UK Green Party, which itself had grown out of the 1970s’ PEOPLE party, devolved into separate parties for Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England and Wales. It has friendly relations with its Scottish and Northern Irish counterparts, and is affiliated with the Global Greens and the European Green Party. While primarily known as an environmentalist party, it has a history of support for communitarian economic policies, including well-funded, locally controlled public services within the confines of a steady-state economy. The party is strongly supportive of proportional representation and follows a line of euroscepticism based on its suspicion of the domination of European policy-making by corporate interests. It takes a liberal approach to social policies such as animal rights, LGBT issues and drug policy reform.



The Green Party of England and Wales has its roots in the PEOPLE party started in 1972/3 by a group of four professional friends in Coventry (Michael Benfield, Freda Sanders, Tony and Lesley Whittaker). It changed its name to The Ecology Party in 1975, and to the Green Party in 1985. In 1990, the part of the "Green Party" that was in England and Wales became The Green Party of England and Wales, although it is registered with the Electoral Commission simply as Green Party.[8]

Early gains[edit]

In the 1989 European elections, the Green Party gained 15% of the vote but failed to gain a single MEP.

The Party would have to wait another ten years for their first MEP, in the 1999 European elections, which was the first to be held using a proportional system. Two Greens were elected Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) that year, Dr Caroline Lucas (South East England)[9] and Jean Lambert (London).[10]

The Party repeated its electoral success in the following year, by gaining three Assembly Members in the inaugural London Assembly Elections. However, the Party failed to repeat their success in the General Election of 2001, winning 0.63% of the vote and holding their deposit in just ten seats.

The Party suffered a slight setback in the 2004 London Assembly Elections, seeing their representation reduce from three to two members. However, the Party 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.[11]

In the 2005 General Election, the Green Party won a record 281,780 votes but again did not win any seats.

Caroline Lucas (2008-12)[edit]

Caroline Lucas speaking as the first Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales at its autumn conference in 2008.

The party held its first-ever leadership election in September 2008. Caroline Lucas was elected Leader, and Adrian Ramsay Deputy Leader.[12]

In the Party's first election with Lucas as Leader, they retained both their MEPs in the 2009 European elections.

The next year the Green Party made a breakthrough in the 2010 General Election, as Party leader Caroline Lucas won the Brighton Pavilion seat, delivering the Party their first MP.[13] Following the election, Keith Taylor succeeded Caroline Lucas as MEP for South East England.

In the 2011 local elections in England and Wales, the Green party secured another victory in Brighton and Hove by taking minority control of the City Council. They advanced 10 seats to 23, compared to opposition Conservatives and Labour councillors on 17 and 13 seats respectively.

The 2012 local elections saw a modest gain of 5 seats for the Green Party and the party retain both its members of the London Assembly. However, the London Mayoral Election saw the Green candidate Jenny Jones finish third, pushing the Liberal Democrats in the fourth place for the first time since the creation of the post in 2000.

In May 2012, Caroline Lucas announced that she would not seek re-election, hoping that instead other talented individuals could rise to the top of the party.[14]

Natalie Bennett (2012-)[edit]

A leadership election took place in August and September 2012. The result was declared at 11am, Monday 3 September 2012. Natalie Bennett was elected Leader and Will Duckworth was elected Deputy Leader.[1]

The 2013 county council elections again saw modest gains of 5 seats. The Party achieved representation for the first time on the councils of Cornwall, Devon and Essex.

Electoral Representation[edit]


The Green Party fielded more than 300 candidates for the 2010 general election.[15] Party leader Caroline Lucas became the first Green candidate to gain a seat in Westminster, after being elected MP for Brighton Pavilion by a margin of 1,252 votes.[7]

The party has one member of the House of Lords, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoombal, who was made a life peer in 2013.[16] The Party was previously represented in the upper chamber by Lord Beaumont of Whitley, until his death in 2008.[17]

European Parliament[edit]

In the 1999 European elections, two Green MEPs were elected Dr Caroline Lucas for the South East England region and Jean Lambert for the London region. Both seats were retained in the 2004 European elections.

In the June 2009 European Parliament election the party secured 1,223,303 votes and increased it share of the popular vote to 8.7%, again retaining both MEPs. The Greens came first in Norwich with 25%, Oxford with 26% and Brighton and Hove with 31%,[18] but despite its share of the vote increasing compared to the 2004 election, it failed to gain any extra MEPs.

Following her election as an MP in 2010, Keith Taylor succeeded Caroline Lucas as MEP for South East England.

Regional Assemblies[edit]

At the inaugural London Assembly Elections, the Green Party gained three Assembly Members. This was reduced to two seats at the 2004 London Assembly Elections, both of which have been held at subsequent elections.

The Green Party have yet to win a seat in the National Assembly for Wales.

Local Government[edit]

The party has 139 local councillors.[19] The Greens are the biggest party and administration on Brighton & Hove City Council. They also have significant representation on the local authorities for Lancaster, Norwich, Oxford, Kirklees, Solihull, Stroud, and Oxfordshire County Council.


"Welfare not Warfare" sign, indicating the Green Party's commitment to social justice and non-violence

The Green Party publishes a full set of its policies, as approved by successive party conferences, collectively entitled "Policies for a Sustainable Society" (originally "The Manifesto for a Sustainable Society"—before February 2010). It is a codified standing policy document, and as such, it is subject to amendment by conferences of the party. These policies cover the full range of social, economic, and environmental issues. (The party also publishes a timely manifesto for each of its election campaigns.) The policy manifesto was originally created and adopted by the party's predecessor, the "Ecology Party of the United Kingdom," at its first conference in Coventry (1973).[20]

The ten core values set out at the start of this document can be summarised as follows:

  • Commitment to social and environmental justice, supporting a "radical transformation of society for the benefit of all, and for the planet as a whole". The threats to economic, social and environmental wellbeing are considered "part of the same problem" and can only be solved as one complete problem.
  • Preservation of other species, because the human race "depends on the diversity of the natural world for its existence".
  • "A sustainable society" to guarantee humanity's long-term future, given that physical resources are finite.
  • "Basic material security" as a universal, permanent entitlement.
  • Actions to "take account of the wellbeing of other nations, other species, and future generations", not advancing "our well-being to the detriment of theirs".
  • "Voluntary co-operation between empowered individuals in a democratic society, free from discrimination", as the basis of a "healthy society".
  • Decisions to be made "at the closest practical level to those affected by them" to "emphasise democratic participation and accountability".
  • Non-violent solutions to conflict, seeking lasting settlement, taking into account "the interests of minorities and future generations".
  • End the use of "narrow economic indicators" to measure society's success. Instead "take account of factors affecting the quality of life for all people: personal freedom, social equity, health, happiness and human fulfilment".
  • Use "a variety of methods, including lifestyle changes, to help effect progress", in addition to electoral politics.


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.[21]

In 2013, The Green Party was among other organizations and individuals who gave their support to the People's Assembly in a letter published by The Guardian newspaper.[22] Representing The Green Party, Caroline Lucas also gave a speech at the People's Assembly Conference held at Westminster Central Hall on 22 June 2013.[23]

Gay rights[edit]

In 2004 as part of the Stop Murder Music campaign the Green Party, along with OutRage! successfully lobbied the Home Secretary to stop the Jamaican reggae and dancehall artist and Rastafarian Sizzla from being able to perform in the UK[24][25][26] This lobbying has been criticised as being racist, picking on black music, and encouraging censorship.[27]

The Green Party supports allowing same-sex couples to marry. On 22 May 2009 they called for an end to the ban on civil marriages between same-sex couples in Britain and in other EU member states. Caroline Lucas, then leader, said the party wants marriage equality for same-sex couples and that married gay couples who travel throughout Europe should be able to have their relationship recognised on the same basis as married heterosexual couples.


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[edit]

Natalie Bennett has been the leader of the Green Party since September 2012.

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%.[28]

The final Principal Speakers were Dr Caroline Lucas MP (who succeeded Siân Berry in October 2007),[29] and Dr Derek Wall, who succeeded Keith Taylor, a councillor in Brighton & Hove, in November 2006 (Taylor had been elected in 2004 after the death of Dr. Mike Woodin).[30] Caroline Lucas went on to become the first leader and gained the party its first seat.

Lucas announced she was not seeking re-election in May 2012 and in September Natalie Bennett was elected as the new leader of the party.[1]


As at 14 February 2014, the national Green Party Executive (GPEx) consists of the following positions:[31]

Green Party of England and Wales Executive (GPEx)
Leader Natalie Bennett
Deputy Leader Will Duckworth
Chair Richard Mallender
Elections Co-ordinator Sam Coates
Equality and Diversity Co-ordinator Shan Oakes and Jack McGlen
External Communications Co-ordinator Penny Kemp and Joe Williams
Finance Co-ordinator Michael Coffey
Internal Communications Co-ordinator Peter Barnett
International Co-ordinator Derek Wall
Local Party Support Co-ordinator Emily Blyth
Management Co-ordinator Mark Cridge
Policy Co-ordinator Sam Riches
Publications Co-ordinator John Coyne
Campaigns Co-ordinator Howard Thorp
Young Greens Co-ordinator Siobhan MacMahon and Clifford Fleming
Trade Union Liaison Officer Romayne Phoenix

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 Jo Steranka. The 2010/11 chair was 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.[32] Jenny Jones 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 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 to speak 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.

At the party's 2008 autumn conference, members elected the first Equality and Diversity Co-ordinator.

At the party's 2012 spring conference, members voted to incorporate a Young Greens position on GPEx, to be filled by the male and female co-chairs of the Young Greens as a job share. The co-chairs of the Young Green Party of England and Wales are elected annually at its national convention.

As of the party's 2013 autumn conference, GPEx now has a Trade Union Liaison officer. Green Left and Coalition of Resistance co-chair Romayne Phoenix was co-opted into this position.

Panel of Speakers[edit]

As of 4 October 2013 [33]

Regional Council[edit]

Oxfordshire Green Party hosting a "Green Fair"

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.[34]

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).[34] 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 UK.[citation needed]


The Green Party of England and Wales holds a spring and an 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.[34]

The Green Party Conference features fringes, talks and plenary sessions. The agenda for plenary sessions is usually:[34]

  • 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 "Policies for a Sustainable Society" 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.[34]


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 Lords, 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.[34]

Status of the Wales Green Party[edit]

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. 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 Pippa Bartolotti.[35]

Young Greens[edit]

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. Many Green Party councillors are Young Greens, as are some members of GPEx and other internal party organs.[36]

Membership and finances[edit]

Year Membership (as of 31 December)
2002 5,268[37]
2003 5,858[37]
2004 6,281[38]
2005 7,110[39]
2006 7,019[40]
2007 7,441[41]
2008 7,553[42]
2009 9,630[43]
2010 12,768[44]

According to accounts filed with the Electoral Commission, for the year ending 31 December 2010 the party had an income of £770,495 with expenditure of £889,867.[44]

Groups within the party[edit]

Several groups are active within the party. These include groups designed to address certain areas of policy or representation, including the Green Party Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Intersex & Queer Group of England and Wales,[45] the Green Party Trades Union Group,[46] the Drugs Group (on drugs policy and research),[47] The Green Economics Policy Working Group, the Monetary Reform Policy Working Group,[48] 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.

Green Left (nicknames: The Melons) 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,[49] although it is a group of party members, rather than a group within the party.

See also[edit]


Related organisations[edit]


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  2. ^ Jowit, Juliette (5 August 2004). "Green party elects Natalie Bennett as leader". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
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  18. ^ Rogers, Simon (13 June 2009). "Exactly how well did the BNP do where you live?". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
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  21. ^ Citizens' Income and Green Economics, ed. by Clive Lord, Miriam Kennet and Judith Felton (Tidmarsh: The Green Economics Institute, 2012). ISBN 978-1-907543-07-4, revised from Clive Lord, A Citizen's Income, 2003.
  22. ^ People's Assembly opening letter 5 February 2013, The Guardian Newspaper.
  23. ^ People's Assembly Supporters retrieved 09 September 2013.
  24. ^ Reggae star barred from Britain
  25. ^ Brighton councillor welcomes ban on 'murder music' singer
  26. ^ Singer banned after gay-Green protest
  27. ^ Can music incite murder?
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  35. ^ "Wales Green Party Website". Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  36. ^ "Young Greens Website". Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
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  44. ^ a b "The Green Party of England and Wales – Report and Financial Statements – Year ended 31 December 2010". The Green Party of England and Wales. p. 4. Retrieved 31 July 2011. 
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  46. ^ "Green Party Trades Union Group Website". Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  47. ^ Green Party Drugs Group Website[dead link]
  48. ^ "Monetary Reform Policy Working Group of the Green Party of England and Wales". Retrieved 25 May 2011. 
  49. ^ "Green Left Website". Retrieved 25 May 2011. 

External links[edit]