Green Party of England and Wales

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Green Party of England and Wales
Leader Natalie Bennett[1][2]
Deputy leaders Amelia Womack, Shahrar Ali
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  (2014) Increase 30,000+ [3]
Ideology Green politics,
Political position Left-wing[4]
International affiliation Global Greens
European affiliation European Green Party
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
3 / 64
London Assembly
2 / 25
Welsh Assembly
0 / 60
Local government (England & Wales)[5]
172 / 20,565
Police and Crime Commissioners
0 / 41
Part of a series on
Green politics
Sunflower symbol

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 and contains 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.[6] Lucas was the party's first leader, serving from 2008 until 2012, when she was succeeded by Natalie Bennett.[7][8] The Green Party also has one life peer, three MEPs in the European Parliament, two members of the London Assembly, and a small number of councillors in various local councils in England and Wales.[5][9][10][11]

The Green Party of England and Wales was created in 1990 when the former Green Party split into separate parties for Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England and Wales. The party is affiliated to the Global Greens and the European Green Party. While associated mainly with environmentalist policies, 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 and is supportive of proportional representation.[12] It takes a progressive approach to social policies such as animal rights, LGBT issues and drug policy reform, and believes strongly in non-violence, basic material security, and democratic participation.[13]



The Green Party of England and Wales has its origins in the PEOPLE party started in 1972 in Coventry.[14] It changed its name to The Ecology Party in 1975, and to the Green Party in 1985. In 1990, the party split into the Green Party of England and Wales, the Scottish Green Party, and the Green Party of Northern Ireland, although it is registered with the Electoral Commission as simply the Green Party.[15]

Early gains[edit]

In the 1989 European elections, the Green Party polled 15% of the vote but did not return a Member of the European Parliament (MEP).

The Party returned its first MEPs at the 1999 European elections; the first to be held using a proportional system. The party returned two MEPs, Caroline Lucas (South East England)[16] and Jean Lambert (London).[17]

At the inaugural London Assembly Elections, the party returned three Assembly Members (AM).

At the General Election of 2001 they polled 0.63% of the vote and held their deposit in ten seats.

At the 2004 London Assembly Elections the party lost one AM, returning two AMs.

At the 2004 European Parliamentary elections the party returned 2 MEPS the same as in 1999; overall, the Party polled 1,033,093 votes.[18]

In the 2005 General Election the Green Party polled 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 leadership election in September 2008. This replaced the previous system of principal speakers. Lucas was elected leader, and Adrian Ramsay deputy leader.[19] In the party's first election with Lucas as leader, it retained both its MEPs in the 2009 European elections.

In the 2010 General Election, the party returned its first Member of Parliament (MP). Lucas was returned as MP for the seat of Brighton Pavilion.[20] Following the election, Keith Taylor succeeded her as MEP for South East England.

In the 2011 local government elections in England and Wales, the Green Party in Brighton and Hove took minority control of the City Council by winning 23 seats, 5 short of an overall majority.

At the 2012 local government elections the Green Party gained 5 seats and retained both AMs at the 2012 London Assembly election. At the London Mayoral Election the party's candidate Jenny Jones finished third and lost her deposit.

In May 2012, Lucas announced that she would not seek re-election to the post of party leader.[21]

A leadership election took place in August and September 2012. The result was declared on 3 September 2012. Natalie Bennett was elected leader and Will Duckworth deputy leader.[1]

Natalie Bennett (2012-)[edit]

The 2013 local government elections saw overall gains of 5 seats. The Party returned representation for the first time on the councils of Cornwall, Devon and Essex.

At the local government elections the following year, the Greens gained 18 seats overall.[22] In London, the party won four seats, a gain of two, holding seats in Camden[23] and Lewisham,[24] and gaining seats in Islington[25] and Lambeth.[26]

At the 2014 European elections the Green Party finished fourth, above the Liberal Democrats, winning over 1.2 million votes.[27] The party gained one European Parliament seat, in the South West England region.[28]

In December 2014, the Green Party announced that it had doubled it's overall membership from the 1st of January that year to 27,618. [29]

Electoral representation[edit]

A map showing the representation of the Green Party at various levels of English local government as of May 2014. Counties, including Greater London, are in light green; districts, boroughs and unitary authorities are in dark green.

The Party has one MP, one member of the House of Lords,[30] three MEPs and two Members of the London Assembly.

The party has representation at local government level in England. The party has limited representation on most councils on which it is represented, and is in minority control of Brighton and Hove city council. The party has no majority control of any councils in England and Wales.[5][10][31]


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

The 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). The party also publishes a timely manifesto for each of its election campaigns.[32]

Core values[edit]

The ten core values set out by the Green Party policy document can be summarised as follows:[13]

  • 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 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 and so on. The Constitution states "openness, accountability and confidentiality" in its decision-making guidelines. It can be amended by a two-thirds majority vote at a Conference or by a two-thirds majority in a ballot of the membership.[33]


The Green Party of England and Wales holds a spring and an autumn conference every year. The autumn conference is the party's "supreme forum", with elections to the Green Party Executive (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.[33]


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

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 — passed by 73%. The leaders would be elected every two years, instead of annually, and would be able to vote on the GPEx.[34]

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 sat but did not vote on GPEx. The final Principal Speakers were Lucas[35] and Derek Wall[36]


GPEx is responsible for the day-to-day running of the party and meets around ten times a year. The party elects its National Executive Committee each year before its Autumn Conference.

As of 26 April 2014, the GPEx consists of the following positions:[37]

Green Party of England and Wales Executive (GPEx)
Leader Natalie Bennett
Deputy Leader Amelia Womack and Shahrar Ali
Chair Richard Mallender
Elections Co-ordinator Judy Maciejowska
Equality and Diversity Co-ordinator Shan Oakes and Jack McGlen
External Communications Co-ordinator Penny Kemp, Clare Phipps, and Matt Hawkins
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 and Caroline Bowes
Publications Co-ordinator Martin Collins
Campaigns Co-ordinator Howard Thorp
Young Greens Co-ordinator Siobhan MacMahon and Clifford Fleming
Trade Union Liaison Officer Romayne Phoenix

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.

Regional Council[edit]

Oxfordshire Green Party hosting a "Green Fair"

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.[33]

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).[33]

Membership and finances[edit]

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.[38] Membership has increased rapidly in 2014, more than doubling since January 1.[39]

Year Membership (as of 31 December)
2002 5,268[40]
2003 5,858[40]
2004 6,281[41]
2005 7,110[42]
2006 7,019[43]
2007 7,441[44]
2008 7,553[45]
2009 9,630[46]
2010 12,768[38]
2011 12,842[47]
2012 12,619[48]
2013 13,809[49]
2014 30,000+[50]


Status of the Wales Green Party[edit]

Main article: 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. 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.[51]

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.[52]

Other groups[edit]

Several active groups within the party are designed to address certain areas of policy or representation. These include the Green Party Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Intersex & Queer Group of England and Wales,[53] the Green Party Trades Union Group,[54] the Drugs Group (on drugs policy and research),[55] The Green Economics Policy Working Group, the Monetary Reform Policy Working Group,[56] and others. The historical 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 group, nicknamed 'The Watermelons', represents 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,[57] 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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External links[edit]