Green Party of England and Wales

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The Green Party of England and Wales
Leader Natalie Bennett (Until August 2016)
Chair Richard Mallender
Deputy leaders Amelia Womack
Shahrar Ali
Founded 1990 (1990)
Preceded by Green Party (UK)
Youth wing Young Greens of England and Wales
Membership  (2016) 60,000 [1]
Ideology Green politics
Eco-socialism[2]
Left-libertarianism[3]
Pro-Europeanism[4]
Political position Left-wing[5][6]
European affiliation European Green Party
International affiliation Global Greens
European Parliament group The Greens–European Free Alliance
Colours      Green
House of Commons[7]
1 / 650
House of Lords[8]
1 / 798
European Parliament English & Welsh seats
3 / 64
London Assembly
2 / 25
Local government (England & Wales)[9]
165 / 19,031
Website
www.greenparty.org.uk
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 progressive green, left-wing political party in England and Wales.[5][6] Headquartered in London, its current leader is Natalie Bennett. The Green Party has one Member of Parliament in the House of Commons, one representative in the House of Lords, and three Members of the European Parliament. It has various councillors in UK local government and two members of the London Assembly.[9][10][11][12]

The party's primary emphasis has been on environmentalism and political ecology, resulting in some interpretations of it as a "single issue" party. However, it also 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 it supports proportional representation.[13] It also takes a progressive approach to social policies such as civil liberties, animal rights, LGBTIQ rights and drug policy reform. The party also believes strongly in nonviolence, basic income, a living wage,[14] and democratic participation.[15] The party comprises various regional divisions, including the semi-autonomous Wales Green Party. Internationally, the party is affiliated to the Global Greens and the European Green Party.

The Green Party of England and Wales was established in 1990 alongside the Scottish Green Party and the Green Party in Northern Ireland through the division of the pre-existing Green Party, a group which had originally been established as the PEOPLE Party in 1973. Experiencing centralising reforms spearheaded by the Green 2000 group in the early 1990s, the party sought to emphasise growth in local governance, doing so throughout the 1990s. In 2010, the party gained its first MP in Caroline Lucas, who represents the constituency of Brighton Pavilion.[16]

History[edit]

Origins[edit]

The Green Party of England and Wales has its origins in the PEOPLE Party, which was founded in Coventry in 1973.[17] PEOPLE was renamed as The Ecology Party in 1975,[17] and in 1985 changed again to the Green Party.[18] In 1989 the party's Scottish branch split to establish the independent Scottish Green Party, with an independent Green Party in Northern Ireland developing shortly after, leaving those branches in England and Wales to form their own party.[19] The Green Party of England and Wales is registered with the Electoral Commission as simply the Green Party.[20]

In the 1989 European Parliament elections, the Green Party of England and Wales polled 15% of the vote with 2.3 million votes, the best ever performance of a Green party in a nationwide election.[21] This gave it the third largest share of the vote after the Conservative and Labour parties, although because of the first-past-the-post voting system it failed to gain a Member of the European Parliament (MEP).[22] This success has been attributed to both the increased respectability of environmentalism and the effects of the development boom in southern England in the late 1980s.[23]

Early years: 1990–2008[edit]

Seeking to capitalise on the Greens' success in the EP elections, a group named Green 2000 was established in July 1990, arguing for an internal reorganisation of the party in order to develop it into an effective electoral force capable of securing seats in the House of Commons.[24] Its proposed reforms included a more centralised structure, the replacement of the existing party council with a smaller party executive, and the establishment of delegate voting at party conferences.[25] Many party members opposed the reforms, believing that they would undermine the internal party democracy, and amid the arguments various key members resigned or were dismissed from the Greens.[26] Although Green 2000 proposals were defeated at the party's 1990 conference, they were overwhelmingly carried at their 1991 conference, resulting in an internal restructuring of the party.[27] Between the end of 1990 and mid-1992, the party lost over half its members, with those polled indicating that frustration over a lack of clear and effective party leadership was a major reason in their decision.[28] The party fielded more candidates than it had ever done before in the 1992 general election but was widely deemed to have performed poorly.[29]

In 1993, the party adopted its "Basis for Renewal" program in an attempt to bring together conflicting factions and thus save the party from bankruptcy and potential demise.[30] The party sought to escape their reputation as an environmentalist single-issue party by placing greater emphasis on social policies.[31] Recognising their poor performance in the 1992 national elections, the party decided to focus on gaining support in local elections, targeting wards where there was a pre-existing support base of Green activists.[30] In 1993, future party leader and MP Caroline Lucas gained a seat on Oxfordshire County Council,[32] with other gains following in the 1995 and 1996 local elections.[30]

The Greens sought to build alliances with other parties in the hope of gaining representation at the parliamentary level.[33] In Wales, the Greens endorsed Plaid Cymru candidate Cynog Dafis in the 1992 general election, having worked with him on a number of environmental initiatives.[33] For the 1997 general election, the Ceredigion branch of the Greens endorsed Dafis as a joint Plaid Cymru/Green candidate, but this generated controversy with the party, with critics believing it improper to build an alliance with a party that did not share all of the Greens' views. In April 1995 the Green National Executive ruled that the party should withdraw from this alliance due to ideological differences.[33]

As the Labour Party shifted to the political centre under the leadership of Tony Blair and his New Labour project, the Greens sought to gain the support of the party's dissafected leftists.[34] During the 1999 European Parliament elections, the first to be held in the UK using proportional representation, the Greens gained their first Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Caroline Lucas (South East England) and Jean Lambert (London).[35] At the inaugural London Assembly Elections in 2000, the party gained 11% of the vote and returned three Assembly Members (AM),[36] and although this dropped to two following the 2004 London Assembly Elections, the Green AMs proved vital in passing the annual budget of Mayor Ken Livingstone.[34]

At the 2001 general election they polled 0.63% of the vote and held their deposit in ten seats.[citation needed] At the 2004 European Parliamentary elections the party returned 2 MEPS the same as in 1999; overall, the Party polled 1,033,093 votes.[37] In the 2005 general election the party gained over 1% of the vote for the first time, and polled over 10% in the constituencies of Brighton Pavilion and Lewisham Deptford.[38] This growth has been attributed to the increasing public visibility of the party as well as a general growth in support for smaller parties in the UK.[38]

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.

In November 2007, the party held an internal referendum to decide on whether it should replace its use of two "principal speakers", one male and the other female, with the more conventional roles of "leader" and "deputy leader"; the motion passed with 73% of the vote.[39] In September 2008, the party then elected its first leader, Caroline Lucas,[39] with Adrian Ramsay elected deputy leader.[40] In the party's first election with Lucas as leader, it retained both its MEPs in the 2009 European elections.[41]

In the 2010 general election, the party returned its first Member of Parliament (MP). Caroline Lucas was returned as MP for the seat of Brighton Pavilion.[42] Following the election, Keith Taylor succeeded her as MEP for South East England. They also saved their deposit in Hove, and Brighton Kemptown.[43]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

In May 2012, Lucas announced that she would not seek re-election to the post of party leader.[44] In September, Natalie Bennett was elected party leader and Will Duckworth deputy leader in the leadership election took place.[45][46][47]

Natalie Bennett (2012–16)[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.[48] In London, the party won four seats, a gain of two, holding seats in Camden[49] and Lewisham,[50] and gaining seats in Islington[51] and Lambeth.[52]

Amelia Womack and Shahrar Ali were voted deputy leaders in 2014

At the 2014 European elections The Green Party finished fourth, above the Liberal Democrats, winning over 1.2 million votes.[53] The party increased its European Parliament representation, gaining one seat in the South West England region.[54]

In September 2014, The Green Party held its biennial leadership elections. Incumbent leader Natalie Bennett ran uncontested, and retained her status as party leader. The election also saw a change in the elective format for position of deputy leader. The party opted to elect two, gender-balanced deputy leaders, instead of just one. Amelia Womack and Shahrar Ali won the two positions, succeeding former deputy leader Will Duckworth.[55][unreliable source?]

The party announced in October 2014 that Green candidates would be standing for parliament in at least 75% of constituencies in the 2015 general election. In the 2010 general election, they contested roughly 50% of seats.[56] Following its rapid increase in membership and support, the Green Party also announced it was targeting twelve key seats for the 2015 general election. These seats were its one current seat, Brighton Pavilion, held by Caroline Lucas since 2010; Norwich South, a Liberal Democrat seat where June 2014 polling put the Greens in second place behind Labour;[57] Bristol West, another Liberal Democrat seat, where they are targeting the student vote; St. Ives, where they received an average of 18% of the vote in county elections; Sheffield Central; Liverpool Riverside; Oxford East; Solihull; Reading East; and three more seats with high student populations - York Central, Cambridge, and Holborn and St. Pancras, where leader Natalie Bennett is standing as the candidate.[58]

In December 2014, The Green Party announced that it had more than doubled its overall membership from 1 January that year to 30,809.[59] This reflected the increase seen in opinion polls in 2014, with Green Party voting intentions trebling from 2-3% at the start of the year, to 7-8% at the end of the year, on many occasions, coming in fourth place with YouGov's national polls, ahead of the Liberal Democrats, and gaining over 25% of the vote with 18 to 24-year-olds.[60][61] This rapid increase in support for the party is referred to by media as the "Green Surge".[62][63][64] The hashtag "#GreenSurge" has also been popular on social media (such as Twitter) from Green Party members and supporters,[65] and as of 15 January 2015, the combined Green Party membership in the UK stood at 44,713; greater than the number of members of UKIP (at 41,943), and the Liberal Democrats (at 44,576).[66]

Polling subsequently fell back as the 2015 general election approached:[67] a Press Association poll of polls on 3 April, for example, put the Greens fifth with 5.4%.[68] However, membership statistics continued to surge with the party attaining 60,000 in England and Wales that April.

In the 2015 general election, Caroline Lucas was re-elected in Brighton Pavilion with an increased majority, and while failing to gain any additional seats, the Greens received their highest-ever vote share (over 1.1 million votes), and increased their national share of the vote from 1% to 3.8%.[69] Overnight, the membership numbers increased to over 63,000.[70] However they lost 9 out of their 20 seats on the Brighton and Hove council, losing minority control.[71] Nationwide, the Greens increased their share of councillors, gaining an additional 10 council seats while failing to gain overall control of any individual council.[72]

On 15 May 2016 Bennett announced she would not be standing for re-election in the party's biennial leadership election due to take place in the summer.[73] Former leader Caroline Lucas and Work and Pensions Spokesperson Jonathan Bartley announced two weeks later that they intended to stand for leadership as a job share arrangement.[74] Nominations will close at the end of June, with the campaign period taking place in July and voting period in August, with the results to be announced at the party's Autumn Conference in Birmingham from 2–4 September.

Caroline Lucas first suggested "progressive pacts" to fight the Conservatives, following their victory at the 2015 general election.[75] She then reiterated the call alongside Jonathan Bartley as they announced their plan to share the leadership of the party.[74] Following the vote to leave the European Union in June 2016, Bennett published an open letter, calling for an "anti-Brexit alliance" potentially comprising Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru to stand in a future snap election in English and Welsh seats.[76]

Ideology and policy[edit]

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

Sociologist Chris Rootes stated that the Green party took "the left-libertarian" vote.[3] The party wants an end to "big government" – which they see as hindering open and transparent democracy – and want to limit the power of "big business" – which, they argue, upholds the unsustainable trend of globalisation, and is detrimental to local trade and economies.[77]

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).[78] This manifesto was summarised by LGBTIQ and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell as "radical socialist", "incorporat[ing] key socialist values" as it "rejects privatisation, free market economics and globalisation, and includes commitments to public ownership, workers' rights, economic democracy, progressive taxation and the redistribution of wealth and power".[79]

Core values[edit]

The ten core values set out by the Green Party policy document in February 2015 can be summarised as follows:[15]

  1. Commitment to social justice and environmentalism, supporting a "radical transformation of society for the benefit of all, and for the planet as a whole". The threats to economic, social and racial wellbeing are considered "part of the same problem", and "solving one of these crises cannot be achieved without solving the others."
  2. Preservation of other species, because the human race "depends on the diversity of the natural world for its existence".
  3. "A sustainable society" to guarantee humanity's long-term future, given that physical resources are finite.
  4. "Basic material security" as a universal, permanent entitlement.
  5. 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".
  6. "Voluntary co-operation between empowered individuals in a democratic society, free from discrimination whether based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, social origin or any other prejudice", as the basis of a "healthy society".
  7. Decisions to be made "at the closest practical level to those affected by them" to "emphasise democratic participation and accountability".
  8. Non-violent solutions to conflict, seeking lasting settlement, taking into account "the interests of minorities and future generations".
  9. 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".
  10. Use "a variety of methods, including lifestyle changes, to help effect progress", in addition to electoral politics.

The party also has a much larger and broader "philosophical basis", which covers many of these areas on more detail.[80]

2015 manifesto[edit]

The party publishes a manifesto for each of its election campaigns.[78] In their most recent Election Manifesto, for the 2015 general election, the Greens outlined many new policies, including a Robin Hood tax on banks, and a new 60% tax on those earning over £150,000.[81]

The party also states that it would phase out fossil fuel-based power generation, and would close all coal-fired power stations by 2023. The Green Party would also phase out nuclear power within ten years.

Foreign policy and defence[edit]

Since at least 1992, the party has emphasised unilateral nuclear disarmament and called for the rejection of the Trident nuclear programme of nuclear weapons in the United Kingdom.[82] To campaign for the latter measure it has teamed up with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Plaid Cymru, and the Scottish National Party.[83] It wants to see the UK's Army turned into a home defence force,[84] and has pledged to take the UK out of NATO unilaterally.[85]

The party has opposed 2003 invasion of Iraq, NATO-led military intervention in Libya[86] and British involvement in Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.[87]

The party campaigns for the rights of indigenous people and argues for greater autonomy for these individuals. Furthermore, they support the granting of compensation and justice for historical wrongs, and that the reappropriation of lands and resources should also take place. The party also believes that the cancelling of international debt should take place immediately and any financial assistance should be in the form of grants and not loans, limiting debt service payments to 10% of export earnings per year.[77]

The party believes that environmental and social welfare should be prioritised over financial gain when it comes to regulating trade; a less "bully boy culture" from the Western world and more self sustainability in terms of food and energy policy on a global level, with aid only being given to countries as a last resort in order to prevent them from being indebted to their donors.[77]

Drug policy[edit]

The Green Party has an official "Drugs Group", for drugs policy and research,[88] and the party has also considered decriminalising the recreational use of marijuana, considering the drugs issue a health, rather than criminal issue.[89] Ian Barnett from the Green Party says that: "The Policy of 'War on Drugs' has clearly failed. We need a different approach towards the control and misuse of drugs." However, the party does aim to minimise drug use due to the negative effects on the individual and society at large.[90]

LGBTIQ rights[edit]

The LGBTIQ Greens' stated aim is to raise awareness on LGBTIQ rights and issues affecting the broader LGBTIQ community, as well as broader Green politics.[91] LGBTIQ Greens is run by an elected national committee which is elected every year at an annual general meeting, held at the Autumn Conference of the Green Party of England and Wales. The Committee, as of the 2015 annual general meeting, is as follows:[92]

LGBTIQ Greens National Committee
Chair Aimee Challenor
Treasurer Amber Osner
Campaigns Coordinator Molly Arthurs
Internal Communications Lee-Anne Lawrance, Abi Brown, Ronald Stewart

Notably this meant that the group had elected a transgender person to the position of chair for the first time.[92]

The group had a specific LGBTIQ manifesto for the 2015 elections, which was called Equality for All.[93] In it, the party has called for all teachers to be trained on LGBTIQ issues (such as "provid[ing] mandatory HIV, sex, and relationships education – age appropriate and LGBTIQ-inclusive – in all schools from primary level onwards"), to reform the system of pensions, of end the "spousal veto" and to "make equal marriage truly equal". Natalie Bennett has also voiced support for polygamy and polyamorous relationships.[94]

The Green Party supports same-sex marriage and has considered expelling a member (Christina Summers) as she was not supportive of governmental same-sex marriage legislation due to her religious beliefs.[95]

Governance[edit]

Global governance[edit]

The party campaigns for greater accountability in global governance, with the United Nations made up of elected representatives and more regional representation, as opposed to the current nation-based setup. They want democratic control of the global economy with the World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund and World Bank reformed, democratised or even replaced. The party also wishes to prioritise social and environmental sustainability as a global policy.[77]

National governance[edit]

The party advocates ending the first past the post voting system for UK parliamentary elections and replacing it with a form of proportional representation.[96]

The Green Party states that they believe there is "no place in government for the hereditary principle",[97] while Natalie Bennett has said that she supports an abolition of the monarchy as the head of state, and fully supports replacing the monarchy with a republic.[98]

European Union[edit]

The party supports the upcoming referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union, calling it "a vital opportunity to create a more democratic and accountable Europe, with a clearer purpose for the future".[99] The party has criticised the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy and the "excessive influence" of the European Commission in comparison to the European Council and European Parliament, describing it as "undemocratic and unaccountable".[100] The party is opposed to Britain entering the eurozone, the single currency, saying that it and the EMU "undermines local and regional economies".[100] The party has also described the European Central Bank (the central bank for the euro) as "a collection of bankers appointed by Council subject to no effective democratic control, but able to override the democratic decisions made by member countries".[100]

The party favours a "three yeses" approach to Europe: "yes to a referendum, yes to major EU reform and yes to staying in a reformed Europe". Natalie Bennett also added that:

'Yes to the EU' does not mean we are content with the union continuing to operate as it has in the past. There is a huge democratic deficit in its functioning, a serious bias towards the interests of neoliberalism and 'the market', and central institutions have been overbuilt. But to achieve those reforms we need to work with fellow EU members, not try to dictate high handedly to them, as David Cameron has done.[101]

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, the Green representative in the House of Lords, backed her support for Vote Leave, an organisation campaigning to leave the European Union in the forthcoming referendum.[102] However, Jones withdrew her support for the organisation following its decision to appoint Lord Lawson as its chair, tweeting that she "Will vote to Leave EU but can't work with an organisation with so little judgement as to put Lawson at its head."[103]

Constitution, leadership and membership[edit]

Constitution[edit]

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.[104]

Conferences[edit]

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.[104]

Leadership[edit]

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.[105]

The Green Party had in the past 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,[106] Siân Berry, and Derek Wall.[107]

Executive[edit]

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 1 September 2015, the GPEx consists of the following positions:[108][109]

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 Charlene Concepcion and Manishta Sunnia
External Communications Co-ordinator Penny Kemp, Clare Phipps, and Matt Hawkins
Finance Co-ordinator Philip Igoe
Internal Communications Co-ordinator Clifford Fleming
International Co-ordinator Derek Wall
Local Party Support Co-ordinator Thom French
Management Co-ordinator Mark Cridge
Policy Co-ordinator Samantha Pancheri and Sam Riches
Publications Co-ordinator Dee Searle
Campaigns Co-ordinator Howard Thorp
Young Greens Co-ordinator Hannah Ellen Clare and Sophie Van Der Ham
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]

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.[104]

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).[104]

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.[110] Membership increased rapidly in 2014, more than doubling in that year.[111] On 15 January 2015, the Green Party claimed that the combined membership of the UK Green parties (Green Party of England and Wales, Scottish Green Party, and Green Party in Northern Ireland) had risen to 43,829 members, surpassing UKIP's membership of 41,966, and making it the third-largest UK-wide political party in the UK in terms of membership.[112][113] On 14 January 2015, UK newspaper The Guardian had reported that membership of the combined UK Green Parties was closing on those of UKIP and the Liberal Democrats, but noted that it lagged behind that of the Scottish National Party (SNP), which has a membership of 92,187 members but is not a UK-wide party.[114]

Membership (at end of year unless otherwise stated)
Year
2002[115]
5,268
2003[115]
5,858
2004[116]
6,281
2005[117]
7,110
2006[118]
7,019
2007[119]
7,441
2008[120]
7,553
2009[121]
9,630
2010[110]
12,768
2011[122]
12,842
2012[123]
12,619
2013[124]
13,809
2014[125]
30,900
2015 (September)[126]
65,964
2016 (May)[1]
60,000

Support base[edit]

"Green voters have tended to be younger and better educated than the electorate at large, and they are known to be more likely than most voters to work in the public sector. In terms of values, Green voters have been found to be more often than not on the left of the political spectrum, and they have been more likely than the average voter to hold post-materialist values, including support for environmental protection."

— Sarah Birch, 2009[127]

According to political scientist Sarah Birch, the Green Party draws support from "a wide spectrum of the population".[128] In 1995, sociologist Chris Rootes stated that the Green Party "appeals disproportionately to younger, highly educated professional people" although noted that this support base was "not predominantly urban".[129] In 2009, Birch noted that the Green's strongest areas of support were Labour-held seats in university towns or urban areas with relatively large student populations.[130] She noted that there were also strong correlations between areas of high Green support and high percentages of people who define themselves as having no religion.[131]

Sarah Birch noted that sociological polling revealed a "strong relationship" between individuals having voted for the Liberal Democrats in the past and holding favourable views of the Green Party, thus noting that the two groups were competing for "similar sorts of voters".[132]

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 Member of Parliament, one member of the House of Lords, three Members of the European Parliament and two Members of the London Assembly.[133][134]

House of Commons[edit]

Brighton Pavilion was the Green Party's first and to date only, parliamentary seat, won at the 2010 general election and held in 2015. As with other small parties, representation at the House of Commons has been hindered by the first-past-the-post voting system.[135]

House of Lords[edit]

The party's first life peer was Tim Beaumont, who died in 2008.[136] As of December 2015 Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb is their single representative in the House of Lords.

European Parliament[edit]

Since the first UK election to the European Parliament with proportional representation, in 1999, the Green Party of England and Wales has had representation in the European Parliament. From 1999 to 2010, the two MEPs were Jean Lambert (London) and Caroline Lucas (South East England). In 2010, on election to the House of Commons, Lucas resigned her seat and was succeeded by Keith Taylor. In 2014, Taylor and Lambert held their seats, and were joined by Molly Scott Cato who was elected in the South West region, increasing the number of Green Party Members of the European Parliament to three for the first time.[137]

Local government[edit]

From the early 1990s until 2009, the number of Green local councillors rose from zero to over 100.[38]

The party has representation at local government level in England. The party has limited representation on most councils on which it is represented, and was in minority control of Brighton and Hove City Council from 2011 to 2015,[9][11][138]

Subgroups[edit]

Young Greens[edit]

The youth wing of the Green Party, the Young Greens (of England and Wales), has developed independently from around 2002, and is for all Green Party members aged 18 to 30 years old. 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.[139]

Other groups[edit]

Several active groups within the party are designed to address certain areas of policy or representation. These include the Green Party Trades Union Group,[140] The Green Economics Policy Working Group, the Monetary Reform Policy Working Group,[141] 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, eco-socialists "and other radicals" in the party who want to engage with the broader left-wing political movements in the UK, and attract left-wing activists to the Green Party, according to the Launch Statement of Green Left, published in 2006.[142]

Wales Green Party[edit]

The Wales Green Party (WGP; Welsh: Plaid Werdd Cymru) is a semi-autonomous political party within the Green Party of England and Wales. It covers Wales, and is the only regional party with autonomous status within the GPEW. The WGP contests elections for the National Assembly for Wales (as well as at the local, UK and European level) and has its own newsletters, membership list, AGMs and manifesto. Members of the WGP are automatically members of the GPEW. The WGP leader is Pippa Bartolotti,[143] and the Deputy Leader is Anthony Slaughter.[144] Wales is represented internally within the GPEW by Chris Simpson and Chris Carmichael on the Green Party Regional Council. Both sets of positions are directly elected by postal ballot. Wales-wide decisions are taken by the Wales Green Party Council made up of the spokespeople, senior officers, and a representative from each local party.

The Wales Green Party (WGP; Welsh: Plaid Werdd Cymru) is a semi-autonomous political party within the Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW). It covers Wales, and is the only regional party with autonomous status within the GPEW.

The WGP contests elections for the National Assembly for Wales (as well as at the local, UK and European level) and has its own newsletters, membership list, AGMs and manifesto. Members of the WGP are automatically members of the GPEW.

Leadership[edit]

The current Leader is Alice Hooker-Stroud [145] and the current Deputy Leader is Hannah Pudner .[146] Wales is represented internally within the GPEW by Chris Simpson and Chris Carmichael on the Green Party Regional Council (GPRC). Both sets of positions are directly elected by postal ballot.

Election of a new leader is due to take place in December 2015; there are three candidates: current deputy leader Anthony Slaughter, Alice Hooker-Stroud and Ashley Wakeling.[147]

History[edit]

The Green Parties in the United Kingdom have their roots in the PEOPLE movement which was founded in 1972. This became the Ecology Party three years later, and then the Green Party in 1985. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each had separate branches. In 1990, the Scottish and Northern Irish branches left the UK Greens to form separate parties. The English and Welsh parties became the Green Party of England and Wales, with the Welsh branch being semi-autonomous.[148] At the 1992 general election, local Greens entered an electoral alliance with Plaid Cymru in the constituency of Ceredigion and Pembroke North. The alliance was successful with Cynog Dafis being returned in a surprise result as the MP, defeating the Liberal Democrat incumbent by over 3,000 votes.[149][150] The agreement broke down by 1995 following disagreement within the Welsh Green Party over endorsing another party's candidate, though Dafis would go on to serve in parliament as a Plaid Cymru member until 2000, and in the National Assembly of Wales from 1999 until 2003. Dafis later stated that he did not consider himself to be the "first Green MP".[151]

The Wales Green Party has always had its own spokesperson (now referred to as leader). Jake Griffiths became leader in 2009.[152] Pippa Bartolotti was elected to succeed him in 2011. Followed by Alice Hooker-Stroud.[153] Anthony Slaughter became deputy leader in 2014.[154]

Elections[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]