Green Party of England and Wales
|Green Party of England and Wales|
|Preceded by||Green Party (UK)|
56-64 Leonard Street, London, EC2A 4LT
|Youth wing||Young Greens of England and Wales|
|Membership (2015)||65,964 |
|International affiliation||Global Greens|
|European affiliation||European Green Party|
|European Parliament group||The Greens–European Free Alliance|
|House of Commons||
1 / 650
|House of Lords||
1 / 774
|European Parliament English & Welsh seats||
3 / 64
2 / 25
0 / 60
|Local government (England & Wales)||
166 / 19,031
|Politics of United Kingdom
|Part of a series on|
The Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW; Welsh: Plaid Werdd Cymru a Lloegr) is a left-wing, Green political party in England and Wales. 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.
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. It also takes a progressive approach to social policies such as civil liberties, animal rights, LGBTIQ[note 1] rights and drug policy reform. The party also believes strongly in nonviolence, basic income, a living wage, and democratic participation. 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 Green Party of Scotland and the Green Party of 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 emphasis 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.
- 1 History
- 2 Ideology and Policy
- 3 Constitution, Leadership and Membership
- 4 Electoral representation
- 5 Subgroups
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The Green Party of England and Wales has its origins in the PEOPLE Party, which was founded in Coventry in 1973. PEOPLE was renamed as The Ecology Party in 1975, and in 1985 changed again to the Green Party. In 1989 the party's Scottish branch split to establish the independent Scottish Green Party, with an independent Green Party of Northern Ireland developing shortly after, leaving those branches in England and Wales to form their own party. The Green Party of England and Wales is registered with the Electoral Commission as simply the Green Party.
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. 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). This success has been attributed to both the increased respectability of environmentalism and the effects of the development boom in southern England during the late 1980s.
Early years: 1990–2008
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. The party fielded more candidates than it had ever done before in the 1992 general election but was widely deemed to have performed poorly.
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. The party sought to escape their reputation as an environmentalist single-issue party by placing greater emphasis on social policies. 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. In 1993 the party gained a seat on Oxford County Council, with other gains following in the 1995 and 1996 local elections.
The Greens sought to build alliances with other parties in the hope of gaining representation at the parliamentary level. 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. For the 1997 general election, the Cerediggion 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 built 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.
As the Labour Party shifted to the political center under the leadership of Tony Blair and his New Labour project, the Greens sought to gain the support of the party's dissafected leftists. 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). At the inaugural London Assembly Elections in 2000, the party gained 11% of the vote and returned three Assembly Members (AM), 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. At the General Election of 2001 they polled 0.63% of the vote and held their deposit in ten seats. At the 2004 European Parliamentary elections the party returned 2 MEPS the same as in 1999; overall, the Party polled 1,033,093 votes. 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. 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.
Caroline Lucas (2008–12)
In November 2007, the party held an internal referendum to decide on whether it should replace its use of two "principle 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. In September 2008, the party then elected its first leader, Caroline Lucas, with Adrian Ramsay elected deputy leader. 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). Caroline Lucas was returned as MP for the seat of Brighton Pavilion. Following the election, Keith Taylor succeeded her as MEP for South East England. They also saved their deposit in Hove, and Brighton Kemptown.
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. In September, Natalie Bennett was elected party leader and Will Duckworth deputy leader in the leadership election took place.
Natalie Bennett (2012–)
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. In London, the party won four seats, a gain of two, holding seats in Camden and Lewisham, and gaining seats in Islington and Lambeth.
At the 2014 European elections the Green Party finished fourth, above the Liberal Democrats, winning over 1.2 million votes. The party increased its European Parliament representation, gaining one seat in the South West England region.
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.[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. 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; 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.
In December 2014, the Green Party announced that it had more than doubled its overall membership from 1 January that year to 30,809. 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 18-24 year olds. This rapid increase in support for the party is referred to by media as the "Green Surge". The hashtag "#GreenSurge" has also been popular on social media (such as Twitter) from Green Party members and supporters, and as of 15 January 2015[update], 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).
Polling subsequently fell back as the 2015 general election approached: a Press Association poll of polls on 3 April, for example, put the Greens fifth with 5.4%. 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%. Overnight, the membership numbers increased to over 63,000. However they lost 9 out of their 20 seats on the Brighton and Hove council, losing minority control. Nationwide, the Greens increased their share of councillors, gaining an additional 10 council seats while failing to gain overall control of any individual council.
Ideology and Policy
Sociologist Chris Rootes stated that the Green party took "the left-libertarian" vote.
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). 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".
- 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."
- 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 whether based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, social origin or any other prejudice", 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 party also has a much larger and broader "philosophical basis", which covers many of these areas on more detail.
The party publishes a manifesto for each of its election campaigns. 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.
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.
Since at least 1992, the party has emphasised unilateral nuclear disarmament and called for the rejection of the UK's Trident programme of nuclear weapons. To campaign for the latter measure it has teamed up with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Plaid Cymru, and the Scottish National Party. It wants to see the UK's Army turned into a home defence force, and has pledged to take the UK out of NATO unilaterally.
The Green Party has an official "Drugs Group", for drugs policy and research, and the party has also considered decriminalising the recreational use of marijuana, considering the drugs issue a health, rather than criminal issue. 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.
The LGBTIQ Greens (focusing on LGBTIQ rights and issues affecting the broader LGBTIQ community), had a specific LGBTIQ manifesto for the 2015 elections, which was called Equality for All. 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.
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.
The party supports a referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union,[note 2] calling it "a vital opportunity to create a more democratic and accountable Europe, with a clearer purpose for the future," and 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.
Natalie Bennett, has said that she supports an abolition of the monarchy as the head of state, and fully supports British Republicanism. Bennett has even suggested the Queen be placed into a council house if the Green Party were in power, and the Green Party officially states that they believe there is "no place in government for the hereditary principle".
Constitution, Leadership and Membership
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.
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.
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.
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, Siân Berry, and Derek Wall.
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.
|Green Party of England and Wales Executive (GPEx)|
|Deputy Leader||Amelia Womack and Shahrar Ali|
|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||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.
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).
Membership and finances
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. Membership increased rapidly in 2014, more than doubling in that year. 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. 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.
According to political scientist Sarah Birch, the Green Party draws support from "a wide spectrum of the population". 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". 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. 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.
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 comepting for "similar sorts of voters".
House of Commons
Throughout the party's history, representation at the House of Commons has been hindered by the first-past-the-post voting system which has entrenched a two-party system by encouraging the view that supporting a third party is a wasted vote.
House of Lords
From the early 1990s until 2009, the number of Green local councillors rose from zero to over 100.
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, and Caroline Lucas is currently[update] the MP for Brighton Pavilion.
Wales Green Party
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.
Several active groups within the party are designed to address certain areas of policy or representation. These include the Green Party Trades Union Group, The Green Economics Policy Working Group, the Monetary Reform Policy Working Group, 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.[note 3]
- List of environmental organizations
- List of political parties in the United Kingdom opposed to austerity
- Politics of the United Kingdom
- LGBTIQ stands for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and questioning". See LGBT#Variants for more information.
- See proposed referendum on United Kingdom membership of the European Union.
- According to the Launch Statement of Green Left, published in 2006.
- Natalie Bennett: 'Politics is changing, Corbyn could be next PM'.
'The Green party currently has 65,964 members, an overall increase of about 4,000 since polling day, but a fall of just over 1,000 since August'.
The Guardian [online], published 25/09/15, sourced 25/09/15.
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The Green Party embraces left-wing populism
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Minimum wage should be raised to Living Wage levels immediately
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Ukip are in third place on 13.3%, the Liberal Democrats are fourth on 7.8% and the Greens are fifth on 5.4%. However, it is too soon to judge whether the leaders' debate has had any impact upon levels of support, PA says.
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We've had a good start in the last 24 hours – we've had about 1,000 more people join the Green Party so our membership has gone over 63,000, which means we are much bigger than Ukip and the Liberal Democrats.
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