Green Party of England and Wales
The Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW; Welsh: Plaid Werdd Cymru a Lloegr) is a green, left-wing political party in England and Wales. Headquartered in London, since 2 September 2016 its Co-Leaders are Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley. 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.
|Leader||Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley (job share)|
|Deputy leader||Amelia Womack|
|Preceded by||Green Party (UK)|
|Headquarters||The Biscuit Factory
Unit 201 A Block
100 Clements Road
|Youth wing||Young Greens of England and Wales|
|Membership (2018)||41,073 |
|European affiliation||European Green Party|
|International affiliation||Global Greens|
|European Parliament group||The Greens–European Free Alliance|
|House of Commons||
1 / 650
|House of Lords||
1 / 784
|European Parliament English & Welsh seats||
3 / 64
2 / 25
|Local government (England & Wales)||
180 / 18,829
The party's ideology combines environmentalism with left-wing 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, LGBT 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 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 Lucas, who represents the constituency of Brighton Pavilion.
The Green Party of England and Wales has its origins in the PEOPLE Party, which was founded in Coventry in 1973. PEOPLE was renamed 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 in 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 in the late 1980s.
Early years: 1990–2008Edit
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, future party leader and MP Lucas gained a seat on Oxfordshire 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 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.
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. 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), 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 2001 general election 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)Edit
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. In September 2008, the party then elected its first leader, 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). 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 (2012–16)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. 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 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 one. Amelia Womack and Shahrar Ali won the two positions, succeeding former deputy leader 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 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 targeted 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 Bennett stood 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 to 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, 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.
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. Former leader Lucas and Work and Pensions Spokesperson Bartley announced two weeks later that they intended to stand for leadership as a job share arrangement. Nominations closed at the end of June, with the campaign period taking place in July and voting period in August and the results announced at the party's Autumn Conference in Birmingham from 2–4 September. It was announced on 4 September that Lucas and Bartley would become the party's leaders in a job share.
Lucas and Bartley (2016–present)Edit
Lucas first suggested "progressive pacts" to work on a number of issues including combating climate change and for electoral reform, following the results of the 2015 general election. She then reiterated the call alongside Bartley as they announced their plan to share the leadership of the party. 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. On 30 May 2018 Lucas announced she would not seek re-election in the Green Party of England and Wales leadership election, 2018, and would stand down as co-leader. On 1 June 2018 Bartley announced a co-leadership bid alongside Siân Berry, former candidate for the Mayor of London in 2008 and 2016.
Ideology and policyEdit
Sociologist Chris Rootes stated that the Green Party took "the left-libertarian" vote, while Dennison and Goodwin characterised it as reflecting "libertarian-universalistic values". 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. There have been allegations of factionalism and infighting in the Green Party, between liberal, socialist, and anarchist factions.
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 LGBT 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".[non-primary source needed]
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- 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 environmental 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 in more detail.
This section needs to be updated.(May 2018)
The party publishes a manifesto for each of its election campaigns. In their 2015 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.
Foreign policy and defenceEdit
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. 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 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.
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.
Amid the toughening rhetoric surrounding immigration at the 2015 general election, the Greens issued mugs emblazoned with the slogan "Standing Up For Immigrants". They claimed to offer a "genuine alternative" to the views of the mainstream parties by promoting the removal of restrictions on the number of foreign students, abolishing rules on family migration, and promoting further rights for asylum seekers.
The Green Party has an official "Drugs Group", for drugs policy and research, and the party supports decriminalising the recreational use of cannabis, 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.
Sexual orientation and gender identityEdit
The sexual orientation and gender identity group within the party known as LGBTIQA+ Greens stated aim is to raise awareness on LGBTIQA+ rights and issues affecting the broader LGBTIQA+ community, as well as broader Green politics.[non-primary source needed]
The 2015 and 2017 General Election Manifestos contained policies on all teachers to be trained on LGBTIQA+ issues (such as "providing mandatory HIV, sex, and relationships education – age appropriate and LGBTIQA+-inclusive – in all schools from primary level onwards"), to reform the system of pensions, of end the "spousal veto"[jargon] and to "make equal marriage truly equal".[jargon] Bennett has also voiced support for polygamy and polyamorous relationships.
The Green Party supports same-sex marriage and The Green Party group on Brighton and Hove City Council considered expelling a member (Christina Summers) in 2014 due to opposition to same-sex marriage legislation on religious grounds.
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.
The Green Party states that they believe there is "no place in government for the hereditary principle", while Bennett has said that she supports the abolition of the monarchy as the head of state, and fully supports replacing the monarchy with a republic.
The party supported the 2016 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".[non-primary source needed] 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".[non-primary source needed] The party favoured a "three yeses" approach to Europe: "yes to a referendum, yes to major EU reform and yes to staying in a reformed Europe". 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.
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 up to 30 years old. There is no lower age limit. 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.
Membership and financesEdit
This section needs to be updated.(May 2018)
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. Membership of the party peaked at over 67,000 members in the summer of 2015 after the General Election, but has since declined subsequent to Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader of the Labour 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.
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, noting that the two groups were competing for "similar sorts of voters".
House of CommonsEdit
Brighton Pavilion was the Green Party's first and to date only, parliamentary seat, won at the 2010 general election and held in 2015 and 2017. As with other small parties, representation at the House of Commons has been hindered by the first-past-the-post voting system.
House of LordsEdit
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 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.
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.
Wales Green PartyEdit
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 Grenville Ham, and the Deputy Leaders are Benjamin Smith and Pippa Bartolotti. 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 party leader from December 2015 until her resignation in March 2017 was Alice Hooker-Stroud; the current Leader is Grenville Ham, and the current Deputy Leaders are Benjamin Smith and Pippa Bartolotti. 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.
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. 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. 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".
The Wales Green Party has always had its own spokesperson (now referred to as leader). Jake Griffiths became leader in 2009. Pippa Bartolotti was elected to succeed him in 2011. Followed by Alice Hooker-Stroud. Anthony Slaughter became deputy leader in 2014.
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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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