9 Sep 2008

Greens return from London conference

I missed the Green party's London Autumn Conference completely - work and another commitment meant I didn't join the 500 plus Green party members this last weekend - Natalie Bennett, the Green Party Internal Communications Coordinator, has however sent a very useful summary which I will add to from other emails I've received - see also Glos Green news release here re the call for a Green New Deal.

First up after all the postal votes were counted in the election for the first ever Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas (pictured) was overwhelmingly elected with Adrian Ramsay being elected as deputy leader. Caroline delivered the leader's speech on Saturday - I've seen it on the BBC website where they have a video (see here and interview with Peter Sissons here) - great stuff and very worth a watch - she called for a windfall tax on energy profits to kickstart a "Green New Deal" to help people deal with the credit crunch and rising fuel prices - if you follow the link to the Green New Deal you'll also see the new-look Green party website unveiled at conference.

Yesterday Adrian also had a large audience for his inaugural speech, which launched an attack on privatisation and patient charging in the health service. He challenged Charles Clarke, his opponent in the seat of Norwich South, who is vocally pro-privatisation, to fight the election on public services - Greens are now the official opposition in Norwich and growing support - Adrian's speech will be on the national website soon.

Some other media coverage:
Independent: http://tinyurl.com/5awcgm
Press Association: http://tinyurl.com/6x4wrp
Norwich Evening News: http://tinyurl.com/5r8egr

And what of policy?
Conference considered 21 policy motions with apparently much lively debate - among those passed were:
* Support for the right of trade unions to establish workplace environmental representatives (a cause being supported by the TUC and many unions).
* A call for an immediate end to the British opt-out of the European Working Time Directive, and for the national minimum wage to be increased to be in line with the Council of Europe Decency Threshold (60% of net national earnings). This would currently mean a minimum of £8.17 per hour.
* A "right to rent" policy so that homeowners unable to meet mortgage payments and under threat of repossession could transfer ownership of the home, at less than market value, to the council, and then remain in the home as council tenants.
* Policy was clarified to make it clear that the party is in favour of the universal provision of a free lunch in all state schools in England and Wales on every school day.
* A call for a plan to licence and purchase the Afghan opium crop, to be processed into morphine and heroin for free or low-cost distribution in developing countries for the use of pain relief in palliative care and for other medically approved purposes.
* A call for building regulations to be tightened, and additional training of architects and builders arranged, so that new buildings, extensions or conversions meet tougher standards than those now applicable, and so that all new dwellings are zero-carbon by 2012.
* A call for a new contract between service personnel and the state promising decent living standards to those injured, and to the dependants of those killed, while asking them to sign a pledge to follow international law, and to disobey any order requiring them to fire on unarmed civilians.
* A new culture policy was also adopted.

Plus there were Emergency Motions:
* A call for Gurkhas and their families to be given fast track eligibility for either the right to remain or citizenship in the UK, given their exceptional service..
* A call for Westminster MPs, who have control over the issue, to grant the same access to abortion in Northern Ireland (where it is now almost totally banned) as is available to women in England, Scotland and Wales.
* A call for a full enquiry into the problems with policing the Climate Camp at Kingsnorth.
* A call for extensive highly protected marine reserves around the coast of Britain to cover 30% of UK waters to 200 nautical miles by 2015.
* Condemning plans by the Home Office to launch a central database of all so-called "communications data" as a violation of civil liberties.

And blogs?
Well there is now a new Green Home group blog which was formally launched at conference. You can find the combined efforts of 68 Green Party bloggers at:
You'll also find many lively reports from conference at the Red Pepper-hosted Green Despatches:

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