18 Sep 2011

I've covered a bit of the Green Party conference on this blog but wanted to cover more on some of the motions passed. Here are a few I've picked out that I haven't covered elsewhere:

Legal Aid and Justice for All Motion. The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill is at the Committee Stages of the Commons. If passed, it will remove access to advice for 650,000 people a year in employment law, welfare benefits, housing, debt, immigration, etc. In light of this, Conference calls on the Green Party Campaigns Committee to support the "Justice for All" campaign which campaigns for everyone, no matter what their financial means to be treated fairly under the law and for free legal advice.

This is a key issue I've covered before - see here.

Robin Hood Tax Motion. Conference welcomes the endorsement of a Robin Hood Tax by Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy and calls on the UK Government to follow the lead of France and Germany in regulating speculation on international financial markets and generating the revenue needed to fund public investment. Conference calls on Green Party Parliamentarians to raise this with the UK Government in advance of the G20 meeting in November at Cannes.

See previous blogs here.

Nuclear Waste Disposal Motion. We call on policy committee to develop a policy on legacy high and intermediate level radioactive waste in time for Spring Conference 2012. The policy to be based on best environmental practice, not political expediency We also call on Conference to support Allerdale and Copeland Green Party and other local groups, including West Cumbria Friends of the Earth, Radiation Free Lakeland, and CORE in their work to oppose the deep geological disposal plans and to call for alternative disposal methods to be revisited. In particular lobbying local authorities not to proceed to the next stage of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) process (January 2012), at which stage the right of withdrawal would be severely compromised.

NHS Listening Exercise Motion. The Green Party reaffirms its commitment to a fully publicly funded NHS and its opposition to the Health and Social Care Bill, deplores the fact that the Conservative / Liberal Democrat government ‘listening exercise’ has (unsurprisingly) proved to be a sham, and demands that the Government abandon forthwith in its entirety this Bill which, if passed, will lead to the marketisation and privatisation of the NHS, having no lesser ultimate consequence than the complete destruction of our National Health Service. Conference calls on GPEx to make active campaigning against this Bill a priority.

See more NHS here.

Emergency Motion on National Planning Policy Framework. Conference condemns the Coalition Government's proposed National Planning Policy Framework. The Green Party believes a function of the planning system is to protect people and the environment not to generate unsustainable economic growth. The abolition of targets for building on brownfield land, the lack of any understanding of sustainability coupled with a presumption in favour of development will make it a developers' charter. Conference calls on elected Greens at all  levels of government to campaign vigorously against the NPPF and for the Green Party as a whole to campaign against these proposals to ensure we protect our communities, countryside and quality of life from unrestrained development.

I've noted concerns before. Both local Parishes are together looking at Neighbourhood Plans on 22nd - I can't be there as it is Full Council but have written some notes including: "Many residents locally have expressed enthusiasm for drafting our own Neighbourhood Plans in order to shape our communities. However I am getting a lot of concerns expressed when they learn that any such plan can only commission development, not prevent it. NPPF's stated "presumption in favour" of development contradicts the  government's claims to be empowering communities through its 'Localism' agenda. This is not what most people understood 'Localism' to be about - at the moment the contradictions are stark and deeply disappointing. I do hope there will be changes when the bill is finally written. This is not to say that I am not supportive of plans - only raising a concern that needs very careful consideration."

Emergency Motion on the English Riots. Conference is appalled at the outbreak of violence, looting, arson and murder that took place in English cities in August. The riots were a manifestation of anger that has deep roots and obvious triggers. The roots include inequality, loss of social cohesion, cuts in local public services, unemployment, increasing poverty, resentment against the police, consumerism and gang culture. The triggers were the Police’s killing of Mark Duggan and their exceptionally inept handling of its aftermath. To address these problems we advocate immediate action to reverse the cuts in public services, increase support for disadvantaged communities and provide a 100% earnings disregard for work of local benefit. In punishing rioters there should be more use of restorative justice and community payback orders. There must also be an independent inquiry into the death of Mark Duggan and its aftermath. These measures, however, will not deal with the roots of the problem. We call for a public inquiry into the deeper causes of social breakdown which lie as much in the excesses of the powerful as in the conditions of the powerless. This inquiry should seek to create a consensus for remedial actions which need to be as radical as those that created the welfare state 60 years ago. Conference calls upon our elected representatives put forward these measures at every relevant opportunity.

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