Conference would not be conference in the Green Party (of England and Wales GPEW) these days, without an establishment motion attacking Brexit, preferably with as little debate as possible.
If you were looking for policy initiatives at the 2017 Autumn conference this week, you would have been disappointed. Interminable debate on internal structures, but no debate on the situation in Catalonia or North Korea. Indeed emergency debates, including a motion by me criticising the failure of the EU to sanction Spain over its contravention of the European charter of human rights in Catalonia, were hidden away on the BACK of the notice board, so few received the minimum 50 signatures.
The establishment did manage to get a new device called a "Late Motion" into the final agenda, titled "Campaigning against the EU repeal bill".
A confused motion, it simultaneously called on GPEW to oppose, suspend and amend the EU repeal bill. The EU Repeal Bill does two things. Its primary objective is to transcribe EU law into UK law. Its secondary objective is for the Tories to enact the "Henry VIII" proposals to use fast track statutory instruments, so that Tory ministers can make all the decisions on Brexit.
I attended the workshop on the motion and helped to convince the meeting to propose an amendment deleting the call for a campaign to oppose the bill, but keeping the call to amend the bill to take away the Tories' power grab.
But when would this motion be discussed? No one knew. Standing Orders committee told me that it was "unlikely to be called". The final day of the conference (Tuesday) was sparsely attended compared to the weekend. The final business of the day was a plenary session mainly looking at "A" motions (reports from committees): as dull as ditchwater: people drifted off to catch trains. The plenary session was due to end at 3.45 pm. At 3.40 pm, the chair of the meeting suddenly announced that the "Late Motion" would be discussed. Luckily there were enough people in the room to propose the agreed amendments, except for one.
So it was down to me to propose the final amendment to the final paragraph to replace "oppose" with the word "amend" :
"Conference instructs the GPEX campaigns coordinator to develop a campaign in conjunction with the Party's parliamentarians to "oppose" the EU Repeal Bill".
ALL the amendments were passed. So conference has spoken. Our "parliamentarians" are instructed NOT to oppose the EU Repeal Bill, but to "amend" it to remove the "Henry VIII" powers. If our "parliamentarians" do oppose the bill, then they will be thwarting the will of conference.
If you were at the Green Party conference, you would have witnessed a further resurgence of "Project Fear" now being resurrected by EU vested interests. In this case it was a speech by Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, who outlined a dystopian future for the UK after Brexit without providing a shred of evidence for her predictions. (See her website for the speech made on Sunday 8th October 2017).
So, I would like to propose a different view of the UK in the year 2030, an alternative to the doom and gloom predicted by Molly, using the same examples she used, but with a completely different outcome. (This article already posted on Facebook).
The Japanese companies that provided nearly a million jobs since the Tories trashed our manufacturing sector in the 1980s, embraced with open arms the opportunity to work with the National Investment Bank and help manufacture goods and services in the UK after Brexit, rather than import them from low wage economies. Indeed, the "site here to sell here" policy introduced by the Progressive Coalition Government (elected by proportional representation) has meant that the majority of the new electric vehicles sold in the UK are now manufactured in the UK, rather than imported and the number of British manufacturers, particularly of components for renewable energy, has increased. (Vast savings also made by the cancelling of the foreign owned Hinkley Point nuclear power station and state investment in offshore wind farms and tidal barrages).
Led by Government owned banks, like RBS and the National Investment Bank, the expertise of the City of London has ensured that banking employment has increased, again with the help of the "site here to sell here" policy which helped to control and localise finance and abolished the right of commercial banks to create artificial debt (positive money). In addition, the aggressive anti-tax avoidance policies introduced after Brexit has outlawed institutions based in countries that actively encouraged tax avoidance like Luxembourg and Ireland and led to a big increase in tax revenues; (also boosted by the introduction of the Robin Hood tax on unnecessary financial transactions across Europe).
As environmentalist Colin Hines described in his book "Progressive Protectionism - taking back control", the UK has re-introduced tariffs, quotas and capital controls, to curb the power of big business to play countries off against each other and threaten to relocate unless the UK bends the knee to open borders and global competition. Similar tactics to those used by China to become the largest manufacturer of goods in the world.
Naturally, leaving the EU as well as the democratisation of the World Trade Organisation (the WTO) has meant that economic growth is no longer the driving force of the UK, but instead a focus on improving the quality of life of its citizens. So free trade deals, like TTIP, like CETA and indeed like the EU single market, are no longer considered necessary.
A Government subsidy to facilitate a switch to more organic vegetable production in the UK, as well as the ability, now that the UK has left the EU, to support agriculture in the developing countries of Africa, has left the UK awash with fresh, healthy vegetables and fruits. Similarly a big increase in animal welfare legislation, banning the factory farming methods so prevalent in the EU as well as banning the use or import of meat adulterated with unnecessary hormones and antibiotics, has led to a big increase in the quality of meat production.
New localism policies have improved prospects for local firms, such as local dairy farms producing milk under higher welfare standards. As a result the health of the nation has never been higher, especially after the big increase in spending on the NHS, paid for in part by the savings made in not having to pay contributions to the EU budget. (There is still debate as to how much that exactly was!)
The un-enforced environmental health standards of the EU, such as for air quality, have been replaced by legally binding UK environmental standards and a big increase in jobs at the Health and Safety Executive.
The border problem between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland was quickly solved by a unification referendum and the abolition of the border, as Ireland was re-united at last. Indeed relations with all European countries has improved as the UK has stopped stealing staff trained in other countries and instead vastly increased its own investment in training, particularly of doctors, nurses and vocational jobs. With the abolition of tuition fees, universities have once again become centres of learning and not just businesses.
So, no Molly, Brexit does not necessarily mean the Tories continuing in power for the next 13 years. Indeed, we can and should replace the unpatriotic Tories, (whose only concern is to help their foreign paymasters in big business) with a patriotic Government that uses Brexit to put the UK, and its people, first.
Leslie Rowe October 2017
There is only one message worth sending today: make sure you vote tomorrow (preferably Green, but tactically if you need to), encourage all your friends and family to vote and please, for the sake of the NHS and the environment, please don't vote Tory!
Can I welcome our new members and apologise for the wait: I have been travelling in Europe!
This election continues to be a difficult one for Green Leavers. For those of you tempted to vote for the Tories, purely on their promise to go for a hard Brexit, can I suggest two things?
First, when have the Tories ever kept their promises?
Second, you will have noted that Theresa May is too scared to debate with Jeremy Corbyn and Caroline Lucas in public. How is she going to be fare against Machon and Merkel? For all his bluster, Corbyn is at heart a Euro-sceptic. I trust Keir Starmer over Boris to negotiate details, anytime. And where will the Tories leave the environment, if they win? Follow Trump out of the Paris agreement?
I think the case for voting for Green values at this election is overwhelming, as is the case for tactical voting, because of our undemocratic electoral system. But hey, who am I to say? What do you think? Online debate?
Finally, whatever you do, ensure you vote and vote for what YOU believe in. And get the young folk in particular to get off their backsides and vote. Remind them that people died for their right to vote.
Yours in solidarity,
Treasurer Green Leaves
This is a difficult general election for Green Leavers. On the one hand the horror of another Tory administration, who will no doubt make it a priority to complete their privatisation of the NHS and continue to bankrupt our country, both financially and morally.
On the other hand, A Green Party leadership who are blinded by the false promises of a failing EU.
You will all be making individual choices locally on who to support, based on your local priorities and the corrupt first past the post voting system. The important point is to be active and continue fighting for Green principles and a sustainable economy. Please share your thoughts and actions, so that we can chart the future for Green Leaves after the general election.
At present, I am paying for maintaining this Green Leaves site, but in the longer term we need to decide whether to have a membership fee or fundraising to put Green Leaves on a more permanent footing.
Finally, if you want to keep up with the Brexit negotiations and take part in the poorly publicised public consultations, please go here:
Thanks again for your support and bravery during a difficult time for all Green Leavers. Solidarity and developing our message are important, so please tell us what you are doing for the elections (both local and national) and give us your vision for the future.
I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to Leslie Rowe for the huge work he did representing our group's views in this most influential green forum. There were other greens there, so thanks to you also, Paul Sousek and Adrian Cruden.
Despite your efforts, things have not progressed. I want to use this opportunity to argue that this conference has left the Remainers even stronger in the Green Party (GP) than before. Now the GP is campaigning for a second referendum. Now it is committed to asking for the UK to remain in the EU single market (which would of course require us to observe all Brussels' laws). Now the GP labelling those who support Brexit as extreme.
Jonathan Bartley (Co Leader) has recently commentated '... But friends there are plenty who have lost their way. So called progressives giving in to far right populism...'
2.55 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIbMHLqgodc
Amelia Womack (Deputy leader) is maintaining things about Leave voters which are not true '.... it is an Extreme Brexit because ... nobody voted for this type of Brexit, for taking us out of the single market, taking us out of the customs union...'
0.30 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uzXs_k5sFE
Worse, now the GP leadership is encouraging tactical voting on its agenda. Bartley is particularly pleased to point out the critical importance of the newly-endorsed Green Party 'Progressive Alliance' policy. Although recently spun as a bid for electoral reform, the policy had its origins in the immediate reaction to the Brexit referendum result. Some Remainers are convinced they can overturn the referendum last June by winning the next General Election through somehow adding together LD, SNP, PC, Lab and Green voters. It appears that the GP is preparing to join in, by volunteering to stand down in constituencies where a Remainer Lab or LD candidate can overturn a Leave - supporting Tory. The dry-run of the Progressive Alliance policy was when the GP stood down to assist Lib Dems in Richmond beat the Eurosceptic tory rebel Zac Goldsmith at a recent parliamentary byelection. Extreme remainers, writing openly in the European Newspaper, hope to defeat through similar parliamentary electoral manipulation what they failed to defeat in a referendum.
The GP is prepared to carelessly associate the Leave case, and the millions who voted for it, with the words 'extreme', 'far-right' and 'fascist'. Worse it is even prepared to distance itself from its own voters (particularly those who supported Leave) by not even offering candidates.
This is serious stuff.
Dear Green Leavers,
Returned from the Green Party conference last night (Sunday). First of all apologies to Paul and any others who wanted to meet up at the conference. I'm afraid that because of e-mail problems I did not see the request for a meeting you sent on the Friday.
We were unable to get a sponsor for a table, but I did manage to distribute several hundred leaflets around the Liverpool venue and got some favourable responses to it. Inevitably, I printed far too many leaflets, so if you would like some, please send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Please do look out for Facebook, twitter and e-mails messages of support and please reply to them if you can!
As mentioned we had a couple of amendments tabled to motion E01 "Post EU Referendum Priorities". These were discussed late on Friday afternoon and then again on April Fools' day. Our amendment to delete the whole paragraph referring to re-joining the single market, (which had already been shortened by SOC to remove "rhetoric") was mysteriously preceded by a new amendment to remove just the reference to the single market. Mysterious, in that it was tabled by the person who had tabled the motion, remainer Amelia Womack!
The Machiavellian plot was revealed when Amelia asked the conference not to vote for her own amendment and it had the effect that the arguments on the single market would have to be made to her amendment and not ours.
However, the plot almost back-fired. I did manage to speak on the Womack amendment, even though only a couple of speeches for each side had been allowed and the policy development committee kept telling us we had to pass this motion, or otherwise the Green Party would be without a Brexit strategy!
When it came to the vote it was so close, they had to have an official count. There were 96 votes in favour of removing "remaining in the single market" as part of the Brexit strategy and 113 against.
This is where I need to apologise to you, Green Leavers. It was not until I arrived at conference that I realised that I could have collected proxy votes from members not attending. If only I had collected 18 proxy votes!!!!
Our second amendment was to delete the paragraph that suggested that the final Brexit agreement should be subject to a vote in Parliament and a second referendum. Unfortunately fatigue had overwhelmed conference by this time and so it was defeated with little debate.
There were a number of speakers who agreed with our line, including a plumber (I think) from Manchester who made an excellent speech outlining the difficulties for established trades people being under cut on price. The vitriol and intolerance I heard from certain Green Party members in response was deeply concerning.
The motion was passed in the end, but I think we made our mark and I believe our leaflet (which was on every table in the canteen on every day) influenced Caroline in her leader's speech when she admitted that some Greens had voted to Leave the EU.
The conference was a joint congress with the European Greens and the Global Greens. It was the Global Greens conference that, I believe, brought forward the most exciting debates; reporting on such things as political oppression in places as diverse as Belarus, Burundi and Venezuela. The Green Presidential candidate for Rwanda spoke to us, calmly explaining how his deputy had been beheaded and how likely it was that he would end his presidential campaign in jail! The outward emphasis of the Global Greens chimed very well with the world view taken by Green Leavers, so I recommend you look at the website for the Global Greens! https://www.globalgreens.org/
My overall impression was that more and more Greens are accepting Brexit and wanting us to move on. Unfortunately this is not the view of the leadership. However, may I commend the report "Brexit and Trade: moving from Globalisation to Self Reliance" by Victor Anderson and Rupert Read. Sponsored by Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West and Gibraltar, it begins to recognise some of the possibilities after Brexit for localism and some of the short comings of being in the EU. http://mollymep.org.uk/2017/03/28/brexit-trade/
Keep fighting, we are making a difference!
Green Leaves Treasurer
The result of the request for thoughts on what triggering Article 50 means to Green Leaves supporters, please go to here:
Please feel free to share on facebook, twitter etc..
Dear Green Leavers,
There is a meeting tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday) if you are in London. It appears to be a pro-EU meeting for Greens paid for the European Parliament, but it might be fun to put all the positive aspects of Brexit to them. Apologies for the short notice (and to the whole of the UK outside London), we have only just heard about it. You can find the details here:
Our Green Party conference amendment appears to be back on the agenda! It is amendment 3 to the motion E01 on post EU referendum priorities. As usual at GP conferences, it is unclear as to when the motion will be debated. However, my reading of the agenda suggests that the first opportunity for debate will be on Friday 31/3/17 at the workshop in room 11c from 11.20 to 11.55.
The voting session on motions in sections C and E starts at 16.30 in room 3 and goes on until 18.00 on the Friday. However, there is no guarantee that motion E01 will be voted on at that session, because we do not yet know in what order the motions will be put! (It is subject to an online vote).
There is a further session at the same time and in the same room on Saturday for more section E motions to be put, so motion E01 may happen then....?
All remaining (no pun intended) motions will be put on the Sunday at 11.00 a.m.
I will be speaking to our amendment at conference and invite any other Green Party members to put in a card to speak on this amendment, other interesting amendments and the motion as a whole. We will have lots of copies of our leaflet to distribute. Unfortunately Change Britain will not be having a stall, so I have lots of spare copies available if anyone would like some posted to them. If anyone would like to make a contribution to help cover the cost of printing and posting, please do let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't forget your videos for the files!
Yours in celebration of Article 50.
Well after jumping through all the hoops needed under the convoluted GP rules to propose an amendment to the pro-single market motion E01 Post EU Referendum priorities, Standing Orders Committee (SOC) has ruled part of our amendment 3 out of order as "rhetoric".
SOC have not stated which part they deem "rhetoric", what standing order allows them to do that or attempted any consultation with the proposers of the amendment before making the ruling.
This blatant attack on free speech at the conference does not bode well for democracy within the Green Party. It would help if as many of us could go to conference to express our concerns.
Meanwhile, we would still like as many of you as possible to express what the triggering of article 50 means to you, in the form of a short video uploaded to the files section of the GreenLeaves Group Spaces. Do send a reply if you have any difficulties.
The leaflet (which can be found attached) is being printed for GPEW conference. Would love to know how many of you are going besides me? Do drop me a line, even if just for one day. Remember ther will be Greens from all over the world there.
Sorry for the avalanche of e-mails! This one is just to remind you that we are looking for uploads of videos of YOU telling us, in one sentence, what the triggering of Article 50 means to you? We would like to get as many as possible by the weekend, so that we are ready for both the triggering and the Green Party spring conference.
To do this go to:
and click on the upload link to upload your video.
If you have any problems, please e-mail email@example.com
I have already uploaded mine, so don't be embarrassed; you won't look as bad as the bearded hippy!
And if you have any more comments or suggestions on the proposed leaflet, then do please let me know ASAP.
We have had a few ideas for the leaflet, which are encapsulated below. Your comments are welcome on this first rough draft:
Green Leaves logo
Strapline: "Out for GooD"
Green Leaves Mission Statement:
We voted Leave in the EU referendum for a democratic, equal and sustainable society where our communities and our environment can flourish.
We now have the opportunity to bring this about by envisioning and helping to create a green, sustainable and caring future for our country.
A harsher, narrower life post-Brexit is not inevitable. By Greens coming together, respecting and accepting the result of the referendum, we can ensure that our voices are heard.
The question is now “What kind of Brexit do you want?”
A Tory Brexit with damaging free trade deals that would weaken our current environmental standards, reduce protection for workers and encourage no-restraints casino banking, support burning more fossil fuels but not renewable energy, with a failing privatised NHS and schools, and self-inflicted shortages of skills due to a lack of training opportunities in the UK.
A Green Brexit that protects and enhances all our current standards, that prioritises sustainability in everything by localising food, energy, manufacturing and democracy, that supports our services and ensures that taxes are paid fairly by all.
Which one we get depends on You.
The UK having addressed the democratic deficit in the EU, our next priority should be to address the democratic deficit in the UK. We should call for immediate discussions on electoral reform to give the people of the UK a more representative voting system.
To avoid dangerous climate change, we should adopt the de-growth strategy suggested after the 2013 climate change talks in Warsaw.
Will you help formulate these and other policies necessary to achieve a Green Brexit?
Will you join Green Leaves to help in this effort?
If this is of interest to you and you would like to share your views for a greener future post-Brexit and how we can achieve this, contact Green Leaves now.
ps For non Green Party members, you can register for conference at the Green Party website https://greenparty.org.uk/conference and follow the links to register and :
If you are not a member and wish to register please click here.
pps I have drafted a proposal for VAT reform after Brexit, which you can find at http://leslierowe.blogspot.co.uk/
I would welcome your comments.
As mentioned in the minutes of Sunday's meeting if you go to:
you will see a folder marked "Ideas for a Mission Statement" to which you can log in and upload a file to put forward your ideas for what Green Leaves should be doing now to influence Brexit.
Let us know if you have any problems. We really would like as many ideas as possible by the 3rd March, so that they can go into a pamphlet for conference.
If you are a member of the Green Party (England & Wales) then you can vote for motion E10 (post EU referendum priorities) to be top of the priority list for debate at the Spring conference at the end of March (in section E, you have to go through sections C & D first). Log into the GP website to find the voting form. You do not need to be attending conference to vote.
There was very little debate on the emergency motion that committed the Green Party to the Remain camp in 2015, so now is our opportunity to debate this important issue.
Please also look at the amendment (E10 E906 (iii)) I proposed to the motion, which is getting alot of comment and support.
Finally, do please come along to the meeting tomorrow Sunday (26th), if you can possibly manage it. It's at 12 noon at the pub Penderel's Oak, J.D. Wetherspoon, High Holborn, London WC1V 7HP. Look out for Mark Hill and his computer!
We want to encourage as many members as possible to attend this event (Penderel's Oak, J.D. Wetherspoon, High Holborn, London WC1V 7HP), especially if you live close by. However, we recognise that some of us live many miles from London (I live in North Yorkshire) and may be unable to attend in person.
However, you may want to attend via Skype? If you do, then please send an invitation to connect to my Skype address "LeslieARowe" and we will try our best to connect you. My train schedule means that I personally will be at least 20 minutes late, so if you are going to the meeting and can take a Skype device with you (phone, tablet etc), perhaps you would consider hosting a connection. Assuming we can get Wifi!
Either way, do send an invitation to connect to "LeslieARowe" and let me know if you want to attend via Skype or are willing to host a Skype connection at the meeting?
Finally, if you have any experience of group connections on Skype, I would welcome any suggestions!