Ledbury Greens were super-busy in the run-up to the 23 June referendum, with stalls and leafletting every weekend and some weekday evenings too – often working in cross-party partnership with other Remain campaigners. After the bitter disappointment of the narrow victory for Leave, we’ve had a bit of a rest over the summer, but we’re back with a bang now with a new monthly ‘Film on the Farm’ night. The plan is to combine food, entertainment, and discussion in a friendly social format. Hope you can join us!
Bromyard Greens have been conducting a town survey about traffic issues, and have produced a report to be presented to the town and County Councils, calling for measures to reduce traffic dangers and increase safety in the town.
Infofest at the Colleges in Hereford gave us an opportunity to run a stall at which we encouraged students to register to vote and to start thinking about politics and what the Green Party stands for. About a dozen were interested enough to leave their contact details and we will be following up with them to see if they can be persuaded to build a greater Young Greens presence in the county.
This year’s Autumn Conference was held in our region, at the University of Birmingham. It was one of the biggest conferences ever, with about 1300 members attending. There was a big buzz around the election of the new Leaders, Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley, who stood as a job-share and won a resounding 85% of the vote. Amelia Womack was re-elected Deputy Leader, and the party said a warm ‘thank you’ to Natalie Bennett, who stood down after 4 years of service during which the Green Party has grown four-fold.
Conference has two purposes really: to make policy, and to enable activists to network, discuss issues, and get training. There’s always lots going on!
On the policy-making side, motions (and amendments) can be proposed by any member, so it’s a very democratic process. (Of course, motions have got a much better chance of being passed if they’ve been thoroughly researched and consulted on). Just to give you a flavour of the debate, here are the first few motions on the agenda:
- Opposition to the Conservatives’ Trade Union Act
- Amending our Terrorism Policy
- Cost and timescale for nuclear power
- Recognising Trans identities
- Statutory right of access to workplaces for Trade Unions
- Updating our policy on unpaid carers
- Animal welfare in food processing
- House of Lords Reform
Conference also makes decisions about the internal running of the party, as well as being where elections are held for a wide range of committees.
In terms of sessions for activists, there were fringe meetings on a wide range of topics (e.g. Universal Basic Income, divestment from fossil fuels, Green Party messaging strategy); training sessions (e.g. communications, running meetings people want to come to, selecting and supporting candidates) and a couple of big panel discussions (‘Progressive Alliances – the case for cross-party working’ and ‘Brexit – what now?’). I even ran a tour of the Zero Carbon House (zch.org.uk)!
Altogether it was a great weekend – really energising and inspiring. If you’ve never been to a Green Party Conference, I really do encourage you to. In fact, the Spring 2017 conference in Liverpool (30 March – 2 April 2017) is going to be quite extraordinary, as we’re combining it with a Global Greens congress (held once every 5 years), a European Green Party Congress, and a Young Greens conference. You can find out a bit more here. Put the dates in your diary now – see you there!
Ellie Chowns, North Herefordshire Green Party
We are sad to report the death of a great Green pioneer – Diana Merry of Ledbury – one of the ‘founding mothers’ of the Green Party in our area.
Diana, who died aged 96, was resident at a nursing home with a good view of her former home Knapp House at Tunnel Lane, Ledbury, now home to her daughter Dilys and her family. In Diana’s time the house and its lovely garden was often the venue for enjoyable fundraising events for the Ecology Party, subsequently the Green Party. Diana helped promote the Greens at every opportunity. She could always be counted upon to turn up and support local, parliamentary and European Green candidates at local walk-abouts and events, and was a regular at party conferences.
Green Party county councillor Felicity Norman of Leominster, former parliamentary and European candidate, paid tribute at Diana’s funeral at Humber Woodland of Remembrance on August 2nd “I was very fond of Diana, who was great fun to be with,” said Felicity. “She was so wonderfully supportive through many elections, turning out to help with campaigning until quite recently. She was utterly consistent in her support for the party, sharing its principles and values over many years.”