Monday, 28 November 2011

Boom or bust? Championing a revitalised Green Party Executive

One of the savviest investments by the Green Party in nurturing it's democratic health over the last couple of years has been to invest in the Member's Website. As I wrote earlier in the year, using this private space to lay out all potential policy motions to our conference has allowed members to more easily input into honing and redrafting these so that they are smarter and more likely to be passed at conference. Whilst the Member's Website is still finding it's audience (I'd encourage all members to visit and subscribe to the LGBTIQ Greens section!), it has been heartening to see policy motions each receiving a solid audience and in some case, forensic analysis that can only improve the quality of debate within the party.

Amongst the usual diverse mix of policy and campaign motions, what has struck me has been the push for new roles for the Green Party Executive (GPEX). Alongside the agreement at last party conference that the Welsh Leader become a member of GPEX, both the Young Greens and Green Party Trade Union group have called for representation on this body. This does lead me to wonder whether members feel there is an absence of support for these sections of the party. Are these motions a reflection that GPEX is failing to champion the priorities of parts of the membership? Could there be lessons for our policy-making process, that people feel unable to effect change without being "in the room" at the Executive level?

Some experienced activists are already warning against inflating the membership of GPEX further, arguing that it makes it harder to manage the party. Whilst I'm still undecided on how I feel about these motions, I do wonder whether this would necessarily be so problematic: additional members of GPEX could increase accountability across a wider range of areas, improve access to ordinary members into the decison-making process and could ensure that roles are more manageable in size for those people interested in serving the party. Presenting a plurality of viewpoints and ideas in these debates, when chaired effectively, could produce more a more participatory organisation.

Either way, with a consistent inability to fill all the roles on GPEX or to contest the majority of positions sufficiently, shouldn't we begin with reforming those positions we currently have to ensure they are fit for purpose, attractive to a greater number of serious candidates and are supported sufficiently to enable hard-working officers deliver on their responsibilities?

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Big Green Leap Forward: Welcoming submissions from guest writers

If the last few months of campaigning amongst the membership have taught me anything, it is that there are more amazing and talented people in the Green Party than ever before. It really does feel that with the substantial leap in members over the last couple of years, a renewed sense of purpose and urgency has transformed the party’s outlook.

As regular readers know, one of the original aims for this blog was to provide space to talk about how we can construct a modern Green Party, one that could be capable of speaking to the whole electorate. I hope in some ways it has been successful in putting issues on the agenda and reflecting an optimistic vision in how we can broaden public interest in our campaigning. With a substantial (and heartening) expansion in readership since it began, there is an obvious appetite for this type of analysis.

Would you be interested in writing a piece for the blog over the next few weeks? I’m looking for members of the Green Party, or critical friends, who want to put forward ideas for how we can make the next leap forward in public profile and membership numbers. How can we become a mass membership party and yet still retain our core values of participation and inclusion? Where should our limited resources be placed to make most impact? How do we nurture the next generation of Green leaders?

If you’re interested in submitting an article for the blog, please drop me a line ( to discuss your ideas for a post and I’ll be happy to work with you to bring your ideas to a wider audience.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Launching the LGBTIQ Greens strategy for 2011-2012

Over the last couple of months, the Committee for the LGBTIQ Greens group has been working on a strategic plan for the coming year. I thought it would be useful to share our thinking behind some of the key areas we will be focussing our attention upon. For members of the Green Party, the full summary of activities can be found on our Member's Website.

To ensure the group is sustainable for the longer term, we thought it important to create stronger foundations for the group to build upon over the coming years. This means drafting and ratifying a constitution for the group that clearly outlines our aims and objectives, roles and responsibilities for elected officers, as well as making the their elections much more democratic and transparent.

We also realised that many of the activities we hope to undertake this year will require financial resources, so will work upon a method by which we can start modest fundraising efforts to build our capacity. This will occur alongside a refreshing of our external appearance and ensuring regular practical resources are available for members nationally to access and use in their local campaign work.

Communications & increasing our reach
We were also keen to make the best use of the communication avenues available within the Green Party to get our message and activities out to the greatest audience. We have set ourselves firm targets on expanding the number of people in contact with the LGBTIQ Greens, be that through our section on the Member's Website, via our website, our Twitter or Facebook feeds or through our mailing list. This will be coupled with more consistent communication about our achievements with members, so members can hold us to account and hopefully are inspired to contribute their energies too.

Externally, we are aiming to look at procedures around Press Work, to ensure that we are publishing material reflective of collective views, of high quality and working in partnership with other external communications stakeholders within the national party to reach the right audiences. Likewise, we are aiming to involve many more people in spotting news opportunities across England and Wales and sharing responsibility for this element of our work.

Policy & campaigning
Similarly, we are aiming to examine the policy-making process for LGBTIQ Greens, to ensure it is accessible and inclusive to the concerns of ordinary members, especially as we will need to examine our manifesto for the European elections within the next few months.

More broadly, we felt it was essential that LGBTIQ Greens plays a greater role within our communities, both as partners and leaders. To that end, we will work to build ongoing partnerships with some LGBTIQ community and campaign organisations in the coming months, especially around areas such as transgender rights that have traditionally been less well-served.

Support and Regional Focus
At the LGBTIQ Greens AGM in September, one of the striking things that I heard was the appetite for ordinary LGBTIQ members to feel part of the Green Party, but many reported that this wasn't always easy in local parties where they felt in a minority.

To begin addressing this, we have decided to try and organise a number of regional events, so as many members as possible have the opportunity to engage with other LGBTIQ individuals in a supportive environment. If anybody want to come forward and work with us to organise other events in their local area, we would love to hear from you. In the longer term, we want to look into the possibility of a mentorship and leadership programme to nurture the next generation of LGBTIQ activists and elected representatives.

If you have any feedback or questions around the strategic plan, please don't hesitate to contact me directly to discuss further. Likewise, if you would like to contribute any time or expertise to any of the activities, each of the Officers responsible would be keen to hear from you.