Exclusive Q&A with Wales Green Party leader and deputy leader candidates
Bright Green asked the candidates for the Wales Green Party leader and deputy leader elections 14 simple questions. Here’s what they had to say.
- Standing for: Leader, deputy leader
- Local Party: Montgomeryshire/Sir Drefaldwyn
- Green Party experience: Currently lead list candidate for Mid and West Wales in the Welsh Assembly elections next year; potential Science and Technology spokesperson for GPEW.
- Other experience: Working with and supporting local campaign groups (Global Justice Now), research and communications on Zero Carbon Britain (Centre for Alternative Technology), co-director (This is Rubbish), Wales representative (Young Friends of the Earth), Masters’ in Earth System (aka climate) Science and Physics.
- Standing for: Deputy leader
- Local party: Cardiff and the Vale
- Green Party experience: Currently Campaigns Officer for Wales Green Party.
- Other experience: Spent eight years working for the National Union of Students, three of those as Director for Wales; currently Assistant Director at theOpen University in Wales.
- Standing for: Leader
- Local party: Cardiff and the Vale
- Green Party experience: Wales Green Party deputy leader 2014-2015; Campaigns Coordinator for Cardiff and the Vale Green Party; twice parliamentary candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth; sat on 2014-15 GPEW Manifesto Working Group and contributed section on Wales for general election manifesto; attended 2015 GPEX strategy weekend as WGP rep.
- Other experience: Many years involvement with local community environmental organisation Gwyrddio Penarth Greening (based on the Transition Towns model), including experience as chair for 3 years; established local 20’s Plenty campaign; regular involvement in Compass Cymru; actively engaged with local anti Bedroom Tax and fracking campaigns.
Personal questions, political vision
- When did you join the Greens and why?
Hannah: I joined as part of the surge, I felt lost politically and especially disillusioned by Labour. Joining the Greens restored my optimism in politics, it felt wonderful.
Anthony: I joined in 2009. Approaching the 2010 election I wanted to be part of a party with a long-term vision and offering a real alternative.
Alice: I joined just over a year ago because alternative politics suddenly got a voice. It was really exciting!
- What would make you join a different political party?
Anthony: I couldn’t contemplate joining any of the other parties in their current state.
Alice: Internal party rebellion that made them talk the same talk and walk the same walk as the Green Party.
Hannah: It’s unlikely. Fighting for a sustainable, fair world is something other parties give lip service too, but it’s in the DNA of the Green Party.
- Does class still matter in politics?
Alice: Those with privilege are more likely to occupy prominent positions in politics, get a voice and have influence. We shouldn’t ignore class just like we shouldn’t ignore race. We have to point out these inequalities to take action to address them.
Hannah: Yes, life trajectories are still hugely determined by wealth – until that changes then class still matters. Unfortunately.
Anthony: Class informs all politics however much it suits the establishment to pretend otherwise. We are governed in the interests of a privileged elite while an entire class is in effect disenfranchised.
- Who should own and control the economy?
Hannah: The people. The economy is solely driven by creating wealth, this results in the poor getting poorer and our environment choked. We need an economy that works for the common good. Wealth should never come first.
Anthony: The economy should be owned and controlled by society and work for the good of all. The economy depends on society, not the other way round.
Alice: We, the people. The economy should work for us, not the other way around. It should work for our common good and only we can decide what that is.
- Does the Green Party talk enough about the environment?
Anthony: We need to talk more about the connection between our environmental policies and our social justice policies. Neither the climate crisis nor growing social inequality can be solved in isolation.
Alice: We need to radically change our economic system to successfully tackle environmental issues. Changing our economy will only come through creating a society that is more democratic and equal. When we talk about economic and social issues, we are therefore talking about environmental issues too, so yes.
Hannah: We can never talk too much about the environment – it is as much about the connections between power, profit and wealth, as it is about the forests, sea and sky, we should never stop talking about it.
- Pick a word and say something about it: socialism, deep-green, anti-capitalism, liberalism, anarchy, revolution, Corbyn.
Alice: Revolution: When I asked ‘why did you get involved in the Green Party?’, Jim Scott, a Wales Green Party member responded: “Its the next best thing to a revolution.”
Hannah: Revolution: we need peaceful but profound revolution – a Green revolution.
Anthony: Revolution is an ever-evolving state of transformation. We must continue to question the status quo and be the change that is needed.
Next May’s Assembly elections
- What green message can enthuse Welsh voters to go out and elect Green AMs next year?
Hannah: That Wales could be a small, but very smart country, with an economy based on new energy technologies.
Anthony: Wales needs our Green voice more than ever before. People are tired of stale, ‘business as usual’ politics. Green AMs will radically change Welsh politics and truly hold the Welsh Government to account on its failed promises.
Alice: The 2016 election is different. We can, and we will win Welsh Assembly seats. Your vote will get a Green voice in Wales.
- How many regions should the Welsh Greens target next May? Which ones are they?
Anthony: WGP must aim to increase its vote across the whole of Wales as we build for the future. Obviously more work will be done in those regions where we are strongest and have better resources. The two key regions will be Mid and West and South Wales Central.
Alice: With the top-up system we stand some chance of success in all regions, but we have high hopes for Mid and West Wales where I am standing as lead candidate.
Hannah: Mid and West Wales, and South Wales Central.
- If the Welsh Greens held the balance of power in the Senedd next year, what one issue would you prioritise in party negotiations?
Alice: Real action on climate change.
Hannah: The economy: I want Wales to become a global leader in new energy development, a smart country based on progressive technologies. The potential for Wales is enormous.
Anthony: An outright ban on fracking would be high on the list. Also, mitigation of the effects of the bedroom tax using WG funds as done in Scotland. Together these would show genuine commitment to tackling both climate and social injustice.
The Wales Green Party
- What is the biggest challenge facing the party and how would you address it?
Hannah: The fact we don’t have any elected politicians in Wales. Our status is growing but we need to have elected politicians to solidify this.
Anthony: Maintaining the momentum of the ‘surge’ is the challenge. I would work with local parties to identify strengths and challenges and encourage more cooperation between areas while working hard to maintain and build our profile across Wales.
Alice: Turning the membership surge into an action-surge. I think next year will be exciting enough to do this. Should the Wales Green Party be a separate party, like the Scottish Green Party?
11. Should the Wales Green Party be a separate party, like the Scottish Green Party?
Anthony: Yes, with increasing devolution for Wales this is inevitable. Done well, at the right time with members support it would create a stronger party.
Alice: We need to ask Welsh Greens before we decide. Ultimately, I think we should be a separate party. However, while there are significant powers not devolved to Welsh Government, I believe Welsh Greens need a voice in GPEW.
Hannah: Yes. It is important we are a party for Wales, of Wales. Strong links with sister parties across the UK would be essential, but I believe we need to be separate.
- Should Welsh Greens cooperate with Plaid Cymru to achieve common aims? If so, where can the two parties work together in Wales, and to what extent would formal cooperation be possible?
Alice: I feel there are important distinctions between us: our stance on nuclear, animal welfare, and our long-standing commitment to the environment and social justice. I think we would let Green voters down if we compromised on these things.
Hannah: I would never rule this out – but the May 2016 elections is not the right time for this. Wales Greens are in the ascent; we need to make our gains on our own terms. But in the future, who knows, one day we might form a coalition government.
Anthony: We should work together with PC at a grassroots level on issues and campaigns where we share common aims. Formal deals at a higher level are not feasible at present. We are a separate party with very different policies. Our priority must be getting elected Greens at every level of Welsh Government.
- What other political groups or campaigns should Welsh Greens work with and how?
Hannah: There are very few groups I would rule out, we need to be reaching out to as broad spectrum as possible.
Anthony: We should continue and increase our work with groups such as People’s Assembly, Anti Bedroom Tax and Fracking campaigns, etc.
Alice: So many campaigns resonate with Wales Green Party policies. Loads of people are opposing austerity and campaigning for a fairer, greener future. By continuing to talk about these issues, the Wales Green Party brings them into the political debate. In the Assembly, we would be a strong opposition to Welsh Government policies that damage communities and the wider environment.
- Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Anthony: Working together we can and will achieve all that we must next year.
Alice: Did I mention we will win Welsh Assembly seats next year? #VoteGreen2016
Hannah: If elected deputy leader I would prioritise supporting local party development, raising the Wales Green profile in the media, as well as in people’s homes.