Reasons to be cheerful: 6 Green highlights from 2016
As we eke out of our sherry dens and back into non-festive life, the image of 2016 as a terrible year is setting itself in stone. But as fashionable it is to be pessimistic, it’s time to remind ourselves there have been some rays of light.
Because, for the Greens, 2016 was actually a pretty good year.
I asked for nominations for ‘good things’ that have happened to the party in 2016 – and from speaking to both grassroots members and senior figures, I had a crack at listing some of them (in a totally subjective order!).
So here goes:
6. Coming third in the London and Liverpool elections
‘Seeing mine and Jenny Jones’ successors, Sian Berry and Caroline Russell, elected to the London Assembly following our sixteen year stint’ was the highlight for former London Assembly member Darren Johnson.
Not only that, but Sian Berry polled a strong third in the Mayoral race, with the Greens putting issues of rent control and green energy firmly on the agenda.
All of it was done on a shoe-string, with 5.8% of the Mayoral vote and 8% of the Assembly vote ‘by spending half of Lib Dem spend and [a] quarter of WEP [Women’s Equality Party] spend’, according to data analysed by Campaign Manager Adam McGibbon.
The Greens got a bloody good share of the vote in the Liverpool mayoral ballot too, with Tom Crone securing 11% of the vote (doubling the vote share on last time) and coming a strong third.
London Mayoral candidate and new Assembly Member Sian Berry picked out a few highlights for her: “My happiest memory of the year is London standing up against the attempts to divide us.
“I loved how Londoners had their own mind and just refused to let any of the smears stick, and enjoyed playing a small part in refusing to join in.”
- Securing a strong pro-disarmament vote in the European Parliament
This one’s from Molly Scott-Cato MEP: This year, “a new nuclear disarmament process was started at EU and UN level. I was one of the authors of a strongly pro-disarmament resolution in the Parliament which passed with a large majority.
“The same day the UN general assembly then passed a motion to take forward a new process to implement the NPT which we signed up to when we first acquired nukes. Because we are one of the very few nuclear nations we don’t hear about this in our news but we should and it should add to our confidence in saying that we should not renew Trident.”
More on that here – in the likely case that you missed it!
- Electing the only joint leadership team in England and Wales
Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley have shown since being elected in September, that having two people as leader can not only work, but can create a team that is even more than the sum of its parts.
Since being elected, Caroline has put the Greens back on the political map, whether it’s through her scathing response to the imminent return of Tony Blair to politics, or her performance on BBC Question Time, while Jonathan has held the government and media to account over the child migrant age row and managed to travel round the country. Plus they both did a pretty great Christmas message (featuring swearing – shock horror!).
As an aside, our end of year thanks and appreciation must go to the now Sheffield-based Natalie Bennett. Cheers, Natalie!
- Rowing out of sh*t creek with party finances
Not many people know it, but earlier this year the party was in a pretty troubling financial situation indeed.
Green Party Finance Coordinator Emma Carter explains:
“The first lowlight was definitely inheriting a situation precipitated by this from the recent Greens in British Politics book, [with former GPEW Fundraising and Operations Director] Tom Beckett [saying]: ‘What came with ambition was additional spend. I said ‘we’ve got to be able to sketch out an additional spend if we’re going to be able to respond to this ambition. Let’s just put in all the things we really, really need and it doesn’t even matter if it doesn’t balance, let’s just do it.’
“At that stage, in early November, we’d looked at putting together a budget that would drive us into debt by £250,000 by May 2015,” Carter says.
But things are on the up again: “I think the highlights though are beginning to come out the other side of that. We have just passed a realistic, and yet investment focused budget…We are now setting foundations to grow on, to help us focus on the great things we can achieve,” she tells Bright Green.
So, bad, then good!
- Great gains in Northern Ireland and Scotland
The Scottish Greens trebling the number of MSPs and the Green Party of Northern Ireland getting a second AM are Adam Ramsay from OpenDemocracy’s highlights of 2016.
The Greens in Scotland went from two MSPs to six on the back of their major role in the independence campaign, with Europe spokesperson Ross Greer elected as the youngest MSP ever.
In Stormont, GPNI leader Steven Agnew was joined by Clare Bailey after an impressive victory in South Belfast in May. Steven grew up on a working class loyalist estate, while Clare is from a working class Catholic background – meaning the Greens of NI have a cross community, working class MLA group and leader and deputy.
So if it was a good year for GPEW, it’s been a very good year indeed for the Scottish and NI Greens.
- The ‘I literally love it’ video
This was the best video of 2016 itself – the Green Party’s 2016 local elections broadcast:
‘Jemery, why do you don’t like it?’ should have been the Green catchphrase of the year.
We literally loved it.
Happy New Year – and remember, 2016 wasn’t all bad.