New appearances, new leaders and new MEPs: UK Green news round up week 27
Sian Berry makes first Question Time appearance since 2007
Blue moon spotters were in luck this week. A Green Party politician was on the BBC’s flagship political debate show Question Time, as Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Sian Berry appeared on the show. Despite having been co-leader of a parliamentary political party for nearly a year, this was Berry’s first appearance on the show since 2007.
On the show, Berry clashed frequently with hard right writer and failed NUS President candidate Tom Harwood. In one exchange, she accused the new Brexit Party MEPs of ‘not doing their jobs’ and said “they turned up, they collected their money and they went off to the pub”:
‘They turned up, they collected their money and went off to the pub’
— BBC Question Time (@bbcquestiontime) July 4, 2019
Scottish Green co-leader candidates go head to head in election hustings
The race to be the first ever co-leaders of the Scottish Green Party continued this week. All five of the candidates – Patrick Harvie, Maggie Chapman, Guy Ingerson, Lorna Slater and Graham Kerr went head to head in an online hustings.
In the hustings, the candidates debated the key issues in the election, as well as giving speeches setting our their agendas and quizzing each other’s positions. The full hustings can be watched here:
In addition to the hustings, this week Bright Green launched our Q&As with the candidates. You can read what each of them had to say here.
New Green MEPs take their seats in European parliament
On Tuesday 2 July, Members of the European Parliament elected in May formally took their seats. This included the seven new Green MEPs elected in the UK.
Having taken up their seats, the UK’s Greens went on to take positions on key parliamentary committees:
- Molly Scott Cato has been selected to sit on the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee.
- Alex Phillips will sit on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs.
- Magid Magid is a part of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.
- Catherine Rowett and Gina Dowding will sit as two of the 71 members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
- Ellie Chowns will sit on the International Trade Committee.
- Scott Ainslie has been selected to sit on the Transport and Tourism Committee
European parliamentary committees are influential in the development of European Union legislation. They are directly consulted in legislative proposals brought forwarded by the European Commission. They also pass resolutions calling on the European Commission or Council to take action on specific matters.
Magid Magid alleges racist treatment in first days in parliament
Unfortunately not everything in the new Green MEPs first week went smoothly. Yorkshire and the Humber MEP Magid Magid said that he was asked if he was lost, and then asked to leave the parliamentary building on his first day.
In an interview in the Guardian, Magid said that the incident resulted from people’s ‘social conditioning’ as to what a politician should look like.
We have all been socially conditioned to think what a politician or a MEP is meant to look like. And I completely get it. I don’t fit that mould and it’s never been my intention to fit that mould.
He explained this further in an article for the Independent, in which he wrote:
And yet, the incident is all too familiar for black people excelling in any field – our dress is scrutinised, our appearance is criticised, our non-conformism is ridiculed and our mere presence and existence is questioned.
In the same article, Magid also hit out at the influence of the far right in the EU:
The experience on my first day at work in Strasbourg served as a stark reminder. Yes – I, a black Muslim refugee got elected. But that fact does not gloss over the reality that far-right thug Viktor Orban has had a big hand in the selection of the new European Commission president, and that Nigel Farage’s party – the same-old vulgar, racist Ukip – hold a considerable number of seats in the parliament.
Scottish Greens reaffirm commitment to trans rights
The Scottish Greens’ Women’s Network, Rainbow Greens and Scottish Young Greens this week issued a joint statement reaffirming the party’s commitment to trans rights this week. The statement came after the Scottish government has delayed implementing changes to Scotland’s gender recognition laws.
The statement opened by saying:
As members of the Scottish Green Party Women’s Network, Rainbow Greens and Young Greens, we have been deeply saddened over the last year to see the things that have been said and done in the name of women’s rights, which have marginalised, stigmatised and denied legitimacy to our trans and non-binary siblings. Particularly so as our trans and non-binary siblings have stood shoulder to shoulder with us, campaigning for gender, social and environmental justice. We are richer, more caring and more inclusive in our policies thanks to our trans and non-binary members.
Elsewhere, the groups made clear their stance on what issues should be debated regarding trans rights:
To our trans and non-binary siblings, we would like to reaffirm that we will, and do, debate many things within the Green party, but we will not debate your right to exist.
And finally, the statement concluded with a series of pledges:
We will continue to fight against the patriarchy and capitalism and stick firmly to our principles of intersectional feminism, challenging abuses of power where we see it. We will work hard to educate on trans inclusion, helping to identify transphobia and to call it out. We will campaign for international best practice on gender recognition. Many of the current problems come with the old system and poor understanding of what the legislation is actually about. It is of fundamental importance that the new system must include a non-binary gender category, and lower the age a person can apply to 16, and we will campaign for this. We will win this campaign because, fundamentally, trans and non-binary people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.
Caroline Lucas joins cross-party calls for an inquiry into Saudi arms sales
Green MP Caroline Lucas joined forces with the parliamentary leaders of opposition parties this week to call for an inquiry into the UK’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia. She did so in a letter to Tory leadership hopefuls Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson. The letter also hit out at both Hunt and Johnson’s record on Saudi arms sales in their tenures as Foreign Secretary.
The cross-party calls come after UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia were recently declared to be unlawful.
Correction: This article originally stated that this week’s Question Time appearance from Sian Berry had ever appeared on Question Time. It was corrected at 22:07 to correctly state that she had previously been on in the show in 2007.