Green Party conference backs reparations for slavery
The Green Party of England and Wales today became the first political party with representation in the UK parliament to support a policy of reparations for slavery. At the party’s Autumn conference – held online due to the coronavirus pandemic – 93% of members voted to back the pro-reparations motion.
The move sees the party calling for the UK government to commit to a “holistic process of atonement and reparations”. The full text of the motion read:
Calls for the UK government to establish an All-Party Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry for Truth and Reparatory Justice.
Supports the calls from campaigners for the Government to commit to a holistic process of atonement and reparations, which adequately addresses Planet Repairs solutions to the ecocide arising from the climate and ecological crises, taking into consideration various proposals for reparation in accordance with the United Nations Framework on Reparations.
Instructs the campaigns and external communications coordinators to prioritise advocacy in pursuit of these two calls.
Greens have in recent years taken numerous actions to address the legacy of slavery. In 2019, the then Lord Mayor of Bristol Cleo Lake attracted national media attention after removing a portrait of the slaver Edward Colston from the Lord Mayor’s office.
After the passing of the motion, Lake told Bright Green:
The fact it has been backed by Green Party members represents a significant and historic milestone towards acknowledgement, justice and reconciliation over a painful shared history. The legacy of this history still plays out today through rife global inequality, racism, Afriphobia, and a ravaged planet that continues to be pillaged and disrespected.
I am pleased that the Green Party, through its membership, is the political party leading the way in its support for this movement towards holistic reparations by voting for this motion.
While we cannot change the past, we can go some way to heal and repair from it. And by taking decisive action, we can direct the future course of our shared humanity and planet.
The Green Party’s new position follows other moves from local councils to support the movement for reparatory justice for slavery. In July 2020, former Green MEP Scott Ainslie was successful in passing the first local government motion anywhere in the country that supported reparations through Lambeth Borough Council.
Ainslie also supported the motion at the Green Party’s conference. Speaking in advance of the conference, he said:
If Britain can own up to and properly address the legacies of its colonial and enslaving past, then it can truly deal with the root causes of our country’s socio-economic inequality rooted in systemic racism.
By engaging in a genuine process of reparative and transitional justice, we can begin to heal holistically and re-balance the past and present injustices inflicted by the few which cause endless suffering to the many.
The motion to Green Party conference was proposed by the Young Greens, Greens of Colour and a range of high profile Green Party members in addition to Lake and Ainslie, including London Assembly candidate Benali Hamdache and former party leader Natalie Bennett.
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Image credit: Jwslubbock – Creative Commons