Brexit and Bank Holidays – What is being discussed at Green Party Conference?
It’s Sunday in Harrogate, and the Harrogate Convention Centre is full of Green Party members waiting to vote on dozens of motions. In the past, some of the more eccentric proposals have quickly made headlines – in particular, the 2015 suggestion that the UK ban all cars. While the policies seem a little tamer this year, Bright Green have gone through the agenda for discussion and picked out some of the most interesting.
Anybody who has kept up with the Green Party of England and Wales will be sick of the term “Progressive Alliance” now, and it seems that the members are no different. The controversial strategy involved standing down for certain parties that shared similar ideologies (in essence, parties that at least weren’t the Conservatives or UKIP) in the hopes of reciprocity in some of the GPEW’s target seats. The Greens ended up standing down in several places, while Labour refused even to stand aside in Brighton Pavilion, the constituency of Caroline Lucas.
Now members will debate a motion to scrap the idea of a progressive alliance altogether. The motion is very clear that it is not trying to criticise party leadership, even going so far as to “applaud the skill and commitment of the current leadership and deputy leadership team” in the very first sentence, but then goes on to refer to the starring policy of the Lucas-Bartley leadership campaign as “unwise”. The idea of the progressive alliance was being publicised before it had passed through conference. When the motion is put in that context, it is obvious that some members are dissatisfied with the recent approach to the membership.
New Bank Holidays
One of the proposals that would no doubt be popular if ever passed by the government is the formation of a new bank holiday on the 22nd of June, marking the contribution of people of colour and migrants in the UK. The date selected is “Windrush day”, the day that the Empire Windrush boat arrived with hundreds of Caribbean Commonwealth members in order to help the rebuild effort after World War 2. The new bank holiday would be a way of recognising how the UK has benefited from migration without ever appreciating it.
Proposed by Green MEP Molly Scott Cato, Conference will debate whether or not to campaign against the EU repeal bill, which would bring EU law into the UK and allow the executive to make changes without sufficient parliamentary scrutiny. The motion will no doubt be particularly popular, as the official line of the party is vehemently anti-Brexit and many members would rather be dragged out of the EU kicking and screaming than leave quietly.
Some official policy on the topic will likely be welcomed with open arms, given that the Green Party of England and Wales have not been particularly forthcoming on stances on the EU in the past. However, another motion that would allow the Policy Development Committee to make interim policy decisions between conferences may fix this problem in the future.
Bright Green look forward to revealing which of these motions pass or fall, and will be reporting other news from Conference as it comes in.