Maggie Chapman - Scottish Green Party Co-Convener
YouTube screen grab

Welcome to the first of many Bright Green news round-ups. As part of the revamped and relaunched Bright Green, we’ll be bringing a weekly round up of news on the UK’s Green Parties. Each week, this will contain the very latest updates on Green Parties all across the UK, showcasing things happening at a local level, as well as all the big news from elected Greens and national parties.

Controversial changes to Green Party of England and Wales internal structures passed in referendum

The Green Party of England and Wales saw in the new year by announcing a radical shake up of its internal structures. This comprises major changes to governance and decision making within the party. It came about after a lengthy process of internal discussion and consultation referred to as the ‘holistic review’.

Under the new structure, the party will be governed by three newly established bodies. Firstly, a 45 member Council with representatives from the regions, the Young Greens and elected councillors among other groups will be responsible for party strategy and most party activities. Secondly, a small Political Executive drawing members primarily from the leadership team, Green parliamentarians and councillors with four members directly elected by the party membership will hold responsibility for political decision making. And finally, a seven member Board will oversee the party’s staff and legal compliance.

The passed proposals will also see one of the party’s two biannual conferences abolished. Decision making by the membership will now solely take place in an autumn conference.

These proposals were controversial. They attracted criticism for the alleged centralisation of decision making that they create. Further criticism centred around the removal of certain committees currently responsible for specific areas of work, such as the International Committee.

But the strongest critique came from the Young Greens. In a report, they alleged that the changes will see them: losing representation on key governing bodies; risk losing a quarter of their annual income; and have representatives on the new bodies who may not have been elected by young greens.

Despite the contentious nature of the changes, they were passed with over 70% of the vote in an internal referendum of members, exceeding the required two thirds majority. However, it has been suggested that the turnout of just 16% in the vote indicates a lack of enthusiasm for the changes.

Nominations close for London Assembly and Mayoral candidates

The London Assembly and Mayoral Elections might not be until 2020, but the London Green Party have kickstarted their long campaign by beginning their candidates selection process. Nominations for the selection closed this week, and already a flood of people have announced their candidacy.

For the mayoral candidacy, Green Party of England and Wales Co-Leader Sian Berry is the obvious front runner. Others to put their name forward include the actor and former Liberal Democrat activist Zack Polanski.

Berry is also standing for the London Assembly list selection along with Caroline Russell, both of whom are hoping to keep their seats. They face a challenge from a long list of contenders, including Polanski. Other candidates include former Young Greens co-chair Hannah Graham, LGBTIQA+ Greens Co-Chair Benali Hamdache and member of the Green Party Executive Committee Tom Pashby.

The full list of candidates for both selections will be announced on January 10. Bright Green will be providing extensive coverage of the selection in the coming weeks.

Caroline Lucas hits headlines for meat tax proposals

Caroline Lucas
Creative Commons: GPEW

Green MP Caroline Lucas has attracted attention this week, after calling for the introduction of a tax on meat. Such a tax would be designed to mitigate the role played by agriculture and meat production in driving climate change.

This proposal led to a public Twitter spat between Green Party of England and Wales Deputy Leader Amelia Womack and Piers Morgan:

While the proposal may be popular with some Greens, it is has understandably sparked controversy. Critics have argued that a tax on meat applied as a blanket, indirect tax would disproportionately affect less wealthy people. This critique is arguably echoed in the party’s policy which states that “in general, indirect taxation is regressive” and “indirect taxation works against the creation of social equity and, therefore, against the aims of a green society”.

Scottish Green Party release new year video celebrating a year of success

The Scottish Green Party released its new year message on 31 December. Featuring a wrap up of the party’s activity in 2017, it celebrates achievements including protecting services, securing a more equitable tax system and improving animal welfare and environmental standards.

These successes have been delivered by the party’s network of local councillors, its six Members of the Scottish Parliament and its engaged and active membership. You can watch the full message here:

Scottish Green Party New Year Message

Local Green Parties take action to ensure cities keep trees

Following in Sheffield’s footsteps, local Green Parties have been pushing for councils to guarantee the long term provision and maintenance of trees in urban areas.

Green councillors in Worcester have been holding their council to account over its failure to replant trees which were recently felled. And in Newcastle, Greens have hit out at the council’s unambitious tree planting plans, arguing that they are currently inadequate at addressing the city’s lack of greenery or tackling air pollution.