Greens in north of Ireland reject programme for government in Republic of Ireland

Clare Bailey
Image credit: Creative Commons: Northern Ireland Assembly

The results of the Irish general election in February 2020 thrust the Green Party into negotiations on a potential coalition government with the right wing Fine Gael and Fianna Fail parties. The negotiations have produced a draft programme for government, which must be approved by two thirds of registered Green Party members across the island of Ireland.

This week, the prospects of that coalition coming to fruition hit a stumbling block as key figures from the Green Party in Northern Ireland came out in opposition to it. Party leader Clare Bailey signed a joint statement on June 21 which argued the programme for government as represented an “unjust recovery”. Among the other signatories were the three Green TDs who are opposing the coalition deal, Francis Duffy, Patrick Costello and Neasa Hourigan. The statement read:

As Green Party elected representatives and members from across this island, we believe that this draft programme for government represents an unjust recovery.

That’s why we will vote no on this draft Programme for Government.

The statement went on to brand the programme for government as “fiscally conservative”:

This offer of government represents one of the most fiscally conservative arrangements in a generation.

Regressive taxation in the form of carbon and sugar taxes are included while corporation tax and the top rate of income tax remain unchanged.

It’s a deal that was negotiated in good faith but fails to deliver on our promise to tackle homelessness and provide better healthcare.

Bailey wasn’t alone in criticising the programme, and calling for members to vote against it. Her fellow MLA Rachel Woods also said she would be voting against it. Woods claimed that “a better deal is possible”, tweeting:

Bailey and Woods join former Green Party councillor John Barry in opposing the deal. Barry has described it as “not good enough on austerity”. He said:

This deal is not good enough on austerity. This deal is not good enough on housing. This deal is not good enough on animal welfare.

The Irish Greens have entered government once before, from 2007-2011. At that time they were in coalition with Fianna Fail and another right wing party – the Progressive Democrats – which disbanded while in government. Their period in office was marked by devastating austerity and unemployment rates rising to nearly 15%. The Greens subsequently lost all six of their seats in the 2011 general election.

The results of the ballot on the coalition programme are expected Friday 26 June.

Green councillors call for an end to racist abuse in politics

Three Green councillors have this week written to prime minister Boris Johnson, calling for him to stamp out racist abuse in politics. Their letter opened:

As anti-racism protests gain strength around the world, people look to politicians to show moral leadership on the defining issues of the day. Sadly in Britain, our leaders are falling short. We are writing today to ask you what action you will take to curb divisive language from politicians, and better protect politicians of colour.

It continued by asking Johnson what steps his government is taking to tackle divisive language and protect politicians of colour:

As councillors of colour committed to achieving equality and justice, we ask you what steps you will take to address divisive language in political discourse, and what protections can be put in place for
politicians of colour.

The letter is signed by Norwich Green Party councillor Nannette Youssef, Sheffield Green Party councillor Kaltum Rivers, and Bristol Green Party councillor Cleo Lake.

Speaking on the letter, Youssef said:

As people of colour elected into positions of power on local councils, we know first hand what it is like to experience racism. However, it is not just about what we have to deal with, but how the political discourse has an impact on communities of colour across the country.

Political institutions including Parliament and local authorities need to be more representative. Yet when we see the racist abuse many BAME representatives receive, is it any wonder people are reluctant to put themselves in that position?

And Rivers added:

This is not just about the impact on politicians. When our political class sets an example like referring to protests as ‘thuggery’, this is reflected back at people of colour across the country in the form of abuse either online or in the street. This must stop.

Boris Johnson needs to set out clearly what he is going to do to address this divisive language in political discourse, and what protections he will put in place for politicians of colour.

Green Party leadership election nomination period enters final weeks

Amelia Womack, Green Party deputy leader
Image credit: Channel 4

Nominations for the Green Party of England and Wales leadership, deputy leadership and executive (GPEx) elections close on June 30. And this week a raft of new candidates stepped forward for positions.

The main headline this week came from current deputy leader Amelia Womack who announced that she is restanding for her role. Speaking to Bright Green on her re-election campaign, Womack said:

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be standing for a fourth term as deputy leader of the Green Party. Over the past six years, I’ve supported thousands of activists to run successful campaigns to get Green councillors elected all across the country.

Now I want to build on that success. With more local elections taking place than ever before next year – we have a real opportunity to transform local communities, with even more Green councillors.

Womack joined London Green Party member Nick Humberstone in the deputy leadership contest, who has centred his campaign around strengthening the party’s communications.

In addition to Womack’s announcement, a series of other candidates for positions on GPEx came forward this week. Newham Green Party activist Danny Keeling announced he is standing for publications coordinator. Meanwhile, Alex Horn and Erwin Schaefer have put their hats in the ring as a job-share candidate for international coordinator. The full list of announced candidates for GPEx is currently as follows:

  • Leader or co-leaders – Jonathan Bartley & Sian Berry
  • Deputy Leader – Nick Humberstone; Amelia Womack
  • Chair – Benjamin Smith & Ashley Routh; Ewan Jones
  • Campaigns Co-ordinator – Daniel Laycock
  • Elections Co-ordinator – Kai Taylor & Claire Stephenson; Joe Levy & Laure Needham
  • External Communications Co-ordinator – No candidates yet declared
  • Management Co-ordinator – No candidates yet declared
  • International Co-ordinator – Sam Murray and Alice Hubbard; Alex Horn and Erwin Schaefer
  • Policy Development Co-ordinator – No candidates yet declared
  • Publications Co-ordinator – Danny Keeling
  • Trade Union Liaison Officer – Paul Valentine & Matthew Hull; Kefentse Dennis

Greens hit out at Department for International Development merger

Earlier this week, the government announced the Department of International Development would be shut down and merged with the Foreign Office. This move attracted widespread criticism, including from prominent Greens.

Green MP Caroline Lucas described it as “hugely damaging”. She tweeted:

These comments were echoed by Green MSP Ross Greer, who accused the government of “abandoning some of the most impoverished people”. He said:

This is a nasty attempt to play to the worst instincts of Boris Johnson’s rich mates. Britain has a long, brutal legacy of wrongdoing across the world and the international development programme is one small way in which the government has sought to make amends for that.

Now this racist Prime Minister is scrapping DFID and ‘squeezing’ the aid budget. Abandoning some of the most impoverished people in the world during a global pandemic is despicable

And Young Greens of England and Wales co-chair Rosie Rawle highlighted the contradictions at the heart of the policy. She tweeted:

Scottish Greens welcome surge in support for independence

Patrick Harvie
Image credit: Creative Commons: Ric Lander

A new poll has found that support for Scottish independence is on the increase. The poll – conducted by Panelbase – found that support for independence now stands at 54%. It comes in the wake of a number of polls which have shown similar levels of support.

The news has been welcomed by the Scottish Green Party, with co-leader Patrick Harvie saying he was “delighted”. He also hit out at the Scottish Labour Party’s opposition to independence. Harvie said:

I’m delighted to see more and more people coming to the conclusion that Scotland must take its place as an independent country.

We know that many Labour members want to see a Scottish Green New Deal that can transform our economic fortunes, create thousands of quality jobs, and ensure Scotland plays our role in tackling the climate crisis.

It’s clear that Richard Leonard can’t deliver this by seeking to bring back the Better Together cabal. By taking our future into our own hands, rather than hitching it to Boris Johnson’s bandwagon, Scotland can tackle all the challenges we face and build the better Scotland so many want and need.

Harvie was joined by fellow MSP Ross Greer in welcoming the news. Greer shared a graph depicting the change in support for independence on Twitter:

Green councillors in Cannock Chase leave party to form independent group

The UK’s Green Parties lost four of their councillors this week. All but one of the Cannock Chase Green Party’s councillors left to form a new group – Chase Independents. Speaking about the move, former Green councillor Paul Woodhead said:

Coming together with other councillors from differing political parties to put our community ahead of national politics is an amazing journey to be involved with.

Woodhead had previously held senior positions in the Green Party, being until last week the chair of the Association of Green Councillors, and the policy coordinator on the party’s executive.

Cannock Chase District Council’s Labour leader George Adamson accused the group of playing “political games” during a crisis, branding them “appalling” and alleging they were undermining the council’s response to coronavirus.

Remaining Green councillor Andrea Muckley said:

I would like to express the best of luck to the Councillors in their new venture.

They have achieved a lot for our community over the past few years and as a local party we wish them well. We will continue to work closely with all Councillors, including those in the new political party.

Since launching, the Chase Independents have reached 18 followers on Twitter.

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