Interview with Kefentse Dennis – Trade Union Liaison Officer candidate for GPEx
Throughout August, members of the Green Party for England & Wales will be voting to elect members of the next Green Party Executive (GPEx). In all, members will vote to determine which representatives will carry out eleven different roles – including that of leader and deputy leader. There is also a ballot to determine who will be the party’s third member in the House of Lords should the party be asked to put forward another peer.
Birmingham Green Party activist and West Midlands Regional Officer for Greens of Colour, Kefentse Dennis, will be standing for the role of Trade Union Liaison Officer. Theo Simon (twice general election candidate for Somerton & Frome) also intends to stand for the role, in addition to Matthew Hull (current treasurer of the Young Greens) and Paul Valentine (current GPEx Trade Union Liaison Officer) who will stand as a job share team.
What do you think are the main challenges currently facing the Green Party, and how would you work to overcome them?
Besides the ‘First Pass the Post‘ system, I genuinely believe this is one of the major barriers that stops us from getting votes, getting media attention, gaining more members, and generally being taken more seriously: Our ‘White, Middle Class, Left Wing, Hippies’ stereotype, which hurts our cause and at best is preaching to the converted.
In addition, our messaging has become one dimensional where climate change seems to be our ‘only focus’. As important as climate change is, there are people out there that care more about social justice whom we are failing.
Lastly, I am worried about our attitudes towards ourselves as a party and our position within politics. At times, I feel like members want us to be ‘teachers or facilitators’ of the other parties, and to teach them how to conduct themselves and use our policies to their benefit. We are not a political advocacy group!
What skills do you bring that would make you an effective member of the executive?
I am a focused person whose strengths lie in analysis and logic. I thrive when presented with new information, and take pride in deducing ways by which to apply my skills to a multitude of tasks whether in an individual or group setting. My strong ethical interest in tackling climate change and my passion for environmentalism has led me to seek out academia and involve myself with the Green Party. This has built my ability to make interpersonal connections with people from all walks of life.
What is your experience in trade union organising and working with trade unions in external organisations?
I’ll be honest, I have no experience of working within trade unions, however even I recognise the need for them especially as a political party where we are severely lacking. In these current times there are many traditional trade unions, non-traditional unions, cooperatives, green organisations, associations and societies we can align ourselves with.
How do you see the relationship between the Green Party and trade unions being strengthened?
We need people there to know that we are for both social justice and climate justice, so that we become multifaceted in our current and future relationships, and expand what it means to be green. We need to be going to a lot of networking events, and listening to trade unions and understanding their concerns, as well as show our agenda to them.
What current trade union struggles would you like to see the Green Party acting in solidarity with?
Holding the government accountable for the threat of the high unemployment looming over thousands of employers. I want to see the Green Party working with trade unions and cooperatives to secure jobs and push for Universal Basic Income – a policy we’ve been talking about since 2005. This will help all employed, recently unemployed, and self-employed people through these unprecedented times of Covid-19.
Keep your eyes peeled as we continue to find out the aspirations and experiences of this year’s GPEx candidates.
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