GPEx elections candidates Florence Pollock and Mat BrowneThroughout 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.

What do you think are the main challenges currently facing the Green Party, and how would you work to overcome them?

The Green Party needs to up its ambition in two key areas: embracing our radicalism and demonstrating our competence.

We should own that our radical policies offer a future that is dazzling in colour, complexity and cheer. We should accept that if we have annoyed the reactionary right, it’s a victory. Every time we are condemned for standing up for the right to be who you want to be, for speaking on issues that others ignore (from recycling bins to the very future of work), and for daring to care for all creatures in pain – we should celebrate. We are the grit in the oyster of our politics, and we need to embrace our grittiness.

As well as owning our radicalism, we need to show the world that such politics can go hand in hand with professionalism – that we are not only the Party with the best moral compass, but also with the greatest competence. Every part of the party has a role to play in showing that Green politics makes doers as well as dreamers.

The management co-ordinator role can help demonstrate this bold efficiency. By making sure that the Green Party’s governance and HR practices match the radicalism of our political policies, we can create best practice for other organisations to follow. By putting trade unions at the heart of management decisions, by empowering workers to work as they wish to do, and by enabling people of all backgrounds to apply to work with us, we can make the party work better – and set a high bar for other organisations to aspire to.

Our Greenness is not as vibrant as it could be. We need to turn up the dial, and show to all that radicalism and professionalism can burn all the more brightly together.

What skills do you bring that would make you an effective member of the executive?

We feel that we have the professional skills needed to make a success of the management co-ordinator role. GPEx needs people with real-world experience of the areas for which they are responsible, and the skills that come with that. Florence’s professional experience in HR has given her extensive skills in managing workplace relations, encouraging staff retention and delivering meaningful staff training. Matt’s experience in Green Party governance has given him an in-depth understanding of how GPEx works, as well as broader Green Party governance, safeguarding and management processes – and has seen the structural challenges within them that need to be fixed.

We also feel we both have the core skill, which all GPEx members should have: the skill of being able to listen. Listening to voices that are shut out of decision-making channels, listening to viewpoints that are different, listening to criticism, and acting in response.

What experience do you have in HR and governance?

Florence has worked in human resources for the past three years, and currently works as an HR advisor for a large international charity. Florence has also served as vice-chair of the Green Party Disciplinary Committee. Matt now works for an environmental charity, but was previously the Green Party’s governance manager. In that role he helped manage the party’s policies and processes, including serving as GPEx secretary and helping pull together the new safeguarding policy and the 2019 GE Manifesto.

Matt has detailed knowledge of Green Party policies and Florence has the professional HR background needed to provide an expert external eye over those polices. This combination of skills means we are well-equipped to ensure that Green Party policies reflect, and lead, best practice.

How would you like to see the Green Party’s HR practices improve?

We need our HR practices to be as radical as our policy policies – to be rooted in compassion, in recognition of innate human value and an awareness of privilege.

These values can be realised from small actions, such as:

  • Having the HR resource to always give people feedback on job applications.
  • Offering job applicants expenses for travel up-front.
  • Giving staff the option to work on projects that interest them, even if not directly related to their work area.

These values can also be made concrete though structural change. We are committed to:

  • Giving all Green Party staff the option to work from home, on a permanent basis. This will open up Green Party work to people living outside London.
  • Ensuring trade union representatives play a full part in staff management meetings, and on GPEx (and GPEX subcommittees).
  • Making it clear on all Green Party job adverts that a university education and professional experience are not pre-requisites for an application. Commitment and vision are what we must look for in applicants, not tick box requirements which favour those from privileged backgrounds.
  • Providing paid internships for young people of colour. As a Party we talk a lot about creating new opportunities – it’s time we put our money where our mouth is.

The Greens are not a business-as-usual Party. We can do better than business-as-usual HR.

What would you do to improve the strength of the Green Party’s governance?

We believe that Green Party governance could be improved by putting three core principles at the heart of all decision making:

  • Professionalism: This means working hard, keeping people updated and being accountable. It also means treating everyone with respect and compassion.
  • Inclusivity: This means listening to people’s lived experiences, and acting when they say the Green Party needs to do better. It means recognising the Party has to do more for Greens of Colour, and to diversify.
  • Prudence: This means recognising that every penny the Green Party has comes from members and supporters, and accepting the responsibility to spend it carefully on measures that can amplify Green voices, and spread Green values.

Weaving these principles though Green Party governance will help us become the truly radical, remorselessly effective Party we need to be.

This interview is part of a series with each of the candidates in this year’s GPEx elections. You can find Bright Green’s full coverage of the elections here.

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