Interview with Liz Reason – GPEx chair candidate
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.
We asked each of the candidates five questions on their background and what they would seek to achieve on GPEx. Here are Liz’s responses.
What do you think are the main challenges currently facing the Green Party, and how would you work to overcome them?
In opinion polls, the Green Party has a net-positive rating and is considered the most trustworthy and liked of the political parties. Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on the public’s understanding of the value of nature; over 80% of the public now agree that we need to take urgent action on climate change.
The party’s challenge is to translate all this into votes at the forthcoming local elections, and then at the general election in 2024.
To help us do this, we are working on Project Together, an inclusive and collaborative project which is building evidence to support a review of the political strategy – establishing the impact we want on the world, what we need to do to deliver it and how we work with others with interconnected objectives.
Specifically, it establishes what we need to do to ride the Green Wave, for the Green Party to be perceived as a credible political threat, and to understand and cement our role as the political wing of the environment movement, particularly given that climate and social justice are indivisible.
Election success is about long-term planning, ongoing hard work and having the tools for the job. I’m pleased to report that preparations for 2024 are already underway.
What skills do you bring that would make you an effective member of the executive?
I bring my extensive community-building, political and business experience to strengthen Green Party governance. I was chair of Sustainable Charlbury, a community organisation which built a 4.5MW solar farm, developed, financed and managed by the community and I now chair the community benefit society, which runs the solar farm.
In my professional career, I co-founded and ran a leading European energy markets consultancy, and a wind development company.
Since becoming GPEx chair in 2018, we have appointed an experienced Chief Executive and are supporting her to build a team of committed staff to deliver on the party’s ambitions.
What experience do you have of working collaboratively with conflicting viewpoints and drawing consensus from groups?
Managing organizations is all about managing conflicting viewpoints and finding agreements. I try at all times to ensure that GPEx members (all 23 of them with the current job-shares) feel engaged, included and informed about how we are meeting the objectives that we set as a group.
On more public areas of contention, I organized a workshop on non-violent communication in January to start to find ways of harnessing the energies of members with different perspectives to re-write the Rights & Responsibilities chapter of the PSS. I’m also pleased to support the work of Disputes Resolution Committee that is developing a network of trained mediators to work with members who have unresolved grievances. There is an over-reliance on complaints in the party at the moment – a complaints culture – and I would work to change the system so that only serious offences go through a disciplinary process, overseen by legal expertise.
How would you develop and oversee the party’s organisational strategy?
The party is constrained by its limited resources so we are working hard to implement our fundraising strategy, aiming to attract more funds from a wide range of appropriate sources, including through raising membership numbers, inviting non-members to support us financially, and working with major donors. The first priority for additional funds will be the Field Team network in England and Wales, campaign schools and improved digital services.
I also wish to see through implementation of the Holistic Review recommendations.
How would you support other members of GPEx in their roles?
GPEx members will have a full induction into their roles as non-executive members of the governance body. We have started to offer training to fulfill identified needs and I would like to see this expanded. When possible, a face-to-face awayday, which I have organized twice before, has been beneficial in helping governance body members get to know one another and develop a team culture. This year, as part of developing a more collaborative relationship with GPRC, we aim to have a joint GPEx/ GPRC session.
My principal objective is to build a modern, effective party that can increase its representation and bring about a fairer and sustainable society.
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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