Vinnie Wainwright and Simon Stafford-Townsend

Our shared platform for this election focuses on addressing conflict within our Party; ensuring good communication between Green Party Regional Council (GPRC) and members; and keeping GPRC fresh by working with Young Greens and liberation groups to find and mentor our potential successors.

Addressing conflict within our party

This election happens against a background of considerable conflict within the party around the issue of trans rights. This is a conflict that has been allowed to fester in the hopes it would go away, with the predictable result that it is now a bigger issue that’s more difficult to tackle. There is now a row building for Spring Conference that is negatively impacting the wellbeing of the party.

As a party, our members need to be able to argue constructively in safe spaces. This means understanding when it is appropriate to expect members to agree to disagree, and when members are being unfairly expected to tolerate direct undermining of their rights. There is too much reliance on members implicitly understanding where the party’s red lines are, such that every argument is understood to be taking place across green lines, ie. those lines of difference across which reasonable adults can be expected to agree to disagree.

It is neither possible nor appropriate to resolve a conflict across red lines by agreeing to disagree. If a movement arose within the party that sought to deny climate change, very few members would urge the need to hear both sides of the argument and agree to disagree. It would be quite clear that those denying climate change need to decide whether to accept the Party’s commitment to tackling climate change or find a more suitable party. Membership of the Green Party is not a right.

So our approach to conflict resolution will be to ensure that GPRC is clear about where the red lines are, and that it takes swift, decisive action where members are crossing those lines. This will allow Conference and local parties to be the places where healthy conflict across green lines can take place. Wellbeing requires well held boundaries.

Finding and mentoring our replacements

We are keen to see the party develop its membership by offering opportunities for members to gain experience in internally elected roles. Healthy organisations establish internal progression pathways, and put energy into identifying and developing their talents and future leaders.

One way we can contribute to this is by encouraging our potential successors to get a grounding in the role of GPRC rep well before they need to stand in the election.

To this end, once we have been in role for six months, we will work with the Young Greens and the party’s liberation groups to offer ourselves as mentors to any of their south west members who think they might be interested in standing for GPRC in 2024 when our terms are due to end. And we will encourage other GPRC Reps to do the same thing in their regions.

We believe that this will encourage a much broader diversity of candidates for these elections, which in turn will ensure that GPRC better represents the diversity of the Party’s membership.

Ensuring good communication between GPRC and members

For GPRC to be successful and for members to be best represented, relationships between those elected and the people of our party need to be strong. As soon as possible after election we would love to make ourselves available to visit local parties within the region. The best way to represent you is to know you, and our members have not been able to benefit from face-to-face meetings over a cup of tea for the last few years. We would love to get to know you and for you get to know us.

Both of us believe firmly that no decision should be made nor advice be offered without fully including those involved, and understanding the lived experiences which have led to questions or issues arising. Building up these connections, across all the diverse local parties, liberation groups and the youth wing of the region must start straight away and we are really looking forward to this aspect of the role.

Another aspect of communication with members is the need for this to travel in two directions. We will create regular opportunities for members to share thoughts and concerns in the form of south west GPRC on-line surgeries. These confidential and accessible sessions will be held regularly using safe space principles. The region’s members will also receive regular newsletters and accessible video updates from us on the GPRC’s work.

About Vinnie

I live in Bristol and am delighted to be standing for the female identifying role on GPRC. I am a dedicated member of the party and very proud to be a south west Green. My big priority is to build relationships across this diverse and successful region, and advise the national executive on the needs of south west Greens so we can build the resilience of the Green Party of England and Wales.

My rich experience as a strategist, a leader, and a listener outside GPEW would be so valuable to a role on GPRC. I am a former assistant headteacher and leadership advisor in secondary schools, and am now a trustee and treasurer of a Bristol charity. I have a qualification in counselling and have been a Samaritan.

In the 90s, I was involved in environmental action in North Somerset before leaving the region to study and teach across Europe and then in Yorkshire. I returned to Bristol in 2014 with my very young family and joined Bristol Green Party where I have supported local campaigns. I am now a ward coordinator in a Bristol West ward supporting two elected Green Councillors, and am very proud to have built strong and supportive connections with Greens all over England and Wales, supporting others with their campaigns when I can.

In my spare time I am a musician and run a small record label. I am a terrible cook and an enthusiastic novice gardener. If elected to GPRC, I will offer South West Green Party members my focus, my dedication to liberation and inclusivity, my compassion and my humour.

About Simon

I live in Bristol where I have been an active member of Bristol Green Party for the past 10 years, and am standing for the male identifying role on GPRC. I have run two successful target ward campaigns in this time, missing out on election myself by around 100 votes. I have been external communications officer for the local party, and currently serve as its policy officer.

Originally from Gravesend in Kent, I come from a working class background, grew up on a council estate, and became the first in my family to go to University. I am also from a family of migrants, being 2nd or 3rd generation British depending on whether you go by my Irish or German side.

Before coming to Bristol, I lived in Taunton, Somerset for several years where I was employed as a senior democratic services officer at Somerset County Council. I came away with a firm grounding in the importance of good governance, which I’m now putting to use on the party’s Standing Orders Committee.

I am a psychotherapist in private practice, and if elected to GPRC will offer my deep commitment to the wellbeing of the party’s membership through the emphasising of good communication, good contact, and good boundaries.

How to vote

This election has an extremely tight turnaround and voting closes this Saturday 26 February at 23:59 so please go find your voting link now! This was emailed out by OpaVote on Sunday 20 February with the subject line “South West Green Party GPRC & DC elections 2022”. If you can’t find it check your spam folder, and if you can’t find it there either, email the Electoral Returning Officer, Robert Triggs on to say you haven’t received it.

Whilst we are standing on a shared platform, we are technically standing for different roles. There are two GPRC Reps for the south west: male identified and female identified, which is not the most helpful gender terminology, erasing as it does non-binary gender identities.

Please give each of us your 1st choice preference in our respective categories.

Vinnie Wainright and Simon Stafford-Townsend and are standing for the Green Party Regional Council in the Southwest Region.