Difficult debates and big decisions: The Green Party’s autumn conference in tweets

From new policies on well-being to debates on antisemitism, here's some highlights from the Green Party of England and Wales' gathering in Bristol at the weekend.

The Green Party of England and Wales’ autumn conference over the weekend saw key developments on Brexit, economic policy the party’s internal structures and much else besides. 

Here’s some (non-comprehensive) highlights from the party’s gathering in Bristol:

1. People’s Vote

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Green members overwhelming voted to back a so-called People’s Vote on Brexit – with the option to remain in the EU:

Co-leader Sian Berry said:

“We cannot leave this to the Conservatives or give them a blank cheque on a deal. Across the country, the people of Britain are demanding a democratic final say on the Brexit deal, with the option to remain inside the European Union.

“Democracy didn’t end in 2016 –  it was the start of a process. Support for a people’s vote is growing and it now feels unstoppable.”

2. Trump is officially a ‘wasteman’

Earlier this year the new Green Lord Mayor of Sheffield Magid Magid made headlines internationally when he declared: “Donald Trump is henceforth banned from the great city of Sheffield” and called him a ‘wasteman’. The Greens have now turned it into a t-shirt…

3. Universal Basic Income klaxon

For many years it has been a tradition for some very dedicated members to raise the issue of a Universal Basic Income at every fringe session. This autumn conference was no exception.

Clive Lord was one of the first members of the PEOPLE Party, which later turned into the Green Party – and he kept a UBI on the agenda this time…

4. The third party

As the new co-leaders set out in an interview with Left Foot Forward last month, the Greens have set a target to become the third party of Britain:

5. Antisemitism 

Conference voted to ‘refer back’ two motions on antisemitism and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition.

As Left Foot Forward revealed last month, the party was set to discuss adopting a version of the IHRA definition, following concerns of antisemitism in the party.

There was a counter-motion by former Deputy Leadership candidate Shahrar Ali, rejecting the IHRA definition as a ‘threat’ to criticism of Israel.

Conference voted to ‘refer back’ both motions – despite the IHRA motion having significant support from the leadership – to give more time to discuss the issue.

Palestine flags were reportedly placed around conference at the time of the vote:

6. Structural overhaul

Conference voted to back the party’s Holistic Review of its internal structures, paving the way for an overhaul of how the party is run. It will now go to members for wider consultation. Watch this space for more info on what it means for the party:

7. The gender debate 

As this site has covered, a debate on gender and trans issues has been building in the party in the wake of the Aimee Challenor scandal. The former Green spokesperson left the party citing ‘transphobia’ after an investigation was launched into how/why she appointed her father as election agent twice after he was charged with multiple sexual offences.

Many Greens were spotted wearing these badges at conference:

Yet some Greens have critiqued the tone of the debate, after Baroness Jenny Jones’ materials were defaced with the word ‘TERF’ (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist). Jones has called for an open debate on gender/trans issues:

The conference also saw the police called on activists opposed to the ability to self-define one’s sex under proposed new Gender Recognition Act legislation:

Conference also saw claims that ‘gender critical’ activists had secretly recorded the meeting of LGBTIQA+ Greens. LFF is awaiting more information.

8. A new measure for well-being

In a much-praised move, the Greens have called for Gross Domestic Product – the traditional measure of economic success – to be replaced with a measure of Free Time:

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, said:

“The Free Time Index would count the hours people are not at work – or doing work on a long commute. The time to have a family life, relax, and pursue the things they care about.

“It should be an aim of the Government to see a yearly increase in this Free Time Index, so that the quality of time which is truly our own becomes the real measure of wellbeing.”

Caroline Lucas MP also welcomed the move:

We’re sure the leadership will be hoping the party lets them have some proper Free Time after a difficult but important conference…

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