Youth branch of the Greens in open revolt over overhaul to party’s structures

“The proposals presented in the Holistic Review referendum risk severely undermining our internal democracy, and would deal a serious blow to the work of the Young Greens."

The youth branch of the Green Party has urged members to reject plans to overhaul the party’s structures.

Youth activists are also alleging that dirty tricks have been used to undermine young members’ views in the review process. 

A ‘Holistic Review’ of how the party works is currently being voted on by party members in a referendum, after the party’s Autumn Conference in October voted to back the changes.

A report criticising the proposals, previously published on the Young Greens’ website was removed on Thursday, with a YG spokesperson alleging party staff took it down:

So @TheGreenParty have deleted @YoungGreenParty’s #HolisticReview report from OUR OWN website urging members to vote no. This censorship from our own party preventing us from communicating with our members is unacceptable. Read the report & vote NO today! //t.co/LOfdEYJaen pic.twitter.com/xc0nGfbCUX— Nate Higgins (@natehiggins) December 13, 2018

The plans aim to move the party from a ‘complex system of committees’ to a single, 45-member council – a representative body to make decisions between conferences.

The council would oversee a smaller Political Executive, made up of elected officials and several directly elected members, and a Board appointed by members of the Council.

However, the youth branch of the party are warning that the proposals would end guaranteed representation of young members from the party’s governing bodies.

The youth branch say the move could cut the Young Greens’ fundraising abilities, in ending the requirement of holding two conferences per year. Much YG income currently comes from events at the two conferences in spring and autumn.

A move to just one conference would also reduce the time members can spend discussing and voting on policy, the Young Greens say.

The report states:

“We are saddened that the [Holistic Review] commission appears to have ignored Young Greens who were consulted as part of the process. We stressed the importance of protecting many of the things mentioned in this report and it is unfortunate that the efforts of our members in engaging in this process do not seem to be reflected in the proposals.

“Other members who were consulted have reported a belief that the proposals do not seem justified by the comments of those consulted but represent the personal wishes of the members of the commission.

“We are concerned about reports that Young Greens on the commission were not listened to. During the drafting of these proposals, many of our concerns were raised by Young Greens on the commission.

“It especially concerns us that a Young Green felt forced to leave the commission due to the behaviour of other members. Commission members are also reported to have referred to Young Greens on the commission as “junior members”. All should reject this ageism in the party and we condemn this behaviour.”

A Young Green spokesperson told Left Foot Forward:

“The proposals presented in the Holistic Review referendum risk severely undermining our internal democracy, and would deal a serious blow to the work of the Young Greens.

“We receive absolutely no funding from the central party and so we make a third of our annual budget through donations and sales at annual spring conference which the proposals would mean we no longer have to hold.

“The proposals also remove our vote on the executive of the party, which is just the beginning of the end for our influence within the party to protect the interests of Young Greens.”

The Green Party refused to comment while the referendum is ongoing.

But writing for Left Foot Forward in support of the Holistic Review proposals, former Green leader Natalie Bennett said:

“Thousands of party members fed into the Commission’s report, by far the largest consultation carried out in our party’s history. What they said was that the structures we have now is getting in the way of what we need to do.

“At present, members struggle to understand how to get things done – too many different bodies need to be consulted without clarity as to who makes a final decision, and we’re far too often burning people out with more work than can in any way reasonably be asked of volunteers…

“None of [the changes] will change one of the greatest aspects of the Green Party, its democracy. Policy will still be made by members, at conference. And conference made some changes to the Commission’s proposals, on a special focus on international work, allowing jobshares, and on the regularity of PEX [political executive] meetings.

“We continue to believe in direct democracy in the Green Party. And in it we have an informed electorate allowed to have a genuinely interactive, cooperative democratic say in the way its problems are approached.”

The Young Greens’ report is available to view here. Members have until 29th of December 2018 at midnight to vote here

Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.

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