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Posted on Monday 7th September 2009

Brighton Conference

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Have returned from the Green Party conference in Brighton.We had some lively debates and I was in the thick of things on the Education Voting Paper. Although the debate didn’t always go my way I am still very proud to belong to a party that conducts its business in such an open and democratic manner. You certainly wont see this at the stage managed conferences of the big parties. But losing a crucial vote by just one vote (after the original hand count had gone in my favour) was a bit galling. You’ll find reports and videos of the conference on the green party site, but here are a few of the policies that I think will help us gain support in the next General Election.

All major airports and ports will be taken into public ownership under a Green Government. This is of course in addition to our current policy to nationalise the railways. Government will then be able to take control of our transport system.

Our policy on Afghanistan now reads
(1) An immediate withdrawal of all UK forces from Afghanistan.
(2) The withdrawal of all NATO forces from Afghanistan .
(3) An regional agreement with the powers bordering Afghanistan – Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, together with Russia and China, to hold a peace conference as soon as possible with the aim of establishing a new Afghan government which will have the support of all the Afghan people.
(4) Continued support from the EU, UN and other international bodies to support the rebuilding of Afghanistan and the provision of international aid.
(5) The protection all women and minorities in Afghanistan and the upholding of human rights to be an essential part of any peace agreement reached with the regional powers, the UN and the people of Afghanistan.
(6) The issue of Afghan refugees in neighbouring states and elsewhere, and their long term settlement and humanitarian support to be a central feature of any peace agreement.
(7) And to amend ROPS (Record of Policy Statements) accordingly.

As more and more lives are lost in Afghanistan in a war whose purpose Gordon Brown can not explain, I am sure this policy will be popular with the electorate.

On Health
“Health spending in the UK needs to reflect the needs of the country and should be maintained at around the average in the European Union. The party will continue to support the principle that the NHS is a national service, free at the point of entry and fully funded by taxation.” As Labour continues the creeping privatisation of the NHS it is very important that the Greens protect it.

On the MP’s expenses scandal we passed policy to introduce a system for the electorate to recall an MP.
PA254 Government at all levels should be accountable to electors between elections. Accordingly, necessary legislative steps will be taken to provide for any representative’s electors to be able to petition for the recall of any elected person. Specifically, a petition signed by 40% of the registered electors within an MP’s constituency will trigger a recall by-election. Until this legislation is passed, Green MP’s will voluntarily resign and trigger a by-election, if they are presented with a valid recall petition signed by 40% of the registered electors within their constituency. In the event of the elected representative having been elected by the Additional Member System, the recalled representative would be replaced by the next person on their party list not to have been elected.

I’m not sure the 40% figure is right- it needs to be a big enough number to avoid abuse of the system, but it needs to be small enough to enable it to be used- getting 40% of a constituency to sign a petition would be a mammoth task and could probably only be organised by the press barons. So I hope the 40% will be reduced to something more attainable, say 30%, in the future.

One of the highlights of conference was the Saturday entertainment. Mark Thomas got us writing a silly manifesto. One of the most popular ideas was to provide a free needle and cotton with every pair of socks! Attilla the Stockbroker was superb.
I love his poem about asylum seeking dalekswhich can be found here along with some of his other works.

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