Why the Green Party’s Philosophical Basis Needs Overhauling

As technical and unread as they may be, party mission statements do matter. They form the backbone of the party, and they are the bases on which parties are built. The Green Party has come on in massive strides over the past decade, with our first MP elected, our councillor count steadily increasing, and thousands of new members joining. All this happened, I believe, because our stereotype image of being a single-issue party is dropping away and people are beginning to see us as a viable party of the left, with a real and palpable belief in social justice and a big shift in favour of ordinary people.

We need to cement this shift and send a message to all those disillusioned with politics, all the disaffected Labour voters, all the students looking for a political home, all the betrayed Lib Dems and all those on the progressive side of the spectrum that we are serious about social change. And I think the best way to do that is to cement our values of social justice at the centre of our party’s core statement – the Philosophical Basis – 10 points of principle we hold to be vitally important to our politics.

That’s why a bunch of us at the University of York Green Party are putting forward a change to the Philosophical Basis for the next Spring conference in February. The changes we’ve put forward are modest and don’t seek to detract from our ecological message – environmental and social issues go hand in hand. But a well publicised change in the constitution to cement our radical social justice ideas could move the party even further forward and be a beacon out there for those who have lost their political home – whether after the reactionary years of New Labour or the cowardice of the Lib Dems.

I’ve posted below the full change and preamble from the members’ website – the link is here (you’ll need to be a member and sign in) http://my.greenparty.org.uk/forum/3633

The current Philosophical Basis can be viewed here: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/philosophical-basis

Comments, seconders and amendments (friendly or otherwise!) are hugely welcome.


Green politics and the politics of social justice and equality go hand in hand. Without the former, the planet will become uninhabitable. Without the latter, the fight for green politics will be lost. The Green Party’s constitution should reflect our social democratic, or indeed socialist, principles and put our struggle for equality and democratic control of resources at its heart.

The proposed changes to the Philosophical Basis below are a modest shift towards incorporating the values of social justice into our constitution. The current Philosophical Basis is out of touch with how the party has shifted over the past decade. It needs to reflect the reasons why thousands have joined over the past few years – because we represent a radical economic alternative that also recognises the huge challenges the planet faces.

Proposed by: Josiah Mortimer, Nick Devlin and Alfie van den Bos

Supporters so far include: Sam Coates, Sebastian Power, Lisa Camps, Duncan Davis, Ed Mason, Lewis Coyne and others

Further proposers and seconders are extremely welcome, as well as suggestions for improvements and friendly amendments.

The proposed changes are as follows:


PB001 A system based on inequality and exploitation is threatening the future of the planet on which we depend, and encouraging reckless and environmentally unsustainable consumerism.

A world based on cooperation and democracy would prioritise the many, not the few, and would not risk the planet’s future with environmental destruction and unsustainable consumption.

The Green Party isn’t just another political party. Green politics is a new and radical kind of politics guided by these core principles;

1. The Green Party is a party of social and environmental justice, which supports a radical transformation of society for the benefit of all, and for the planet as a whole. We understand that the threats to economic, social and environmental wellbeing are part of the same problem, and recognise that solving one of these crises cannot be achieved without solving the others.


[The current 1st clause would be moved to clause 2, and the others renumbered accordingly. The current clause 9 would thus become clause 10, with the current clause 10 incorporated into the new one via the insertion of the phrase: ‘, including lifestyle changes, to help effect progress,’ so that the new clause 10 would read:]

10.  Electoral politics is not the only way to achieve change in society, and we will use a variety of methods, including lifestyle changes, to help effect progress, providing those methods do not conflict with our other core principles.



  1. Other than Josiah’s post would any NON-members or disaffected Lib Dems like to comment on this constitutional overhaul? I think the debate so far has not been good, and excuse the pun, I don’t know what planet UoY YG’s are living on to come up with this. The UoY YG’s clearly haven’t read my posts, or attemted to engage with my ideas for an overhaul.

  2. On a pedantic point, the PB isn’t actually part of the constitution! It’s the corner stone of the policy document we have, which I would say is more important than any part of the constitution.

  3. Hi Josiah – just having a brief look at the agenda for conference. I’m trying to understand this bit:

    “We understand that the threats to economic, social and environmental wellbeing are part of the same problem, and recognise that solving one of these crises cannot be achieved without solving the others.”

    First, I don’t (consciously) understand that those are part of the same problem. What is that problem? It’s not obvious, and should be stated.

    Second, I don’t think it’s true that it is impossible to solve one of those crises without solving the others. It’s perfectly possible to fix the economy while playing havoc with the environment and social justice. Slavery would be a good way of fixing the economy, and drilling for oil in the Arctic would be a good boost for economic growth. It’s perfectly possible to fix issues of social wellbeing while playing havoc with the environment. And it’s perfectly possible to solve the environmental crisis without tackling issues of social justice. Just condemn the vast majority of the world to starvation or to living as peasants on a small bit of land, and that will deal nicely with the environmental crisis.

    I do think the core principles could be sharpened up to reflect the interconnectedness of environmental and social issues within green politics (understanding “green politics” to be more than just environmentalism). I’ve not read much on green politics, but Derek Wall’s book is helpful, pointing out (my summary) that green politics is holistic politics as if everything matters and as if everything is interconnected. I blogged about it here.

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