First published this piece at Bright Green here
The Green Party of England and Wales has cancelled its controversial £500-a-head black tie dinner and replaced it with a ‘lottery’ donations appeal.
The event would have seen donors give £1,000 to enable themselves and a guest to attend.
All donors will now have an equal chance of attending a meal with the leadership – regardless of how much they donate to the ‘Breakthrough Appeal’.
The climb-down follows anger from members after the website Political Scrapbook revealed that a £1,000 per head ‘green tie’ event was being planned at a luxury hotel in London at the end of the month – with access to leadership figures. The story was also picked up by the Independent and Morning Star.
The event cost twice as much as the Conservatives’ recent black tie dinner, a fact which caused national outrage and threats of resignations if the event went ahead as planned.
Responding to comments on a post about donating to the party on Facebook, the Greens said last night: “Everyone who gives to the breakthrough appeal will be put into a lottery for one of the 150 tickets to the old Green tie event– now the Wear Something Green Gala Thank You Dinner’- equal opportunities for all!”
The move will be welcomed by activists, over a hundred of whom had signed a Young Greens petitioncalling for it to be cancelled. Both national co-chairs as well as other national Young Greens had signed the statement which said: “To hold an event explicitly open only to the wealthy, and to offer access to the party’s leadership at a price, is a betrayal of these values”.
Supporters responded positively, with one saying “This is why I love the Green Party. They admit when they’re wrong, listen to their members and make change for good.”
In a statement seen by Bright Green, the party said:
“We are currently conducting a wide range of fundraising activities across our membership and supporters involving a variety of crowdfunding, appeals and events. As part of this basket of events we planned to hold a Green Tie dinner event for donors. After feedback from our membership, supporters and donors, the Green Party Executive decided not proceed with this event. Instead there will be equal opportunity for all donors of the Breakthrough Appeal(1) to be one of 150 who will join our leadership and candidates for a ‘Wear Something Green thank you event’.
The ‘Wearing Something Green thank you event’ will be held on the 28th of March in London (venue to be confirmed).
We hope that our membership sees this as a Green approach to a sustainable future. Further comments will be welcome from all those who support the Green Party, and will be considered to help instruct our approach to fundraising.
(1) Any donor who has given over £5 to the Green Party Breakthrough Appeal, by the 12am on the 20th March, will be randomly selected to join the party. This includes any donor who has given over £5 to The Green Party Breakthrough Appeal and any of the below:
•’Give Everyone a chance to Vote Green’ National Party Crowdfunder
•General Election Planning Appeal
•’Help us reach our full potential’ Young Greens Crowfunder”
Could this set a precedent for the party to stick to democratic methods of fundraising?
UPDATE: Georgia Elander, Young Greens press officer and co-ordinator of the YG petition to get the black tie event cancelled, has now commented on the news, telling Bright Green:
“I’m incredibly glad that the party has decided to make this change. The original event was a clear error of judgement, and for it to have gone ahead would not have been acceptable.
“However, the fast and positive reaction to complaints from members is really gratifying. It shows that the party is still very much a grassroots one, held accountable to its members.”