vote

The results of the Green Party leadership election are out…

The results are now out for the Green Party Executive election – a ballot which included the election of the leader and deputy leaders of the party. Sadly it received little attention, but I think it merits some.

Firstly, big congratulations to ecosocialist Amelia Womack on being elected in the first round, and commiserations to Will Duckworth, a working-class left-winger from the Midlands who will be missed as deputy by many. But congrats to Shahrar Ali who as a confident public speaker and a strong profile will do well I’m sure.

And of course, congrats to Natalie Bennett for her (uncontested!) re-election.

Turnout hasn’t been worked out yet but going off a conservative 16k mailout figure I estimate it’s just over 15%.

Newly re-elected Green Party International Coordinator Derek Wall has posted the full results of the election on his blog here.

Reposted here from the email to all party members on Monday:

The results of the Gpex elections 2014 were as follows:

Party Leader: Natalie Bennett was elected 2618 Re-Open Nominations (RON): 183

Party Deputy Leaders:
In the first round – Amelia Womack was elected with 1598, Will Duckworth’s 1108
In the Second round – Shahrar Ali was elected 1314 to Will Duckworth’s 1277

Gpex Chair: Richard Mallender was elected 2640 to RON 101
Campaigns Co-Ordinator: Howard Thorpe was elected 2546 to RON 181
Elections Co-Ordinator: Judy Maciejowska was elected 2631 to RON 161
External Communication Co-Ordinator: Penny Kemp/ Clare Phipps/ Matt Hawkins were elected 2586 to RON 147
Management Co-Ordinator Mark Cridge was elected 2636 to RON 82
International Co-Ordinator: Derek Wall was elected 1416 to Anna Clarke’s 891
Trade Union Liaison Officer: Romayne Phoenix was elected 2639 to RON 94
Policy Co-Ordinator: Sam Riches and Caroline Bowes were elected 1786 to Rachel Featherstone and Anna Heyman’s 839
Publications Co-Ordinator: Martin Collins was elected 2468 to RON 249

Natalie Bennett to restand uncontested for Green Party leader

The Green Party have just published the full list of nominations for the upcoming Green Party Executive (GPEX) elections. Natalie Bennett will be restanding uncontested, while current Deputy Leader Will Duckworth is also restanding – but this time under a new system of two co-deputies in a hotly contested race (including two Young Greens – Amelia Womack and Rob Telford).

Just three of the eleven (twelve with the two co-deputy leaders) positions are contested. Howard Thorp stays in the job as Campaigns Coordinator while Sue and Richard Mallender both keep their posts. Meanwhile Green Left activist Derek Wall faces a challenge in the International post. The fairly new post of Trade Union Liaison Officer retains People’s Assembly co-chair Romayne Phoenix as the holder, while Management and Publication Coordinator jobs remain rather unexciting and thus uncontested.

Bennett’s strong uncontested candidacy arguably reflects her solid support within the party, having led the party into new election successes (including the first South West MEP) and astonishing growth over the past two years – now up to 17,000 members from around 14,000 when she was first elected.

Ballot papers will be delivered in late July/early August. Keep your eye on the doorstep, members – this time, your own!

Members can view the full candidate statements here after logging in – https://my.greenparty.org.uk/node/5565

Here’s the full list:

GPEX elections 2014Meanwhile, there’s still time to vote in the prioritisation ballot for what policies will be decided at the upcoming Green Party conference – make sure you do so if you are a member: https://my.greenparty.org.uk/node/5480

Greens now third party amongst students

Students are now more likely to vote Green than Liberal Democrat or UKIP, a recent poll has shown.

Support for the Green Party amongst students is now higher than ever before, with 14% of students backing the Greens – ahead of the Liberal Democrats on 6% and UKIP on 5%, the poll conducted by YouthSight found.

The poll, taken as part of the comprehensive Student Vote 2014 survey, follows another from the Tab this month showing Green support at 12% to the Lib Dems’ 10% and UKIP on 8%.

Siobhan MacMahon from the Young Greens, said: “The Green Party is the only party campaigning for university to be free, as it is across much of Europe. This is one of the many reasons students are leaving the Liberal Democrats and joining the Green Party. Pushing the Lib Dems into third place shows they have rightly paid a high price for their betrayals.

“Students are flocking to the Greens as a serious alternative to the right-wing consensus of the main parties, and Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives should take notice.

“With Green support amongst students higher than ever before, our progressive message for a Living Wage, an end to zero hours contracts, publicly-owned services and a fair deal for the planet is resounding with thousands across the country.”

The Tab survey also showed students supported Green Party policies, such as same-sex marriage, legalising marijuana and remaining in the European Union. The Conservatives topped the poll with 33%, beating Labour into second with 30%, while YouthSight’s survey had Labour on 43% and the Conservatives on 24%.

The YouthSight poll was conducted at the start of April and surveyed over 1000 students. Over 5,000 students responded to the poll on the Tab’s website.

Greens are showing ‘Votes at 16’ is more than a phrase

[Reposted from my Shifting Grounds article here]

It seems like the distant past now, but I was the irritating age of 16 when the race was in full swing for the 2010 general election that brought the coalition government to power. 2010 was also the year that Educational Maintenance Allowance was slashed, the year my college mates had their tuition fees nearly tripled, and the year that sweeping cuts to the education budget were announced. All of this – and I couldn’t have a say over any of it.

Myself and thousands of other students and young people watched the first televised election debates in history, went to hustings, and quizzed the candidates. Some of us even door-knocked, leafleted and stayed up watching the results. But when push came to shove, we had no say over the policies that would be enacted in our name by the most reactionary government since Margaret Thatcher. We didn’t even have a chance of stopping them getting in.

Even those who can vote aren’t turned on by the process, with just 44% of 18-24 year olds voting in the last general election. But it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy – the young don’t vote because they are ignored, and they are ignored because they don’t vote. It’s no shock to learn that the over 65s – while not unscathed – have been relatively cushioned from austerity. 76% of them voted in 2010 – most of course, for the Conservatives. 

That’s why many are excited to see a radical experiment in democracy currently taking place. And, in what will come as a shock to those on the right of the Tory party, it’s happening in Europe. 16 year olds are finally getting a chance to vote.

It’s passed largely unnoticed in the Westminster bubble, but the European Green Party – the fourth largest group in the European Parliament – is taking the radical step of holding a pan-European ballot to determine who their two lead candidates for the 2014 European elections will be.

Funnily enough, UKIP, predicted by some to sweep the board in the upcoming May vote, won’t be joining the Greens in this exercise in grassroots participation. Or any of the other parties, in fact. And it’s no surprise – Green parties across Europe are widely known to be the most participatory. Here in the UK, we’re currently voting on which motions make the conference floor (to which anyone can submit ideas) at the upcoming Spring Conference in Liverpool.  

It’s safe to say democracy isn’t new to the movement, with most Green parties operating on a similar non-hierarchical and bottom-up basis. Democracy, after all, is at its heart about empowerment, and the ‘rank and file’ running the show – including otherwise-disillusioned 16 and 17 year olds unable to vote at their national elections. 

For the first time in history, this model of youth participation has now been extended across the continent, with anyone over 16 years of age who supports Green values able to vote online at www.greenprimary.eu. Free, simple and online, it’s direct democracy in action – something it’s fair to say the EU has been lacking in since its inception.

With austerity ravaging not only Britain but the whole of Europe, it’s time for those hit hardest by the cuts – the young – to have their say and to take part in a new and radical democratic project. One that we hope will spread in the pursuit of a fairer, greener and less market-obsessed world.

Young people’s chances to engage in this age of mass youth unemployment and disillusionment are sadly few and far between. Thankfully, the Greens are turning that around.

Hustings will take place in London this Saturday 18th, 2.00-4.00pm at ICO Conference Centre, 22 Berners Street, London W1T 3DD. The European #GreenPrimary runs until the 28 January.

Josiah Mortimer sits on the National Committee of the Young Greens, the youth branch of the Green Party of England and Wales.

Don’t turn the AV referendum into a vote on the Lib Dems

The upcoming referendum on the Alternative Vote is an opportunity for us all in Cornwall to demand a fairer voting system. There is a great danger however that the referendum will become one on the Liberal Democrats, and indeed Nick Clegg, and not on a better electoral system – no small matter. Or there is the danger it becomes a vote on Devonwall, something it certainly isn’t. The result of the AV referendum will have no bearing on the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, which has now of course passed. Instead the vote on May 5th is a chance to ensure our MPs work harder for our votes, have majority support in their constituencies, while keeping out extreme parties such as the BNP; one reason why they are in the ‘No to AV’ camp. On the other hand, as welcome as it would be for socialist candidates to get elected, it isn’t particularly likely under AV or FPTP, so sticking with the current system isn’t going to help anyone on the left.

But the main reason I’m supporting the Alternative Vote on the 5th May is because, as a student, I want my first general election vote to count, and I want to be able to vote honestly, without having to vote tactically as many are under First Past the Post. Being both a young person and a (very left) Labour supporter in Cornwall, I’m firmly anti-Lib Dem. But this referendum is a once in a lifetime opportunity to revitalise politics. Students: vote Yes on the 5th May and make what limited power young people have – the vote – count.

One step forward is better than standing still.


[This is an amended version of a letter for the West Briton]

The Fight For Education: After the EMA Vote

The Tory-led coalition had their way today, and voted to scrap a life-line to thousands of poorer students. A bid by Labour to save the Education Maintenance Allowance was defeated by Conservatives and Lib Dems who reject the idea that young people from low-income backgrounds should be encouraged to go on with further education. By doing so, they have condemned a generation to unemployment, a fact backed up by the latest figures: almost a million under-25’s are unemployed – a record high.

Students in Cornwall and other parts of the UK travelled to London to lobby MPs, to persuade them not to abolish the EMA scheme. Many were ignored. Some MPs spoke only to single students, despite many travelling hundreds of miles during the exam period. Some MPs would not even stop to explain their decision to betray young people. This betrayal will not be met with such apathy by students. The next couple of weeks will see more demonstrations nationwide to fight for education, to fight for our futures.

What are the NUS doing to support the struggle? They recently passed a ‘radical’ document calling for support for the demonstration in Manchester on the 29th – while completely ignoring the protest in London, the centre of power, and the national day of action on the 26th. Anti-cuts groups need to be becoming active in their student unions, in trade unions and local groups to support these demonstrations, regardless of which organisation is ‘leading’ them.

Billy Hayes of the CWU has been calling for unions to do exactly that,  declaring workers and students ‘allies in misfortune’, and heralding a ‘serious fight-back’. Other unions have been slower to take up the call. But as Hayes asks, ‘are we going to fight for our rights’ or not?

EMA could be funded, three times over, if only private schools paid VAT on their fees, meaning these elite institutions finally give something back other than Tory-cabinet ministers.

There is no fairness in the scrapping of the EMA. Peers in the House of Lords can claim an allowance of up to £300 a day just for turning up. And now our future doctors, academics, scientists and teachers are being denied £30 a week to continue with college. The Tories and Lib Dems can be certain. Once exams are over, there is going to be a serious surge of support for the fight-back, and it will not stop until those at the top find out what ‘being in this together’ really means.

Parliament to Vote on EMAs – 11 January

In just a couple of weeks Parliament will be voting on whether to scrap Education Maintenance Allowances, according to the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. The up-to-£30 a week allowance that has enabled thousands of working class and lower-income students to continue with further education is being scrapped by the government. But as recent U-turns show – on free book provision for children, and the school sports programme for example – when under pressure the government changes course. It is essential that thousands of students across the country protest on the day of the vote, January 11th, against the abolition of EMA.

In Cornwall there should also be mass student action. What exactly will happen is being discussed but it is hoped that a walkout will take place in Truro. The EMA scheme is provided by local councils, so potentially it can still be saved if the vote passes. It is vital however that EMA is saved in Parliament, and not merely individual councils who are facing 28% budget cuts over the next four years.

There will be a protest in Truro on the day – the 11th – meeting at 12:15 in McDonald’s car-par (opposite the college). RSVP via the Facebook group here.

Currently leading the campaign against the abolition of EMA is ‘Save the EMA’, supported by major unions, and ‘Save EMA’ which is largely organised by students.