Party Conference Thoughts – Day 2

Posted on September 11, 2010 at 10:50 pm,

So, thoughts on my second ever day of Party Conference. I started at 9 am, with a session on the new members’ website, which looks like it’s going to be a fantastic resource for communication within the party. This was followed by a plenary (voting) session, which started by accepting various committee reports – with the only controversy being a point made about having signers at conference. We then moved on to emergency motions – these are motions for conference to consider that could not have been put in by the official deadline. There was a big condemnation of the government’s wish to privatise the NHS, a condemnation of recent persecution of the Roma people in several European countries, and another motion that I’ve temporarily forgotten.

After this, we had a fantastic speech from the party’s Deputy Leader Adrian Ramsey (whose local party picked up yet another council seat the night before conference began). This was followed by a hustings for the membership of the Green Party’s Executive Committee, although I sneaked out halfway through so I had enough time to eat some lunch. After lunch, I went to a session on learning the lessons from Brighton Pavilion’s successful General Election campaign, which was extremely useful, and there was a lot of stuff that I’ll be looking to implement for our local party’s next local elections.

I followed this, by going to a debate about our party’s stance on the Alternative Vote referendum. The party position is that we want a fairer, and more proportional voting system, which AV isn’t. We have two camps within the party on this question. One is saying that, if Caroline Lucas’s amendment to the bill ensure that genuine Proportional Representation is on the table fails, we should back AV as being at least a marginal improvement on First Past the Post. The other camp is saying that AV is as bad, and that we should take no stance. There will be a proper vote at a plenary session on this issue later in the conference.

After that, I went to the launch of Derek Wall‘s new book The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Politics, where it was endorsed by two very different figures from Latin American politics. I look forward to reading it, when conference is over. This was followed by another plenary. This time we were voting on changes to our long-term party policy. In 50 minutes, we got through two motions – one on making banking more sustainable, and the other restating our long-term commitment to reforming the economy to be a steady state economy, rather than one that depends on economic growth.

I finished the day with a double-length session on building a more diverse and inclusive Green Party. I didn’t get as much out of this as I hoped, partly because I was tired at the end of a long day (it was 6 by that point), partly because I was expecting a rather different session to what I got, and possibly partly because I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for many of the workshop exercises.

Anyway, apart from having problems engaging with the final session, I had a very enjoyable second day, and feel like I now know how it all works.

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