Sunday, February 17, 2008

Thoughts on hosting conference

By Adrian Windish

For the last few days I've been busy working at front of house at the Green Party Conference. Over the last 4 years I've been to 7 conferences abound the country, and its a wonderful experience to welcome the many people I've met to Reading. Its feels such so strange seeing so many of the most important Greens in the country come to my home town.

And I'm so proud of my local party. We have stepped up campaigning in the last few months in preparation for the local elections in May when we think Rob White, our target candidate, will get elected. Rob opened the conference with a speech, raising our profile within the Green Party
even more. We have letters and articles in the paper every couple of weeks from a growing group of people, and Robs regular column; Whites Trash.

I'm also proud at how well Reading Green Party are coping with its front of house duties. Its not unlike election day, we have a rota and people take turns being at the desk and attending the conference upstairs. The last conferences I've been to the local parties have seemed to need help
to do this. On election day we have a similar rota for being outside the polling stations. When I joined the party in the spring of 2004 we had only a handful of active members, we couldn't find enough people to stand as candidates. Now we have built up a team of people that enjoy standing, giving people a chance to vote green. Events like elections and the conference help us also by encouraging lots of people to get more involved, I've met local members today I've not seen before.

Being at conference is to be amongst a hothouse of green ideas, many of them quite radical. It really brings it home to members, many of whom come from small local parties like Reading, how different it is to be in the company of hundreds of dedicated Greens. It also brings into
contrast the other parties, they are just grey shadows by comparison, deciding policy by focus group and all chasing the same voters. The Greens are the only ones to discuss and decide policy in such a public way, we aren't afraid of what the voters might think.

Photos and report from Bell fringe

[The last 36 hours have been a whirl, and I've had no time to post... So, catching up a bit:]
Here is a pic of me chairing the Martin Bell fringe that was trailed below and that took place on Friday. I was really happy with how it went.
Some highlights: Bell argued that our Party should be anti-war and pro-peace but also pro-soldier, and that this was the way we could come off well and win on this issue, and not alienate those whose lives we were (amongst others) trying to save; he mentioned the 'remarkable' fact that all 165 Murdoch newspaper editors 'independently' decided to back the Iraq war...;
He called upon the Green Party to cast itself as "the Party of honest politics", and suggested that this was a very plausible string to our bow beside our 'core' issues; he said (drawing upon his experience of having fought the Eastern Region Euro-elections last time -- this is the Region where I am now our Party's lead candidate) "Rupert has a very good chance of winning in 2009; You are a mainstream Party now and deserve such breakthroughs; I wish you every good luck."
Wow! You can't get much closer to an endorsement than that...
The meeting was very well-attended indeed and we had a good debate over the issues; Natalie Bennett (also pictured above) spoke well in responding to Martin; and we had a good lunch together afterward, attended also by our three target Westminster candidates (Caroline, Adrian and Darren), during which Martin gave them (and in particular, Caroline) a number of hot tips on how to operate effectively as a loner in the House of Commons!
Exciting times...
[p.s. For more images from Conference, goto ]

Lighter moments

Best line of the Green Party conference:
“You just can’t keep elections up all day.”

A prize for the latest emergency motion:
“As the Evening Standard reported in 208.”
(Just catching up with the Romans...)

Best apology of the conference:
"I can't provide a detailed workshop report because I picked up the wrong piece of paper - a bar bill instead of my notes."