Monday, August 2, 2010

Birmingham Conference 10th - 13th Sept.

Just to flag up that the Birmingham conference will from Friday the 10th to Monday the 13th of September. You can get your cheap early bird discount by booking online here. For those thinking about the executive elections held at the same time you may be interested in this page.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Last Finchley Post (honest)

A few posts that I missed last time, or hadn't been written... Let me know if I've missed anyone off - I'm sure I can't have spotted everything.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Conference reports

The lack of wifi in the venue has held back regular round ups but better late than never!
  • Caroline Lucas had a whole article in the Daily Express of all places. Excellent!
The conference twitter feed was quite the success by the way and we'll be using the same collaborative tag for every conference from now on. If I've missed off any articles or posts you'd like me to mention please leave a comment with a link. Thanks.

There is also the official version at the national website.

On an unrelated note...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Finchley Green Party Conference 2010

Well, we've just had day one of the last conference before the general Election. Here's a quick round up of what some people are saying about it;
Report in the Finchley Times.

The real blogging will start tomorrow I reckon. Let me know if you've written a post that I've not highlighted.

Monday, March 30, 2009

When is an economist not an economist

I had a rather unpleasant experience last week at the Welsh Economics Colloquium, a gathering of research-active economists in Wales. I was only able to attend for the final day but had quite forgotten how detached from the real world many economic researchers are.

In fact, economists in Wales are fairly empirical (for which read that they do take the workings of the world itself into account), but the keynote address was by a Manchester-based economist who spent an hour of our time outlining a mathematical theory about optimal currency areas without mentioning the present financial crisis at all and with barely any relationship to the euro.

Having spent several years on the national steering group of the anti-euro campaign there were a wealth of questions I could have asked but the paper was so enclosed in its own theoretical bubble that there was simply no way in. This economist publishes in the highest-level journals, which only confirms my suspicion that they deliberately exclude any work that has any thing to do with reality because that reality proves the inapplicability of the theories of conventional economics.

As Mark Blaug put it: 'Modern economics is sick. Economics has increasingly become an intellectual game played for its own sake and not for its practical consequences for understanding the economic world. Economists have converted the subject into a sort of social mathematics in which analytical rigour is everything and practical relevance is nothing.'

The level of response to my own presentation - about the excellent potential of Wales as a green economy - was much lower than I would encounter in a political setting, or from those involved in the Transition Town movement. It barely rose above the level of guilt-tripping - 'Why do you live in Stroud and work in Cardiff?' being an example question. The arch-theoretician asked a question so abstract that my mind failed to comprehend it. I do remember that it began 'If you had been alive a million years ago, when the temperature was 10 degrees hotter than it is now . . .'

Over the years I have moved from claiming venehmently that I am not an economist, to feeling comfortable using the title 'green economist' to actually think that maybe I might be an economist. After this experience I feel sympathy with Hazel Henderson revulsion from the economics profession. Too many economists are happy to draw large salaries, paid for by people shovelling chips in McDonalds, for creating work that has no value and no relevance.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Final round up

Conference is over and I'm sure over the next couple of days there'll be some snippets and thoughts coming out. As new ones come in I'll add them here, but right now many bloggers will be making their way home looking forward to the sleep of the righteous.
Meanwhile deputy leader Adrian Ramsay calls for a radical agenda for public services and banking. His speech also received press attention in Norwich.

Rowan Pelling mentions us in The Telegraph. Hurrah - Telegraph finally acknowledges we exist!

Emergency motions passed on;
Supporting student occupations over Gaza
On the medical centre behind the British Library
Funding for rape crisis centres
The Fuel Poverty Private Members' Bill
Final info on motions - check out conference documents (pdf) for texts.

DO4 "prioritisation of motions" fell
D03 "additional synopsis" passed
DO1 and D02 "members' subs" withdrawn
C17 "Northern Ireland" passed
C16 passed
C15 "criminal justice" passed (minor textual change)
C14 "geo-engineering" passed with both amendments

Also for those inclined to the detail of motions;

B10 Tourism VP (which is where we overhaul and update an entire section of policy)

A1 fell
A2 withdrawn
A3 fell
A4 passed
A5 passed
A6 passed
A7 passed
A8 passed
A9 passed
A10 fell
A11 fell
A12 passed
A13 passed
A14 fell
A15 fell
A16 passed
A17 passed
A18 passed
A19 passed
A20 passed
A21 passed – but it just duplicates TM063
A22 passed
A23 passed
A24 passed
A25 passed
A26 withdrawn

Whole paper as amended passed

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sellwood's view....

Just a few brief thoughts from Conference as I sit here in my tiny hotel room, listening to the intriguing sounds of a Blackpool Saturday night.

1) It's really nice to be at a Conference when I don't have any official duties, where there isn't anything enormously contentious being discussed, and when I've been in the Party long enough to know over half the people in the venue. I've been mostly wandering around, having cups of tea, organising informal meetings with people, and doing favours for those who look more harried than me. An excellent way to do Conference, I think!

2) Some good motions have been passed, and some useful fringe meetings put on. In particular, motions CO1 (deepening the Green New Deal) and CO2 (adopting European Green Party migration statement) were both progressive, helpful and overwhelmingly supported. As ever, the fringe meetings have illustrated the great depth of knowledge available in the Party - with sessions on 'reframing Green politics' (featuring a video appearance from my old boss, George Marshall) and 'beyond the Green New Deal' particularly intriguing. Although it should be said that the latter was absolutely terrifying - the figures on how deep a hole capitalism has dug itself into are very very very worrying indeed.

3) I've also spent some time, as is my wont, critiquing the things that we need to do better as Greens. I asked a couple of questions at GPEX Question Time, mainly revolving around my favourite subject of internal democracy/transparency/accountability. I was promised, directly, that GPEX minutes would start to go up onto the members website, and that a new and widely publicised GPEX announcement elist would be set up. I wait with baited breath. As well as this, the still somewhat timid (in comparison to what needs to happen, though obviously still miles ahead of any of the mainstream parties) Green New Deal proposals need a lot of work - both in terms of radicalising them so that we ensure a massively better deal for the poorly paid* and in terms of democraticising them so that we use this opportunity to call for economic democracy in the workplace.

4) Of course, it wouldn't be Conference if I wasn't worked up about at least a few things. One of these is D04, due to be discussed on Monday. This would introduce a provision whereby motions introduced by 'official Party bodies' would have primacy in prioritisation over motions introduced by grassroots members. Clearly, this cannot be allowed to pass and I will be speaking strongly against it. The other thing is a throwaway line by the Chair of GPEX in answering a question, which bodes ill for my blood pressure at Autumn Conference. It sounds very much as if he is intending to bring a motion to that conference proposing 2 year terms for all members of GPEX. Those who remember my (failed) fight against 2 year rather than 1 year terms for our Leader/Deputy Leader will not be surprised to hear that I am already determined to oppose such a measure, should it appear.

Well, I suspect that is all my poor, strained wireless connection can stand. I'll try to post another update on Monday!

* Which, of course, is one of the best ways to stimulate the economy...not that New Labour would realise this in a month of Sundays.

Saturday's update

More video from the leader's speech from the BBC. Accuses the government of lying on climate change.

From the national site;


Emergency motion against Heathrow - passed.
Tourism paper - passed.
  • Amendments passed - 4 to 9, 12, 13, 16 to 25
  • Amendments fell - 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 14, 15, 26
C13 "carbon caputre and storage" falls
C12 "monetary policy" passed with amendment 1
C11 "international finance" passed
C10 "solar power" passed
C09 "intellectual property" passed
C08 "women in business" passed
C07 "zero carbon Britain" refered back
C06 "climate policy" refered back
A2 and A3 passed
CO5 "Maternity services" passed with amndment 1
CO4 "Gender and asylum" passed
CO3 "Domestic abuse" passed
CO2 "Migration" passed
CO1 "Campaigning for an alternative economic strategy" passed with amends 1, 2, and 4

You can look up conference documents here (pdf) for the wording of motions, etc. As before let us know if you have links for the round ups.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Blackpool conference

We're not doing a full blogging experience from Blackpool this conference. However, I thought it might be handy to do the occasional round up just for those who drop by on the off chance.

Key links

A few key links first. You find the Party Conference section on the national party's website useful. There's also the news section where I'm sure the press office will be posting up hot stories for your delectation.

Then there is the conference guide (pdf), which includes all the motions and amendments that are going to debated at Blackpool.

Some party members are "twittering" from conference. Check it out here.


Even on day one there's already been some blog responses to conference.
  • Joseph Healey is (or should that be was?) looking forward to conference.
  • Derek Wall is hoping the conference isn't going to get too corporate.
  • Even though I'm not at conference I've blogged on the economics resolution and why it's so important to call for the nationalisation of the energy industry.
  • Matt Wooten posts up his notes, references and further reading from his fringe on political strategy.
In the news

There was some coverage of the first day of conference;
  • The BBC has a good clip and extensive quoting for Caroline Lucas' opening speech.
  • The Independent leads with the Greens approach to recession.
  • says we were right all along. I know.
  • This is Somerset bigs up local Green Richard Lawson, showing that a national conference can be turned into local press.
Let us know, leave a comment

Please do alert us to anything we should be linking to about Green Party conference that we've missed. There'll be one or two more round ups depending on how much is out there to shout out about.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The New Knife on the Streets?

A rather belated post from me on the RSPCA fringe on Dangerous Dogs at conference can be found on my blog. What Clare Robinson from the RSPCA and Sgt Ian McParland from the Met's Dog Support Unit said certainly chimed with experiences in my ward in Lewisham. Was really pleased that organisations such as the RSPCA came along to the Green Party Conference this year, and hope it will become a regular event in the party conference calendar for many more NGOs going forward.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Elections, elections, elections

So, I guess I should go through the results of the other elections before I collapse into sleep...

First the postal ballots for GPEx... (turnout 34.7%)


Jim Killock 914
James Humphreys 1,592
RON 34

Equality and Diversity...

Shahrar Ali 579
Maya De Souza 1,547
Linda Duckenfield and Lyndsay McAteer 396
RON 27

External Communications...

Tracy Dighton-Brown 1975
Richard Eden 505
RON 54

And the other election result I have to hand... SOC!

There are five posts for this rather important internal committee that essentially overseas much of the democratic process of the party. There were nine candidates of whom four were elected before RON kicked in.

The four were Payam Torobi, Mark Hill, Pippa Lane and Jim Jepps - which means only one of the previous five has continued into this year - and he has to step down in Spring unfortunately as he will then have been on the committee for three years.

A radical, feminist party

After a workshop with a guest speaker on the final day of the Green Party conference today, I asked the speaker (who had better remain nameless since I didn't ask her if I could quote her) how different she'd found it to other party conferences that she attended. "You're a lot more radical," she said.

And of course she's right. You start to regard such radicalism as "normal" after a few days at conference - and not realise how views about basic fairness and equality are still regarded as radical in the "outside world".

But sometimes it can be very pleasing. I moved, with the support of our new leader Caroline Lucas, among many others, the following emergency motion:
The Green Party conference notes that in October Westminster MPs will be voting on an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill to extend the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland. It notes that women in Northern Ireland, through the rulings of the parliament in London, have suffered daily discrimination in having to travel to England to pay for an abortion. It notes that it is the poor, the young and the otherwise disadvantaged for whom this presents the most difficulties, but that for all women this means delay that results in abortions that are carried out later than would otherwise be necessary.
Conference calls on MPs to support amendments extending the same access to abortion that has been available to women in England, Scotland and Wales to the women of Northern Ireland.

That motion was not only passed by conference, but passed by an overwhelming majority, with only a very few hands raised in opposition.

It's not an easy topic to raise and get attention paid to. As soon as you mention any issues associated with Northern Ireland a great many journalists and political types roll their eyes and change the subject, and then if you combine that with abortion – a subject that tends to sink into conversations of uncomfortable silence – you're really fighting a battle.

But the Green Party is prepared to take on the difficult issues, the challenging issues - one reason why I'm involved with it, when I can't imagine being involved (and never have even previously considered getting involved) in any other party.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Age Of Stupid

As Sue mentions below, "The Age of Stupid" was shown last night at conference. It was a very impressive film. It will be released in early 2009.

It's time to start calling up the local arty cinema to get them to schedule it/look out for it.

The film stars Pete Postlethwaite as a lone archivist, in a platform in the midst of a raging sea, in 2055. The ark-ive contains the world's art, two of each animal, and the digitised knowledge of humanity in humming Matrix-hatchery-esque servers.

The set-up is a faux documentary, narrated by Postlethwaite asking why we didn't act earlier, which looks at six case-studies in 2008 (an aspiring medical student in the Niger Delta; a French mountain-climber mourning over glaciers; a wind turbine project manager frustrated with NIMBYs; Iraqi refugees in Jordan - the idea of climate wars; a retired oil worker who was a local hero during the Katrina aftermath; and a Indian Stelios setting up a low-cost airline).

What's also interesting is that the film was "crowd-funded" ... 280 investors gave between £50 and £5000 and each own a percentage of the film. This gives the filmmakers complete editorial freedom, plus control of the distribution. All profits will be shared between the investors and crew, who worked for massively reduced rates.

The folks to contact for more information about screening the film, and its widespread distribution, is Spanner Films.

Photo credit:

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Media Coverage of Conference

I thought I would start this post that others can add to, to analyse the media coverage of this conference, given that 'the media expect us to have a leader' and 'we will get more media coverage if we have a leader' were some of the arguments made by those in favour of moving to a leadership structure (myself included). I've not had chance to see much, but the BBC coverage seemed pretty reasonable, although I found myself more interested in working out what the people wandering around behind Caroline were doing in this interview. What other coverage has there been, and how does it compare to previous conferences? I realise that the real test will of course be over a longer time period.