Green Party write social justice into Constitution


10:05 am - February 28th 2013

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The Green Party of England and Wales this weekend enacted what they describe as ‘clause IV moment in reverse’, as delegates at its 40th Spring Conference in Nottingham voted for a left-turn in the constitution.

The statement of core values, which previously focused only on environmental principles, was amended to include a commitment to social justice and a “transformation of society for the benefit of the many not the few”, on the day that the party celebrated being 40-years old.

A substantial majority – 71% – of conference delegates voted in support of the change, which condemns the dominant economic “system based on inequality and exploitation” and calls for “a world based on cooperation and democracy”.

Student member Josiah Mortimer proposed the motion, saying in his speech “The past few years have shown that the Greens are the real party of social justice– this motion is therefore fundamental in enshrining that shift into the party’s core.”

He added: “At a time when Labour are failing to stand up to the coalition’s austerity policies, it is essential the Greens make our position clear – that we are on the side of ordinary people and the planet.”

Party leader Natalie Bennett said: “The Green Party has for many years been the chief champion of social justice in British politics. Our elected representatives and campaigners have led the way in living wage campaigns, in protecting essential public services and speaking up for benefit recipients, asylum-seekers and refugees and the disabled, in the face of demonisation. This change reflects the existing nature of the party.”

At the same conference, Bennett called for an end to poverty wages, child poverty and pensioners being unable to heat their homes in her keynote speech.

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Reader comments


Good. Makes them unelectable.

2. Standing Orders Pedant

Within the Green Party, the constitution is an almost exclusively organisational document, and this change is actually not to the constitution, that’s a separate document.

The change was made to the philosophical basis, which is the cornerstone ideological policy document of the party – it is a massive and significant change, just not to the constitution.

transformation of society for the benefit of the many not the few

So the Green Party have adopted a slogan from the 1997 Labour manifesto? Transformational politics…

4. Chaise Guevara

@ Stuart

“Good. Makes them unelectable.”

You do know that the electorate =/= you, right? Most people believe in social justice of one form or another, whether it’s taxing the rich to help the poor, providing free education to all, ensuring veterans get decent medical support, whatever.

There is a reason why members of The Green Party are called watermelons. Can you guess why?

Yep, just a veneer of green to fool some, but underneath they are true socialists.

If only !

@3 TimJ

I think it comes from Spock in one of the Star Trek movies.

What’s not mentioned is that due to the decentralised way the Greens organise themselves then this means a lot less than the same statement from Labour, for example.

The same body could have a stroke of sanity and embrace nuclear power, but the policy would never find support from the regional parties.

The Greens need to be able to make policy in one forum and then have the party discipline to follow it, otherwise they really can’t say they stand for anything except vague notions of nice things.

8. Chaise Guevara

@ Cherub

To be fair, they’ve had a stroke of sanity RE witchdoctoring: http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/03/02/the-green-party-now-has-a-science-policy-i-can-be-proud-of/

Now all we need is nuclear and GM and we’re set!

I’m glad they’ve done this – although the Green Party has been committed to a broadly left wing social justice agenda for some years now, so its really bringing the constitution in line with what the party already does.

SadButMadLad: “There is a reason why members of The Green Party are called watermelons…”

…and it’s neither particularly insulting nor particularly funny. Calling someone a socialist is really only an insult if you’re American…

@8 Chaise

They may have, but the party is not actually a single entity. It’s a confederation of local parties. They can pick and choose, or even make, their own policies. That’s why this gesture is nothing more than a gesture.

11. Chaise Guevara

@ 10 Cherub

Wasn’t aware of that. OK, I see what you mean.

@Cherub This isn’t true. The Green Party may value and support local autonomy on organisational matters, but the Green Party philosophy is central to all the Green Party do and advocate locally or anywhere. I know, I am a member of the Green Party and have been involved at a local level.

The Green Party have long been concerned with promoting social justice. This is a good move in my opinion as it makes that commitment explicit.

@12 Carrie

I think you inadvertantly proved my point.

@ 13 Cherub I have no idea what you mean.

There is a reason why members of The Green Party are called watermelons. Can you guess why?

Is it to do with sex?

Now all we need is nuclear and GM and we’re set!

Quite. I have a lot of sympathy with the Greens where decentering power is concerned as much as ‘green’ issues themselves but I’m yet to be convinced they’re any more committed to science than the Tea Party.

I want to believe them, I just don’t.

WATERMELONS AND PROUD OF IT!¬

Green on the outside, red on the inside!!

18. So Much for Subtlety

4. Chaise Guevara

You do know that the electorate =/= you, right? Most people believe in social justice of one form or another, whether it’s taxing the rich to help the poor, providing free education to all, ensuring veterans get decent medical support, whatever.

Because, of course, we don’t do any of that already do we? That is not what they mean by Social Justice. As we do that already. Ending child poverty? How do you do that when the figure you use is relative? The only way is to sterilise the poor and they don’t mean that. Nor do they mean what Social Justice usually means. After all, they took Bea Campbell as a candidate. Bea Campbell had no problems accepting regular freebies from the old East Germany. Back when she was still a member of the British Communist Party. Which is no surprise. But she has not repented of it in the slightest. So that is what she means by Social Justice – barbed wire fences, dogs and IKEA using slave labour.

@18 So Much for Subtlety

Another confusing post. The Green Party mean the same by social justice as anyone else. Well anyone else on the left of the political spectrum. The Green Party are a social democratic party, essentially.

The difference with the Green Party and other social democratic parties is that alongside a recognition of the need to promote social justice and equality, we recognise that we also need to live in cooperation with our natural environment. This consideration is worked into our economic and social policies.

There really isn’t any conflict between promoting social justice and respecting the environment. In fact you need both. They are inter-related.

The result of not recognising this is that, not only will the fine balance of the ecosystem that supports us be destroyed, but the outcome will be a global injustice. It is the poor who don’t consume much who are likely to suffer because of the actions of the rich who consume a lot.

There is extensive scientific evidence that supports the threat of climate change incidentally.

If anyone is any doubt of what The Green Party stands for. Here is the 2010 manifesto which sets it out clearly.

http://www.greenparty.org.uk/assets/files/resources/Manifesto_web_file.pdf

20. Warwick Dumas

@7

“The Greens need to be able to make policy in one forum and then have the party discipline to follow it, otherwise they really can’t say they stand for anything”

As I understand it, Green party policy is made through votes at conference. Policy changes are developed and put forward by working groups, and voted on – one member, one vote. Party members, if elected, are expected to do all they can to support the manifesto that got them elected.

Or perhaps I’m being altogether too charitable. I do trust you didn’t mean “My favoured party makes policy through a national executive informed by some focus groups. Even leadership elections are not one member one vote. Dissent at conference is not tolerated. That’s organisation.”.

21. So Much for Subtlety

19. Carrie

Another confusing post.

Well keep at it. You will get there in the end.

The Green Party mean the same by social justice as anyone else. Well anyone else on the left of the political spectrum. The Green Party are a social democratic party, essentially.

To the first sentence, no they don’t or they would not have endorsed Bea Campbell. They are fine with the DDR. That negates anything to do with Justice, social or otherwise, in the minds of most people. But as for the rest, I am afraid you are right. The left of the political spectrum has long since demonstrated that they have no problem with totalitarianism of the Stalinist sort. That is why Richard Gott still works at the Guardian and Zygmunt Bauman is still such an inspiration.

The difference with the Green Party and other social democratic parties is that alongside a recognition of the need to promote social justice and equality, we recognise that we also need to live in cooperation with our natural environment. This consideration is worked into our economic and social policies.

In other words you are an alliance between the Reds and Hippies. We will see who wins out in the long run. As the experience of Germany’s Greens show. Half of them have no problems being in alliance with the Communists.

There really isn’t any conflict between promoting social justice and respecting the environment. In fact you need both. They are inter-related.

No they aren’t and yes there is. You may convince yourself otherwise but if you’re ever to hold power you will have to face reality.

It is the poor who don’t consume much who are likely to suffer because of the actions of the rich who consume a lot.

Actually the poor are mostly suffering from the actions of the poor.

There is extensive scientific evidence that supports the threat of climate change incidentally.

No there isn’t.

@19 So Much for subtlety

Honestly your post is hardly worth responding to when it includes so much misinformation. Having a candidate who formally supported Russian communism, many years ago, seems to be your only argument. It is ridiculous to suggest that, on that basis, the Green Party are an authoritarian communist party. I seem to remember that the Labour Party also contained people who supported communism.

And, I’m sorry, but the climate change evidence is practically universally supported by scientists. Read the Stern report. It is very worrying that so few people are aware of this.

23. Chaise Guevara

@ 18 SMFS

Reds under the bed, eh? I never realised what a terrifying spectre the dreaded Green Party represents. Dun-dun-duuuun!

@ Carrie – you’re new around here, yes? The rest of us have long since learned to ignore SMFS.

“Watermelon” is inaccurate. It implies that the green is superficial and the red is hidden. Neither is true. We’re a stick of rock – green AND red all the way through.

@Mackhno

Okay thanks for the hint! :)

The way you put it is the way I regard the Green Party too. I also question the symbolism of a water melon.

With all this talk of social justice, the green part of what The Green Party stands for should not be regarded as superficial, it goes to the core.

26. Dislecksick

That’s 2 emotional appears in one. Polar bears and poor chimney sweeps. Tug on those heartstrings.

@ Carrie

There is a blog site called skeptical science, where SMFS is – shall we say – debunked…

28. So Much for Subtlety

22. Carrie

Honestly your post is hardly worth responding to when it includes so much misinformation.

Point out a single bit of misinformation. You may not like it but that does not make it untrue.

Having a candidate who formally supported Russian communism, many years ago, seems to be your only argument.

Then you did not read what I liked. Not many years ago either. Until they collapsed and stopped paying her holidays. Yet she is in good standing with the Greens. I doubt you would be taking the same stance over someone who took money and supported the vastly less vile South African Apartheid regime. A single member would, I would bet, be enough to condemn UKIP if one existed.

It is ridiculous to suggest that, on that basis, the Green Party are an authoritarian communist party. I seem to remember that the Labour Party also contained people who supported communism.

I did not say it was an authoritarian Communist party. Although it does have a very deep authoritarian streak in policy making. And the fact that you agree with me that the Left in general has no problem with Quislings from the Left more or less proves my point. Most people do but the Left has lost its moral compass.

And, I’m sorry, but the climate change evidence is practically universally supported by scientists. Read the Stern report. It is very worrying that so few people are aware of this.

No it isn’t. It just isn’t and it won’t become more so if you keep saying it. That is why the IPCC reports were all written by such nonentities.

23. Chaise Guevara

Reds under the bed, eh? I never realised what a terrifying spectre the dreaded Green Party represents. Dun-dun-duuuun!

As usual, avoiding the issue does not answer it.

24. Makhno

“Watermelon” is inaccurate. It implies that the green is superficial and the red is hidden. Neither is true. We’re a stick of rock – green AND red all the way through.

So your counter argument is that the Greens are thoroughly Marxist all the way through and they don’t even bother to hide it? You know, I kind of agree with you. I think the term Watermelon is too kind.

29. Robin Levett

@SMFS #28:

That is why the IPCC reports were all written by such nonentities.

Why do you embarrass youself so?

30. Chaise Guevara

@ 28 SMFS

“As usual, avoiding the issue does not answer it.”

Yes, but something that exists only in SMFS’s head is only an issue for SMFS.

31. Uncle Satan

@ 15 Shatterface.

DON’t TRY IT!

The thing about watermelons is that the pips are scattered rabdomly through the fruit and that can make it very painful.

32. Robbie Spence

for info, here is the motion in full. The Green Party (of England and Wales) February 2013 conference in Nottingham may be the turning point in creating a party to give that voice to those who not only disagree with austerity but want to see a real alternative. The centre point of the conference was a revision of the Philosophical Basis of the party, written by Young Green Josiah Mortimer. The Party voted by over 70% to move to a clause that reads:
“The Green Party is a party of social and environmental justice which supports a radical transformation of society for the benefit of all, and for the planet as a whole. We understand that the threats to economic, social and environmental wellbeing are part of the same problem, and recognise that solving one of these crises cannot be achieved without solving the others.”
see http://brightgreenscotland.org/index.php/2013/02/social-justice-at-the-heart-green-partys-clause-4-moment-at-nottingham-conference-2013/


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