Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Siân Berry Gives Keynote Address To Green Spring Conference

Female Principal Speaker Siân Berry gave her keynote address to the Green Party of England & Wales Spring Conference in Swansea today.


Six months is a very long time in politics.

Since we last met in Hove we have entered an odd time.

Nothing is as it should be - much like the weather.

Like a political fashion show, party leaders are strutting down the catwalk showing off their latest clothes.

And we know whose designs they are copying

Whose clothes they are trying to steal.

But the reality is they haven't changed.

They don't understand that Green isn't a sharp new suit you can wear for a few days.

It has to live in your heart and in your head.

We can all tell that they haven't had a change of heart.

But the fact that their heads haven't grasped the practicalities of what needs to be done is astounding.

It's not as if they haven't been shown the evidence.

Two reports in the last six months have shown that climate change is coming out of the lab and into our daily lives.

The fourth report of the IPCC was truly frightening.

And Stern's economic review put the case for urgent action in a language that even George Bush can understand.

The IPCC gave us a stark warning to expect the worst.

It told us that the tipping point of a 2 degree rise in temperature is a virtual certainty if we don't act now.

Stern showed us that ignoring climate change won't pay

That not investing is a false economy.

And that spending money now is the only thing that will ensure against poverty for all of us in the future

The publication of these reports has at last put climate change on the media's daily agenda.

4x4s are on the way out, and now even airlines are feeling the heat.

Concern for the planet is reaching places I never thought it would.

Even the Sun and the Daily Mail are on the case and asking Greens to comment.

In this new atmosphere, Green achievements are being recognised like never before

On a growing number of authorities, Greens are putting their vision into practice. In Oxford, two million pounds over the last three years has been spent through the city budget on measures to improve energy saving and cut climate change,

thanks to Green councillors holding the balance of power.

In Kirklees, 30,000 homes are getting free insulation

thanks to budget measures devised by Green Councillors

And in London, more than £150 million is being spent this year on measures to help Londoners live more lightly on the planet.

Thanks to the influence of Green Assembly Members

Thanks to their effective veto over London's budget for the past 3 years, London is now on course to be the greenest major city in the world.

Among a long list of innovations, London will see

- a quarter of its energy needs generated locally

- a fleet of new hybrid buses

- renewable energy powering the tube

- and a crash programme of insulation - provided cut price to everyone and completely free to pensioners and those on benefits.

This is all down to the hard and skilled negotiations of our brilliant Green London Assembly Members,

Darren Johnson and Jenny Jones.

Without principled politicians like Darren and Jenny, London would be a much grimmer place.

That's why we are in the Green Party

That's why we are standing in elections

To get into positions where we can make these things happen

We're not here just to protest.

We're not here to stand on the sidelines and ask nicely.

We're here to take votes and win power from the other parties.

And make the changes that will shape the future in a way that makes everyone's lives better.

A future where climate change is being halted.

Where the planet is treated with respect and social justice underpins the way we run our lives.

That's why we stand in elections this year, next year and every year

To undo the inheritance of 20 years of inaction by Tory, Labour and LibDem politicians

Those parties are just now, at the last minute, getting around to thinking about making changes

They, and the media are finally realising that the last minute is this minute - now

That's why we in the Green Party have a moral duty to win elections

We know that the other parties won't do enough

They have proved they lack the courage that is needed to take the big steps

And will continue to delay

Continue to pretend that fundamental changes to our wasteful, consumption-driven society are unnecessary

While the last seconds of the last minute tick away

The other parties aren't up to the job

But we too need to look at ourselves hard.

Are we up to the job?

can we really do it?

The answer is, we have to.

There's no choice.

No other party has the policies.

No other party has the principles.

It has to be us.

And there is a way to make our voice heard beyond our most successful towns and cities.

There is a way to show we have the clout of a serious political party

And that is to challenge every single politician in the country.

The duplicitous, the dangerous, and the 'just don't get it's

Challenge them at the ballot box

At the next general election, we could stand in every constituency in the country

Stand in all 549 constituencies in England and Wales

to give people the right I believe everyone should have.

The right to vote for what they believe in.

The right to vote Green.

By doing this, we would show that we have come of age.

That we truly are the alternative to the three old parties.

And challenge the idea that we are marginal to this country's future.

That's a very big idea and I can't tell you how we'll do it.

But I do know that I'd rather fight from now to election day to get us every possible candidate as possible,

than let the other parties have a free ride.

That's why today, conference, I want to open up a debate about going for a full slate of candidates.

It's a big job and a difficult choice,

And in the end, it will be your choice - because it will take your hard work to do it.

You'll need to find candidates, support and funds

The party can help, but it's you, the members, who will need to go out and stand in these constituencies.

The party can improve its central fundraising, but it's you, the members, who will have to raise most of the deposits.

Can we do it? Six months ago, I would have said we probably could.

But since becoming principal speaker, since having the chance to meet more of our amazing and talented people,

Since visiting local parties like St Albans who have already done it.

Now I am sure we can do it.

And what about this year?

In these elections four years ago we made extraordinary gains.

- We doubled our representation in Brighton

- We created large green groups in places like Norwich, Lancaster and York

- And we saw a sevenfold increase in members of the Scottish Parliament

This time we are heading for even more impressive gains.

We can repeat our successes in Oxford, Kirklees and London, and hold real influence in many more towns and cities.

We can seize the balance of power on more councils this year

We can overtake other parties to become the official opposition

We can win our first Assembly Members in Wales - as we have done with Brian Wilson's magnificent victory in Northern Ireland

We can even look forward to seeing Greens in government in the UK for the first time in Scotland

People are turning to us

We will benefit from that

And we owe it to the people of Britain to bring Green governance to their doorsteps

In their councils, their regional assemblies, and then at Westminster

Because, in order to see real money diverted to combat climate change, we have shown we need Green politicians in power!

That's why we are gathered here in Swansea,

where we are expecting our first Green Assembly Member in Wales in May - Rhodri Griffiths.

And that's why many of us can't wait to get back home

to canvassing

talking to voters on their doorsteps

showing them what Greens will do with their support

Together, we will be spending the next 6 weeks attacking the monopoly of the establishment parties

So let's get out there and get people to vote Green!

And remember, we have one world and one chance to get it right"

Jim, who is blogging from conference, comments on the two Principal Speaker speeches here.

He has also blogged on how Green Party Conference is organised here, the debate on democracy and localisation here, and Green Party Executive structures here.

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At 7:14 pm, Anonymous snake said...

wow you live a crazy life . Keep on rocking


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