Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Friday, March 30, 2012

RIP John Norris

I have recently heard that long term Green activist John Norris has sadly passed away.  John's co-authored pamphlet "The Way Ahead" - which was followed by a bulletin of the same title, was the document that initially won me over to the Green Party as a potential vehicle for social, economic and political change.  I met John early on in my time as a Green Party member and he was always impressive in his grasp of how the Party worked, how it could work and how positive changes could be made.  He was also a really kind and generous man.  Here is his obituary from the latest Green Party of England and Wales internal mailing. 

John Norris RIP
We regret to tell you of the death of John Norris at his home in York. John Norris had been a member of the Green Party since the mid-1980s. Anyone who knew John will not easily forget him.

John held many posts in the Green Party - including Policy Co-ordinator in the pre-GPEX/GPRC days, GPEX Chair, Policy Co-ordinator, International Co-ordinator, and that's just on GPEX and doesn't mention his time on GPRC, Standing Orders Committee or Conferences Committee.

John put a great deal of himself into his Green Party activities. Much of our peace and defence policy was written by John as well as international policy.
John Norris and John Morrissey jointly edited The Way Ahead, following the formation of the Association of Socialist Greens. Issue 1 appeared in May 1992 and the final edition Issue 47 in February 2000.

John and his hat were synonymous, especially at conference. John was also renowned for the length of his telephone conversations. He ended up in York. John loved York, he loved the members in York and called York one of the most beautiful and magical cities in the world. He even stood as a candidate in York.

John died almost instantaneously and wouldn't have suffered. We will all miss that intellect, that knowledge and that awesome memory for minute detail especially when arguing with him at conference in that hat.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Brighton on rocky ground?

The Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) took control of a local Council recently amidst much euphoria. However, after the councillors tried to deal with the central government cuts onslaught through a 1980s-labour soft left style "dented shield" policy things went a bit pear shaped. Labour and the Tories united to vote down the rise in Council Tax proposed and counter-proposed that the Green group accept Eric Pickles (Local Government Minister) Council Tax Freeze bribe. Whilst some voices argue that the Greens should now step down and allow Labour and the Tories to embarrass themselves in their de-facto establishment coalition the Councillors (with an honourable exception Alex Phillips) decided to go ahead with an "even more dented shield" policy which will likely lead to even more cuts being forced on them next year.

A bit disappointing that people have left the GPEW and internal ecosocialist grouping Green Left over the Brighton situation - while I think what has happened there is unfortunate and damaging to the Party I have always been sceptical about what can be achieved through conventional political channels anyway! For me the GPEW is simply the most convenient political bench to park my political butt on where I can link up with others and actually get people to listen to quite radical arguments that they might dismiss if coming from someone from a group they dismissed as "extremist". Where will those leaving the Party go? Labour? Now that really would be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. The Trotskyist groups (or their political/campaigning fronts?) Though working happily with them in anti-cuts group etc, I can't stomach their methods and attitudes tbh, coming from a libertarian left/syndicalist background, but each to their own. The Communists? Nah! The only group/party even worth considering in England for someone retaining most of the views they had in the Green Party or Green Left would be the Alliance For Green Socialism - and unfortunately they are tiny and appear almost moribund, so in most parts of the country you we be starting from scratch trying to build a Party with almost no public recognition.

So I will be staying with the GPEW for the time being. IMO the most interesting things happening at the moment on the left are not to do with parties but movements and the beginnings of a much needed turn to the workplaces and communities. We will see how it all develops. Anything could happen this year with the situation in the Middle East/Iran and the continuing banking/Sovereign Debt/Euro etc crisis. Small developments could become very big in a short period of time. Interesting times.

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