Thursday 21 February 2013

The fight against austerity a major focus for Green Party Conference this weekend

I will be off to the Green Party's Spring Conference this weekend and hope to see the party strengthening its opposition to austerity, privatisation and cuts and committing to building broad alliances with others fighting on these issues.

In that regard one of the most important fringes will be on Saturday afternoon on Building the Movement Against Austerity and Privatisation with Sylvian Savier of Front de Gauche and Peter Allen of Green Left. An emergency motion will propose the Green Party  support the Coalition of Resistance's People's Assembly Against Austerity which will take place on 22nd June 2013.

Cuts will remain a controversial issue in the light of the decisions facing the minority Green Council in Brighton and Hove and support for Councillors Against the Cuts. There is a fringe on Sunday which will focus on 'the way the Greens (in Brighton and Hove) have sought to resist town hall cuts, the compromises that have to be made and how the wider party in the city has been galvanised into taking the arguments back to Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities Eric Pickles and the city's Tory MPs.'

Significantly the blurb adds, 'This won't be a debate about the merits or otherwise of the council's budget decisions'. It may not happen in that forum but the debate will certainly take place.

I will be hoping to gather support for my own emergency motion on forced academies which I reproduce below:
Conference recognises that Michael Gove has recently escalated his policy of forcing primary schools to become academies so that now only one poor Ofsted report is required to trigger such a move. This has currently resulted  in several strong parent-led campaigns in defence of  community schools.

The Green Party believes forced academisation:

  • Undermines the role of local authorities and school governing bodies in school improvement
  • Undermines local democratic accountability of schools
  • Ignores the wishes of major stakeholders including governors and parents
  • Hands over local assets to an external provider without recompense
  • Opens the school to eventually being run on a profit-making basis
Conference therefore instructs the GPEX campaigns coordinator to facilitate a campaign against this policy at national level over the next 6 months and calls on  local parties to take up the issue where appropriate.
The failure of the Green Party to make much impact in the polls despite the Coalition's unpopularity and Labour's lack lustre performance will merit some soul-searching. The fact that an ex-Green Party parliamentary candidate for Eastleigh, Dr Iain Maclennan,  is standing for National Health Action in the current by-election and gaining broad-based support is also worth discussion.

The Green Party holds conferences twice a year and remains a conference that actually makes and debates policy rather than one which merely  showcases the leaders which is increasingly the case with the major parties.

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