Friday, 25 September 2015

Times they are a changing for the party of solutions.

Addressing their party conference in Bournemouth today Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said that there could be no going back to the failed twentieth century solution of perpetual growth.

Politics was, she said, 'heading towards an understanding of social justice' as pressure grows against the 'disastrous' austerity policies of the government.

In a confident and combative speech Natalie Bennett paid tribute to the work done in the commons by Green MP Caroline Lucas and in the Lords by Jenny Jones and also the work of Green Party councillors around the country.

The party had, she said, plans to build on the solid foundations laid during the general election campaign to increase the number of Green councillors at the 2016 local elections.

Throughout her speech Ms Bennett stressed the bottom up nature of the green movement emphasising the role the party has played working with local groups campaigning against austerity and climate change. The Greens were, she said, the 'natural home of the community campaigner.'

She contrasted this with other parties, particularly Labour, in local government who often present as remote and in thrall to vested interests.

Despite being critical of some Labour councillors she welcomed the election of Jeremy Corbyn, citing it along with the success of the SNP as a sign that politics is moving in a more progressive direction.

She also drew attention to the rise of Syrize in Greece and the 'surge' in membership of the Green Party as grounds for optimism that a more people focussed style of politics may be possible.

The biggest change needed though to bring progressive politics into the mainstream in the UK, she suggested, was to the voting system. Ms Bennett called on new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to join with her in campaigning for the introduction of proportional representation, a move that could see the Green representation at Westminster rise to 25 MPs

Ms Bennett attacked the government for its austerity policies and the damage they have done to the lives of vulnerable people, the continued privatisation of public services and its failure to address climate change.

Attracting the biggest round of applause of the whole speech she called on party members to organise public meetings in their communities to highlight the importance of making climate change central to policy making.

The environment also featured prominently when Ms Bennett spoke about what had brought her into politics. A growing feeling based on her training as a scientist that something needed to be done to defend a fragile planet attacked from every side by greed and exploitation.

She spoke about how she was the only leader involved in the election debates who brought environmental issues to the table saying this 'needs to change and change now.'

This was a confident speech delivered by the leader of a party with much to be confident about. Membership is growing and a solid performance in the general election, even if that didn't translate into seats won has brought increased media attention.

The surprising election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader has shifted politics away from spin and towards substance. That is something Natalie Bennett with her no nonsense style and clearly demonstrated convictions has to spare.

The Greens, she told the conference were the 'party of solutions' that believes in a fairer future. As a fresh round of austerity measures hit public services more people could turn to them as an alternative to tired mainstream parties trapped in the past.

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