1 Aug 2008

Statement from Caroline Lucas and Adrian Ramsay

Dear Green Left,

Here is a statement from Caroline Lucas and myself in response to recent e-mails about the election process. The ERO for the election is happy for us to send this statement to this list because of the allegations that were made about Caroline. The ERO has asked, however, that we don't participate in further debate on the issue on the list after the statement has been circulated. In these circumstances, I would ask that the moderator of this list lets this message through as soon as possible (I am not on the list myself).

Adrian Ramsay.

Dear fellow members,

Joseph Healy has circulated a personal record of a meeting that took place on 10th May in London. This record was incomplete and misleading, and was not approved by those in attendance. However, we absolutely assert the right of party members to meet and discuss ways of making the Party more effective – surely that is the job of all responsible politicians.

As leadership candidates, of course we are encouraging strong candidates to stand for GPEX positions, and nurturing the talent and enthusiasm we have in the party. We are sure that we are not the only people who have been talking about who might stand for the Executive and encouraging potential candidates to put themselves forward. For example, in a public article in January, Sean Thompson argued that Green Left should be encouraging as many of its members as possible to stand for GPEX.

That is the right of Green Left – and as Leadership candidates, it is our duty as responsible candidates as well. And we will be completely open about who we are supporting and voting for in the Executive elections. A suggestion has been made about the potential misuse of party finances. We would like to make it absolutely clear that of course no party funds are being spent on the campaigns of any individual candidates, and that this has never been considered. We find it quite extraordinary, as well as deeply offensive, that this suggestion should have been made on the GPRC list. Moreover, on our websites we are both encouraging members to donate money to the party – the web-links provided are for donating directly to the party's central funds. The next two years are a crucial time for the party, with both the European and General Elections taking place. We face a huge challenge, and need to make more progress over the next two years than in the last twenty. We want our party to engage with all of our members, the wider Green movement and the British public, not just our internal activist base.

The wider public needs to hear from us, and recognise that there is a genuine alternative to the grey politics of business-as-usual – Green politics, based on our radical policies on social justice and the environment. We look forward to healthy competition, genuine debate about how we achieve our goals and, above all, to positive campaigning in the leadership and Executive elections. Members need to be involved in that debate, and be given the opportunity to judge which candidates are in the best position to help ensure the party's future success.

If any members are unhappy with any of the candidates, we hope they will take the opportunity to stand in the elections themselves to give members that choice. The internal elections taking place over the next two weeks are crucial to internal party democracy and involving the members in deciding the party’s priorities and direction. But we must not allow these elections to lead us to become too internally focused. We need all our elected representatives, all our Executive members and all our members to be focused on the task in hand: taking our message to the heart of British politics. We need to focus on breaking out of the political fringe to achieve real influence. Our task is urgent, and the stakes are high.

Caroline Lucas MEP Cllr Adrian Ramsay

Dear all,
There has been a lot of discussion on the Green Left list as to what transpired at the invitation only meeting at Gaunts House in June and the previous ones in other years. I do not have the answers to this but some parts of the jigsaw can be put together from the minutes of this pre-meeting of many of the same figures who met at Gaunts one month later. Several leading figures in the party are referred to, including three members of the Executive. And a clear strategy for having a slate and the ‘Leader project’ is revealed. In the interests of transparency and democracy I am now making them available on this list. Like any good investigative journalist, I cannot reveal my source at present. Members can put questions to some of those mentioned who are standing for leading positions in the party. My impression is that the meeting took place in London at ULU. Once again it was invitation only.
Joseph Healy
Green Left

making leadership work
10th May 2008
update from SOC. 5 minutes
MW reported that SOC is revising the Leadership regulations, and we should have a more positive approach to campaigning for the leadership elections.
ACTION> SOC to contact Green World about Membership Data Statement/Opt-out.
update from ConfComms. 5 minutes
Jon Nott and Dean have met with ERS: counting ballots over weekend will incur further cost. Perhaps better to count in house so results will be available on Saturday for announcement Sunday and speech on Monday.
MW reported that conference is in London at a prestigious venue and ConfComm are trying to organize a lot of central, reasonably-priced accommodation in order to increase turnout and accessibility.
ACTION: next GPEx meeting: 31st May. Matt F and Matt W to take proposal for accommodation to GPEx
fundraising for leadership team. 10 minutes / Daily running of leadership unit 10 minutes
Caroline expressed her belief that there must be some money for Leadership office, ideally 2 or 3 staff, because BPav is the priority and is extremely time intensive. We need to think of a range of funding options in order to do this.
Sarah suggested the Greens for Parliament fund
Jim argued that Caroline should be the figurehead for what Jon is delivering, which will automatically give an impression of a step-change in progress.
Sarah suggested a European scheme for democracy that could fund research. Matt Wootton suggested that money for a political assistant for Caroline could be
hypothecated under the Greens for Parliament banner, for example raising £3 a month from 1000 people would create £36k p.a. This could be raised during a canvass for Caroline as leader.
It was suggested that perhaps national party subscription rates need to be augmented and/or general fundraising increased.
It was reported that there is a "Westminster fund, run by GPEx.
It was also suggested that a private body could simply raise money then donate.
It was suggested that the Caroline for Leader campaign could employ an assistant, that could be then paid for by the party. This also could be raised during a canvass for Caroline as leader.
No firm conclusion reached.
Euro and General Election campaign planning. 10 minutes.
Gpex/Leadership elections personnel. 20 minutes.
It was agreed that Darren was happy to perform the role of Deputy, and Adrian Ramsay felt that Darren was a more appropriate person to do that. It was confirmed that Peter Tatchell does not wish to stand. Caroline said that she was not looking forward to the role of Leader because of the time commitment, and needs more assurances, including competent people standing for GPEx.
Matt Follett said that some people could perhaps be persuaded to stand for GPEx, including Roger C-0. Ben Duncan (as an inactive person), (name removed at request of individual)...
Sarah felt that Richard had improved as chair, but Jim said that he was still unhappy with him. It was agreed generally however that a confrontation was more unhelpful and probably more dangerous than simply keeping Richard onside.
Sarah said that Chris Haine was not interested in any role except as a job-share with Sarah for Elections Co-ordinator.
It was suggested that (name removed at request of individual)... could stand as a job share with Tony Cooper, on the premise that (name removed at request of individual)...went to GPEx meetings, not Tony.
It was agreed that Caroline should talk to Khalid and suggest he does not restand. Matt Follett suggested Dave Lane from Leicester could stand for Finance. Jon Nott noted that Khalid's successor should meet and be endorsed by Khalid.
ACTION: It was agreed that Jim and Matt W would be responsible with Malt Follett for corralling the GPEx candidates and overseeing the process.
"Greens for Parliament". 10 minutes.
Gaunts. 5 minutes.
Greens for Parliament and Gaunts were discussed in the garden.
ACTION: Darren and Sarah agreed that they would launch Greens for Parliament at the AGC Conference at the end of July.
Mark phoned Ralph and established that there was definitely now no possibility of having the previous set of OMA trainers.
ACTION: It was agreed to go ahead with a Gaunts event anyway and try to integrate an OMA component if possible
Motions to conference - in particular the 5 year rule, and what happens to ext comms in euro and the general election years. 15 minutes.
Caroline encouraged Jim to stand next year for Ext Comms. Jim mooted an idea he had to amend the 5 year rule, and there was general agreement to support it.
Gpex accountability proposals - Manifesto of Professionalism (Matt Follett). 10 minutes.
See separate paper


Anonymous said...

Thank God you made the right decision and didn't stand again Derek.

You manage to be both total cynic and utter political naive, willing to make people's lives a misery and never accepting the reality that politics in practice means you make compromises and work with people.

You have the politics of a teenager.

But at least by not standing you will be leaving it to others to make the party work, which is right, since you cannot find it in yourself to trust your fellow members in any regard.

Douglas Coker said...

Derek. This is disappointing - just a copy and paste job with no comment from you. Already read it all and I've commented at length on the Green Left list - if you haven't seen it check your in-box.

How about a bit of robust debate, vigorous debate even. Post my contribution here, light the blue touch paper and stand back ;-)

Douglas Coker
Enfield Green Party

Derek Wall said...

I think from the comment above yours touch papers have already been lit, Douglas you are very welcome to comment....

Sue Luxton said...

Derek - do you really think publishing all this on your blog, complete with names of individuals etc, is in the best interests of the party?

Douglas Coker said...

OK Derek. Here you go ...

This is an edited extract of something I contributed to the GL list earlier today. Edits for brevity/clarity/discretion in view of wider readership.

The Green Party Yes campaign/Making Leadership Work group have been accused of meeting secretly. This is not the whole story. I’ve indicated previously the first GY/MLW meeting was the subject of an open session at the Hove GP conference in 2006. Not only this but members of Green Empowerment attended the first GY/MLW meeting. Clearly this initial meeting was followed by what has become a series and yes, these as far as I can see, are “invite only”.

Buy hey surprise, surprise. The debate around the leadership structure was acrimonious. Green Yes won and Green Empowerment lost – clearly and decisively. GE have dissolved presumably leaving GL to continue “campaigning”. GY/MLW have continued with I presume, the aim of pursuing changes such that the GP will be more successful. And isn’t this happening all the time throughout the party. Groups meet with a shared agenda to do stuff - to do politics. Just look at any conference agenda. Check the names of those proposing motions. These people, groups of 3, 4 maybe a handful, have collaborated/cooperated and they didn’t invite me! Did they invite you?

Would there be an awkward silence if I pitched up at the next Green Left meeting?

I think the real problem here for residual GE/GL people is that GY/MLW was/is sizeable, comprises a relatively large proportion of leading members and is likely to be effective. Surely all GY participants, whether post holders or not, have the right to participate as individual members of the party. Goodness some prominent members of GL seem to have plenty of hats. And the invite only business – when you have a clear agenda and purpose you are hardly likely to ask along those with whom you’ve recently had an acrimonious debate – they might attempt to sabotage your efforts.

I actually think GY/MLW might be missing a trick – they could, following the leadership vote, claim they have some sort of mandate to see that the party transitions effectively from Speakers to Leaders.

Douglas Coker
Enfield Green Party

Jools said...

To be fair to Derek there's a lot of people (GP members and others) who won't be subscribed to the Green Left list so won't be aware of the issues involved. Perhaps a paragraph or two of context would have been better but often that's what blogs are about, a quick copy and paste job leaving the commenters to carry on the debate.

And let's face it at least now there is a debate of sorts happening! If it wasn't for Derek and others in Green Left bringing this to light I'm sure there are some who would have been very happy for none of this to come to light, "in the best interests of the party" of course!

The bottom line for me is that the party I joined a little over a year ago is starting to display a worryingly New Labour-esque quest for power at all costs. Democracy and good 'leadership' comes from the grassroots of the party becoming involved in all levels of decision-making. We are not sheep, we don't need our esteemed 'leaders' to play silly little power games in behind-closed-doors meetings. Yes we want to make ourselves electable but for goodness sake not at the cost of openness, transparency and accountability in everything that we do.

Swindon Green Party

Mr Andy C said...

The big difference between Green Left and MLW is that GL are completely open about their business. There is a website, with minutes at http://gptu.net/gleft/greenleft.shtml and the email list is open, with many who do not share our views subscribed to it.

Anonymous said...

The Green left list is closed, as is "greenleadercoord" and nor is Green Empowerment.

Green Left is now a subscription group, and to join you have to say you agree with the "Headcorn Declaration" and are in effect an ecosocialist. This makes the whole thing closed.

And let's face it, Derek, Sarah, Penny and Joseph must be constantly on the phone or email plotting.

So Derek doesn't take minutes when he is carving the party up. I don't think that makes him "pure".

Nor does trying to destroy the party's greatest political asset, Caroline Lucas, in the name of "purity".

I don't think the party is likely to forgive Derek for this latest bout of insanity. This isn't 1989, the party has grown up quite a bit since then.

MikeS said...

It's true that a £5 per year subscription is payable from Oct this year, to be on the GL discussion list. But this is hardly 'closed'.

I think many members will admire Derek's stand here, in favour of proper democracy. He is defending the soul of the party, whether you you are left, right or centre.

Anonymous said...

Mike, if Derek was defending "real democracy" why didn't stand for election against Caroline?

Presumably because he wants to cause an almighty stink and not have to deal with the consequences.

That is very dark politics, it is irresponsible and fundamentally anti-democratic.

Mr Andy C said...

I agree, many members, not just of the left will admire Derek's stand. The Open Letter to the Chair, Co-chairs and SOC was signed by many members of the party not associated with Green Left but concerned about the drift of power from the grass roots of the party to the centre.

Anonymous said...

GreenLeft are open about one thing: they clearly hold the rest of the Party in contempt, and as such, GL are welcome to fuck off and trounce around like the trot sect they are. But they have adopted the best (?) of the far left's bureaucratic centralism - unlike the Bolsheviks, the revolutionary antics of the GL consist mainly of writing shit about Jim Killock, Sian Berry, and now Caroline Lucas in e-mail lists.

They are fucking cowards, and we should stop paying any attention to them

Mr Andy C said...

"Mike, if Derek was defending "real democracy" why didn't stand for election against Caroline? "

Perhaps he didn't have £2500 to spare.

MikeS said...

Mr Anon - you are getting hysterical. Go lie down for a while.

Douglas Coker said...

Mr Andy C said ... "GL are completely open about their business." " ... completely ..." Hmmm! What makes you say that? No chance you are being a tad naive?

Douglas Coker
Enfield Green Party

Anonymous said...

Standing costs nothing. He's copped out. And he's left people like you who believe in him in the lurch.

Why didn't he ask you to campaign with him against Caroline?

He didn't need to spend even a pound making his points.

But he'd rather just cause trouble.

Matt H said...

I think "Anonymous" is the same "Anonymous" who posted vitriol on the Scribo Ergo Sum blog attacking Derek.

How dare you accuse others of cowardice and attack their behaviour, when you hurl abuse, swear, rant and hide behind anonymity?

Who are you, you elitist coward? I have my suspicions. I don't want the likes of you in the Green Party.

Jim Killock said...

Dear all,

I've stood on an openly reformist platform. I believe it is a democratic platform, that empowers the grassroots.

I might win, I might not. If you believe in what Derek says, you should vote against me.

If on the other hand you think we're not moving fast enough, you are welcome to vote for me.

That's what democracy is about. You stand and face the whole membership, rather than simply making accusations and doing your best to make everything unworkable.


MikeS said...

Jim, does this mean you are Mr Anon?

weggis said...

Anon 7:17pm

"This isn't 1989, the party has grown up quite a bit since then."

WTF was is it like in 1989?

And Anon, There is nothing that destroys credibility more, than Anonymity.

And MikeS. What makes you think our Anon is a Mr?

MikeS said...

Well Weggis, I hope I'm not being sexist here, but you know, that's the feeling I get.

Douglas Coker said...

Derek, can I suggest you don't allow ANON posts any more. This might be an infringement of "civil liberties" but would reduce the clutter of offensive, ranty, nut-job posts.

Douglas Coker
Enfield Green Party

Pippa said...

I'm not a member of GL or GE. Indeed, those of you who know me will know that I'm a staunch electoralist. But this whole episode dismays me and makes me question my involvement in the party.

I suspect that some of those involved in the MLW grouping or whatever imagine that their caucusing etc will only upset a few on the edges of the party ideologically. They might be surprised...

I also feel a bit uncomfortable about all of this airing of dirty laundry in public!

Tim said...

I agree with Pippa - airing laundry in public isn't always a good idea. I think the 10 May minutes had probably caused appropriate embarrassment well before they got into the public domain - and they will be fairly meaningless to the wider world.

Derek may be making some lifetime enemies - I am not sure if that is is courageousness or carelessness.

There may, however, be some poetic justice for Jim Killock, who made some particularly scathing remarks about members of the party and about the party itself on his blog when it was launched (not sure if those comments are still there).

Party politics and blogging is a strange mix... people are likely to be cringing whether you're selective and guarded with the truth or completely open and transparent.

I'd definitely go for open and transparent, but that doesn't have to mean spilling all the beans.

greenman said...

That accusation from the ranting "anonymous" that Green Left are "Trots" or "Bolsheviks" who hold the party in contempt is hilarious. In fact most of Green Left would probably class themselves as some form of libertarian socialist or libertarian marxist if anything. It is elements of the MLW faction who clearly, from their revealed minutes "hold the party" and senior members of it like the chair and male principal speaker "in contempt". It is the MLW people who seem to favour the manipulative and "democratic centralist" tactics typical of the worst-behaved Trots, whereas Green Left members on both sides of the Leader debate(and there were GL supporters were on both sides of the debate) have sought to maintain as much participatory democracy and transparency as possible in the party.

Anonymous said...

I hope we can discuss all potential changes openly at conference without insulting each other!
The idea that having a leader will make that much difference is a joke!
The secret meeting of the "Leadership" faction really seems to confirm my suspicions that they are "new" Greens in the mould of new Labour!
Please reassure me this is not the case someone!
Katie, Bristol

Pippa said...

Katie, I think like any group they're a mixed bunch. Some, yes, would belong better in Compass or the Fabian Society or somewhere like that where they can practice pragmatic progressivism :P. But lots of them would share 99% of their views with your or I. I think they're united by a view that it's our internal processes and structures that hinder our electoral performance. I don't happen to agree and think this navel gazing is far more destructive. I hope that, as Tim has said, there's been an 'appropriate embarrassment' in some quarters and that we can all move past this and get on with the urgent task of advocating and implementing green politics.