The Green Party finds its voice: The Green Party Conference 2023
Although the Lib Dem, Conservative and Labour conferences captured headlines in recent weeks, we cast our attention towards the Green Party ’s conference – a party often overlooked, but one with the potential for far-reaching ramifications for the sector.
Thomas Lewis – Senior Account Executive
The Green Party is Bristol City Council’s largest party, only the mayoral system sees Labour hold on to power in the city. Green influence is also growing in other cities like Exeter.
As BCC moves to the new committee system of governance following the 2024 council elections, the Greens will be targeting these elections to gain outright control of the council.
Beyond this, the party’s presence in Bristol has been noticed on a national level, with Bristol Central identified as a key target parliamentary seat, to be contested by the party’s co-leader, Carla Denyer.
With a growing influence in Bristol, the Party’s manifesto commitments are increasingly important to the region. Naturally, the key priorities are environmental, however, this bears clear relevance for the built environment.
A look under the microscope on the built environment
Home insulation is key for the party. A scheme was unveiled to ensure renters could force landlords to properly insulate any homes under their control.
Homes would become more efficient and energy bills would be reduced; measures specifically targeted at improving lives for those in poverty. Adrian Ramsay, co-leader of the Green Party, said this policy would benefit renters and landlords, creating higher quality properties for renters through low interest loans given to landlords.
The Greens have also committed to “proper investment” in renewable energy. Carla Denyer said this would increase jobs, boost energy security, and cut costs. Stating that the Greens support “no new oil and gas,” Denyer criticised other political parties’ stance on fossil fuels, reaffirming their commitment to renewable energy generation.
At the conference, a motion was also agreed which would amend the Companies Act (2006), to ensure companies place environmental and social priorities ahead of shareholder dividends.
As social value gains prominence in the built environment, this motion would see social impact become a legal requirement at a more corporate level for housebuilders. This would also affect businesses outside of the built environment, being required to contribute to local communities and the environment.
Considering the prominence of the Green Party in Bristol and their possible influence following council elections next year, this motion suggests that working with communities to create positive impact will be a priority for the party.
The Green Party’s ambitious plans to influence local and national policies could take shape very differently across the country. Depending on election outcomes, the Greens could have a growing impact on national policy. What seems more likely, is that within Bristol, the increasing impact of the Green Party will not slow down.
Andy Leake – Account Executive
The Green Party we saw at the conference over the weekend was different to what we’d seen before. Confident and combative, they declared radical policies true to their roots as well as stating their ambitions for next year’s elections.
Bolstered by record local election results, the Greens have a right to this new attitude. May 2023 saw the Greens win majority control of a council for the first time in the UK, taking 24 out of the 34 seats at Mid Suffolk Council.
The conference saw attendance from many councillors now holding positions in local authorities across the country, showing that the Greens are a significant political force to be taken seriously.
Previous conferences have mostly focused on Caroline Lucas, the party’s only serving MP. However, this year the Greens showed they weren’t just a one-woman show.
Fighting words from the pacifists
Presenting a rousing front, the co-leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay started the conference with one of the strongest speeches the pair has delivered.
The pair accused the Conservative party of “playing cynical political games,” regarding the climate emergency, whilst also attacking Starmer’s perceived lack of action.
Deputy Leader Zack Polanski dug the knife in further, conveying a narrative of failures from both leading parties. From criticising Sunak’s private jet usage to protecting tax loopholes, he also took pops at Starmer prioritising the economy over climate issues.
The Greens are showing themselves as a force to be reckoned with. With the climate emergency circulating conference halls at all party conferences, it’s apparent it will be a podium upon which the leading parties will try to sway votes.
The Greens push to quadruple their influence
Reports from inside the conference say that all party members, be it in speeches, discussion panels or casual conversations, were laser-focused on quadrupling the Greens’ MP seats in next year’s election.
I like the ambition of trying to end the next election with four Green MPs, and I don’t think it’s unachievable. The climate has been dominating the headlines this year; from wildfires through to floods. If the co-leaders can keep up their impassioned speeches, they could galvanise voters in targeted seats in Brighton Pavilion, Waveney Valley, Bristol Central, and North Herefordshire.
All in all, I was very impressed by the output from this conference. Unfortunately, due to the anti-establishment nature of the party, it wasn’t covered as intently in the media as other conferences, but there is some exciting stuff happening in the Green Party. A bolstered, vocal co-leadership and progressive policies could solidify their position as a tangible alternative to the leading parties.