Will the Greens go for independence?

This weekend I was forwarded an interesting document from the Green Party in Wales. As most people reading this will know, Britain has had two separate Green Parties since the UK party split in 1990, one in England and Wales and one in Scotland. There has been talk over the last few years of the Welsh Greens forming a separate party, and things now appear to be coming to a head, with the leadership in Wales seeing it as a positive development. They have produced a paper for discussion, and I don't think they would mind me quoting the opening part of it.

Introduction

The Green Party of England and Wales was created in 1990 when the former Green Party covering the United Kingdom split into separate parties. The Scottish Greens and Green Party of Northern Ireland formed separate parties. The Wales Green Party (WGP) has Autonomous Regional status within the Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW) the details of which are laid out in Appendix B of the Constitution of the Green Party. Whilst the constitution of the GPEW says there is a federal structure in place the reality is that Wales has very limited autonomy under the current arrangements. Currently, the Leader of WGP sits on the Green Party Executive (the body in charge of day-to-day running of the party), and Wales has 2 representatives out of 20 on the Green Party Regional Council (the body in charge of strategy, party well-being and other longer-term issues).

Constitutional change within the United Kingdom has witnessed the creation of the National Assembly for Wales in 1998. The law-making abilities of the NAfW have increased since 1998 and are likely to further increase as a result of the Wales Act 2017.
 

Problems with the current arrangements

The Scottish Greens made a breakthrough into the Scottish Parliament many years ago, and have become an accepted part of the political mainstream in Scotland. We have had no such success in Wales. While the reasons for this are complex, there is no doubt that the predominantly London-based Green Party media operation has never put any effort into trying to cover Welsh issues; and GPEW generally is very English-centred in its thinking.
 

What is the point of this paper?

Wales Green Party Council (WGPC) has been discussing the future status of the Wales Green Party for the last two years. The view of WGPC is that breaking away from GPEW in the same way that Scotland and Northern Ireland have already done offers the best chance of a successful Green political party in Wales ...

I won't quote more than this because the paper goes into details about party finances and membership. However, a separate Welsh Green Party would be financially better off than it currently is as an autonomous region of the GPEW. And, just in case anyone sees obvious parallels with what is happening in Catalunya, the English Greens would certainly not respond by accusing the Welsh leadership of sedition or by threatening to suspend the Welsh party's autonomy.

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I'm not a member of the Green Party, but their politics probably align more closely with mine than those of any other party in Wales, and I wish them well.

To put it bluntly, the Greens in Wales have virtually no chance of winning seats in Westminster, but they do have a very real chance of winning regional seats in the National Assembly. To do this, they need to be able to devote resources to developing, and more critically presenting, specific policies in areas that are devolved to Wales. Becoming independent would raise their profile in Wales.

What you are perceived to be is important. I know from numerous political discussions that one of the biggest obstacles the Green Party has faced at elections in Wales has been the perception that it is an "English" party. Becoming independent would change that perception. Additionally, I'm sure that a separate Green party in Wales would draw considerable support from people who currently vote for Plaid Cymru because they paint themselves as a green party, even though Plaid's green credentials don't really stand up to much scrutiny.

My advice to Green Party members in Wales is to take this opportunity and become independent.

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1 comments:

leiafee said...

I think it'd be a positive move for them. Certainly they'd be likely to do better in the Assembly than Westminster and a lot of the issues they have concern over are devolved issues.

And some SHOULD be - and a party interesting in gaining those powers as well could be good for Wales as well as for the party in question. Hard to imagine for example that the Greens would vote AGAINST increased devolution of power generation for example if they had a reasonable amount of power in the Senedd.

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