With the autumn conference weeks away, some of the candidates have started to make noises to get voted onto the Green Party Executive (GPEx). As a soon-to-be-ex member of GPEx I thought I’d share some thoughts on criticisms that candidates are making in their bid to replace standing members. Read on, they’re quite long!
If Jason and Rupert replace Tracy I really hope they continue her very strong work on building up that “glossy” stuff they don’t seem to like. The election broadcast video won us amazing plaudits from the media; mailing lists, twitter and blogs were flooded with positive comments from friends and onlookers. It’s easy to say “we will focus on everything” but much harder to square that with a very limited budget.
It is also a shame when candidates make thinly veiled attacks against standing GPEx members without just naming them and giving them a fair hearing. Staffing decisions are always complicated, and encompass personal as well as professional issues. Working with very small budgets that fluctuate rapidly around elections, with a party office struggling under the weight of many historic shortcomings, is always going to be tough. If Tracy puts in more than her 17 volunteer hours per week we should thank her, not complain!
It’s easy to criticise from the outside. I was very critical of People & Planet‘s office when running to be on their Management Committee. But two years working with fellow committee members and staff gave me a bit more respect for the office and humility in my critique.
Some party activists are making a lot of noise about more transparent communication. Iit’s tricky to balance rapid communications with the need to ensure, for example, that everyone is happy with the minutes from a meeting. Reporting before the minutes are agreed is a great way to start rumours and promote factional rifts. That said, I hope more candidates make use of Twitter and blogs round the year to involve members in developing ideas and resources.
I really hope that the next GPEx can find the time to be praoctive about three key issues: more online community building to support our target constituencies’ campaigns; getting relevant, punchy messages into the public eye without resorting to gimmicks that can backfire; and improving the standard of our policy in certain key areas like health.
Finally, on a personal note, why am I not standing? I was co-opted into the role of Campaigns Coordinator for the national Executive of the Green Party (England & Wales) earlier this year. It has been a really fascinating experience, both in participating in GPEx meetings and in shaping a campaigning strategy for the party. I’m not running to continue in the role because I’ll soon be working at the GLA for our two Green Assembly members, and wouldn’t be able to devote enough time to campaigns without breaking GLA rules or giving up any personal life fun!
I hope to carry on developing resources that help local parties run effective, focused campaigns. I’ll be happy to support the new Campaigns Coordinator, who can then focus on making our national coordination about a bit more than the occasional demo in central London.