Phew. Green Party Conference Blackpool Spring 2009 is over, vanishing only slightly slower than a dream evaporates on waking. What did it mean?
A few hundred (400?) determined people, old friends and new, meeting to exchange information about their common purpose, the aim of securing a worthwhile quality of life for our children and succeeding generations. 400 humans expending huge amounts of time and energy to achieve that end by struggling against enormous odds to get onto the first rung of political power by persuading ordinary people to vote for them.
Masses of information exchanged, and my head is saturated with words, so I will only report a few. There is an official report here.
My own main job was to help get the acceptance of the economics voting paper, including the amendment on monetary reform. This clears the way for the Green Party to press Government to take over from the banks the power to create new money, specifically for the benefit of environment and society.
The second pleasure was to find that Darren Johnson, one of the Green representatives on the London Assembly, has been taking forward a suggestion I made a couple of conferences ago, that mains water pumps should be installed in high buildings in London, allowing water pressure in the London mains to be lowered, thus reducing losses from the leaks in the system. He has been on the case, and it is happening.
Second, Darren has been pushing forward the collection of used cooking oil from London's deep fat frying establishments. Instead of going down to clog London's sewers, (just as the rest of the oils have been going to block Londoners' coronary arteries), the oil will be used to power the taxi fleet. Darren assures me that the processing is so good that the taxis will not smell of fish and chips. Pity, that, I would like London to smell of chips, it would bring more tourists in.
So - a five minute conversation with a Green Party representative leads to significant improvements in the system.
This time I suggest that he should get London Underground to display "Keep Left" signs prominently throughout the Underground walkways, to ease the flow of walking travellers. Darren listens, and says "It Shall Be Done". This is the power of Green Politics In Action.
I will not take up your valuable time with a detailed account of the rest of the three days, except to say that the best bits for me were conversations with people like Bill Rigby who is running the Marine Reservations Campaign, which aims to remedy the falling fish stocks in our waters, and conversations with Samir Chatterjee, who has been campaigning successfully to get a wind farm accepted near Rochedale. The LibDems and Labour opposed the farm, but in the end, Samir’s campaigning won the day. At the ribbon cutting ceremony the wind farm company invited the Lab and LibDems to the photo-opportunity, but failed to invite the Greens.
Charming. A vignette of our position in the political world. Greens do the real work, and the Greys get their photos in the paper. Ah well. Twas ever thus…
Last note: At one stage I thought that the anti-leadership section of the Party had boycotted the Conference, due to the absence of several prominent faces in the anti-leadership campaign. However, I have checked, and can now report that there was no such boycott. I can understand the feelings of people who prefer a grassroots Green Party without a leadership, but they have to admit that the Green Party is getting more national coverage with Caroline as Leader. She had several (4?) broadcasts over the weekend, and is on Question Time this Thursday. Unless the programmers pull her off at the last minute.