Tuesday, 6 December 2016
Richmond Park Donation Scandal Rocks the Green Party
An internal party report written by the Chair and two other senior members of Kingston Green Party, reveals that pressure was put on the two local parties which cover the Richmond Park constituency, not to stand a candidate in the recent by-election. The other local party involved is Richmond and Twickenham Green Party.
I first came across this report when a link was posted to it on the Green Left FaceBook page last Saturday, it was posted elsewhere on Facebook too. Green Left rejected the post once admins noticed the confidential nature of the report, but it remained on another Facebook page for several hours until it was removed. The poster of the link called themselves Sara Leeks, and had only just joined the Green Left page before posting the link to the report.
I read the report, which to be honest didn’t tell me an awful lot that I didn’t know already from what has been in the public domain, and postings to an internal Green Left email list. But there was one detail of how pressure was applied to Kingston Green Party to not stand a candidate, by the leadership of the Green Party of England and Wales, which was the part played by a £250,000 donation to the party, conditional on the Greens not putting a candidate up at the recent by-election in Richmond Park. It was said that if the Greens agreed to withdraw in favour of the Lib Dem candidate, this would prove the party’s seriousness about forming a ‘progressive alliance.’
Given the confidential nature of the report, which was sent to the Green Party Executive Committee and the Green Party Regional Committee, I decided not to comment publicly on the matter, and await the findings of the internal review. It was also obvious that this report was potentially very damaging to the Green Party. However, I thought the report would re-surface again somewhere on the internet, and sure enough today it did.
The report has been re-published in full via the Guido Fawkes right wing political website, with a follow up story to get full value out of the revelations. The report claims that pressure was brought to bear on the local parties, by the Green Party leaders, Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley and other senior figures in the party, and the donation offer played a part in adding to this pressure.
The Green Party did not accept the donation in the end, because it either was against the party’s ethical code for donations or it was dodgy in some other way, possibly it was judged to be illegal under Electoral Commission rules for party donations. But before that decision was made, the report claims that Green Party staff made it known that their jobs were at risk if the donation was not accepted and the Green Party did not withdraw their candidate from the by-election.
Green Left has now drafted a statement on the affair to the Green Left committee:
Green Left welcomes the GPRC’s decision to consider the serious issues raised in the so-called ‘Richmond Report’. Transparency and accountability are essential in this process. We look forward to the Green Party 2017 Conference democratically arriving at a clear policy on the ‘Progressive Alliance’.
I would add to this that the Regional Committee should review this report as a matter extreme urgency, given that I think the plan is to do this in mid-January next year. We can’t wait that long for an official response, because the cat is now out of bag, and whilst the world ponders on the allegations, a delay in a full official open response, is now heaping even more damage onto the party than is necessary. A bad situation made worse, if you like. But this is my opinion only at this stage.
The Green Party also needs to stop any further collusion with other political parties, or ‘progressive alliances’ until the party has come to a proper democratic decision via the party’s processes, which in practice means at Spring conference next year.
I worry very much for the immediate future of the Green Party, with it rumoured that over a thousand members have already resigned from the party since the decision was taken to stand down in favour of the Lib Dems in Richmond Park. Let us get all of this out into the open and an agreement or not reached, before any more pressure is applied to local parties over the mooted, and that is all it is at the moment, participation in any electoral pacts, and with whom.