Friday 27 August 2021

Green Party Leadership Election –Exclusive Interview with Tina Rothery and Martin Hemingway

Candidates for Co-Leadership of the Green Party of England and Wales, Tina Rothery and Martin Hemingway, talk to London Green Left Blog’s editor Mike Shaughnessy about why they are running for the leadership of the party. 

Tell me a little about your backgrounds and why you are standing for the leadership of the Green Party?

TR Lancashire is ‘home’ right now and has been for a large chunk of the past two decades, but I was born in London and at four-years-old, my family chose to migrate to Australia as part of the Assisted Passage Programme (at the time, commonly referred to as ‘£10 Poms’) before moving to Hong Kong when I was 12. I returned to the UK in my early 20s but went on to live in Luxembourg, Belgium and Spain before returning and settling in Blackpool where my sister and her family are.

My first job was as a reporter at the Hong Kong Standard newspaper and my career from then onwards, was mostly in communications. I’ve found it has always been more difficult to ‘get ahead’ in the UK and as a single-mother, worked as a waitress, hotel cleaner, barmaid, staff trainer and a multitude of other things to get food on the table and money in the meter.

The past decade, however, has been the most life-changing of all episodes in my varied life. Becoming an activist changed more than my income bracket (bare minimum), it enhanced me, broadened my views, nourished my heart and rewarded my life with a genuine purpose that isn’t about earning more, buying more, competing or focusing on interests of self. And activism ensures I’m in the best company of all.

I recently returned to education after a 40-year break (it wasn’t my strong point when I was younger) but am struggling to justify any time given to anything that isn’t dealing with the climate crisis: what point will a university degree be on an uninhabitable planet? Much will depend on what happens next. 

When Jonathan and Sian made their intentions to step-down known and it was clear we would be electing new Green Party leaders, I was disappointed to discover that those I hoped were going to stand, had decided not to. I am a little surprised myself that I decided to run for leadership, but I trust my instincts. I considered options on standing alone but I have enough self-awareness to know that I thrive best with balance and co-operation. Martin became the natural choice as a partner. Over the past seven years as a member, it was him that I would approach with questions because I knew I would always get an informed, honest answer from a man of integrity and experience. I’m truly honoured he agreed. 

MH I have 50 years of political experience gleaned as an agent in elections, as a candidate in many local elections, general elections and Euro elections – including as lead candidate, as an elected member of the ruling Labour group on Leeds City Council, the second largest local authority in the country, for 12 years. The time on Leeds City Council led to positive changes for local people, to regional roles, and a UK role as Chair of Nuclear Free Local Authorities. It is difficult to summarise all that I have done in a few words.

I left Labour for various reasons, but largely because I was not New Labour – I stayed where I was and the Party moved away from me.

In the Green Party I have almost 20 years of experience in local, regional and national parties. It is difficult to underestimate the importance of this experience, At local and regional levels I have filled most roles, written constitutions and strategies, supported local parties. Nationally I spent four years on the Green Party Regional Council (GPRC) and over five years on the Standing Orders Committee (SOC).

I have an understanding of the Party, good and bad, through this experience, and am very conscious of the need to have Leaders who will bring the Party together to tackle the climate emergency we are facing.

If you are elected as leaders of the party, what will be your priorities?

MH It is easy to say Climate, Climate, Climate, but we need to make clear the part that the Green Party and engaged Leadership has to play in achieving this, but also in addressing the social justice agenda of the Green Party.

Our priorities will be first of all COP26, the lead up to it, the message we need to put across, and the ongoing work to turn the word-shop into a workshop.

That will involve our regions and local parties pushing the message as part of our electoral strategy, and we are committed to working with the regional and local parties where the campaigning and electoral work is actually done.

Beyond that we need to be engaging with communities, particularly those that are estranged from the political processes, we need to be addressing the near absence of people of colour, of working class members, of those communities most affected by poverty, of those disabled by impairment.

That has to be our electoral strategy, and we are prepared to engage on that.

TR Clearly working to save all life on earth and preserving and enhancing the natural systems that will nurture it.

How we do this will be a priority job and that starts with unifying our Party. Processes, procedures, conference, dispute resolution, discipline and communications are areas that are not providing solutions and we need to work on that.

A really important part of the job for me and one that I’d thoroughly look forward to, would be visiting and working with the regions and local parties within them. I believe that strengthening and supporting regional offices so that they can provide professional help with media, campaigning and membership would make a huge difference and ensure our Party is stronger throughout England and Wales, rather than in small pockets.

Strong regional parties would broaden our perspectives and help us fine-tune our responses to local elections and campaigns. Access for local media too will be enhanced if we can develop relationships and be relied on to respond promptly and professionally.

Conference is where the most important decisions are made, yet only a miniscule percentage of members ever attend. Strong regional parties would be part of the solution to this; we could revisit the idea of reforming conference voting and looking at regional conferences with online voting facilities and greater regional input.

The groups within our Party too are struggling to build around the issues that they want to ensure are heard. The success story is the Young Greens and we need to look at that model and why it works well at getting issues raised and policies to conference. Auto-enrolment is a key differentiator: when joining the Party, members who fulfil the criteria (young/students) automatically become members of the Young Greens, receiving a welcome email and regular updates. None of the other groups benefit from this.

When I was Chair of Green Party Women, we couldn’t even get access to a mailing list of women within the Party in order to reach out. New members fill in details about themselves that could be used to auto-enrol (with an opt-out) them into Greens of Colour, Green Party Disability Group, Green Party Women, LGBTIQA+ Greens and Green Seniors. Not only would this enrich the groups but new members would very quickly feel that they are welcome, heard and seen.

And then there are allies outside the Party both locally and nationally that we could be building relationships with, in order to tackle shared concerns for specific actions, events or goals. During the 1000 days of protest by the anti-fracking movement at Preston New Road here in Lancashire, the Green Party, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Reclaim the Power, the Unions, academics, celebrities, environmental and religious groups came to join residents and help get us through this gruelling but necessary action. The ability to stall progress, increase costs, impact reputation, and upset supply chains is what prevented progress on shale gas extraction long enough to cause share prices in the company operating to see its share price plummet from pounds to pennies and the earth shake enough to prove us right and bring a moratorium.

We need to keep gathering power behind our aims and along with a strong, united Party, we need to draw on the power of the Unions, environmental groups, NGOs and others to unite around what does unite us. The more we work alongside others both inside and outside of our Party, the more we are ‘being the change we wish to see.

Tina (left) campaigning against fracking with Emma Thompson (right).

Emma Thompson said: “Please read Tina’s manifesto - it explains so fully and clearly why Green politics are the only possible future and why they are central to all the system changes that we urgently need to make.  Women will be key in this movement towards a cleaner, juster planet and I am proud to support Tina who is one of the world’s greatest activists. She is not interested in power for its own sake and will serve you and the planet with stunning dedication and humility. I wish her and Martin Hemingway success as Co-Leaders of The Green Party.” 

The COP26 conference is taking place in November, in Glasgow. What are your expectations of anything significant being agreed by participant governments?

TR Absolutely no expectation at all. Too many talks, too many promises, too many treaties that amount to nothing more than a vague nod from the wealthiest countries, whilst those already experiencing the worsening impacts of climate change, and least responsible for it… are literally left out to dry, flood, endure flames, famine and flight.

There need to be penalties and polluters should pay – not with readily available money, but time-served. Agreeing the law of Ecocide would be a good start followed by a choice to act together to save all of us. Cooperation is going to have to become the way, rather than winners and losers.

The Green Party, as the only Party genuinely dedicated to the environment and life on earth, needs a powerful presence both at the talks in Glasgow and in towns and cities throughout the UK. This is a rare opportunity to truly unite not just as members but alongside Unions, environmentalists, NGOs and deeply concerned others to show we can work together to achieve a clear goal: to make COP26 face up to reality, move on from talking, include the voices of the affected and take action to stop any more tipping points becoming inevitable.

How do you think the Green party should position itself politically in the run up to the next general election?

MH We are the Party of reality. We have to address the reality of damaging climate change. We have to address the reality of environmental damage in other ways, water quality, air quality, land degradation.

We have to address the issues of inequality, and this means addressing the economic system that places emphasis on growth rather than fairness and justice.

There are issues in education, in health and social care, in community provision that have to be addressed – the Green party has to lead on this because the Conservatives do not care, and the Labour Party has given up – as Starmer says the ambition of Labour is to work more closely with business.

TR As the opposition! We are the ONLY Party that tells the truth on climate, that holds the government to account and doesn’t shy away from being honest for the sake of votes. There is no other Party like us.

I doubt any of the other Parties would have a fraction of their policies on climate if it weren’t for Caroline Lucas bringing it to parliament, our Councillors working to declare climate emergencies or our members relentlessly informing their MPs.

Other Parties pander to what will win voters, which may sound like the right thing to do, until you realise the consequences of all that they left out.

A review of the party's Instruments of Governance was called for and approved by Conference some 6 years ago. The " Holistic Review Commission" was set up in 2018 which aimed to deliver radical constitutional reforms. In your opinion, what are the reasons why after all this time and effort, it seems almost impossible for the party to adopt a new constitution?

MH I have been closely involved in the process which has been held up by the failure of those addressing the process to recognise that they had to operate within the terms set by the ballot. I have proposed various constitutional documents that would have done what the ballot said was wanted, but those involved wanted to go further than the ballot permitted.

My perception is that the process involved centralisation of power within the Party, and this process is something about which we have serious concerns.

We are a membership led party, not a leader led party, and this is important to both of us.

Conference is the Supreme Body of the party. Given that its participants are self-appointed. What constitutional changes will you propose to address the widely acknowledged democratic deficit created by this anomaly?

MH This is an issue for the Party to discuss. Only a minority of the Party are engaged with Party issues. Many see their Green Party membership as an add on to active campaigning in other areas.

We need to address the make up of the Conference audience. When we hit 20,000 members we should have moved to delegate conferences, but as membership has grown that threshold has been kicked down the road.

We have probably reached the point where that decision has to be made so that those voting at Conference represent the breadth of membership rather than those that can attend, or that can ‘pack’ conference. We will be supporting the party in moves to reform of conference, both in terms of simplifying and opening up the policy proposal process, and in the reform of participation.

Martin marching at Kirby Misperton fracking site

Identity issues, especially around gender recognition, has been hugely controversial in the party recently. What will be your approach to healing the division which has opened up in the party?

TR Not just controversial, but the cause of deeply damaging division, huge upset and anger within our membership. It’s a matter of urgency that we put a plan in place and enact it, before more harm is done to individuals and Party reputation. How can we expect people to vote us into government, if we can’t even address our own internal disputes? Why would the voters trust us?

We’ve lost valued members which is such a failure really; some because they disputed another’s views/policies and many more because they felt the Party had begun to shift the focus and priority away from the impending climate catastrophe. I think we also need to be aware that for many members – the cause of these disputes is not clear, the terminology unfamiliar and the subject matter and implications, not well known.

I recall when Sian wrote her letter referring to the problems surrounding trans and women’s rights – some members asked what problems this was even referring to. Such a tiny percentage of members are engaged with the internal politics, the making of policy, conference etc – most are out campaigning or getting involved with local environmental groups and just trusting that as The Green Party, we’re getting on with the politics of being green.

We have procedures to handle disputes and clearly these are not adequately resourced, supported or working. There is a process issue, and it’s with process and professionalism that we’ll address it. Martin’s suggestion of a ‘Members’ Assembly’ is an excellent one. We cannot stifle the discussions - they just spill out onto social media and that’s no place to solve anything so we must make space, time and support for them.

MH We will be asking GPRC under its party well-being power to constitute a members assembly. Not one that requires particular groups have representatives, but in the best tradition of such assemblies that selects participants at random from the entire membership; that checks on current views on a set of questions, that seeks expert informants from different positions on the spectrum of the debate, and concerned with different aspects of the debate, and that seeks to produce a document that agrees what that policy means in detail.

Members can choose to accept the outcome or not, but we need to find a position that the majority can be happy with, and seek to give the issue a rest.

What is your vision for Green party over the next few years?

MH We need to position the Green Party in two ways, and this has long been our difficulty.

We need to be the leading party on acting on the environmental issues that people identify as part of our ‘Unique Selling Point’. One of our problems has been getting away from this identification of the Green Party as a single issue party.

What we need to be building at the same time is our identity as the party of social justice and fairness. The Party that represents the excluded and the left behind as well as those parts of the middle class that identify with this agenda, as well as with the overarching climate concern.

TR Government. Hear me out…

The reality of climate change is finally too blatant to ignore and as the impacts grow, people are realising what the other Parties have done, and it’s going to be unforgiveable. Supporting industries that are breaking our life-support system, subsidising them with our money, inflicting the same on other countries like some sort of climate-colonialism, subjecting us and our children to a life of hardship as resources dwindle, weather becomes unpredictable and tipping points take us to a future we can’t begin to conceive; all our governments that were aware of what scientists were proving, failed to act and this is criminal.

It’s also ever-more apparent that the Greens are the only Party sounding the alarm for decades and acting in all the ways possible (under a FPTP voting system) to at least act on the impending crisis. The others are liars.

One MP, more than 400 councillors, thousands of activists and tens of thousands of members are not in this for popularity, we’re in it to face reality and reality is dawning.

Voting opens on 2 September 10am and closes 23 September 10pm. 

Friday 6 August 2021

Why I resigned from the Green Party

 Written by Andrea Carey-Fuller

It was with great sadness that I resigned my position on the Green Party Regional Council and left the Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW), having been a member for 8 years, in May 2021. I come from a human rights background acting as an advocate standing up for the rights of vulnerable groups of people. I had quite a high profile in Lewisham - having worked collaboratively with other groups of people on the Stop TTIP campaign and the Save Tidemill campaign. I stood in Lewisham local elections 3 times, and in the General Election 2019 (Lewisham Deptford). I was the London Federation AGM Coordinator for about 5 years, and worked on education policy for a year. 

Until I stood in the General Election in 2019, I had no idea of the toxicity bubbling underneath the Green Party regarding Trans Rights Activists (TRA's) viewing anyone who stands up for women's rights as being 'Transphobic'. When I pledged my support for A Woman's Place manifesto (among a host of other pledges such as support for the Future Generations Bill etc) in the last General Election I was shocked that people in my own party piled on me on Twitter calling me a bigot and transphobic!  

This harassment and bullying from within then continued and reached epic proportions when I stood for Deputy Leader on a platform of increasing engagement in the party, the need for a Women's Rights policy, and encouraging members to vote in more Greens of Colour. 

When I put myself forward as a candidate for GPRC London Rep, the online abuse started again and the Elections Coordinator for the London Regional Green Party (Stephan Liberadzki, complicit with Colin Boyle the Coordinator)) tried to avoid counting the vote (as I had won by a slim margin) and attempted to re-run the election again to get a different result!  

They both ignored my complaints about lack of due process and had allowed Danny Keeling who identified as a man in the 2019 General Election to put his name forward for the female rep role. I found out shortly after this that Stephan himself had called me transphobic on Twitter during the GPEX Elections 2020 as well! Colin’s view of the abuse and harassment was that it was “fair comment”! 

As a GPRC rep I saw how the complaints system was being abused to continually suspend 'Gender Critical members.' This view that Women's rights is 'Transphobic' is being continually touted by the current leadership of Sian/Jonathan/Ameila/Liz Reason (Green Party Executive Chair) and the CEO Mary Clegg. It was Sian Berry and Caroline Russell who spoke against my motion at Conference to have a women's rights section (supported by Baroness Jenny Jones) put under the Green Party's Rights and Responsibilities, declaring the motion to be "transphobic and trans-exclusionary."   

Following Conference, our Co-Leader Sian Berry, was crowing on Twitter that she had defeated the Women's Rights motion as if this was a good thing! This action on Sian's part was both undignified, and irresponsible. I have known both Sian and Caroline Russell (both of whom I used to have high regard for), for a number of years as I have worked alongside them in London on various campaigns. 

By wrongly repeating 'Trans Activist' rhetoric and mantras about women's rights being transphobic they continue to fuel division, and incite toxicity within our party - making it an unhealthy place for any member who dares to support women's rights as set out in the UN Convention against the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.  (Ratified by the UK Government in 1986 - see: 

It states that parties agree to take all appropriate measures, including legislation and temporary special measures, so that women can enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Convention is the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women and targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations. It affirms women's rights to acquire, change or retain their nationality and the nationality of their children. It also states parties also agree to take appropriate measures against all forms of traffic in women and the exploitation of women." 

I had already raised the issue of increasing levels of harassment and toxicity towards women and anyone who supports women's rights within the Green Party at the GPRC meeting in March saying that we need to have  "a full, frank and open discussion about the ever-increasing levels of intolerance towards Green Party members who speak up for women's rights.” 

This conversation about the divisions and toxicity within our party is long overdue as it is currently tearing the party apart. GPRC, GPEX and the CEO have a shared responsibility to ensure that the Green Party of England and Wales is adhering to UK law - both the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as well as the Equality Act 2010 - which sets out protection for sex-based discrimination. 

In these laws, women are defined and are supposed to be protected by their biological sex - hence the term sex-based rights. There is no discrimination against Trans Women - because they have their own protection set out in the Equality Act under the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.  

Prior to Conference I alerted members to the LGBTIQA+ group claiming that the Women's Rights motions were against Green Party values - this was untrue, and used as a propaganda tool to create yet more hatred against women's rights whilst gathering support for the E03 Self-ID motion which impedes upon women's rights to single-sex services, and also the E05 Recognise Trans Parents Motion which ignores Article 12 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child which again the UK ratified in 1990. 

Under our Rights and Responsibilities policy RR201 - GPEW states "Accepting interconnectedness means that individuals and groups share rights to equitable status, treatment and freedoms. The Phiilosophical Basis of the party (PB303/304) states that the “legitimate interests of all people are of equal value.” The Green Party rejects all forms of discrimination whether based on race, colour, sex, religion, national origin, social origin or any other prejudice. The Green Party promotes the implementation of policies which protect human rights and rejects all forms of exploitation for any purpose whatsoever.' CEDAW is one of 9 UN Conventions that make up Universal Human Rights. 

Under the Equality Act 2010 there are 9 Protected characteristics and the Green Party only has policies for 8 of them: age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; sexual orientation; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief (limited to Traveller's rights), but, nothing on sex (based rights for women linked to CEDAW/or the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against women). 

We all know that women continue to be discriminated against based upon their sex - only 26% of women in the House of Lords & 34% of female MP's (hence the 50:50 campaign to aim to have 50% of female MP's in Parliament: which I was the GPEW representative for (and resigned from after the Conference motion fell); 3-4 women are killed by men in the UK every week; 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime; 1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault during her lifetime; in 2018 6,500 women and girls reported FGM; women and girls are subjected to trafficking for sexual exploitation, and there are only 5% of female CEO's in the top 100 UK companies.  

GPRC need to do something about this before more and more women (and men) feel they can no longer in all conscience stay in the party - one of the latest resignations is of Cllr Dom Armstrong who has made this statement on Facebook here:

If you have been sitting on the fence on this issue, or if you have been put under the spell of the Trans Rights Movement (which make no mistake about it is being funded by Big Pharma who have a vested interest in the drugs used as part of the Transition process) then I would urge you to listen to evidence given this week by:

Graham Linehan at the Communications and Digital Committee Tuesday 9 March 2021: 

I look forward to supporting a kind and open discussion about these issues to try to find some resolve for the party going forward. 

The final straw for me was a report to GPEX by the CEO in May 2021 - stating that "women's rights infringe upon Trans rights." I spoke with a couple of colleagues before the GPEX meeting to bring this to their attention - because even as a GPRC colleague I would have been barred from raising this issue in a GPEX meeting! I emailed Martha James one of the Co-Chairs asking her to question this report which was wrong in law (Equality Act/CEDAW/HRA) and this would have been a valid and objective reason for the intervention given that GPRC have a duty of care to ensure that the `Party is in line with UK Law!  

A couple of GPEX members made representations regarding the invalidity of the statement the CEO had made but Liz Reason allowed it to go to a vote and the majority of people on GPEX voted in favour - against both the law, but primarily as they saw it, against Gender Critical members and in particular women in the Green Party/Green Party Women. 

I left the Green Party because I could not bear to be part of this unjust, punitive system a minute longer! When I didn't agree with the continuation of suspensions and voted against most of these suspensions bar two - one related to harassment and one related to a member using sexually explicit materials at some meeting (both of these in my view are the real kinds of cases which justify suspension), a complaint was put in about me and efforts to get me removed from GPRC.   

I complained to GPRC and the CEO, but nothing much was done and no action has been taken to support Women Rights under the Equality Act either - in fact by letting GPEX hold this 'vote' in support of Mary Clegg's statement GPEX has cemented the Trans Rights focus of the GPEW. 

The Automatic suspension system is not fit for purpose, there is no right to reply, if you make any representations against your suspension your rep can choose whether to speak for you or not!; it is a system that supports injustice and allows prejudice to be supported.  

I will still keep campaigning on the Environment, Climate Change, social justice and women's/children's rights issues which are close to my heart, and I wanted to thank everyone who supported me when I was in the party trying to bring about positive change. 

I can only hope that the new leadership will bring equality and unity to all members in the party. 

Andrea Carey-Fuller is a former member of the Green Party of England and Wales and Green Left.