The Green Party Spring Conference is now over and I have the luxury of a few hours of rest and relaxation before I head off on the long journey southwards to my beloved Sussex shore.
Being with the party faithful in Liverpool has been an exhilarating, inspiring experience that will live long in the memory. It's so empowering to be debating and voting every day on policies and seeing the votes transform party policy before your very eyes. The Green Party is definitely the most democratic of all the major political parties in this country, and even if, as a member, you can't get to conference you can still help to shape party policy by debating in the online forums on the members website, proposing your own motions via the website, or helping to shape the motions by proposing your own amendments to the motions already put down, as well as voting in the prioritisation ballots online that determine which motions get debated at conference.
One of the highlights of the conference for me was going to the digital democracy fringe event yesterday, which was packed out. The development of digital direct democracy platforms within the party, to ensure that all members of the party can engage in the conference sessions live and vote at the same time as conference attendees, was discussed at length. Those attending the fringe event were unanimous in their conviction that the already highly democratic and inclusive culture of the party could be translated into a digital platform that would make the policy-making procedures available to all members in a truly meaningful way. Given that the party now has so many members as a result of the Green Surge, this is such an exciting way to help integrate them fully and make the work of conference continue to function effectively. It is also an exciting way of turning the Green Party into a model of how the whole of our democratic system can be reformed to maximise engagement by all our citizens with the political process.
Another highlight of the conference for me was meeting Caroline Lucas again and getting her autograph on her new book all about her experience of parliament over the last 5 years. I also got to listen to Caroline talk at length about her work as an MP and understand why she has recently been voted as the MP of the year. She is such a fine example of how a Green MP can really make a difference in parliament. All I have to do in my parliamentary campaign is to talk about Caroline's work to show just how getting more Green MPs into parliament will be such a good way of getting a profound reform of Parliament itself and of rejuvenating our democracy so that it starts to truly serve the people rather than the vested interests that are so deeply embedded in the parliamentary system.
Actually, there are so many highlights to talk about, but suffice to say that, judging form this conference, the morale of the party is sky-high. Members are united behind a set of coherent, costed policies that will roll back the horrid years of austerity, if enough Green Party MPs are elected and a progressive alliance of parties can be formed after the election. This will ensure that our public services are restored and we can once again give dignity and decency back to the old, sick, disabled and vulnerable, rather than punishing them for a financial crisis they had no part in creating. It will also ensure that we work together for a cleaner, safer, fairer society in which everyone has the opportunity to maximise their wellbeing within the limits of this one planet we all call home.
Eastbourne Green Party