Green Left is now 3 years old and had its AGM on Saturday in Archway, north London. We had members present from Norwich, Manchester, Luton, Brighton, West Midlands, Tameside and, of course, many from London. After introductions and the minutes of last year's AGM, Martin Francis from Brent Green Party, who is an activist in the anti-Academies movement, led off with a fascinating description of the history of the privatisation of schools under New Labour and the ideological and practical resistance. Martin, who is a former headmaster, is standing in a council by election in Brent next month, and deserves all the support he can get. The issue of the Lewisham Bridge school campaign was raised, where the protesters are still on the roof after a campaign lasting many weeks but are about to be evicted. There were very strong views expressed about the actions of some Green councillors in Lewisham on this issue but a motion of censure was defeated and it was agreed to bring this to autumn conference instead. The London region had already last week passed a motion reiterating the party's opposition to Academy schools and calling upon all elected representatives to follow national party policy.
I then gave an update on the results of the European elections in various countries across the EU and how the Greens, the Left and the Far Right had fared in the different countries. This then led to a general discussion about the political direction of Europe and what the electoral fallout had been in the UK. Most concern was obviously about the success of the BNP and some people expressed the view that the tactics of Unite Against Fascism and Hope not Hate had failed utterly in the North West region, where Nick Griffin had been elected.
The members of the outgoing Steering Group then gave their reports of what had happened over the last year and it was felt that there had been many successes for Green Left, including spearheading motions to party conference on the economy and migration. Our involvement in various campaigns was also noted, the latest of which was the occupation at SOAS, where our members had taken the lead, together with many other groups from the broad Left. Votes of thanks were passed for the hard work of our Treasurer and Membership Secretary, Pete Murry, and our Political Outreach Officer, Andy Hewett.
The new Steering Group was elected and the members are as follows:
Co-Convenors - Joseph Healy (Lambeth) and Sue Tibbles (Oxford)
Secretary - Andy Hewett (Greenwich)
Treasurer - Pete Murry (Brent)
Membership Secretary - Ken Burgess(Central London)
Political Outreach Officer - Andy Hewett (Greenwich)
Press Officer - Phelim Mac Cafferty (Brighton)
Trade Union Liaison Officer - Sue Tibbles (Oxford)
Youth and Students Officer - Aaron Kiely (Canterbury)
International Liaison Officers - Jane Ennis (Camden) and Joseph Healy (Lambeth)
Email Commissar - Andy Collingwood (York)
Regional Reps - North West, Gayle O'Donovan (Manchester) East, Malcolm Bailey (Luton) South East, Phelim Mac Cafferty (Brighton) South West, Nick Foster and Katie Buse (Bristol) West Midlands, Roy Sandison,,(Rugby), East Midlands Paul Frost (Mansfield), North East Andy Collingwood (York)
There was then a discussion on the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan led by Farid Bakht from London who is a journalist on South Asian issues. We agreed to continue our support for and involvement in Convention of the Left which will be held in Brighton in late September to coincide with the Labour conference. Several of our members are on the Steering Group of the Convention.
We also agreed to co-sponsor an event with Socialist Resistance, also in September in London, on 'Climate Change and Capitalism' which will see the noted Ecosocialist writer and editor, Ian Angus, who is based in Canada, speak and there will be a speaker from Green Left also. We agreed to place an ad in the Morning Star and to have a link to the Morning Star from our website. It was felt that although we do not agree with much of what the CPB gets up to, that the Morning Star is a newspaper read widely by those on the Left in UK politics and as such, that we should have access and contact with it.
We then had some discussion on motions going forward to the autumn conference of the Green Party, as the list is now up on the members' site. We also discussed the possibility of organising one or two fringes at the conference covering issues such as Afghanistan, as there is a motion on this, but also on building a new Left in Britain and inviting speakers from other groupings such as Respect.
We finished up discussing forthcoming campaigns and there were requests from those outside London to organise more meetings in the regions. Unfortunately, we did not have time to discuss the Summer Camp, which will be held near Manchester this August to coincide with the 190th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre and we hope to take part in that commemoration. We also discussed the urgent need for more funding and we are going to organise a fundraising event in the near future, plus issue requests for members to make out Standing Orders. A request to increase our subscription charge to more than £5 per annum was defeated, as it was felt that in these recessionary times it could put off more unwaged and low waged members.
We were joined by two Polish Greens, one of whom runs a left wing website in Poland which I have looked at and contains some very interesting articles both in Polish and English. They joined us in the local pub afterwards for a few drinks. Here is the website and some info from Wiki http://www.krytykapolityczna.pl/English/menu-id-113.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krytyka_Polityczna
We got through most of the important business and I find myself Co-Convenor for another year. Green Left has its work cut out with a general election within the next year, the continuing economic crisis, the rise of Fascism and the difficulties of buiding a broad Left in this country. The year ahead will carry many challenges both within and outside the Green Party. The experience of the Irish Greens, which Caroline Lucas alluded to at the recent Compass 'No Turning Back' conference, is a warning to us all of what can go wrong. Our purpose continues to be 'Greening the Reds and reddening the Greens.'
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