31 July 2018
Voting has opened in the 2018 Green Party Leadership and Deputy Leadership elections. These elections are extremely important as they help to define the direction our party will take for the next two years, and members of the Young Greens have a real chance to impact the results of these elections. You will find your ballot in your email inbox, but in order to help you make your decision, we have asked each candidate for both elections a series of questions about working with the Young Greens to empower young people within the party and the issues that affect us most.
Editor's Note: Candidates were asked to keep answers to 100 words each. However, some answers exceeded this limit, and we have decided to publish those answers in full as, due to the timeline, we were unable to edit these answers or to request shorter ones.
Standing for Leader
You should vote for me not because I’m young, not because I’m old, not because of my age at all – but because I can identify with and articulate how the biggest challenges our society faces impact the younger generation, too. Young people, especially those who were without a vote, feel particularly disenfranchised by the EU referendum. The loss of invaluable European and social goods is magnified in proportion to opportunities that the young would otherwise have been able to enjoy in future. It’s no surprise that the majority of students would support a vote on the final Brexit deal.
Young Greens will have an advocate in me but also a facilitator for excellent representation and voice across the Party. As Deputy Leader, I participated in training provision for your 30 under 30s programme. I’ve given talks across the country on campuses – Cambridge, Warwick, Norwich, UCL, QMUL to name a few. The more imaginative campaigns, I feel I’ve been able to promote, have moved beyond universities – whether the Occupy movement; or youth campaigning organisations such as Uprising – a fantastic programme of training offered in leadership to underrepresented groups; or the Random Acts of Kindness.
Besides the uncertainty and upset caused by a shrinking EU – when we most needed joined-up action across nations (I speak as a former employee of the European Parliament, researching into the risks of GM crops) – I’d say the now unaffordable basic desire to have an education, a job, and a roof. Forget about a mortgage or a pension – our young generation are leaving university (often) with impossible debt (financed through improbable private financiers); finding it incredibly difficult to gain secure employment. I’ve been active in living wage and student fee campaigns and will continue to powerfully advocate on your behalf.
Standing for Co-Leader.
The Young Greens have been an inspiration in recent years, developing a flagship training programme in 30 under 30, making sure events like Pride and major demonstrations have a strong Green presence, and pushing the party to campaign harder for more rights for young people such as votes at 16. And your work organising action day visits to support our target wards and constituencies, whatever the weather, has been incredible. Both of us have benefited from Young Greens support in this way and you deserve credit for helping win a record number of council seats this year, including our own. We will return the favour by being the candidates for leader who will work most closely with you if elected, and listen hardest to your ideas. Many of our pledges for action are already inspired by your work. More in our next answer!
We are not asking you to vote for two years of leadership all about us, it has to be about continuing the growth and development of all the party so that we can get more of you in the public eye and winning elections too.
Our most important pledges to the party in this election are about training for members and local parties and developing the next generation of leaders and wider pool of spokespeople. Among the Deputy Leader candidates, we’re proud that Amelia Womack has come from the 30 under 30 programme to be a truly accomplished politician and that Aimee Challenor has proved to be such an effective and talented spokesperson for the party too. We’ve both benefited from the support and mentoring of senior Greens, too, so we have promised to help increase access to schemes like this (and Campaign School and In it to Win it) and develop an expanded and effective mentoring programme for emerging leaders at all levels of the party.
As well as the Young Greens, we would also work with groups like Greens of Colour, LGBTIQA+ Greens and the Green Party Disability Group to help broaden the range of leaders the party is training and developing. We’re awaiting recommendations from the Holistic Review, but we have also suggested that we can help get more of our spokespeople into the spotlight by putting them at the helm of national issue-based campaigns, and that several of these campaigns could be led by Young Greens - this is how Siân was first involved in national campaigning after setting up an independent campaign against urban 4x4s when she was 29, and is a good way not only to get media experience but also to actually change policy for the common good!
At a national and regional level, Young Greens have a seat at the table and a voice in organising that is influential and which we hugely respect. We’re listening to members as part of this in campaign and we are sad to have heard from some young members that they can struggle to be listened to in some local parties, and hear cases of offers to help or even stand for election not being taken up. We want to help put this right, and get to the bottom of what the problems are, and think that we are the right people to bridge this gap in discussion with Young Greens’ organisers and local party chairs.
Siân’s work to expose cuts in youth services and win new funding to support them in London comes from listening to young people, who contacted all the candidates for Mayor in 2016 and set up a petition signed by more than 40,000 asking for action because they were worried about the consequences of reducing services that gave them skills, interesting things to do and safe places to go outside school. Once elected, Sian was the only candidate to stand by her pledges, measure the impact of youth service cuts, raise the issue with the Mayor, and make budget proposals two years running. We are now happy to have won a new £45 million fund from the Mayor to help reduce the impact of cuts and help young Londoners to thrive. But it’s not just a London problem and, if elected, we’d be very keen to talk to Young Greens about taking this campaign to a national level.
Housing costs, insecurity and low pay are other issues that young people bring up again and again when asked what problems they face. Young Greens are also often the fiercest campaigners for human rights and against climate change, Brexit and air pollution, and of course for free education for all. These are all problems the Green Party has the best ideas and policies to solve - and it’s important to have clear arguments being made by our leadership and to have campaigns and candidates on the ground working on them.
We’re pushing for more training in issue-based campaigning for local parties, including in how elected Greens can support this at all levels, and in non-violent direct action when it’s needed. As co-leaders we would want to have an early discussion with the Young Greens executive committee about how to maximise access to this training for young members, about which campaigns you are already planning, and what you would like to see from us at a national level.
Standing for Leader
Climate change is at the heart of my campaign: taking the debate right back to its roots. This particularly affects young people. We cannot tackle climate change effectively unless we accept that it means stopping the pursuit of economic growth. Giving meaning to the words “Local and sustainable”; the Green Party must reclaim this unique perspective and put it at the heart of its economic agenda. This will protect and increase job opportunities. More investment in the UK will deliver local and sustainable training and jobs, giving young people opportunities to pursue interesting careers not dead end jobs.
Having an ongoing debate with members, monthly social media instead of conferences, to involve all our members, not just a few. More involvement will result in more active local branches and more opportunity to recruit young Greens. Sounding more relevant to young people will attract interest. Developing our unique voice on jobs, the gig economy, access to free education and the halt to the business models that define schools and universities at present. Supporting the rights of all, particularly aiming our debate to involve more ethnic minority issues and those affecting the LGBTQI+ community.
As leader I will be a strong voice on such issues as the poor job market, the gig economy and banning zero hours contracts, all of which impact badly on young people. Being able to buy or rent affordable housing by reboosting the public sector and removing the injustices of renting. Campaigning vigorously to abolish student fees and rebalancing education away from it being a business towards excellence in learning. Protecting the NHS and funding social care properly, saving billions by stopping privatisation and using strong tax avoidance measures to invest billions more. Tackling discrimination wherever we find it.
Standing for Deputy Leader
Because both People and Planet matter. I'm really proud to be offering Young Greens the option to vote for another Young Green who is dedicated and experienced and has to bring to the role of Deputy Leader. I believe that we need to put aside this internal discussion over whether certain things should take a priority over others, because it stops us from being able to be on the ground helping our communities, helping our planet, and helping more people. We're a party of progressive people, fighting for a progressive planet, and this is something we should be proud of. I want to build up our media visibility, our campaigns support, and our diversity, so that we continue to rise upwards and become England's 3rd party.
I'd be approachable, and I'd hope to continue to volunteer as a mentor on the 30 under 30 programme, but much more than that as well, I want to provide practical support where needed to Young Greens Campaigns and of course the annual Young Greens Convention.
Being treated as if we're ignorant. Young peoples voices can be incredibly powerful in today’s politics as we have seen with our Young Greens tireless campaigning, and continued growth through schemes like 30 under 30. Yet we still see young people described as apolitical or uninterested, and blamed for low election turnout, and for making the "wrong decision". I want to work with the Young Greens to put Politics onto the National Curriculum, campaign for the voting age to be lowered to 16, and for more opportunities for young voices to be heard, such as a Youth Question Time to become a frequent event on the BBC.
Standing for Deputy Leader
I can help the party turn our radical principles and policies into words and actions that make sense to people on the doorstep. The Young Greens have buckets of challenging and original ideas - lets combine that with the experience of elected Councillors like me and we'll be unstoppable! More about how we can turn our big Green principles into action at www.jonathanchilvers.info
I am part of a work experience scheme by which a young person receives a bursary and spends a day a week with me as a councillor for 8 months being involved in local politics and government. If elected I would love to continue this at deputy level. I want to support and mentor young people to be Councillors so that they increase their influence within the community and the party. Like 30 under 30 but more!
Climate Change and Brexit will have a massive impact on young people for the long term. Other specific issues are the housing crisis and the lack of fulfilling jobs and career progression. On housing I'd enforce higher standards in the private rented sector and abolish tax breaks for landlords which would reduce competition and prices for first time buyers. On career progression I'd hugely invest in lifelong skills and training. What would your top two be?
Standing for Deputy Leader
I proposed the motion at Green Party Conference that gave the Young Greens representation on GPEX. So I have a proven commitment to ensuring Young Greens have a voice in our Party structures.
In my role as a Green Party Councillor I have given numerous work placement opportunities to Young Greens shadowing and assisting in my campaigning work.
I have 2 sons aged 14 and 20 who keep me in touch with issues faced by young people today. They tell me it straight which is really useful.
I’ll certainly commit by agreement to attend Young Green events during my 2 year term as Deputy Leader and I will share with Young Greens my work plan, as Deputy Leader, in a draft form so they can influence it.
One area I would be keen to explore is the possibility of having a specific liaison person(s) nominated by the Young Greens to work with. In this way I can have a useful sounding board on areas of work I am pursuing and ensure Young Greens views are represented in the wider Leadership Team.
When I talk to many young people in my role as an elected Green Party Councillor they tell me their main concerns are having a secure place to live, a meaningful career the lack of influence/[power in the political sphere, poor mental health services and use of recreational drugs by many to medicate themselves as a consequence e.g. Xanax.
I’ve already championed better Health Services for young people when they were threatened at our local University with some success. More widely as a Party I would lead a campaign for better mental health services for young people while highlighting root causes of their problems.
Standing for Deputy Leader
YG's should vote for whoever they think is the best person for the post based upon what YG's see as their priorities! It would be churlish to tell YG's to vote for me if I am not clear of what they feel their issues are. Clear communication is the key. Check out any of my YOUTUBE uploads to get an example what I bring to the party. ( Not that type of party?!)
I've said it on many occasions ; the future of the Greens lies with the Young Greens and Greens of Colour. Any changes with the GP will come from either- or both- of these groups as they are not part of the mainstream discourse, but they will be heard, 100%
I make special mention of Jessica Davis from Essex Uni YG's and the great work she did by connecting Green students society with Black students society. Brilliant event.
Biggest issue facing young people right now is the relationship to today's consumer culture and vacuous celebrity culture. There are so many harmful, toxic side effects from today's culture that we could do an entire curriculum on it. Young people are being robbed of their identity by brands and marketeers who just want to sell more 'stuff' and not improve the quality of life. Bottom line is; Young People are being hustled unlike any generation, thus far.
Once we are clear on the issues, then we can talk politics and strategies to change the game!
Standing for Deputy Leader
Politics is changing, and young people are embracing the principles of social, economic and environmental justice. These justices are deeply held beliefs of mine, and I know that it’s through young people that we can build our movement and create real change. I work in school and universities to communicate this, and challenge policy around the housing crisis, climate change and tuition fees to ensure our policies are relevant to your generation. As a graduate from the 30 Under 30 programme and a former Young Green, my support for your work and commitment to continue to your events is unwavering.
I will continue to support young candidates across the country by attending canvassing sessions and launch events to help secure coverage of their campaigns in the local press and amplifying their message on social media. While attending events in schools and colleges I’ll continue to encourage youth membership and engagement as well as amplifying our core messages that speak to a generation. When I attend events on behalf of the party, I am usually the youngest person on the panel, and without fail always champion the issues that most affect our generation.
Essentially, my generation and a younger generation are incredibly in-tune to the failures of capitalism because from tuition fees to zero hour contracts and climate change to biodiversity loss, it’s young people that are living with the effects of a failing political system. Acknowledging this means we can hang a vast range of issues off that basic principle and address an entire structure that’s failing a younger generation. I will continue to champion policy change to address this injustice as well as ensure we build a politics that works for our generation.