Candidates for Leader: Romayne Phoenix

We asked the candidates for the post of leader the same set of questions (and quick fire questions). Here are Romayne Phoenix’s responses:

  • Which three policies do you think the Party should prioritise over the next three years?

‘Economy, Ecology and Equality’ are the headline issues that the Green Party need to promote to attract supporters, members and voters to work with us so that we can address the austerity and privatisation plans of this government together with their continuing failure to take responsibility for the urgent crisis of climate change.

We need clear narratives to link policies for a zero carbon economy with jobs, housing, energy efficiency, decent transport, free education and a fully funded NHS- with an emphasis on well being as an important factor in our post ‘GDP’ measure of success.

When we demand quantitative easing we need to emphasise employment opportunities, investment in housing and transport integration alongside a robust carbon emissions reduction plan to protect our future.

When we call for more progressive taxation measures. – taxing the rich – we need to show how much wealth there is that can benefit all of society and reduce inequality and associated health and social stresses.

We need to talk about the value of unpaid work that makes a vital contribution to society as a whole.

If we call to nationalise the banks we must explain how this could ensure that loans are available to develop a ‘post GDP growth’ economy by supporting localised low carbon industry, small businesses and communities.

The current economic crisis and the environmental cries are two sides of the same struggle, neither exists independently of the other. Green Party policies point the way to a ‘just transition’ to a sustainable future and a more equal society. Let’s keep these issues linked and make ours the voice of the real opposition to government.

  • Do you think that we have got the balance right between central vs local control/ownership of the Party, and if not how would you like to see structures (e.g., GPEx, GPRC, local party organising) within the Party change?

We are a growing party and we are achieving more electoral success but we have not thought far ahead enough to put in place the support structures or communication channels that would make us stronger. I support our federated structure with local party decision making but there will be times where the political consequences of a decision made locally could have serious consequences for the party as a whole and such decisions should involve the wider party in a political discussion.

My initial thought is that GPRC could take responsibility for developing communication channels between elected councillors and GPEx during the year and with the whole membership at conference. This may involve AGC in some role. Political Committee should be aware of situations that are on the horizon and it should not be left for external communications to ‘deal with’ any difficulties arising. However, GPEx, GPRC would need to consider these matters and perhaps lead a proper discussion at conference.

My other concern is that of protecting the democracy of our local parties once they have achieved success and have councillors in office – or in power. None of us are elected by our own efforts and we are all making valuable contributions in various ways as suiting our skills, family commitments and work. Councillors must work alongside party members as equals.

We are also a party who deserves to be growing at a much faster rate as there is no real opposition party in government worthy of that title. We need to ensure that new and small local parties have support and training to help them to grow and to flourish. Our members are our most valuable assets. GPEx has a role here and GPRC also.

With a membership strategy motion going to conference my support for this work on GPEx would be robust. Local party support must be effectively resourced and models of successful activity for membership growth and electoral success must be shared.

  • It is often said that there is a wealth of talent in the Green Party, but that we do not utilise it to its full potential. How would you make more of our elected representatives, spokespeople and other knowledgeable individuals within the party in order to get the Green message heard?

The election of our first MP, Caroline Lucas was a success never achieved before in a FPTP voting system and has served to rapidly increase and improve our profile. As we expand the external communications team with the election of a new leader and deputy we must be relentless in our drive to demand more press coverage and to extend our range of media outlet.

We need a co-ordinated media team to succeed in this.

We should gather better data on our members- especially as new people join us – so that we can identify those who may be able or willing to contribute to research projects, feed into policy committee, help create briefings to share with the whole membership, or to become our nest green party speakers and election candidates.. Training sessions at conference can help to build local talent ready to tackle regional news interviews or to create a punchy press release.

I would like a clear and transparent system for appointments of national spokespersons and to build a network across the regions so that we will be ready to utilise all media opportunities as the party succeeds in elections or commands press attention through campaigns activities.All our talented members should be supported to create opportunities for sharing the Green message whether involved in local issue elections based campaigns or on bigger public platforms talking about the economy, ecology, equality and how these issues are all intertwined.

  • How would your Leadership differ from those of the other candidates for Leadership? Please describe what you think are the main differences between yourself and the other candidates in terms of a vision for the Party.

As leader I would work to strengthen two strategic pillars in the party:

smartly targeted electoral strategy
and
active, issue based campaigning

I was elected in 2006 as a councillor in the London Borough of Lewisham using an effective Target To Win strategy alongside an intensive Save Our Swimming Pools campaign. I have experience of a successful electoral campaign, I have held public office, and I have worked for years to support GPEW Campaigns at a national level ensuring that GPEW were at all major public events with stalls, leaflets, banners and placards. I used every opportunity to make sure that GPEW elected members had platform invitations to speak to a variety of conferences and a range of audiences. Elected to the Green Party national executive (GPEx) in 2010, I was Campaigns Co-ordinator, Convenor of the Campaigns and Communications team and I served on the Political Committee.

Elected under a TTW strategy I know how this works and how we can improve our successes around the regions by learning from the West Midlands Strategy. They managed to increase their fundraising by 800% in three years and went from three councillors on three councils to thirteen on seven.

But TTW is not enough. TTW alone will not bring us political influence in the time.

In Greece the political party Syriza went from 4.6% of the vote to 16.9% and then 27% and almost won the election. Their success was built by campaigning alongside the people in their struggles as the socially devastating consequences of the austerity measures began to cause hardship, despair and unrest.

85% of the planned cuts are yet to be made by this coalition government.The failure of austerity measures to improve the economy so far has led to promises of further austerity until 2020. And still no mention of climate change in the Queen’s Speech.

I have the experience and skills that we need to build the membership and to support work to improve the strengthening and success of our local parties and regions. The Green Party should be a natural home for environmentalists, socialists and trade unionists looking for a real voice of political opposition.

As leader I would put the GPEW at the heart of the battle against austerity, privatisation and ecological vandalism. It’s part of our philosophical basis to work in every way possible to achieve our goals.

We must take responsibility for helping to build a mass movement of informed and empowered people ready to reject austerity and privatisation of our public services and the crude values and disastrous economics of capitalism.

When they then go to the ballot box they will have a party they can happily vote for.

We need to help shift the mood of the nation.

Quickfire

  1. Are you a vegetarian? YES
  2. How many flights have you taken in the last 5 years? No flights for 19 years, then two return flights in one week : – to Athens as a member of the first officially welcomed anti austerity delegation, and to Belfast to help set up a national anti-cuts group.
  3. Which UK politician from outside the Green Party do you most admire? Tony Benn (though Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are in line).
  4. What issue first inspired you to join the Green Party? The Iraq war, and a long hard look at the Labour Party.
  5. Where do you shop? Locally.
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1 Comment

  1. We speak to the four candidates for Green Party leader « Green Party Elections 2012

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