GPEx International: John Street

We spoke to all the candidates for international co-ordinator. Here John Street answers our questions.

 

  • Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I have a background in IT, as a Computer Programmer (COBOL and Assembler), but have now retired from that and consequently have the time available that the role of International Co-ordinator requires.

I’ve been a Party member since around 1983, I’ve been convenor of Standing Orders Committee twice, I’ve been involved with organisation of Green Party conferences for well over ten years, I was the Co-ordinator of the London Green Party in the run-up to the 1999 European (Jean Lambert elected MEP) and 2000 London Assembly elections (Darren Johnson, Jenny Jones and Victor Anderson elected) and was Convenor of the London Elections Co-ordinating Group for both these election campaigns. I have also been involved in organising elections in London since then. And I’ve been a member of Bromley Green Party since its reincarnation in December 1988; I’m currently its joint convenor and treasurer.

Outside the Party, I was part of the Babels team responsible for organising UK interpreters for the European Social Forums in Paris in 2003 and in London in 2004; I was just too late to be involved in the first ESF, in Florence in 2002. I’m currently Newsletter Editor for Bromley Friends of the Earth and am also involved with Bromley Civic Society and my local Residents’ Association.

 

  • What do you think the priority of the International Co-ordinator should be?

The International Committee plays an essential part in the work of the International Co-ordinator, who cannot work in isolation from the committee, so the responses to this question do encompass the committee as well.

Our relations with the European Green Party (EGP) have improved immensely over the past two years and it’s important that we work at maintaining this improvement. This means, amongst other things, that we engage with the various EGP working groups wherever we can, and continue to send our full quota of four delegates to EGP Council meetings. It’s worth noting in this respect that Philippe Lamberts, EGP Co-chair, took time out on a recent visit to London to talk to a group of us about the Green New Deal.

A vital part of this improvement is involvement with the creation of the EGP’s Common Manifesto for the European Elections. We may not always see things the same way as our sister Green parties in Europe, but by engaging with the manifesto process we can at least try to mitigate the differences in views between us.

The International Co-ordinator and committee should also progress the creation of an International Community so that it’s easier to include the expertise other Party members have in areas that we don’t have. This is something that we should start working on as soon as possible.

 

  • What experience specific to this role would you be bringing to the job?

Here are some of the relevant experiences that immediately spring to mind:

• Two years experience as International Co-ordinator
• Five years experience as elected member of International Committee
• Member of previous (appointed) International Committee
• Experience of attending EGP Council meetings from 1998, when I organised the one in London, to the present day, formerly as an observer and latterly as a delegate
• Recent involvement with EGP working groups, e.g. Fit for the Future, Statutes, Future of the EGP, Future of Europe.

 

  • How do you think the International Co-ordinator and Committee can contribute to winning votes and making our elected representatives more effective?

Mostly, the International Co-ordinator and Committee play more of a supporting role in European elections and, although they have the opportunity to contribute individually at local and general elections, their input as a committee generally isn’t called on for the latter. Just ask yourselves how much the average person on the street is influenced by the finer details of any party’s European policy, even in European elections.

That having been said, by virtue of their engagement with the wider Green movement, the International Co-ordinator and Committee can add a wider European and international dimension to our policy discussions. This can be further enhanced by engagement with the writing of the European Green Party’s Common Manifesto, so that the best and most relevant points from that can be fed into the discussions here.

 

  • What do you think would be the most difficult part of this role?

I think that there are two parts that could be described as the most difficult, although the semantic pedantists among you may feel that there’s too much of the oxymoron there for your liking.

Firstly, there’s the question of funding.

That’s finding the funding necessary to carry out the requirements of this role satisfactorily. The GPEW has very little available in the way of finance for anything, and only a small percentage of that finds its way to international work. In recent years the only funding available has been for part-funding expenses for our delegates to EGP Council meetings and the Global Greens Congress, and even that has come from an historic surplus in an MEPs’ account that is now exhausted.

Secondly, there’s the vastness of ‘Out There’.

We have to face the fact that the International Co-ordinator and the five International Committee members can’t hope by themselves to cover all the possible international work that needs doing, all the different parts of the world where there’s potential for involvement, and can’t hope to meet everybody’s expectations for anything more than a small fraction of the time. Moving towards the creation of an International Community (see answer to question 2 and my website) should go some way towards addressing this and also allow the GPEW to operate in a wider international sphere than it currently does.

 

  • Contact details

Website address – www.john4international.com

Email address – johnstreet@gn.apc.org

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