By-elections, political education, and striker solidarity

The Young Greens reflect on the past month, which has seen the group support Green campaigns and demonstrations nationwide.

South West Young Greens
Young Greens

Last month in Green World, the Young Greens reflected on 2021; a year of student activism, outreach, and a national effort to build our membership and continue resisting Tory rule in its most grotesque forms.

January saw the launch of our political education series, ‘The Pillars of Green Politics’, in which important figures in the Green movement were invited to give talks on the fundamental principles behind their work. We also opened applications to our 30 under 30 programme; it has been a privilege to read through every submission and feel the energy Young Greens have for a brighter, Greener future for UK politics. 

February 2022

Campaigns and Demonstrations

The South-West Young Greens spent February campaigning tirelessly for the election of Ed Burnham in Bristol. Ed, a Young Green, stood in the by-election for the Southmead City Council seat, which would have pushed Bristol City Council to a Green majority. Though the seat was marginally held by Labour, the campaign is a testament to the strength that well-organised Young Green groups can bring. 

Bristol Young Greens joined the new South-West regional group in holding an action day, which saw a team out canvassing in Southmead with Ed and Carla Denyer, Co-Chair of the Green Party. The Cambridge Young Greens also held an away-day to join the action, ensuring as many Southmead residents were reached as possible. Former Young Greens co-chair and Green Party Executive member Rosie Rawle praised ‘the energy, the organisation and the muscle!’ of the South-West Young Greens. 

Ultimately, the seat remained Labour, with the Greens placing second with 38.5 per cent of the vote. A +19 per cent swing to the Greens, though, speaks to the effectiveness of the campaign lead by the Bristol Green Party and leaves optimism for the future of the Greens in Bristol and the South-West. 

Patrick McAllister, chair of the South-West Young Greens and Treasurer of Bristol Green Party, said: “That we came such a strong second place in Southmead proves that the Greens can be in contention anywhere, as more and more people wake up to the realities of the climate emergency and the neglectful attitudes of the established political parties. 

“I was proud to organise two very successful Young Green action days in support of Ed Burnham, who was a fantastic candidate and who we can't wait to see in the council chamber in 2024.” 

Young Greens also mobilised in Oxford, attending an action day to get residents voting for Rosie Rawle and Emily Kerr in the local elections this year. 

In the North East, Young Green Jack Phillipson spoke at a demonstration against the rising cost of living held by People’s Assembly. 

Leeds Young Greens attended a rally organised by Makes Votes Matter, to Defend Our Democracy in the face of the elections bill currently in the House of Lords. 

Political Education

Political education is an integral function of the Young Greens, and our Pillars of Green Politics series concluded with sessions five and six this month. 

Session five, titled ‘International Justice’, welcomed Ross Greer MSP and Cllr Nanette Youssef to discuss international solidarity, imperialism, and asylum. It was an enlightening discussion that left Young Greens more aware of the global dimension of Green politics. 

The series ended with a talk on ‘Radical Democracy’, with Baroness Natalie Bennett, Zack Polanski AM and Derek Wall. Talks from the Pillar of Green Politics series can be viewed on the Young Greens YouTube channel

Green Students

February saw the University and College Union (UCU) begin a national strike against cuts to pensions, precarious employment, pay-gaps and unsustainable workloads in the higher education sector.

UCU working environments are our learning environments and we believe these should be fair and supportive. Green student groups, from Imperial College to Cambridge to Leeds, came out in solidarity with striking staff at their institutions. 

Green students have been working to support left-wing candidates running in Student Union elections this month. A training seminar was held with Chris Jarvis, which was also recorded and can be viewed on our YouTube channel. We encourage candidates to fill in the form to tell us about their campaign so that Green Students can support as many people as possible.

The Young Greens’ Executive Committee

The Exec have been busy shortlisting candidates for the 30 under 30 scheme and are overwhelmed by the strength of applications this year.

We provided a contribution to the government consultation on conversion therapy, helping to make sure progressive, youth voices are heard on this pivotal issue. 

The Green Students co-conveners are working with the National Union of Students (NUS) on producing material for the student strike in March.  

The Exec has been following the dispute between Young Labour and the Labour Party, culminating in the restriction of access to Young Labour social media accounts. We believe that youth wings exist to empower young people to mobilise politically and should be able to build on and develop party policy when mandated by the views of young members. We hope that our relationship with the Green Party can continue to be productive and mutually respectful, to optimise our chances of getting Greens elected nationally.