What to expect at PolicyFest Winter 2019

The Green Party prides itself on its member-led approach to policy development, setting it apart from other mainstream political parties in the UK. A key component of the policy development process is the bi-annual PolicyFest, where members meet to discuss policy to bring forward to conference. Green World spoke to Green Party Policy Development Coordinator Paul Woodhead about how PolicyFest works.

GP PolicyFest
GP PolicyFest
Green World

On Saturday 23 February at the University of South Wales, the policy community of the Green Party will convene to discuss particular areas of policy interest, develop policy structure and look at ways to implement policy through our elected representatives.

We spoke with Policy Development Coordinator Paul Woodhead about PolicyFest Winter 2019 and what we can expect to learn at the event in Newport.

What is PolicyFest?

Our policy is developed by our members and constructed through conference. So, put simply, this is a day dedicated to how we develop policy. Outside of the constraints and structure of conference and the rather impersonal nature of online forums we create a space dedicated to policy.

How often will PolicyFest occur?

Picking up from the first events organised in 2017, we plan to run PolicyFest twice a year in between our conference dates in locations around the country. This will be coordinated and hosted by the regional parties and we thank the Wales Green Party for their assistance with the event in Newport and the East Midlands Region for working on the summer 2019 event currently being planned.

Who should attend PolicyFest?

Anyone with an interest in the following:

  1. Specific policy areas or motions being brought for consideration at conference;

  2. How policy is developed, whether that be the structure of policy or connecting differing areas of policy in a cohesive approach; and

  3. How we implement policy, in particular through the work and connections of our elected representatives.

I am interested in PolicyFest but find the policy process intimidating and combative at times. Is it for me?

That policy is made by members is one of the principles that sets the Green Party apart from other political parties, but we know it can feel like an intimidating process. However, PolicyFest is conducted in a welcoming environment and it is often much easier to contribute to a dialogue when meeting directly with people of similar interests to you.

Training in the basics of policy process will be part of the programme and people will be available to advise and support you through the day. PolicyFest will be a great opportunity to introduce yourself to policy in a friendly and supportive environment.

What are the particular sessions in the programme for PolicyFest Winter 2019?

After a welcome address given by recently elected Leader of the Green Party in Wales, Anthony Slaughter, we have a number of organised sessions, which are designed to be interactive and will be facilitated by our knowledgeable session leaders from across the party.

One question that arises time and time again is what the structure of a good policy chapter looks like. Using our collective experience, we look to reach a consensus about what a chapter in Policies for a Sustainable Society (the Green Party’s evolving policy document) should look like, what principles should be included and how we go about providing the underlying detail that supports these principles.

GP PolicyFest
GP PolicyFest
Participants at last year's PolicyFest


How we pay for all the elements of a sustainable society is a key question that must be addressed for our policies to be deemed credible and the Tax and Fiscal Policy Working Group will take us through the process of balancing taxation and spending on priorities.

Currently, the strength and success of an economy is measured by its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This simplistic number misrepresents the health of our economy and locks us into a focus on unsustainable consumer growth. As part of the Leaders Theme session, we will explore recent announcements about the four-day week and a free-time index to develop an alternative narrative with simple, digestible measures that will accurately represent the true health of the economy.

Once policy is developed, it needs to be promoted and delivered through the work of our councillors and other elected representatives. The Policy Implementation session will showcase how councillors are doing this, the links and opportunities provided by the Local Government Association and how the policy community can support the implementation of policy.

Supporting the main programme will be sessions providing training on the basics of the policy process, looking at the unique policy situation in the context of Welsh devolution, exploring how we can green the policy process and how we weave our core concern of addressing the climate crisis through our policy development.

There are also individual bookable slots throughout the day to create a space for Policy Working Groups to meet and discuss individual policy area development, or for those seeking motions to be brought to conference to meet, discuss and refine the motions away from online forums.

The programme for the day can be found here.

What is the relationship between PolicyFest and motion accreditation?

Accreditation was introduced in 2016 to help inform conference of which motions are supported for consideration having undergone an appropriate level of consultation and evidence-gathering. It is not recommending a motion be passed, referred back or declined by conference – it is more of a health check to prove that those proposing motions have consulted and researched widely both internally and externally.

PolicyFest is an opportunity to consult and create a dialogue for a motion and will be considered as part of the accreditation process. Not attending will not preclude a motion from accreditation if evidence that appropriate research and consultation has been undertaken is provided.

How do I book my place at Policyfest?

We have an Eventbrite booking system with tickets available at £15 for the day. Everyone is very welcome and we would like to particularly encourage members of colour, those living with disabilities and women to come along and get involved.

We also have a Facebook event set up to help communicate the latest news and information.

Is there an accessibility fund for PolicyFest?

The event is self-funding and we have limited funds to help financially but we will assist where we can. Please email us at policy@greenparty.org.uk and we can assess and process requests within our limited means. We are able to waive the ticket costs in exceptional circumstances but please bear in mind the event is only funded from ticket sales.

If you are able to contribute to the accessibility fund, please donate through the main Green Party donate avenues and email us at policy@greenparty.org.uk to let us know so we can ring-fence this donation for these purposes.

In terms of wider aspects of accessibility within the event, if you are able to help and volunteer in this respect or have particular accessibility needs that we can look to provide for please let us know again at policy@greenparty.org.uk.