THE BLOG

2016 - The Year We Turn the Green Surge Into Green Seats

28/02/2016 20:39 GMT | Updated 28/02/2017 10:12 GMT

This weekend Green Party spring conference started in Harrogate, started with optimism, started with energy and enthusiasm, in a setting just right for it.

Harrogate is billed as the "happiest place to live in Britain" - a great place for us to promote and develop policies for a healthier, happier society that works for the common good.

Those were policies, principles and values that last year helped the Green Party's membership more than treble and saw us win more votes in the general election than we have previously in every general election added together.

This is the party that, working together for a future that's fair and sustainable, this May will turn the Green surge into Green seats.

That's already happening - we've just won two County Council by-elections - the newest first greens on their respective county councils are Clare Sutton in Dorset and Duncan Kerr in Shropshire.

That Shropshire victory is of particular note because it now means that we've got elected representatives in every county in the West Midlands. Congratulations to all who've worked to develop a campaigning model so good that I found on a recent visit to Worcester, even the Tories are copying it.

But those county by-election victories are just a sign of the opportunities for the Green Party in May - the opportunities everywhere from Sunderland to Southampton, Kendal to Exeter.

For many communities, there's the opportunity to elect their first Green councillors - to have a new broom sweeping through dusty corridors, a challenger asking tough questions, scrutinising.

That's particularly important in those communities that have been "one-party states" - complacent, unchallenged Cabinets without ideas, without hope, without initiative.

But also it's critical in places where politics is trapped in the stale, sterile bish-bosh of two-party politics.

Greens are a breath of fresh air - a new hope for communities that need strong, principled, innovative local councillors to care, to find alternatives, amid the horrors of Westminster's Tory austerity. Green councillors whose one focus is a better future for their communities.

Voters always know where Greens stand. Our values and principles are clear and consistent - maintained by you, conference, our supreme decision-making body, the members.

But of course there's more in May - the chance to grow our numbers on councils where we're already strong, in Bristol, Liverpool, Sheffield and many others, and exciting elections in Wales and in London, and for our sister parties in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

These are elections conducted, as all elections should be conducted, under a fair, proportional system in which voters can simply, uncomplicatedly, vote for what they believe in and get it.

In Wales, we've got a great team of candidates, a hugely grown party.

Good luck Alice Hooker Stroud, Amelia Womack and Lisa Rapido - three young women who could be the great first Green team in the Senedd.

And then in London, we're seeing a changing of the guard. After 16 years of sterling service, Jenny Jones and Darren Johnson are standing down from the London Assembly, and we're looking to grow our representation there - and to see a great result for Sian Berry in the mayoral race. Her odds are much shorter than Jeremy Corbyn's were at the start of the Labour leadership race.

In Scotland polls are showing a huge jump in our number of MSPs is on the cards, in Northern Ireland the brilliant MLA Steven Agnew could be joined by more representatives.

Voters are looking for change, they see that we cannot go on as we are - the Westminster government, the Cardiff Assembly and far too many local councils around the country, are on the wrong side of history.

They need new voices looking to the future, celebrating communities, building strong local economies, promoting democratic, renewable energy technologies and warm, comfortable homes, enriching lives by supporting culture and the arts: elected voices working for the common good whilst acknowledging the limits of our one fragile planet - Green voices.