vyvyanx: (Default)
[personal profile] vyvyanx
Since Thursday I've been away at the Green Party conference in Finchley. I also took the opportunity to visit [livejournal.com profile] palmer1984 and go to her Crisis of Capitalism party on Saturday night, at [livejournal.com profile] farnam's house. Although the party was excellent, a drunken error in the setting of an alarm meant that I failed to wake up in time on Sunday to get to the last plenary session at conference, but a members' conference report indicates that all went well anyway.

The main result is that the Green Party have reformed much of their science and health related policy, particularly in areas that people I know have been concerned about. So, the pledge for scientists has been removed. A full review of the science chapter of our main policy document (previously called Manifesto for a Sustainable Society, newly renamed as Policies for a Sustainable Society to reduce confusion with specific election manifestos) has been agreed, and will take place over the next year or two, eventually coming to conference as a voting paper. The policy on animal research no longer makes such controversial claims about the scientific value of specific types of research, focusing instead on ethical arguments. In the health chapter, all specific references to approval for "alternative medicine" and "alternative therapies" have been removed, and such things are now required to meet the same standards of safety and effectiveness as conventional medicine and therapies.

Most excitingly for me, the ban on embryonic stem cell research has been removed, and that part of the policy document has been replaced with a section which I wrote! While I was involved in earlier discussion on policy mailing lists of several of the other measures mentioned here, and added my name in support of the motions so that they were able to be brought to conference, it is very likely that they would have gone through anyway, since there were many others acting on those issues. However, on the stem cell issue, if I had not joined the party last year, joined the relevant policy lists, and pushed to get this part of the health chapter changed, I think the party would still have a ban on embryonic stem cell research. I ended up (on the Health list last year) discussing the circumstances under which the ban was set in place (in 2001 or so) with the person who drafted it, researching the current state of regulation etc., and persuading that person (and others on the list) that it needed revisiting. I suggested an alternative wording of the section which acknowledged the previous concerns of some members, and it ended up being put forward as an amendment to the Health chapter (alongside 28 others!) at conference. At the relevant workshop to discuss policy in a small group prior to plenary voting, I was delighted by strong support for the amendment from other members, most of whom seemed angry that the ban was part of Green policy in the first place. Unfortunately, conference ran out of time to debate all the amendments to the Health policy on Saturday, when it was scheduled to take place, and the last few were carried over to be debated in remaining business on Sunday morning. Since the stem cell amendment was number 28 of 29, I was unable to be present when it was debated and voted upon. But it went through anyway!

Here's a few recent mentions of these issues elsewhere:
Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/search?q=%23gpconf (scroll down a couple of pages to see people rejoicing over the stem cell bit in particular)
Alasdair Thompson's blog: http://brightgreenscotland.org/index.php/2010/02/green-party-conference-days-34-a-sensible-health-policy/ (he was present at the relevant plenary session on Sunday)
Jim Jepps' blog: http://jimjay.blogspot.com/2010/02/green-party-conference-animals-science.html (he was also present when the various policies were voted on)

I'm so pleased. A large part of my reason for joining the Green Party (rather than just continuing to be a more passive supporter) was to try to get these sorts of policies improved, and now they have been.

Date: 2010-02-22 11:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mobbsy.livejournal.com
Well done, that sounds like a really good result.

Date: 2010-02-22 11:48 am (UTC)
lnr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnr
Oh excellent, and it's fab to see someone actually joining a party to make a difference and finding they can really do so!

Date: 2010-02-22 11:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] robinbloke.livejournal.com
Excellent news; well done!

Date: 2010-02-22 11:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meihua.livejournal.com
Well done! What impressive work! This is one of the big reasons why I haven't supported the Greens before - I'll revisit their policies before I vote in the next election.

Date: 2010-02-22 01:06 pm (UTC)
ext_8007: Drinking tea (Default)
From: [identity profile] auntysarah.livejournal.com
Excellent work! Well done!

Date: 2010-02-22 01:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pete stevens (from livejournal.com)
Did they have anything sensible to say on financing their plans? I received a leaflet from the Green party last week that essentially convinced me not to vote for them.

http://www.thestraightchoice.org/leaflet.php?q=581

Starting with the laughable graph (% change of vote share in local elections), they claimed that they'd fund everything with a 'Tobin Tax' - a tax on currency exchange, and cracking down on tax avoid which would raise approx £50bn / year.

Now, £50bn a year doesn't cover the current deficit (£175bn of which ~ £90bn is structural and will occur every year from now on). More than that a 'Tobin Tax' is designed to stop currency speculation - it's not revenue raising. A Robin Hood Tax, is essentially the same as a Tobin Tax (and the Green Party website uses them interchangeably) but at a lower rate designed to raise revenue and every discussion I've seen (c.f. http://robinhoodtax.org.uk/) fails to note that the imposition of the tax will change the amount of currency transacted by a vast volume and the argument that it will raise £560bn x tax rate, is overly simplistic and essentially wrong.

The Green New Deal website (http://www.greennewdealgroup.org/?p=161) advocates Green Quantitative Easing - quite simply printing money to spend on green projects.

The one thing they don't seem to advocate is a carbon tax - a stable predictable carbon tax that rises consistently into the future and is guaranteed not to fall. This would immediately give an incentive to reduce carbon emissions. Rather than a socialist style plan ('the government will force you to reduce carbon emissions') it's a capitalist plan ('those who reduce their carbon emissions become richer'), which would commit private resouces to carbon reduction, rather than avoiding government imposed carbon reduction.

At present though, the pre-election material from the Green Party screams 'innumerate', which is a pretty compelling reason not to vote for them.

Date: 2010-02-22 02:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vyvyan.livejournal.com
This post is specifically about certain parts of the Green Party's science and health-related policies, which is where my involvement has been focused over the last year. I left it unlocked because someone else had asked to be able to link to it as information on these topics for others, not on my friends list. Unfortunately I don't have the time or energy at the moment to explain, justify or defend the party's policies on topics such as economics - if you are particularly interested I suggest looking at the website, talking to canvassers closer to the election, or contacting Tony Juniper who will be standing for MP in Cambridge.

Date: 2010-02-22 02:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pete stevens (from livejournal.com)
Thanks for that. The health and science policy changes you've got through are excellent though, congratulations.

Date: 2010-02-22 05:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meihua.livejournal.com
Good response!

Date: 2010-02-22 03:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ciphergoth.livejournal.com
Great work!

Date: 2010-02-22 04:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alixandrea.livejournal.com
That's brilliant stuff! I hope you're suitably proud of yourself. :-)

Date: 2010-02-22 05:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] damerell.livejournal.com
Good. Thanks.

Date: 2010-02-22 06:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pseudomonas.livejournal.com
This is encouraging - well done for making a change!

Date: 2010-02-22 06:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oedipamaas49.livejournal.com
that's wonderful news :)

Date: 2010-02-22 07:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] twigletzone.livejournal.com
Awesomesauce, as they say in fandom :)

Date: 2010-02-22 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] feanelwa.livejournal.com
Your work is all kinds of awesome.

Date: 2010-02-22 09:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] palmer1984.livejournal.com
Thanks for posting this!

Date: 2010-02-22 09:20 pm (UTC)
ext_3375: Banded Tussock (Default)
From: [identity profile] hairyears.livejournal.com
Result!

Getting scientific literacy and evidence-based policy back is a vital step towards credibility. There was absolutely no way that anything the Green Party had to say could be treated seriously when so much of your stated policies were so clearly based on a rejection of science and reason.

You now have a moral base, a place to stand and ask the other parties about evidence-based policy and the suppression or misuse of scientific evidence.

Next... Economics.

Date: 2010-02-23 09:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vyvyan.livejournal.com
You posted this comment twice by accident so I deleted one copy. Just letting you know so you didn't think I was censoring you!

Date: 2010-02-23 11:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] atreic.livejournal.com
Go you! This is all wonderful news.
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