Feb. 22nd, 2010

vyvyanx: (Default)
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.

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