How Queen Mary Became Green Mary

It’s that time of year again when Students’ Unions across the country are holding their elections. This is a great way to exercise democracy but the engagement in universities is not as high as the unions would often like. Normally, there is only a turnout of around 20%. And this kind of student politics can be very distant from the kind of politics The Green Party is involved in. However, it doesn’t have to be.

I am part of the Young Greens society at Queen Mary in Tower Hamlets, one of the most active in the country. A group of members chose to run in our student elections as a slate, and we decided to take a risk and brand ourselves with the name Team Green. Five of us ran for roles: Robert Hunter for RAG Officer, Jo Whitehouse for Women’s Rep, Lewis Williams for Science and Engineering Rep, Laura Potter for Welfare Rep, and I ran to be one of our Union’s NUS Delegates. Initially, Team Green was told we were unlikely to win because we so explicitly campaigned under the banner of our party. But we didn’t mind in the beginning. Of course we wanted to win, but we also wanted to raise the visibility of Green politics on our campus.

team green flyerr

Where slates can sometimes create hostile campaign environments, we chose to run together because we all have the same political beliefs and vision for the union and, ultimately, we were all close friends from the beginning. Working together was necessary since none of us ran for high profile positions or exec roles, and we were determined to run a purely positive campaign. Our society was very supportive, and although we couldn’t use society resources to campaign for us, Team Green was very happy to be endorsed by Queen Mary Young Greens, who also endorsed several other candidates in the elections.

Results came, and they were better than we ever expected! Every single member of Team Green was elected. Every single candidate endorsed by Queen Mary Young Greens was elected. And even the elected president is a Green Party supporter too. Despite worries early on in the campaign that our label as Team Green would be detrimental to our chances of winning, we now have elected Green Party members on our student council who ran on a platform of social and environmental justice!

Student Young Green societies are the way forward for engaging younger voters. Students are less likely to be involved with local parties but are happy to be engaged within their own communities. Whether that means attending socials, or running events, or putting themselves forward for Students’ Union elections, political engagement with Green ideas has increased tenfold since our society was established at Queen Mary over a year ago. From being a tiny group of people, we are now looking at being nominated for society of the year in our Union. We can create more Green voters if we unify on student campuses.

If you are in a university Young Greens group, or want to start a society, feel free to email and we will be happy to help you in any way we can.

By Aaron Parr – @azapotpot


Backwards to the Future? Why we’re supporting junior doctors today – and so should you!

Today marks the first day of three 48 hour strikes that our junior doctors will be undertaking over the next 7 weeks, following Jeremy Hunt’s imposition of a new and lesser contract which will see our doctors working longer hours, with fewer safeguards and all for less pay.

Under Hunt’s new contract, the definition of out of hours working, or unsocial hours, will be changed, meaning that work on a Saturday evening will be considered and counted the same as work on a weekday morning. Safeguards currently in place to prevent doctors working dangerously long hours will be removed and staff morale, already in significant decline, will deteriorate further.

It shouldn’t be necessary to point out that our junior doctors are indispensable and work incredibly hard seven days a week, and yet, against the backdrop of toxic government rhetoric and scare-mongering based on inconclusive studies on weekend mortality rates, it has become so. Doctors undertake many years of study and training, landing themselves with student debts in excess of £70,000. They work long, unsociable and undoubtedly stressful hours and the bulk of their remuneration comes from out of hours pay.

While Hunt and his Tory colleagues remind us that, under the new contract, doctor’s base rate pay will increase by 11%, the reality is that the majority of junior doctors- while still performing the exact same job- will suffer a real terms pay cut. More work for less pay; an offer served up by a government of MPs, who last year saw their pay increase by 10% and by next month will receive a further 1% rise.

Unbelievably, across some social media accounts and other media outlets, junior doctors have been portrayed as greedy and unreasonable, as some NHS patients are of course inconvenienced by the strikes. But such anger and frustration would be much better directed at a government which is more than willing to compromise the safety of both patients and some of our most valued workers in society, in order to pursue an entirely ideological austerity agenda.

So what is the context to the imposition of this contract? Our National Health Service has suffered huge cuts- or “efficiency savings”- since 2010 and the Tory government promised in 2015 that savings totalling £22billion will be sought by 2020. Crippling Private Finance Initiative debts now cost the NHS up to £2billion per year and NHS Trusts across the country maintain enormous deficits. The NHS is in a financial crisis, yet it is also victim to an ongoing process of fragmentation and privatisation. Market forces have been imposed upon the NHS over the past three decades and the administration costs of this alone have been destructive. Tory plans to spread existing NHS services and the work of junior doctors more thinly is part of a concerted effort to divide public support for NHS staff, reduce NHS satisfaction levels and provide basis for their determined drive to privatise our beloved National Health Service.

So, why should we go out and publicly support our junior doctors today? Firstly, there is the obvious but important question of patient safety. Most of us rely on the NHS throughout our lives, whether expectedly or unexpectedly, and exhausted, overworked and demoralised doctors are not able to provide the service on which lives quite simply depend. Furthermore, the expected exodus of junior doctors from the NHS, should this imposition of contract continue, would be catastrophic for patient safety and the health service as a whole.

But beyond the question of safety and even the NHS, there is the principle of solidarity and the reasons why this is so important in this neoliberal age. Without collective, unionised action and support for our fellow workers and ordinary citizens, we all face a race to the bottom, be that in regards to wages, employment, healthcare, rights or housing. Instead of divided by deliberately pernicious Tory rhetoric, as a society and as activists we are much stronger when we are united against a common threat to our collective prosperity; we should race to pull each other up, not scramble to pull each other down.

London Young Greens will take to the picket lines today, tomorrow and throughout strike dates in April, in support of our junior doctors facing the same threats to their welfare, their rights and their NHS, as we each face to ours. We urge you to join us.

London Young Greens will be hosting an event on the junior doctor strikes and organised labour on Thursday 21st April, 7.30pm at Development House, 56-64 Leonard St, London EC2A 4LT.

To find out more about Caroline Lucas’ NHS Reinstatement Bill visit:

To sign up to the Young Greens’ Get Organised! campaign visit:

By Clare Siobhán Keogh – @GreenClareKeogh


London-Paris Exchange

As part of London Young Greens’ campaign for the EU referendum, we are organising an exchange with the Young Greens of Paris, set to coincide with the vote. We’ve got some really exciting plans for this (including a return trip!), but as our budget is so limited we are reaching out to our members to find out if any of you would be willing and able to host a number of guests for a couple of nights.

Even if you just have a sofa that someone could crash on, we’d love to hear from you. More details about what we have planned will be coming soon, but suffice to say this looks set to be a really inspiring and important event. You can let us know that you’re interested using the form at this link – there’s no obligation implied at this stage! The French are currently planned to arrive on the morning of Thursday 23 June.


London Young Greens go to Strasbourg!

Strasbourg: Source
Strasbourg: Source

In May 2016, 7,000 young people will gather in Strasbourg for the European Youth Event. This is a festival of politics and culture organised by the European Parliament, which this year London Young Greens will be joining. There’s a fantastic programme of events, and we think this will be a great opportunity to learn new skills and meet other young people from across the continent. This year’s Event will also be taking place alongside YO!Fest 2016, hosted by the European Youth Forum.

Young Europeans
The previous EYE: Source

The EU referendum is looming, and we think this will be a great opportunity to prepare for the campaign. The events are free, and individuals need to sign up through a registered organisation – such as London Young Greens – before the end of January. To register your interest, you use this form, and we’ll be in touch after Christmas with information. If there is sufficient interest, we aim to organise group travel and accommodation, in order to keep costs as low as possible.

The EU Parliament
The European Parliament in Strasbourg: Source

The registration form is here. You can contact us if you have any questions at:


London Young Greens AGM 2015

I’ve been a member for three years and this was only my second London Young Greens AGM. The letters AGM may follow with a bored sigh but actually this AGM was really interesting for a number a reasons. What I was quite impressed was the amount of people whose first ever Green Party meeting it was. I even met someone who joined us in June after the election.

So to explain what these AGMs are about, we get reports from the current members of the Committee. These are the people that help run things for the London YGs. These are the Secretary, the Co-chairs, Treasurer and the five “open” Committee positions, in which people are free to make those positions their own. So for example in this last year we had someone in charge of Equality and Diversity and we had someone in charge of Campaigns. We also review our constitution and vote to amend certain aspects and have hustings where our Committee candidates give statements and are questioned. We then vote and elect the new Committee.

The report back from the everyone in Committee was fairly interesting about how much we’ve changed, how many events we’ve put on, the mobilising of activists for the general election and we heard about our very successful  fundraising Comedy Night which raised a lot of money for us. The amendments to our constitution were quite technical but equally were very important. For the first ever we now have a Young Greens presence in most Boroughs in London with the formation of the “London Young Greens Borough Representatives”. This is quite exciting as it means we as Young Greens can really help energise our local parties. We also continued to lead the way on equality issues within the Green Party by extending the quotas for reserved places on the Committee for women and people of colour. I believe this can really bury the sometimes truthful perception that we are a white middle class party. We also made the LYGs more accessible. We are now going to have electronic voting for committee elections next year for those unable to attend the AGM. And what was really great about the constitution debate was that so many people contributed and strengthened the amendments that were put forward. Instead of taking half an hour as was the allotted time, it took an hour! After quite a heavy discussion we then all went the local pub for lunch.

After lunch we had a small speech and Q and A from Green Party Deputy Leader Amelia Womack, who I first met in 2013. She was an active member of the London Young Greens and only a year later became deputy leader of the party. For me this shows that if you become an active member, you can do really well and get to be in important positions. She is running for Welsh Assembly next year so as Young Greens we are certainly going to mobilise and get people down there to help with that election.

Then of course we had committee hustings and elections. These were for two Co-chair positions, a Treasurer, Secretary and five open spaces. Usually these kind of internal positions within the party are uncontested but we had 9 people going for 5 positions and a lot of newer members getting on the committee. We had a really interesting discussion about the priorities for this year.
We had ideas ranging from us doing more fun activities like going to political art exhibitions, having a mass voter registration drive for young people, leading the way and campaigning on the extortionate rates of rent that students pay and of course making sure we are at the forefront of the London Assembly and Mayor campaign for next year.

With a fresh new team in place on Committee and LYGs having an official presence in most local parties, this could a very exciting year for us. Also as the Committee is made up of volunteers doing this in their spare time, it is really important that they get as much support as possible. So it doesn’t matter if you are not officially on Committee, if you want to help in any way or have any ideas that can really help our movement then please get in touch at

Lee Burkwood


Do you want to represent your borough at London Young Greens?

london_boroughs_mapNo other city in Britain can match London in scale and diversity, and because of this is can be hard for a single committee to keep up with everything that matters to all Young Greens in London. To help address this, London Young Greens are looking to appoint 32 Borough Representatives.

We’re looking for engaged individuals, who can act as point of contact for Young Greens in their local area, and to help connect the London Young Greens with local campaigns and elections. You would need to be willing to get involved with your local party, and to be responsive when contacted. No previous experience is required, just a desire to change the world and reply to emails!

If you are thinking about getting more involved in politics, this could be a great place to start. All politics is local, and you can be part of building a Young Green presence in your area.

To find out more, email, being sure to give your full name and borough. It would also be helpful if you could provide any information about previous contact with your local party.


The system is broken – this weekend will show our spirit is not


Unlike many others, when the exit poll results were announced at 10pm on election night, I remained optimistic in my disbelief. Despite the assurances that the Conservatives would be comfortably well in the lead, I was determined that those of us who had had enough of a sustained attack on the poorest and most vulnerable in society would find a way to keep the Tories from power. I was convinced that we could start to rebuild and repair the damage done in the five years of the Coalition.

I doubt I’ll forget the moment I realised the Tories were not only looking at a lead, but a majority. The next 48 hours felt truly surreal as I considered what the next Parliament would really mean for the vast majority of us, in a way that none of us had suspected would be possible.

A Tory government means the individual is exalted. Never mind the public services that benefit us all, our innate sense of duty to our fellow human beings or our shared responsibility to catch anybody who would otherwise fall through the cracks; you can trample your neighbour now, if it means you’ll be better off.
The Tories have already promised us £12billion in welfare cuts. We don’t need to be given the specifics of these sharp cuts to know that they will be felt by those least able to stop the bleeding. With over a million people using food banks over the last year, while the richest still get richer, we know that these cuts are ideologically targeted.

David Cameron has vowed to sell off affordable housing, on the cheap, taking it out of the hands of those who view housing as a basic human need, into the hands of those who see homes as investments and a route to profit. In London, more than a third of former council homes sold off from public ownership are now in the hands of private, profit-making landlords. Unaffordable rents will be charged on these places, while the housing crisis deepens and London councils propose criminalising rough sleeping and ‘begging’.

Despite the £45billion of taxpayer’s money that was pumped into RBS a few years back, George Osborne has jumped at the chance to privatise it again, at a loss to ordinary people. Never mind that a nationalised RBS would be a start to the reform of the sector, whose recklessness has been used to justify austerity in the first place; the motive of the Conservatives is to protect those at the top, the individuals who have done best in the Tory race against your neighbouring compatriot.

This is just the start. The privatisation of our most treasured NHS will deepen, the barbarism of fox-hunting will be debated and voted on once again, our access to justice will be curbed further still, as will our right to protest and strike. Education will cost more, our fight against climate change will falter and we now even face the loss of our Human Rights Act, at the same time the Tory government is publicly championing the Magna Carta.

None of this is inevitable, no matter what we’ve been told. I am a member of a party that is committed to public services, people before profit and the protection of our injured planet.

The Green Party understands that there is always an alternative to austerity and that its impact over the last five years has been nothing short of catastrophic. We will fight for houses that are homes, a truly public NHS, a minimum wage that is a living wage and a welfare state that is reliable and without cracks to fall through in the first place. We believe that those with the broadest shoulders must carry the greatest load and that a society in which we are happy to give our neighbour the leg up they need, is one where we are all better off.

Now that the elections have finished the only way to oppose the austerity agenda -our only option- is to come together and take to the streets. On June 20th, The Green Party and I- along with Trade Unions, students, public sector workers, animal rights and environmental groups- will march through the streets of London to let both this government and the world know that we will not lie down while our communities are pulled apart.

When we protest on June 20th, we will remind the government that the majority of UK citizens did not vote for them or the austerity programme.

The election results may remind us that our system is broken but the demonstration this weekend will remind us that our spirit is not.

Clare Keogh
Kingston Green Party

London Young Greens will be assembling from 11 o’clock at the steps of  Saint Paul’s Cathedral, before joining the main Green Bloc for 12. Call 07597525911 to find us or email londonyounggreens(at) for more details.


A Progressive Parish

On the 23rd of May, in a small church in Bethnal Green a thousand people of various left-wing persuasions met up to debate and discuss the future of the radical left.

It was a cold, rainy, and overcast day as I walked to St Peter’s Church in Bethnal Green. I had been invited by a group called Brick Lane Debates (a coalition of activists who are committed to discussion and set up the project as a fusion between political discussion and culture)

It is important to note, however, this was not a Brick Lane Debate – the event was called by a group provisionally titled the ‘Radical Left General Assembly’. They had previously gathered on Thursday the 14th of May, which is where the second assembly and itinerary were agreed upon. The discussion ran from 1pm to 5:30pm.

The primary organisers were those involved in the Brick Lane Debates – who had facilitated the day, and began by giving an overview of the discussion and debate. Prior to the wider discussion beginning – there were a few speakers from different sections of the left. Involved in different struggles, they spoke of the necessity of solidarity in achieving each other’s objectives.

After this, the organisers introduced a framework to follow the speakers who had been introduced.

Speed Debating

One of the first tasks was to discuss with the person(s) sat beside you, what ‘solidarity’ means to you. At this point it was around 1:45pm. Our small group discussed the general meaning and opposition to it; in essence, that solidarity is about supporting people in situations and causes which don’t directly benefit yourself. A collective responsibility over self-interest. However, one member of the group was keen to assert that solidarity is not charity; it is support, not pity.

The groups ranged in size between three to six. The second task was ‘how do we use the resources we have to get the power we need to make the change we want.’ By this point the group had reshuffled. The question was found to be multifaceted and broad in scope.

The first discussion focused on what is power is and how widely its meaning was intended to be understood. Beyond that we discussed skill shares, books and smartphones – utilising the already existing human capital and tangible resources in our reach. I was in attendance with my colleagues from the GMB, who brought their own experience of the trade union and its structures to the debate.

Reporting back

After the first discussion of the word ‘solidarity’, each group was broadly in agreement in its application and usage. The same could not be said for the second question and its implications. One gentleman spoke up and when asked to provide feedback from his group began to just rant about inequality and then stated we should support a revolution; this was not well received by his newly formed group, with one woman offering a riposte and stating that she didn’t recognise his recollection of their discussion.

The hall applauded in agreement. Clearly, by that turn of events, the primary attraction to the assembly was that it centred on no single prism or perspective. This is especially true of the historic left. Each group agreed upon a representative to sum up their discussion and answers to the topics posted, and the feedback was interesting. Some argued that voting reform was an important card to play, others were interested in local responses. Our group suggested that it was not the people in attendance whom we had to convince, but rather our political opposites.


At around 3pm, a break was called after much engaged discussion. The food and drink was provided in part by kind donations. It also served as useful way to get to know people beyond their activism, their day-to-day lives. The range of views was not the only thing to behold in the church that afternoon, the fashion sense of attendees was just as diverse.

Call Outs

One major difference to the proposed itinerary was that call outs (demonstrations, activist reading groups, housing etc.) from various groups was to occur in the middle and not at the end. This was highlighted as mark of respect and solidarity as it was important to organise events and demonstrations which coincided with each other to achieve maximum impact.

The Final Group

After the break our groups reformed, and mine was an interesting mix. It included activists involved in immigration and deportation struggles, to a writer for the radical magazine Red Pepper, to a Spanish migrant. We were asked by the organiser to consider what the aims of the radical assembly should be.

The answers came thick and fast: the writer suggested we clarify long-term objectives, and short term aims. The Spanish migrant explained we should adopt a model of organising used in Spain, to establish groups around each self-organising theme or topic.

I suggested we look at frameworks which allow for micro-objectives to be achieved, others in the group disagreed and suggested we focus on long-term goals as they already compartmentalise such objectives in their day-to-day roles as activists.

We then built upon the earlier discussion of the aims and suggested a website around our intention of facilitating activism and encompassing other groups.

The Future

The radical assembly serves as an important antidote to the established political consensus of austerity and its consequences. The thousand activists whom attended were from across London, a mixture of different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds.

For Greens – we have an opportunity to engage alongside grassroots activists. There was much discussion over the politics of voting – who did, who didn’t and why we should. There was also debate around alternative structures. Our policies on media and monetary reform (think of the financial crisis and phone hacking), alongside a living wage and balancing work with well-being means we can offer something tangible for a society which has to emerge.

By providing a physical space for activists, the assembly sought to ferment change by way of exchanging ideas and values. The future, after all, is unwritten.

This post was written by Huseyin Kishi (Enfield).   The next Assembly will take place on the 14th of June in Peckham


London’s Housing Crisis – is activism the answer?

Green Party's Darren Johnson, Generation Rent's Betsy Dilner, Save Earl's Court's Anabela Hardwick and Green Party housing spokesperson Tom Chance discuss London's housing crisis.

The night after London Young Greens’ Housing Crisis meeting, dozens of people formed a queue to buy flats in East London starting at £370,000. They waited overnight, as temperatures fell to -4°C, to invest in a slice of new-build London in the hope of earning a hefty return from the capital’s renters.

Two thirds of new homes in London are bought by investors,” Green Party housing spokesperson Tom Chance told the packed room the night before. London property is now considered to be one of the safest havens for the cash burning a hole in the global super-rich’s back pockets. Flats and houses are no longer homes, but ‘property’ expected to grow in value without the owner having to lift a finger.

With young Londoners in particular bearing the brunt of poor quality, high rent housing, London Young Greens brought experts and activists together to inspire action.

Anabela Hardwick from Save Earls Court gave a rousing speech about the tight-knit community being destroyed by plans to redevelop the world-famous exhibition centre and two housing estates, replacing them with luxury flats. Talking of the challenges faced by local residents and businesses opposing the scheme, she said: “Labour hasn’t saved the estates. We feel, as residents, abandoned by all the major parties.”

People are being screwed by the housing system,” affirmed Betsy Dilner from Generation Rent. According to the organisation’s research, an extraordinary number of people are commuting to work in the capital from as far afield as Liverpool.

The UK’s economy is off-balance. People come to London for its abundance of jobs, but are forced to leave it to find affordable housing.

Green London Assembly member, Darren Johnson, who chaired the meeting, said he moved to London because he was attracted to the opportunities it offered. But today, with the staggering cost of housing, he probably wouldn’t bother.

All of our panellists had solutions for London’s Housing Crisis.

If landlords are going to treat their property as a business, we need to start regulating them,” said Betsy Dilner.

The Green Party would scrap Right to Buy. It’s been a disaster,” said Tom Chance. Explaining the Green Party’s plans for a Land Value Tax, he said the idea is not simply to take money from the wealthy, but “to stop land prices rising so much”.

But Anabela Hardwick had a more immediate answer. “We need more ordinary people involved in housing activism,” she said.

It’s time we took direct action to halt the social cleansing that is a by-product of London’s rapid gentrification.

Join London Young Greens on the March for Homes in South and East London this Saturday 31st January.

Join in the conversation on Twitter with #LYGHousing, and tweet @LondonYGs with your ideas for taking action.

Sophie Armour

Southwark Green Party


#NoTTIP campaign meeting

There was a NoTTIP meeting at Friends of the Earth offices in Stockwell on 2nd August which I attended. For those that don’t know, TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is a Trade Deal being negotiated between the European Union and the United States. Its main aim is to “harmonise business regulations”. Essentially this means cutting regulations on everything from food standards to environmental protections and workers’ rights.  It is something that Green MEPs across Europe are fighting against.

This meeting was about firstly reflecting on the protest on 12th July in London and secondly planning for future actions against TTIP. There were about 40 people that came which was a stronger turnout than I expected.

What was agreed that was good about the previous protest was that there were a variety of speakers and they were very informative and emotive and caught people’s attention. Also stunts such as the giant stilt walker representing big business controlling a person dressed up in an NHS uniform via puppet strings was a great image that engaged a lot of people. However the negatives were that the march was a bit fragmented, people couldn’t hear the microphone, more noise and a band would have been good and it was agreed that we could have stopped at more locations to make a bigger impact and get better media coverage.

There was also an update on the TTIP negotiations themselves. The next round of negotiations will probably be at the end of September in Washington D.C. or Miami. Further negotiations are set to follow in Brussels in November.  Strategically the EU and US don’t totally agree on everything. The EU wants financial negotiating in there (and so do big banks), but the US is refusing at the moment. The US is desperate to incorporate the wishes of big agriculture business – but the EU is pushing back on this. The UK’s House of Lords report was really bad from our point of view – it was very positive towards TTIP. There’s no fixed timetable for the negotiating, although the US would like it to be finished before the next US election.

What was discussed in terms of future plans was that firstly the NoTTIP campaign could get more involved with actions such as the 999 Call for the NHS London Rally on the 6th September, the People’s Climate March on 21st September, the TUC anti austerity march on the 18th October and organising a NoTTIP day of action on 11th October to coincide with an international day of action.

What was also suggested was that people should lobby their MPs, MEPs and local councillors on the 9th October. This strategy has worked well elsewhere – apparently some councils in France are now TTIP free zones.

In terms of social media and internet action, it was suggested that people could have anti-TTIP cover banners on their Facebook and sign off emails with an anti-TTIP signature.

Another very interesting idea was that we could make more use of the European Citizens’ Initiative – if you get 1,000,000 signatures you get 1 day in the European Parliament to present your cause. Campaigners are launching an EU-wide petition for this.

Finally there were six working groups set up to organise future actions. These were Comms – Social Media and Alternative Media, Parliamentary Group – Lobbying Parliamentarians and MEPS, Target Group – Research and Education, 11th October Action Day Group, Outreach – Local groups and businesses and Co-ordination – Within the NoTTIP forum. I’m on the working group for the protest on 11th October.

I would really encourage as many Young Greens to get as involved as possible because if we are going to defeat this we need to work with as many people as possible from a wide range of backgrounds as this affects so many different things.  You can find out more about the campaign at

Lee Burkwood
Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party