Yesterday the Welsh Assembly announced their panel examine case for more AMs. Professor Laura McAllister has been named as the chair of the panel which is going to examine the need for having more assembly members.
The assembly chamber in the Senedd was designed to fit 100 AMs but currently only holds sixty, forty constituency and twenty regional Assembly Members. Wales Green Party; in line with recommendations from the Richard Commission and the Electoral Reform Society; support an expansion of the National Assembly for Wales to at least 80 members.
The panel have been put together after the new Wales Bill has been voted through, however the Wales Green Party, supported by Co-Leader of the England and Wales Green Party Caroline Lucas, have rejected the Wales Bill as insufficient as it does not bring the increased power that was promised which was voted for by the people of Wales.
The panel will also be looking at reforming the voting system. In November, a report by the Wales Governance Centre and Electoral Reform Society (ERS) said there would need to be changes to the electoral system if the number of AMs was to be increased. We fully support electoral reform which increases representation in the Senedd. Wales Green Party call for at least 50% of all Assembly Members to be elected on the basis of proportional representation drawn from the regional lists.
Wales Young Greens are encouraged to see that the panel will be looking into potentially reducing the voting age. A 16 year old can leave school, have a sexual relationship, get married, leave home, join the armed forces, get a job, and pay tax. They believe that it’s disgraceful that young people who can contribute so much to society have no say on the issues that affect them or on the people elected to represent them.
16 year olds are far more capable at being involved in our democratic processes than many people care to know. To think differently is to not really understand young people at all and not give them the credit they are due.
Andrew Creak and Ramona Sharples Co-chairs of Wales Young Greens have jointly Said “It is about time that votes at 16 are seriously considered. Sixteen year olds are affected by politics as much as an 18 year old, and yet have no say in the matter. Sixteen year olds should be allowed the vote in all elections and referendums. Looking at the EU referendum it’s safe to say that sixteen year olds will be more affected far more by the Brexit vote than the older generations who were entitled to vote. That simply isn’t fair or democratic. The independence referendum in Scotland showed just how keen sixteen year olds are to be engaged in the political decisions that affect them.”
In and amongst the attempted bravado and hot air coming from Theresa May’s speech today, she said “there are some specific European programmes in which we might want to participate. If so, and this will be for us to decide, it is reasonable that we should make an appropriate contribution.”
James Ruff, the Treasurer of Wales Young Greens has said: “As a student studying abroad on the Erasmus+ programme at the moment, I really do hope that continued participation by Welsh universities in this programme continues. Every year hundreds of thousands of students and lecturers, from all over the EU and other member countries, go to universities abroad as part of their studies. The Erasmus+ programme helps students to immerse themselves in different cultures, learn new languages and make friends for life.”
Wales Young Greens call on the Cabinet Secretary for Education to commit maintaining Welsh universities’ participation in the Erasmus+ programme, so that this possibility of an experience of a lifetime is not taken away from our students.
Attend events, speak up for Wales Young Greens when they aren’t – or can’t be – present in a discussion within the party or at an event externally, always keep them in mind, keep in touch, and look for opportunities to help out or support in any way. Be seen publicly as a ‘young’ figure in politics, and direct new or potential young members their way. I would also add that some Wales Young Greens members are also members of Wales Green Party Council and have been candidates in various elections. I hope this is a signifier that we do relatively well as a party in making sure that young people feel comfortable and supported in taking on roles in the party and in politics. I’m sure there is more that we could do, but I think it helps youth membership and activity grow in and of itself – once people (both young and older) see that young people can take on a role, be a really valuable contributing member either in the Wales Green Party, or externally in wider politics, then more young people are likely to get involved and get active. I think that’s a massive barrier to some parties who keep younger members working their way up the ranks instead of trusting them, and supporting to bring their own unique skills and experience to the table.
I think the Wales Young Greens could teach the Wales Green Party a thing or two! They already have more bilingual provision on their website and social media, in their campaigns and the materials and merchandise they produce. We need to catch up! Structurally there are reasons for this – it’s more difficult to change things the larger the organisation you are part of, but I think Wales Young Greens, and young members have loads to offer – new ideas, perspectives, and a willingness to be a bit more adventurous and try out new ideas. I always find it energising being with Wales Green Party members, but our Young Greens bring that extra oomph. Young people are impacted by politics every day. It is vital that young voices are heard, and young people have prominent roles in politics now – not just as an investment for the future. It’s not just about engagement, it’s about empowerment. That’s why the Wales Green Party stands for the right to vote at the age of 16, and why Wales Young Greens determine their own priorities for campaigns, policy and issues. We can see from analysis of elections and the recent EU referendum that younger people think and vote differently. We have to make sure that politics fits around this, not wait until, or persuade young people to fit into politics as it is.
I was lucky enough in February to be invited to the Wales Young Greens inaugural AGM. It was great to meet some of the members, and touch base personally. I also really enjoyed being part of the Young Greens EU Referendum panel at Spring Conference, invited by the Wales Young Greens co-convenor at the time. We had some great discussion and then I ran some impromptu ‘spectrum lines’ (a really handy facilitation tool) to help identify which issues Young Greens felt were most important to them about staying in the EU. It was completely ad-hoc but I really enjoyed it, and I think everyone else did too! That’s what I love about Young Greens – energy, ingenuity, and the willingness to be spontaneous and try out new ideas. More recently I also pushed for Wales Young Greens to have a fringe event at the Wales Green Party AGM and National Gathering. I offered support in developing the session as well as inviting Ross Greer (member of the Scottish Greens, and Scotland’s youngest MSP) along. I saw how Ross inspired young members at the Irish Greens’ conference and hoped he would do the same in Wales.
I was named ‘one of the youngest party leaders’ last year, and have on various occasions since been called the ‘young leader’ or ‘fresh face’ in Welsh politics. After the leaders’ debates, Wales Online said: “If it wasn’t for her youth, you would never have guessed that the Wales Green Party leader is the new arrival of the Welsh political scene. Gracefully, she articulated thoughts more cautious politicians might censor.” I think some might see this as derisive or condescending labelling by the media, but I think it’s a plus. I frequently get asked for ID and the other night it instigated pub-wide uproar as no-one would believe me that I was 32. Despite the fact that look young, I am sadly too old to be classed as a Young Green. However, I would hope that younger people might identify better with me, and feel that I could represent their views and issues more easily – especially in comparison to other parties’ leaders.
Watch the Wales Young Greens Panel from the Wales Green Party AGM on the Sunday with Co-conveners Andrew Creak and Ramona Sharples, With Ross Greer MSP
Growth of the WYG depends as much upon the decisions made by the national party as it does upon the activity of the Young Greens themselves. It’s very exciting to have an energised YG group here in Wales, and I will be pushing to support you in any way I can. From meetings to protests, to representation at any level required, I stand ready to support you. The more we can highlight the Green agenda through mainstream media, the better it will be for all Green groups in terms of electability. I would like to assist WYG in setting a long term strategy for growth, with some achievable milestones along the way. It will be a challenge – but I love a challenge!
Today’s young people are tomorrows political decision makers. The more influence our Young Greens have on the upcoming generations, the more influence they will ultimately have on – not just the wider Green Party – but on the population as a whole. It is absolutely vital that our Young Greens have a voice, and are heard by the widest possible audience, because planetary life is facing alarming existential decisions, and other parties are simply ignoring them. The current generation of Green politicians are having difficulties getting elected. I would like to make sure that our next generation of Green politicians are on firm and electable foundations.
I have been proud to support Young Greens across the country, from one-to-one mentoring, to selling raffle tickets, Freshers Fairs, and promoting their needs at GPEx and WGPC. I have consistently helped WYG candidates in the run up to elections. Promoting them, canvassing for them and advising where necessary. Help and support is a 2 way street. Members of WYG have helped the wider party in numerous ways, and that should never be forgotten. That’s why working together will reap the best results. That’s why concrete support from the leadership team is essential. If I can do more to help you all, please know that my door is always open – elected or not!
Voting for me will enable my wide knowledge and experience to be put to good use. I am well known by many people in the media, and a readily recognizable face across Wales. This means that after 5 years as Deputy and Spokesperson I can hit the ground at a pretty fast pace. I will work to promote the WYG alongside the wider party, but I am particularly interested in preparing the next generation of Greens for elections, and bringing them into the spotlight. Re-inventing the wheel is a waste of time and effort, so I very much hope the WYG will take advantage of my knowledge and experience, because I would like to pull as many obstacles as possible out of their way and imbibe them with the confidence and opportunities to surpass the gains made by the generation before them.
Mirka Johanna Virtanen is one of the three candidates for Deputy Spokesperson of the Wales Green Party. We have sent this survey out to all candidates for Deputy and Leader and will post their responses as we get them.
It is important that as a party, we regularly consult Wales Young Greens themselves as to how much and what kind of support the group needs to grow, ensuring we then deliver this support. It is for the benefit of every Wales Green Party member that the Wales Young Greens succeed and become a prominent green voice in Wales and in grassroots politics. It is clear that the talent our young members have should not go to waste but should be nurtured and supported. As a deputy leader, I would continue working closely with the spokespeople of Wales Young Greens. Whilst it might seem we should seek to grow our membership amongst students, we should be careful not to exclude any other group – such as those who cannot afford or do not wish to go to university. As a party, we should aspire to be able to offer an alternative education and a platform to young people from all kinds of different backgrounds. To ensure this, as a deputy leader, I would work with Wales Young Greens to increase our diversity through community and student engagement across Wales.
The average age of an elected politician across Europe is 53 years old. In the UK, most MPs are over 40 years old. The world of someone of 40+ is completely different to someone who is under 30 today. The problems people face are different. The prospects young people can expect to have are different – in terms of financial or job security, they are worse. It is clear that young people would benefit from more representation. As a political party, it is our responsibility to provide a platform and the resources. A young person’s world today is not only less stable, it is also more diverse, conscious and transparent. If we want to create the huge shifts in thinking that are necessary to mitigate climate change, for example, we need young people not only to be able to represent themselves, but the rest of us also.
I helped to set up the Wales Young Greens group – this was before I turned 30 last year! I have also worked closely with Wales Young Greens Co-Convener Andrew Creak on press releases and media relations. I am looking forward to being able to help with more.
I am a fresh voice wanting to promote young people’s interests within our party and externally. I will work with Wales Young Greens to expand membership and campaign for more diversity. I want to find a way for young people across Wales to benefit from the same things that have immensely benefitted me – multiculturalism, freedom of movement, internationalism – whether we are in the EU or not. I believe that the Wales Green Party is better positioned than other political parties to promote inclusivity in youth engagement. I would work together with Wales Young Greens to create a framework within which these aims can be realised.
Grenville Ham is one of the three candidates for Deputy Spokesperson of the Wales Green Party. We have sent this survey out to all candidates for Deputy and Leader and will post their responses as we get them.
“I believe that one of the biggest priorities of our party must be to identify and support the future talent who will in turn become our elected Green representatives. Green politicians don’t simply appear ready-made and I want to play a role in helping people become the leaders that we need. And it’s pretty clear to me that the biggest talent pool lies within the Young Greens. I think that it is entirely possible that the first Welsh Green AMs and MPs aren’t even members of the party yet, and that part of my role will be to help the Young Greens to find them, to encourage them, and to use my position to create meaningful platforms for them to speak loudly on behalf of the people with no voice at all.”
“From a purely philosophical point of view I think it’s vitally important that young people in society have the right, and mechanisms, to represent their own interests and actively develop the type of society that they need. This extents across all parts of life, politics and indeed the vision, policies and direction of the Wales Green Party itself. If the youth aren’t engaged in these processes (and many other groups in society are also being ignored) we will continue on this trajectory of a society set within a very narrow band that results in opportunities only being given to a select few rather than the many.”
Not really. I would like to think I have offered support in my own quiet way to some of the members of Wales Young Greens but am very much looking forwards to being in a position to offer much more support as a Deputy Spokesperson.
(We at Wales Young Greens would like to point out the Grenville was a big help in getting us to Pride Cyrmu this year)
“Because it would embarrass the hell out of my teenage daughter…. But in all seriousness, I’ve spent the last couple of decades doing public speaking on a range of environmental issues and believe that I’ve become a credible authority on a range of key Green Party issues. I would love to be in a position to be able to share a platform with Young Greens and help them to deliver the Green Parties radical message for the change that our fragile planet so desperately needs. But, thinking back to my younger times (and it wasn’t that long ago, was it?) I was just a guy with some big ideas and no idea how to get started. Thankfully I was able to find people who believed in me, nurtured me and helped me to become the person I am today. I would like to think that now, as an award-winning environmentalist and the Founder/Managing Director of a social enterprise, that I am in a position to help others take that same journey.”
“I’m like why do you don’t like it cause I
literally love it”
Young Liz Kendall MP
GPEW Election Broadcast, 2016
Everyone’s favourite Green Party quote is now available on a T-shirt, a jumper, and a tote bag! As well as a gallimaufry of other designs!
why not head on over to our brand new shop and have a look! www.shop.walesyounggreens.uk
Over the next three months Wales Young Greens are having our internal elections, with the results being announced at our annual general meeting on December 3rd.
The roles up for grabs are; Co-convener (two positions), Treasurer, and Non-portfolio officers (several positions). To find out more about the elections and how to nominate yourself for any of the roles please go to the membership website HERE.
Here are the Key dates for the election
Nominations Open: Friday 21st October 2016
Nominations Close: Thursday 3rd November 2016
List of candidates to be released with their statements on, and Campaign Period begins: Friday 4th November 2016
Campaign Period Ends: Thursday 17th November 2016
Voting Begins: Friday 18th November 2016
Voting Ends: Thursday 1st December 2016
The Wales Young Greens AGM will be taking place in Cardiff (Venue TBA) on December 3rd 2016. The event will include key speakers (TBA), a discussion on Wales’ future in Young Green England and Wales, the results of the committee elections, and any constitutional amendments. To book tickets for the event go to tickets.walesyounggreens.uk and there is also a Facebook event for the AGM which you can find here.
Wales Young Greens is run purely on donations so if you would like to contribute to us please donate to us here: donate.walesyounggreens.uk
Hannah Clare and Sam Murray have been elected as the Co-chairs of Young Greens England and Wales.
Hannah has been re-elected as co-chair where as Sam Murray, a member of Wales Young Green himself; has been elected for the first time with a majority of 6 votes.
We at Wales Young Greens would like to wish them both well, and we all look forward to working with you in the future.