Question 3: Describing the actual steps and/or frameworks accurately, how in practice will you develop local parties?
I want to popularise the successful West Midlands model, which has seen an advance from three councillors on three councils to 13 on seven councils in two years. It's based on working as a regional team, with clearly defined objectives, activities and priorities, and a lot of fun for everyone who contributes. We too often regard local autonomy as a licence to allow parties to sink or swim; we need to provide the tools and framework to help them succeed.
The leader has no formal power to develop local parties. We have a Local Party Support Coordinator to take the lead here. However, I would try to facilitate better coordination between LPS, GPEx and GPRC in their joint efforts to spread best practice. I'd also push for a coherent fundraising strategy, in order to raise more cash for the following activities:
- To fund more training on winning elections
- To fully enable the national media operation's ability and capacity to train and support local parties
- To fund better campaigns where we have the best chance of winning seats, as we did in Brighton
- To pay regional support workers.
Local parties have to learn to develop themselves. I see gaps in the way we do this. Training is provided at conference – but the majority do not attend. We must experiment with new ways of engaging people. Different ideas will work in different locations. We have a lot of good information already in-house. For example Party in a Box is available from the members' website, but not enough people are familiar with its contents. It is good piece of work, recently updated, and all local parties should refer to it for ideas and information - not just the new ones. I also would be very keen to visit local parties on a continuing basis, not just at election time. Such visits pump-prime press releases, member activity, and most importantly spread the Green word to a wider audience.
Offering practical help and guidance on how to deliver The West Midlands 'Target To Win' Strategy and by ensuring easy online access to leaflets, briefings and artwork and participating in events during elections and public meetings where invited.
Deputy Leader candidates
Our Executive has produced a briefing on The West Midlands Strategy including a PowerPoint which they have presented to the AGC.
We can help the local party to choose the most appropriate ward or wards, and identify and provide the support needed to succeed. This will require fundraising, and identifying good practice and organisation. We have succeeded in taking seats in rural areas, small towns and inner city Labour strongholds.
Providing regions with central match funding for Regional Support workers, which have proved their worth in the West Midlands. Invest effort in a more hands-on local party growth framework, including regular leaflets, training workshops and actively resourcing growing parties, on condition that they develop a funding strategy to remain financially sustainable.
Firstly, and most importantly listen; find out about local party's needs and successes. Share best practice so local parties don't have to keep reinventing the wheel. Work with the internal communication team to make this easier. Continue the work I have done through meeting West Midlands Greens and other successful Green Parties, understanding and sharing their model for success. Help build the regions and get involved with fundraising so we can afford paid regional support staff.
This would need a separate paper to do it justice! Local parties need to be involved in campaigns in their communities; have regular meetings that include business plus a public, open side to attract new supporters and engage the membership. They need a social side beyond the politics. Support for Target To Win and the importance of sustaining a presence between elections, of how to pick up and handle casework to build credibility and work for electoral success, engaging with the media and so on. The way to do this is to meet and talk to local parties, to share best practice, to understand the differing situations from area to area and adapt our tactics without losing sight of the strategy or compromising our policies.