Shahrar Ali speech to conference - 'Political Animal'

4 September 2016

I wasn't sure I'd be able to face you today. Not out of some misplaced sense of wounded pride, but the sheer weight of disappointment; the feeling that I still had so much more to give as your deputy.

It's been a real honour and privilege to serve you.

It's not always easy to find one's voice in politics. What's the voice of an outgoing deputy leader? Truth is, my voice is as it's always been, that of an ordinary member of the Green Party.

And every member of the Green Party is an extraordinary member of the Green Party.

I want to start by paying tribute to Natalie as serving as a shining example of one among equals. And I've learned a lot from you. In particular, your resilience;  your holding the party line sometimes under intense provocation.

I've been a bit overwhelmed with commiserations this last 24 hours. A little bit like two years ago except it was congratulations.

That's the kind of heart and soul that makes this party tick. Congratulations Amelia, congratulations Jonathan,  congratulations Caroline. And commiserations to all those worthy contenders.

Special mention if i may to David Malone, who took on the leader contest against all the odds. And he was a breath of fresh air to me because he spoke about judging people by their ideas.

And whilst I was talking about diversity, I listened to David and instead I spoke about diversity of ideas through increasing diversity.

Because that is where our strength lies. That is our edge as a political party - to question and to challenge others and ourselves. That is what makes us a party which listens and learns, within ourselves and to listen to the electorate.

There are many challenges ahead not just in party politics but in global politics.

But the end doesn't justify means. As Gandhi well understood, rather the means is the ends in the making.

Take the media. It's not the media that controls this party; it's what we do in spite of the media that counts. (Please re tweet.)

Take our raison d'etre. Conference at its best is about regrouping and renewing our collective ambition for society. Nothing less than saving the planet earth from despoilation, for the sake of the biosphere, for the sake of future generations and for the sake, yes, nonhuman animals.

Our progressive alliance, our pact if you like, is with those constituents above all else. For their sakes, in the path ahead, let's make special care that we don't sell ourselves short or, worse, sell ourselves out.

And finally, Tony Blair once said, "The End". But for me there's no turning back, there's no end even. I've always been political and always will. Like you, I'm in this for the long haul.

Like you: You can take the animal out of politics but you can't take the political out of animal.

I've the Green Party to thank for that.

So thank you, Green Party! 

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