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Newport GPEW Conference 2019: Anthony Slaughter’s Speech

Anthony Slaugter At the Green Party Conference

Cynhadledd, croeso i Gasnewydd, croeso i Gymru.

Conference, welcome to Newport, welcome to Wales.

Conference, these are troubling times. With our democracy in crisis and at a time of Climate Emergency our Green voice is needed more than ever.

Our political system is broken with Johnson and his Bullingdon bully boys intent on defying Parliament and dragging us over the dangerous cliff edge of a no deal Brexit, trashing communities, livelihoods and endangering peace in Ireland.

Increasing extreme weather events here and across the planet, together with the biodiversity crisis, highlight the devastating impacts of the climate emergency and the challenging future we face.

In the face of these challenges we see the tired old parties continuing to fight the battles of yesterday, refusing to acknowledge that business as usual is no longer an option. This is why we are seeing increasing numbers of people turning to the Greens. Here and across Europe the Green wave is growing as people recognise and share our desire for a cleaner world and a fairer society. A vote for the Green Party is a vote for the future.

Here in Wales we have our own perspective on these challenges as we have seen the impacts and potential of the National Assembly for Wales, currently celebrating twenty years of devolution. As a party with a core value of devolving power to a local level Wales Green Party strongly supports all calls for increased devolution of powers to the Senedd, up to and including full independence if voted for by the people of Wales in any future referendum. As Westminster becomes increasingly inward looking and appears indifferent to the fate of a post Brexit Wales it is no surprise that many people are beginning to imagine a different future away from Westminster.

Wales Green Party also welcomes the recent legislation that will give sixteen- and seventeen-year olds the vote at the next Assembly election. A longstanding Green policy this will greatly boost democratic participation and opportunities for new thinking, and we will continue to campaign for votes at sixteen in all elections.

As a nation with many coastal communities at risk of flooding due to rising sea levels and an agricultural sector threatened by extreme weather events, people in Wales are acutely aware of the need for meaningful action to tackle the climate crisis. This was recognised by Wales becoming the first nation to declare a Climate Emergency with many councils following this lead. As Greens we will work within our communities and with every level of government to ensure that these welcome words translate into meaningful action.

Here in Wales we also have the ground-breaking Well-being of Future Generations Act, passed by the Welsh Government in 2015. This unique piece of legislation should be and could be a game changer and the welcome scrapping of the planned M4 relief road earlier this year was a hopeful sign that the implications of the Act are finally influencing policy.  Yet policy and decision making in so many areas still lag woefully behind.

At a time of biodiversity crisis, we see communities across Wales, like Dinas Powys in the Vale of Glamorgan, fighting the proposed destruction of valuable ancient woodland for the construction of an unnecessary, over engineered dam. Business as usual.

At a time of Climate Emergency, we see Welsh Government ministers boasting of increased air traffic from Cardiff airport, pushing for airport expansion and bidding for new routes such as Cardiff to London, Cardiff to Manchester. Business as usual.

This is why we need Green elected representation so urgently at every level of government in Wales. Greens holding decision makers to account. Greens helping shape a cleaner, greener, fairer future. Greens doing things differently. Business as usual is no longer an option.

Elected Greens in Wales will deliver a Green New Deal for Wales, ensuring a just transition for previously abandoned communities. Elected Greens will renew our democracy with a new vision for prosperity without unsustainable growth, a vision that will address the grinding poverty and inequality so widespread across the country.

In less than two years’ time Wales Green Party will be contesting the National Assembly for Wales elections. We are on track to get our first elected Greens onto the last legislative body in the UK without Green representation. This will be a game changer. With your help and support we will get the elected representation that Wales so desperately needs.

Thank you, Diolch

Wales Green Party Members At Conference