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Green Party Autumn Conference 2023: Anthony Slaughter Speech

Bore da cynhadledd. 

Good morning conference. 

Greetings from Wales  

It’s ten years since I attended my first Green Party conference here in Brighton , which I think it’s fair to say proved a life changing experience. I can still remember clearly how enthused and excited I felt on my train back to Wales so I’d like to extend a special welcome to all those of you attending conference for the first time and I’m confident your experience this weekend will have been as positive as mine was. 

As we’re in Brighton, I’d like to start with a message on behalf of Wales Green Party to a very well-known and respected local party member and outgoing Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas. 

Caroline, your years of tireless service to our party, your constituents and progressive politics across the board has been truly inspirational and you have led the way in showing how to do politics differently and be the change we want to see. Your support for our party in Wales and your active engagement with our campaigns has been invaluable and always much appreciated, 

Diolch o galon Caroline. Thank you. 

Conference, looking back at the recent Conservative conference circus, where minister after minister proudly paraded their cruelty and incompetence, it is impossible to understate the scale and urgency of the crises facing us, a situation made all  the worse by a Labour Party that appears to stand for nothing and unquestioningly echoes Tory lies. These multiple crises, climate, energy and economic all impact most heavily on the most vulnerable in our communities, locally and across the globe. As Greens we have long understood the interconnection between these crises and are the only party to have the genuinely joined up policies to tackle these challenges and create a fairer, greener future, the only party willing to speak truth to power.  That is why it is so vitally important that we continue to build on previous successes and continue to get increasing numbers of Greens elected at every level of government, not incrementally, but with an acceleration of growth and ambition for our party. Because, if not now, when ? 

And now is the time. When this tired and cruel Tory government finally faces up to reality and calls the general election the UK so desperately needs we will be poised and ready to significantly increase Green representation at Westminster, quadrupling our number of MPs. Here in Brighton, those constituents who have been so well served by Caroline will be welcoming their new Green MP Sian Berry who will be joined at Westminster by Carla Denyer in Bristol, Adrian Ramsey in Waveny Valley and Ellie Chowns in North Herefordshire. Our four for Twenty Four. 

We have seen the difference one Green voice in parliament has made. We can only imagine the impact these four talented, dedicated and passionate Green MPs are going to make. This historic breakthrough will be a game changer for both our party and British politics. 

In Wales we will be running our biggest and boldest General Election campaign to date, standing candidates across the country and campaigning tirelessly to deliver our biggest ever vote share across Wales, all  in preparation for 2026 when we will make our own historic breakthrough and get our first elected Green representation in Senedd Cymru. Like Westminster, our Green voice is desperately needed in the Senedd, holding the government to account, delivering real scrutiny and helping to make Wales a truly fairer, greener country.   

The electoral reform planned for future Senedd elections is our opportunity, one that puts us within touching distance of real influence in the next Welsh Parliament. An opportunity that we are more than ready to seize. We can win Senedd seats and we will win Senedd seats.  

And our ambition doesn’t stop there, building on our Senedd success we will move into our 2027 Welsh Local Authority elections where we aim to get Greens elected onto all twenty two Welsh Councils joining those that made that historic breakthrough in  2022. Those Councillors elected last year are making a real difference in their communities. Their hard work and dedication is showing Welsh voters the true value of electing Greens. Heartfelt thanks to you all. 

The political landscape in Wales is shifting. While devolution has undoubtedly enabled Welsh government to sometimes be bolder and more forward looking than their Westminster counterparts, the introduction of the Well-being of Future Generations Act being one example, the implementation so often fails to live up to the ambition. In many ways devolution can be seen to have failed the people of Wales. After twenty four years of a Labour government the levels of regional inequality are beyond unacceptable. We have the highest levels of poverty in the UK with one in three children living in poverty. The housing crisis is acute impacting communities across the country. As winter approaches we again see a vast portion of the population facing fuel poverty. On the environmental front the recent State of Nature report showed Wales to be one of the most nature depleted nations on these islands. 

Wales deserves better. 

And those gains that have been made under devolution are increasingly under threat from a centralising Westminster government intent on clawing back powers from the devolved nations. The post Brexit power grab is most clearly seen in the In the Internal Markets Bill and the Shared Prosperity Fund undermining any attempts to protect environmental standards and worker’s rights. 

And again, we see no indication of things being any different under a Keir Starmer government. 

Westminster is holding Wales back. 

This is why Wales Green Party believe that an independent Wales is vital towards creating a fairer, greener society and we are proud to be an integral part of  the movement in Wales working towards this goal. 

As Greens our vision of independence goes beyond flag waving and anthems. Though to be fair, as far as flags go, Wales does have one of the best. We believe that independence is a vital step towards devolving power to the lowest possible level and empowering communities across the country. An independence that simply shifts the Westminster power base to Cardiff Bay is not an independence that I would campaign for. 

Independence is meaningless if people can’t afford safe, secure and warm homes. 

Independence is meaningless without radical reform of institutionally racist public bodies. 

Independence is meaningless  if society continues to tolerate transphobia, homophobia and all forms of bigotry. 

As Greens we know that independence is meaningless without climate justice, social justice, economic justice and racial justice. 

Our vision is of an independent Wales working together with other nations, including our nearest neighbours, to build a truly, equal sustainable future. A nation committed to a zero carbon future, in control of its abundant sources of clean , renewable energy. An independent, diverse, welcoming cosmopolitan nation committed to equality. 

The Welsh writer and thinker Raymond William famously said, 

‘To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.’    

And that is what we do as Greens. Our radical vision of a better future offers real hope to communities at a time when other major parties are most comfortable tinkering around the edges of a broken status quo. 

That is why it is so important for us to achieve the electoral success that we are capable of at every level of government across our two nation, starting with next year’s General Election breakthrough of our fantastic four for twenty four. 

Working together, I believe we can, we must and we will continue to grow and achieve the success our communities so desperately need.