I applied to become a member of the Holistic Review Commission just short of a year ago. It has been an intense process, hard work, serious time pressure given the deadline we had been set. And we are now on time and at the next stage: conference has agreed to ask the full membership to vote on our proposals as planned.
It has been a very rewarding experience – even if it has had its moments.
We have learned a lot in the process: about creative use of all sorts of technology like Loomio and Zoom. It encouraged us to say that GPEW work into the future can change away from principally face-to-face work because the tools are out there to do things differently.
And that means differently with both inclusion and the planet in mind. Because, when we do things using technology, it means we don’t have to travel and therefore don’t have to use up precious carbon; but it also means that those with more limited time (and further to come) can participate more fully. Meetings only take as long as the meeting takes, not the meeting plus hours and hours of travel.
We didn’t know each other at the start of the process. Getting to know each other and getting to know each other’s styles and capacity to do stuff took time. We certainly didn’t always agree – on what needed to be done, how it needed to be done, when it needed to be done and so on.
But we developed enough trust in each other to accept that people were doing things with the best of intentions and we generally did enough checking with each other to ensure nobody went off on a tangent.
For me personally, talking to a large number of members (at regional and other meetings and doing phone interviews with members) was really important and motivating. Talking – as I did – with about a dozen people from Green Parties across the world and reading their constitutional documents was inspiring. It left me with a keen desire to work more for proportional representation in this country and for proper public funding for political parties. What a difference that would make to us!
One of the things we heard very early on – and frankly, had experienced in different settings ourselves – was that the culture of debate in the party (on the members’ forum, in various groups and on the conference floor) was too confrontational and too hostile at times. For us as a Holistic Review Commission it was important that we showcased a different approach. We did not always agree on everything. Right until the end of the process and into our proposals going forward to conference there were disagreements. Some of these ended up being very visible in amendments to our report supported by members of the Commission.
But even in such differences of opinion, we continued to treat each other with respect that comes from a realisation that all voices are valid and valued and need to be heard.
We also wanted to demonstrate that a huge task – and the holistic review was a huge task – can be done within a limited period of time by a task and finish group. I believe we have demonstrated this.
A few of us will stay with the rest of the task through the Transition Team. That was part of our plan and our proposal. The others will go and get on with the rest of their lives but hopefully be in the background as sounding boards and to encourage the Transition Team.
Change is never easy. It will not be easy to bring about the changes we have proposed and which Conference has endorsed. It is important that we keep the discussion going; that members who have not been involved so far can hear about the proposals and ask questions.
I look forward to a conference in maybe 18 months or 2 years time when all these proposals are bedded in and when the debate on conference floor is about politics; the politics we are doing out there in the world and how we are changing society around us. A time when introspection is in the past and we are stepping up to making a difference in Councils, Assemblies, Westminster and elsewhere where we represent the people who want to change everything for the common good and for the planet.