The Green Party has one MP, two MEPs and 130 councilors on 43 councils across the UK. While not yet quite a mainstream party, membership has doubled in the last few years and is still growing steadily.
I've decided to volunteer one day a week for the Green Party's North West region; to gain experience in campaigning, media and general political policy. My first job will be to look at the regions university local groups, their current activities and what they need to expand.
Today I went to the regional meeting in Preston's County Hall- a very impressive building! I met with Emily Heath, their regional coordinator and a member of Lancaster City Council, to discuss what my volunteering might involve.
In the morning there was a choice of two workshops. I chose "Why Capitalism is destroying the planet", run by Joel Rasbash, a supporter of the Green Party in Carlisle and a very engaging speaker. Although I didn't know much about capitalism before the session was very interesting and informative. The workshop discussed the basic principles behind capitalism, it's historic relevance and the consequences for economics, society and the environment. Then the discussion was opened to the room and there was a 45 minute discussion of the key points. I didn't understand a lot of it but it was very interesting to see that the main points weren't environment based but social and economic concerns. It's easy to forget that the Green party isn't all about the environment. A lot of their policy is built around sustainable living, which involves renewable energy and recycling, but their policies stretch across all areas of governance.
The afternoon was taken up by reports from regional local groups, current campaigning updates and feedback from the Party conference which was help in Sheffield last month. I found the campaign updates particularly interesting. Currently the main concerns for the North West region are opposing the governments planned austerity cuts, disposal of nuclear waste, the national planning policy framework (which I talked about on Thursday) and Fracking-a very real concern for the region at the moment.