It’s a pleasure to be here in Bournemouth today with so many of you. I have been deputy leader with Shahrar for a year now – and what a year it’s been. With record numbers of members, a quadrupled vote in the general election, and of course, the two biggest conferences in our history.
This year, I have travelled the country from St Ives to Scunthorpe; from Norwich to Newcastle. I have met hundreds of members who are passionate about our radical yet rational politics. People who joined our party because they are sick and tired of a politics that tells us we can real change is possible within the broken system we have today.
They’ve found a party that recognises that there is no economy without a planet. They’ve found the politics we need to protect future generations, and they’ve found more than a party. They’ve found a movement.
They’re Green because we’re not just talking about the future we want to see – we’re taking action. Whether it’s Green Party members standing up to Lambeth Council for demolishing social housing, our activists stopping fracking in Lancashire, or Green voices fighting the blood ban for gay men in Wales, Greens are taking politics beyond the ballot box.
In communities around the country, our broken system its meeting its match – in the movements on our streets, on picket lines and in homes across the country – as resistance against evictions grows.
And that system meets its match in Parliament too.
Caroline has consistently called out the government on their disastrous plans to strip away support for renewables. She spoke up for our welfare state when no one else would, and shamed the Prime Minister for allowing Britain’s arms trade to devastate communities across the globe. Thanks, Caroline, for making us all proud.
In recent months, the Green Party has been fighting for something on which no other political party has been consistent; something for which the free-market simply doesn’t provide – kindness and solidarity with our fellow human beings.
Five months ago, it was Natalie, and Natalie alone, who confronted the Prime Minister live in the leaders’ debates on the scandal of Britain accepting only 142 vulnerable Syrian refugees at that time. She stood up and said what needed to be said in the face of a political establishment that had lost its humanity.
That moment encapsulated our politics – standing with those who are ignored, speaking truth to power, and challenging the idea that those born outside the UK are somehow less deserving of rights than those born here.
In August, Shahrar and I visited a refugee camp in Calais. We heard powerful, distressing and inspiring stories. At the time, the people we met were surprised to meet British politicians who were even interested in them.
Yet only a month later 100,000 people took part in a march for refugees in London and Britain’s politicians began to wake up.
Because unlike our government’s desperate desire to blame a financial crisis on the weakest in our society – be it new arrivals from abroad or people on disability benefits - I’m proud that we have never, and we will never, resort to that kind of politics.
The refugee crisis – like so many of the challenges we face – is one that does not respect the boundaries between nations.
We are an internationalist party. It’s for that reason – that philosophy at the heart of everything we do – that Greens will be saying we want Britain to remain in the European Union, and that we will work with our allies, from Syriza to the German Greens, to make the EU more democratic, more accountable and less of a vehicle for market economics.
When shares are traded across borders within seconds, and the workforce is spread across a continent, we need an international organisation that tames the excesses of casino capitalism and protects people's rights.
And when our environment is shared, the protection of it must be shared too.
As we approach the Paris climate talks this December, the Green Party’s position in the European Union has never been more crucial. We all owe immense thanks to our three inspiring MEPs – Jean, Keith and Molly – for all the work they do to encourage the EU to lead the way on tackling climate change.
But there will be no solution to the climate crisis, and no positive change to the European Union, unless together we overturn the creaking economic order at home.
That means utterly reimaging our economy and re-empowering our society.
It means strengthening our local communities – producing the things we need closer to our homes. It means guaranteeing people a decent livelihood. It means recognising the impacts of the environment on our health and protecting public spaces accordingly.
And it means recognising that a system which puts profit before anything else does our society and our planet immeasurable harm.
We need a truly Green economy in the UK.
Only that will deliver a decent society both now and for generations to come. It will see our commons restored – public services put back in public hands, and power held locally. A Green economy will see land handed back from the few to the many, and it will provide for everyone.
Next year, as more people see hope in what we stand for, we will win elections in Wales – in London – in Liverpool - in Scotland – and across local councils.
In Wales, we have an opportunity to make history with our very first Greens getting elected into the Welsh Assembly.
It’s places like Newport where I’m from, where people’s lives are being ruined by the government’s dogmatic determination to cut social security and dismantle public services, where the Green Party’s ideas are fast becoming recognised as common sense.
So with two proportional elections on the horizon in both Wales and London, this is our chance to make the changes in local areas that we know will help us to shift priorities across Europe and beyond.
The tide is turning.
Our values of democracy, of equality, of sustainability, are shaking the foundations of the political establishment.
In those ruins, we are building a new kind of politics.