The leaders of the Green Party, Siân Berry and Jonathan Barclay spoke at the opening of the Green Party Online Mini Spring Conference on 21 March 2020. See the video below.
Good morning, everyone. I'm Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales. There have been some extraordinary times in politics and British life over the years. But who could have imagined anything as extraordinary as this? I, myself have been in voluntary isolation with my family and Wales, and have been for a week nice. It's my dad's cancer treatment. I know you all have your own stresses and difficulties to deal with at this time. So thank you so much for being here with us. We all have to adapt, and conference is no different. It's thanks to the dedication, innovation, and hard work of Green Party staff that were able to host this mini conference. And even though we're so far apart, in many ways, I've never felt more connected to you, my fellow members of the Green Party, as we face these challenging times ahead. Look out for more of these online sessions, In the weeks ahead, and please join us in particular at 1.30 for our leaders q&a, where I'm sure that you'll have lots to ask and discuss. We'll also have some vital information from our conference team. So please stay tuned after the speeches. So now it gives me my pleasure, my great pleasure to hand you over to our amazing co-leaders of the Green Party, Sian and Jonathan, please give them a warm virtual welcome.
Good morning to everyone. Thank you so much for joining us in our online alternative Spring Conference. These are really stressful, strange times, but someone as someone who's self isolating myself, I can't tell you how much of a difference it makes to be able to connect with this. We hope that having this chance to link up with each other makes a positive difference to you too. Guess like everyone in the country, we are deeply concerned about this crisis and also worried for only families or loved ones. Be sure you are no different. And we want you to know right now that we think of you and every Green Party member, your friends, your families and your communities.
But as well as being challenging a crisis is the occasion, we got into politics to make a difference to the world and to protect vulnerable people. KInder politics is needed more than ever. But it's so important to remind ourselves that the single most important thing we can do to protect those around us today is to follow social distancing advice. The reality is this, your actions will give our NHS teams the best chance of saving the most lives possible. Please keep washing your hands, keep staying at home and keep finding these new online ways to connect with and support one another.
This is clearly a time of reorientation of what we see is important and what we value. Only a few weeks ago, delivery drivers, teaching assistants care workers, they will be labelled as low skilled. Now they are the most important workers in the country. Suddenly, it's time to listen to experts. The injustice of the gig economy in laid bare there's a realisation that the benefits we receive, like statutory sick pay just simply aren't enough to live on. And it's happened so often at moments of huge change, that the previously unthinkable suddenly becomes a possibility. We were told that moving on to a war time footing wasn't feasible in the face of the climate crisis. But now we know exactly what we have to do and what we can do when we face a threat this scale.
Of course, the corona virus pandemic has rightly led to the postponement of the elections which were due to take place in May for local councillors and mayors. I know it leaves many current councillors, waiting for more colleagues who would have been elected. I know will be hard. All the work there is many of you would have been councillors too. But the community work our local parties do all year round will be another way greens rise to this challenge. So many already making sure the more vulnerable people in your areas are supported.
There could be absolutely no mistaking the magnitude of the situation we're in. We responded to the financial crisis 12 years ago, with a bailout for banks and the protection of profits. We must respond to this crisis with a new consensus on the protection of people. Our elected greens in Parliament, in London, our councillors, our spokespeople we've worked over the past week to develop bold and necessary proposals. Green Ideas rooted in our values protect those most need protecting during this crisis, while also laying the groundwork for an economy that will work for them. The suspension of evictions or freeze on rents, making sure food reaches older people and support reaches the disabled. Real help for small businesses, the self employed, those in the gig economy, a universal basic income. These are the practical ways to address the fear and anxiety people are feeling and they are the fundamental building blocks for a better future.