Spring Conference 2023

Motion #01

Standing orders committee (SOC) report

Motion passed


To accept the following report (as amended, if amendments are agreed) and fast-tracking recommendations (as amended, if amendments are agreed).

Under Standing Orders, the SOC Report is to include: “(1) The Final Agenda and Ordering of Motions for Conference; (2) a notification of how many motions and amendments have been ruled out of order and where these are published; (3) a report on SOC’s participation in the Agenda process including any motions or amendments that SOC is submitting to conference; (4) timetabling, chairing and other procedural matters affecting conference including elections to be held at conference, with the recommendations of SOC; (5) the report of the RO; (6) a report by SOC of any changes that they have adopted to their Standing Orders; (7) progress on Organisational Statements; (8) any other matters or recommendations that do not affect the running of conference; (9) rulings requested and made since the previous conference.”

  1. The Final Agenda and Ordering of Motions for Conference Please report any errors found in the Final Agenda to soc@greenparty.org.uk.

The Green Party develop the vast majority of our policy by way of Voting Papers for chapters of policy in Policies for a Sustainable Society, as prepared by a Working Group following an Enabling Motion. These come to Conference either as B motions (for voting) or F motions (for discussion) for part or whole chapters of policies containing many detailed policies. Small changes to chapters can be made by C motions, which are accredited by Policy Development Committee (PDC) as having met the basic Standing Orders requirements for consultation. E motions are unaccredited motions which have usually not met the Standing Order requirements for consultation or for gaining consensus within the Party, but Section E also includes Enabling Motions.

SOC held our First Agenda meeting on Zoom on 7th January 2023. The order of policy motions in sections F and C was pre-discussed at a routine SOC meeting with a member of Policy Development Committee (PDC) and agreed at a series of meetings discussing the Final Agenda on 4th and 11th February 2023.

The order of these motions is given below. These were agreed by SOC as of their Final Agenda meetings on 4th and 11th of February 2023.

The motions proposed in the Final Agenda for this Annual General Meeting and Conference are:

Section A Reports Under section 10(ii)(a) of the Constitution, Spring Conference requires A Reports only from Standing Orders Committee (SOC), Policy Development Committee (PDC) and Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee (ADRC). The report from ADRC had not been submitted by 30 December 2022, the First Agenda Deadline, but was ultimately received by 10 January 2023 meaning it could be included in the First Agenda for possible amendments as part of the ordinary process.

SOC also received copies of reports from GPRC, which are not required by the Constitution but are included in the interests of completeness, and from the Climate Emergency Policy Working Group, which are required by the terms of their Enabling Motion.

Amendments to section A Amendments to motions A01 and A02 can be made from the floor of Conference.

The order was determined on past practice and is as in the First Agenda. The Prioritisation Ballot for motions does not apply to Section A. Under Standing Orders, “c) The ballot shall not be used to prioritise items within Section A of the Agenda since these should all be considered.”

Section B Voting Papers on Chapters of Policies for a Sustainable Society Three voting papers were proposed for this Conference: the Land Use Policy Voting Paper (which had been referred back from the Autumn 2022 Conference); the Migration Policy Voting Paper; and the Peace, Security and Defence Policy Voting Paper. Section C Accredited Policy Motions These policy motions were accredited after the First Agenda stage and had been listed as E motions in the Prioritisation Ballot. Accreditation by Policy Development Committee (PDC) does not accredit the policy content. It means that PDC has checked that the motion was adequately researched and consulted on and not in conflict with other policies passed in the last two years. The motion is an amalgamation of the Interim Policy Proposal statements made by Policy Development Committee between Autumn Conference 2022 and Spring Conference 2023, in accordance with the procedure set out in section 15(viii) of the Constitution, as well as two motions concerning the UK’s relationship with the European Union and the Party’s vision for Europe. The order of motions was determined by their place in the Prioritisation Ballot.

Amendments to section C A total of 6 amendments were proposed for the motions which ultimately became Section C, though the proposed amendment for C03 was ultimately determined to have no consequential effect as it proposed a minor textual amendment which SOC had already made of its own motion.

The order of Section C as agreed with PDC is:

First Agenda Final Agenda
E01 C01
E12 C02
E11 C03

Section D The ranking of these motions is as in the Prioritisation Ballot, save for D01, in relation to which SOC exercised its discretion under SOCC F2.6(c) to give special priority to any motion in section D which it considers to be urgent for the functioning of the party or any part of it.

Amendments to section D A total of 22 amendments were proposed for the motions in Section D, all of which received sufficient co-proposers to be considered and one of which was determined to be Out of Order (see Appendix 3 for details).

First Agenda Ballot Final Agenda
D22 22 D01
D25 1 D02
D04 2 D03
D02 3 D04
D06 4 D05
D01 5 D06
D09 6 D07
D13 7 D08
D24 8 D09
D16 9 D10
E05 10 D11*
D08 16 D12
D03 11 D13
D19 12 D14
D11 13 D15
D05 14 D16
D12 15 D17
D10 17 D18
D07 18 D19
D18 19 D20
D15 20 D21
D17 21 D22
OoO7 23 D23
D20 24 D24
D23 25 D25
D14 26 D26
D21 27 D27
OoO3 28 D28
OoO5 29 D29
OoO9 30 D30

*Note, this motion was originally a single E motion which became E02, before SOC noted that it had previously come to Conference in two versions, one and D and one an E motion, at Autumn Conference 2022. As of the Final Agenda meetings of 4th and 11th February 2023, using a calculation of the mean points received by the motion in the Prioritisation Ballot, SOC therefore extrapolated where it would have placed had it featured in the Prioritisation Ballot as a D motion, and used its discretion to place it here.

Section E Unaccredited policy motions We have moved First Agenda motions E01, E11 and E12 to the C section. The remaining motions are ordered according to the Prioritisation Ballot.

Amendments to section E A total of 7 amendments were proposed for the motions in Section D, 5 of which received sufficient co-proposers to be considered and, of those remaining, one of which was determined to be Out of Order (see Appendix 3 for details).

First Agenda Ballot Final Agenda
E02 1 E01
E05 2 E02
E03 3 E03
E04 4 E04
E06 5 E05
E08 6 E06
E10 8 E07
E07 9 E08
E09 12 E09
E13 13 E10

Section F Draft Voting Papers for revising substantial parts of PSS There are two Draft Voting Papers in section F to be given workshops at Conference ready for progression to the B motion stage, concerning revisions to the Gypsy Roma e and Traveller Rights and Health and Wellbeing sections of the Policies for a Sustainable Society (PfSS). Amendments were proposed to motion F02, but did not gain sufficient co-proposers to be included in the Final Agenda.

Compositing No motions were composited. Motion C01 was not strictly a ‘composite’ in the sense envisioned in SOCC, but was rather a grouping together of all the Interim Policy Position (IPP) statements made by PDC under section 15(viii) of the Constitution, which SOC recommended in the interests of ease of administration. It was to reflect this that SOC decided to entitle the motion ‘Amalgamated IPP Statements’

Late Motions The Late Motions Forum was open from the 13th January to 17th February 2023 for items that could not have been submitted by the 16th December 2022 because they related to events taking place since then. SOC was not able to discuss any Late Motions received before the Final Agenda meeting at the meetings themselves, and so discussion of them continued online in the final week leading up to publication. Standing Orders for the Conduct of Conference does not require late motions to be part of the Final Agenda.

Emergency Motions (EMs) We opened the Emergency Motions Forum on 17th February 2023, but EMs are not part of the Final Agenda.

Summaries and synopses SOCC states that all motions must have a synopsis of not more than 50 words, or 300 for a policy paper. In practice we do not reject motions without a synopsis although we reserve the right to do so. We cut overlong synopses at 50 words and note that this has happened.

Background Information Where provided, we link to background information below the motion. SOCC requires background information to be in notes, not in the motion itself. Where background information is given in the submitted motion, SOC may remove it to a note.

  1. A notification of how many motions and amendments have been ruled out of order and where these are published Following the First Agenda meeting, 10 motions were initially found to be Out of Order, with reasons given (though it later transpired that one of those motions, which later became motion D16, had been found so in error and this was corrected). The proposers of these motions were contacted following the First Agenda meeting with suggestions as to how their motions could be amended back into order. Ultimately this resulted in SOC recommending that 4 motions be restored to order as amended by their proposers, and amendments were received in sufficient time and with sufficient co-proposers (before 18th January 2023) that SOC asked that they appear on the prioritisation ballot. Those motions then became D23, D28, D29 and D30 on the Final Agenda.

SOC also received amendments to a further OoO Motion which, while not received in sufficient time that it could be recommended for inclusion on the Prioritisation Ballot, were nevertheless sufficient for SOC to recommend that it be restored to the Agenda as D31.

SOC notes that those motions which were restored in time to be included on the Prioritisation Ballot all scored among the lowest of those motions voted on. While there was speculation among Committee members that there may be some psychological process at work concerning motions which are deemed ‘Out of Order’ in the first instance (notwithstanding that SOC always makes clear that this is not a judgement on the substance of the motions themselves), at present it is only speculation, and there is little else that SOC can say about it.

  1. A report on SOC’s participation in the Agenda process including any motions or amendments that SOC is submitting to conference SOC and staff opened the Agenda Forum following the end of Autumn Conference 2022 in Greenspaces at https://spaces.greenparty.org.uk/s/spring-conference-2023-agenda-forum/?contentId=119001 and a calendar of deadlines was posted there. We sent an email to all Party members to say that it had opened.

Attempting to build on the lessons learned from Conferences in 2022 and continue what committee members regarded as good practice, SOC continued to try and hold meetings every two weeks wherever possible to manage the throughflow of work, and have continued to take advantage of a number of newly-introduced features to the ‘Trello’ platform to make deliberating and voting on rulings and advice easier.

SOC also continued its endeavours to make the process of submitting motions to Conference easier through the use of a separate website logging proposed motions, following some good feedback on this feature (including from Conferences Committee as part of their report to this Conference, whose assistance we acknowledge gratefully). This allowed members to propose motions other than by emailing SOC, and we are pleased to note its continued, and apparently increased, use by the members. Whilst issues remain, including that numbers of co-proposers were not updated live but required considerable manual time and input by volunteers, SOC nevertheless hopes that the continued adoption of this website model has made the overall work of engaging with Conference easier for all involved.

As always, we urge members to place items on the Agenda Forum at an early stage so that they can consult, revise wording, obtain supporting co-proposers or support from a local party or working group. We are happy to note, however, that this was certainly far more the case for this Conference than Spring 2022, when some motions were submitted only hours before the deadline. For policy motions, we advise you to obtain accreditation from Policy Development Committee.

As at the Autumn Conference 2022, SOC also took advantage of an ambiguity in the Standing Orders for Conduct of Conference (SOCC) to separate out the deadlines for submitting the final wording of a motion and submitting valid co-proposals by one week, which seems to have created some additional breathing-space for both members deciding which motions to co-propose and also members of SOC collating those motions. Having already submitted a motion to Conference which will aim to solidify this change (see below) SOC will be mindful of this in considering how we might revise the Standing Orders for Conduct of Conference (SOCC) in future to allow for a more efficient use of time.

SOC placed several items on the Pre-Agenda forum which became motions in the Final Agenda. These are entitled:

• Constitutional Amendment re Leadership Election; • Clarifying the role of ‘re-open nominations’ (RON); • SOCC amendment for separated motion deadlines (see above); • An amendment to SOCC for wider Conference Reform. . The First Agenda meeting of SOC was held on 7th January 2023. Motions were ordered ready for the Prioritisation Ballot according to the rules given in Standing Orders for the Conduct of Conference (SOCC).

The Amendment Forum and the Late Motions Forum were opened by SOC in good time in Green Spaces on 13th January 2023 at [https://spaces.greenparty.org.uk/s/spring-2022-amendment-forum/]and [https://spaces.greenparty.org.uk/s/spring-2022-late-motion-forum/] with links placed in the Agenda Forum.

The Prioritisation Ballot There were no C motions for the Prioritisation Ballot. The order of these motions was decided in consultation with PDC at an SOC meeting of 4th February 2023.

The Prioritisation ballot ran from 20th January to 3rd February 2023 and we ran the STV results by hand using Excel and a calculator to obtain a Borda count. This took considerable time, representing hours of work on the part of the relevant SOC member.

Additionally, since Autumn Conference 2021 the Prioritisation Ballot has also had to make use of a modified Borda count method based on how many times the same motion had been proposed to preceding Conferences but not debated due to lack of time. This meant that SOC had to make two determinations: i) How similar does a motion need to be from one Conference to the next in order for it to qualify? And ii) Which motions proposed to Spring Conference 2023 were therefore eligible?

Having deliberated, SOC decided that, as with amendments, textual changes to motions which do not substantially change the scope or meaning of the motion would be eligible, and this would necessarily need to be decided case-by-case. It was also decided that motions which were debated and referred back were not eligible for the modifier, as the motion that created the modifier explicitly stated that it applies for motions that are not debated due to time constraints. As of 2023, SOC has also decided that this process does not apply to Late or Emergency Motions, since time constraints are not the primary limiting factor in whether or not these motions reach the floor of Conference – ultimately, whether they are debated at all is a matter for the Chair. Accordingly, SOC decided to apply the modifiers as follows:

  1. Toolkit for healing divisions in the Green Party (2x modifier)
  2. Extending the term of elected PDC members (1.5x modifier)
  3. Constitutional Amendment regarding the role of RON (1.5x modifier)
  4. Leadership Elections Constitutional Amendment (1.5x modifier)
  5. Conference Reform Amendment to SOCC (1.5x modifier)
  6. Separated Motion Submission Deadlines (1.5x modifier)
  7. Avoid all-men and all-white internal elections (1.5x modifier)
  8. Stonewall and disaffiliation from the Diversity Champions scheme (2.5x modifier)
  9. Eliminate external influence on GPEW internal elections (1.5x modifier)
  10. Enhancing the complaints process (1.5x modifier)
  11. Motion to split SOC into two independent parts (1.5x modifier)
  12. Access to fertility treatment (2x modifier)
  13. Ending new HIV transmissions by 2030 (1.5x modifier)
  14. Dolphin hunts (1.5x modifier)
  15. Fund HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (1.5x modifier)

  16. Timetabling, chairing and other procedural matters affecting conference including elections to be held at conference, with the recommendations of SOC In order to facilitate faster progress on the Agenda, at each conference SOC recommends motions for fast-tracking if we think they are uncontroversial and if they have no amendments.

Any motions to be fast-tracked are taken to have been proposed and are voted on one by one immediately after the SOC Report has been passed and without any debate. If you have questions about motions proposed for fast-tracking, you should ask them in a workshop.

If any ten members object to fast-tracking then the motion is not fast-tracked. The ten objecting members have to be on the floor of conference. This does not include members who are voting remotely. If agreed for fast-tracking then after Conference passes the SOC Report, the vote on the fast-tracked motion will include members who are voting remotely.

At a Final Agenda meeting of 11th February 2023 PDC also noted that they had originally considered what became motions E03 and E04 for fast-tracking, but were also mindful of how highly these motions had placed in the prioritisation ballot. Following discussion, however, SOC decided to recommend these motions for fast-tracking in any event, considering that this particular Conference would be shorter on time than usual and the motions themselves were uncontroversial.

Standing Orders for the Conduct of Conference (SOCC) as revised Spring 2021 allowed Out of Order motions to be revised and to be recommended to Conference as being ruled back in order as part of the Final Agenda, as happened with motions D23, D28, D29, D30 and D32 above.

We held regular meetings with conference staff in the run-up to conference.

The revised Standing Orders Section G5 allows all members to register for remote voting online. This does not grant any rights of participation other than watching the proceedings and voting remotely online, though as of this Conference SOC has proposed a motion to include remote attendance in quoracy at Conference. It is currently open to chairs to allow registered members to participate and due to Covid-19 and other issues such participation may be requested by members who have been unable to attend Conference in person.

Following the ‘hybrid’ model of Conference, involving both online and face-to-face participation, used at Autumn Conference 2021, SOC became aware of a great deal of positive feedback from Conference attendees. This appeared to indicate that, where it is viable to do so, the Green Party ought to use this model going forward as a means to facilitate greater participation in Conference business.

We will accept speaker slips in advance from those who hope to participate from a remote location at the chair’s discretion. We will take procedural motions in advance from remote locations for Reference Back and Taking in Parts and Minor Textual Amendments. We can only accept other procedural motions and speeches on them from the Conference floor at physical conference but remote attendees can vote on them.

The timetable has been set to allow for all A motions, all B motions and all C motions to be taken. In addition we expect to take at least one D motion and one E motion, but this will be dependent on factors such as:

(i) fast-tracking of D and E motions (ii) the additional time required by online voting processes (iii) any additional time required by online participation processes.

We will hold hustings and elections for the following posts at Spring Conference:

Conferences Committee (3) Green World Editorial Board (1) International Committee (2)

We advertised any vacancies in good time and we will open online voting from the end of hustings (on Saturday 11th of March in the evening) until 1pm on Sunday 12th of March and in-person voting from 10am to 1pm on Sunday 12th of March in the Conference venue. We hope to announce the results at the end of the Sunday plenary. For more information on voting please contact ero@greenparty.org.uk.

The positions of Returning Officer and Deputy Returning Officer (RO and DRO) are vital for the national party and became vacant again following Autumn Conference 2021. Knowing this, we advertised the vacancy in late October/early November and canvassed expressions of interest from those whom we ultimately appointed to the role: Ani Stafford-Townsend (RO); Jon Eccles; and Adrian Spurrell (DRO). In order to make sure that we had advertised the role as widely and transparently as possible, SOC members also decided to put out fresh advertisements to join this team in January/February 2023.

We were also conscious of wanting to expand the pool of available members with the skills necessary to perform such a function, and so were grateful for the assistance of this team and Douglas Rouxel (providing technical support) in endeavouring to run training and upskilling alongside their usual responsibilities.

  1. The report of the Returning Officer (Ani Stafford-Townsend)

Ani Stafford-Townsend was appointed as the party’s Electoral Returns Officer (ERO) on 1 November 2022. They are supported in their role by Jon Eccles and Adrian Spurrell as deputy EROs.

Jon Eccles began as Deputy ERO under the previous ERO, but found himself the ERO overnight at the autumn 2023 Conference in Harrogate when that ERO resigned. Jon dealt with the role as well as he could given his previous inexperience with it, but after the Conference it was felt that given this lack of an ERO background, and bearing in mind his other commitments as Election Coordinator for Bristol Green Party, it would be best for him to return to the Deputy role.

Since then the party has not run any national elections, however a number of people have approached the ERO requesting support or advice in respect of elections that are running either locally or regionally. While we are able to give advice these elections are all run by the local EROs and subject to the rules published and interpreted by that ERO. This has brought us to the view that there would be a benefit for the party in having a group of individuals across the country who were versed in running elections in line with the Party’s central guidelines and skilled in the use of the various software packages that are available.

Ani has supported the South West Green Party to run their committee elections and has been asked to ERO the upcoming DC committee election. The ERO/DERO team are in the process of reaching out to other regional parties offering electoral support and welcome requests of support.

The ERO/DERO team has had some expressions of interest from members wishing to join the team. We are also in the process of proactively growing the team to become more diverse and will be running some training sessions once we have a group of interested members. We welcome expressions of interest from GPEW members from marginalised demographics.

We are aware that the Regional Council (GPRC) with GPEx support is running an internal elections working group with a view to increasing the numbers of people standing for governance roles and improving democracy in the Party, and look forward to supporting them with this.

  1. a report by SOC of any changes that they have adopted to their Standing Orders:

No changes to our Standing Orders.

  1. progress on Organisational Statements

Our progress on our Organisational Statements in RoOS at https://spaces.greenparty.org.uk/s/roos/ and in Appendix 4 falls into three categories:

Category 1 (Completed)

• To update the Constitution in accordance with motions D01 and D02 to Autumn Conference 2022 and publish to members. • To update SOCC to reflect new Standing Orders for SOC in accordance with A01 at Autumn Conference 2022, and publish to members. • To update the Standing Orders for Party Discipline (SOPD) in accordance with motion D02 at Autumn Conference 2022 and publish to members. • To develop new Standing Orders for the conduct of the Annual General Meeting following the passage of motion D01 at Autumn Conference 2022 and publish to members. • To update and maintain the Record of Organisational Statements (RoOS). • To reconsider the proxy system for online conferences and the 5-vote limit per members and to bring forward proposals to Conference to change this (SOC Report Recommendation, A1 Autumn 2020).

Category 2 (Not carried out or not completed)

• To update SOC Standing Orders and/or Handbook to reflect various motions passed at Conferences viz: To ensure that the annual ballots for the Green Party Executive (GPEx) and the Policy Development Committee (PDC) are well publicised and fully engaged with by the membership, To ensure that its appointee to the role of ERO takes their role in overseeing the conduct of the elections seriously and takes an active role in responding to complaints and concerns raised about conduct during elections. • To carry out a full review of regulations for national elections [ERO Report, part of SOC Report Autumn 2020]. • To number motions in the Pre-Agenda process if all of the possible motions continue to be listed in one stream on the member website (SOC Report Recommendation, A1 Autumn 2020)

Category 3 (Not applicable due to the circumstances not arising)

To ensure with PDC that the Policy Process presentation at https://members.greenparty.org.uk/node/59 is updated if the member website changes (SOC Report Recommendation, A1 Autumn 2020). • To insert three clauses passed in D01 Autumn 2018 ‘Facilitating Incorporation of the GPEW’ into the constitution “when the transfer happens”.

  1. Any other matters or recommendations that do not affect the running of conference A huge thank-you to the staff who have assisted and supported us during the year especially Louisa Greenbaum and Cameron Bairstow.

Thank -you also to our predecessors on SOC who have been generous with their time and energy in ensuring as smooth a handover as possible to the current incarnation of the Committee.

  1. Rulings requested and made since the previous Conference SOC continues to receive weekly requests for rulings and advice between conferences. The workload has increased in recent years due to complaints processes. We hope that the use of regular, fortnightly meetings and the work-sharing website Trello has sped up some parts of this process, but progress remains variable. It can take just a day but sometimes months to research, draft, agree a ruling, despatch it and post it to the SOC space. It is not always clear at the start of the process whether a ruling or interpretation of words in a Party document is the right response. We may have problems in finding relevant documents or Party documents may be silent on an issue.

The rulings or replies to requests for rulings as listed below are:

Ruling re GPEX Standing Orders

On 27.08.2022 Stephn Nissen wrote: ‘I request a soc ruling on the legitimacy of suspending clauses within GPEx standing orders. GPRC standing orders were updated in November 2021 and should have been presented to the following conference for approval. Both the November 2021 and previous version included the requirement for non-confidential papers to be provided to the membership via the members website. “Business to be discussed… should be made available to members of the party via the GPEx area of the members website, along with papers supporting non-confidential items”. On what grounds can the CEO or GPEx decide to suspend this clause, and suspend the rights of members to transparent information sharing?’ SOC rules that The GPEx Standing Orders contain a presumption in favour of making non-confidential material available for members of the Party. Any decision not to do so should come with an explicit justification by the CEO or GPEx. The rationale being Section 6.1 of the Green Party Executive (GPEx) Standing Orders (SO’s) reads: ‘Business to be discussed at meetings of GPEx shall normally be published no later than 6 calendar days before the meeting, to its members in an agenda; this should be made available to members of the party via the GPEx area of the members’ website, along with papers supporting non-confidential items.’ Section 6.4 goes on to give a list of those items which should be considered confidential in the setting of the agenda. This appears to be explicit. No other section of the SO’s refers to suspension of standing orders and when this might be appropriate, nor to extension of confidentiality to items not listed as confidential in section 6.4. The use of the words ‘shall’ and ‘should’ together imply that there is, at very least, a presumption in favour of making all non-confidential material available to members of the Party. While the Standing Orders as presently written do not contain any explicit grounds for ‘suspending’ this presumption, and the use of the word ‘should’ implies some discretion on the part of the CEO or GPEx not to apply this presumption, SOC would expect that there should be an explicit justification provided where such a decision is made. Ruling re Dismissal of Complaints On 16.09.2022 Andreas Christodoulou wrote: ‘Can we have a clear ruling to point to that says whether or not DCRG can dismiss complaints on the grounds of lack of seriousness without them necessarily being UPVAM? [unproven vexatious and malicious]?’ SOC rules that DCRG can dismiss complaints on the basis that it is not satisfied that a complaint has been brought on one of the grounds specified in SOPD 1.2. This may be apparent on the face of the complaint, and may be because the complaint is ‘trivial’ (which SOC prefers to ‘not serious’), but DCRG need not elaborate further on this. The rationale being Standing Orders for Party Discipline (SOPD) 1.6 says that ‘The Referral Group will consider whether a complaint has been brought on one of the grounds specified in 1.2 and decide on this basis whether it should be referred to the Committee, to another appropriate body or be dismissed.’ [emphases added] The grounds specified in SOPD 1.2 include ‘The Committee will handle all complaints of a disciplinary nature which have not been resolved at Regional, Local Party or other party group level and which have been brought on one of the following grounds: i) that a member has contravened the Constitution of the Party as interpreted by Standing Orders Committee (SOC); ii) that a member has made a breach of one or more of the number of Standards in the Party’s Code of Conduct.’ SOPD 6.1 goes on to say that ‘To reach a decision on the complaint, the [Disciplinary Committee] needs to be persuaded on the balance of probabilities whether the ground of the complaint is established. If the Committee finds the ground of the complaint to not be established it shall dismiss the complaint.’ On its surface it would appear that the first question that the DCRG must ask itself is whether or not, on its face, a complaint has been brought on the grounds that a member has either contravened the Constitution as interpreted by SOC; or that a member has made a breach of one or more parts of the Code of Conduct. The SOPD does not set out what standard, if any, the DCRG should apply in reaching this decision This gives DCRG a certain amount of discretion in deciding on what grounds a complaint should be dismissed, so long as it is not satisfied that one or other of the grounds specified in SOPD 1.2 had been made out. It would be sufficient for DCRG to say that it was not satisfied that one or other of the grounds had been made out. If it wished to elaborate on this it could say that a complaint had been dismissed because it was, on its face, trivial (which SOC found was a more helpful word in this situation than ‘not serious’, since seriousness seems to have a greater measure of subjective judgement), though SOC would counsel against elaborating beyond that which is explicitly included in the text.

Ruling re EGM for Newham GP

On 04.10.2022 Chris Brooks wrote: ‘On Monday 03rd October an EGM was called by three members notifying me directly to request an EGM. This is permitted under 7.3 of the NGP constitution. On Monday 03rd October at our scheduled Executive Committee Meeting it was decided, through our interpretation of the NGP constitution the best approach would be to: Hold a “Standard” members meeting in the month of October, on the 23rd Set a date early in November for an EGM so that the required notice periods outlined for an AGM, and therefore EGM, in the constitution can be maintained. (Date not yet set) The executive felt this was the most positive interpretation of the constitution as it would not result in Members not having a meeting in almost two months, where the constitution demands the executive seek to facilitate meetings once a month (5.2). On Monday 03rd October, after the scheduled Executive Committee Meeting, one of the members who requested the EGM made accusations that the Executive Committee is corrupt, as they claim an unconstitutional decision was made by not making the absolute next Members Meeting an EGM, whether that be the meeting now scheduled for the 23rd October or whether that mean the next meeting of the membership would be in November (date TBC) instead ….. SOC rules that It would have been contrary to the local party Constitution to have held the EGM on 23rd October 2022. The Executive must have an EGM at the next available opportunity, which in this case seems to be in place of the monthly meeting for November. This meeting would have to take place after 23rd November 2022 to allow the required 1 month notice period. The rationale being SOC note that the calling of an EGM is covered by sections 7.1-7.3 of the NGP constitution: Section 7.1 says that an EGM is called ‘at the request of a monthly meeting’. No alternative method calling an EGM is indicated in the section. Section 7.2 says that the monthly meeting following that at which the EGM is called will be the occasion of the EGM. Section 7.3 says that 3 members can ‘trigger’ an EGM. There is no suggestion in the section that a ‘trigger’ replaces the requirement in 7.1 that a monthly meeting call for an EGM. SOC is of the view that the request by three members does effectively ‘trigger’ the process for calling an EGM, but that the ‘call’ for the EGM must take place at the next monthly meeting. The next planned date for a monthly meeting of NGP is 23rd October and this would be the appropriate occasion on which to call for the next monthly meeting to include the EGM. Section 6.2 of the NGP constitution says that there must be notice of ‘at least one month’ for an AGM (or an EGM which is governed by the same requirement), so the next monthly meeting would have to take place after 23rd November to allow clear notice of one month to be given. Ruling re Regional Party Officers

On 27.08.2022 Daniel Laycock wrote: ‘Within Green Party documentation which roles are constitutionally required for regional Committees? In the event of inefficiency what is the required process of filling these vacancies? If roles that are constitutionally required are not filled either by election or co-option, does this constitute fresh elections being held for the regional committee?’ SOC rules that The Constitution requires that all regional parties must register the following:

One of more Nominating Officer; a Treasurer; a coordinator/contact person; and an enquiry recipient whose name can be given to members of the public. The process for filling these vacancies will be set out in the relevant regional party constitution, whether by election or co-option. This will also determine whether or not a ‘fresh election’ is constituted. SOC cannot comment further without knowing more specific details of each case. The rationale being: Section 5 (ii) of the Constitution states ‘Each Regional Party shall determine its own constitution in accordance with bye-laws to be approved from time to time by the Annual Conference.” The current bye-laws on regional parties are silent on this question. Section 5 (iv) of the Constitution goes on to list officer which each Regional Party must register with Party Office, such as a Nominating Officer, a Treasurer, a co-ordinator or contact person and an enquiry recipient. Section 5 (v) states ‘These appointments should normally be made or confirmed at the … regional party’s AGM. Party Office should be informed of them promptly.” 5(vi) states that “When an officer leaves their post for any reason Party Office should be informed and a replacement appointed within 28 days, to enable compliance with the PPERA.’ There are no other requirements in the GPEW constitution regarding what other officers a regional party may choose to have, or how they are elected or appointed, or how they function (or not) as a committee. These are all matters to be determined by the regional party’s own constitution. However, if any of the above constitutional requirements are not being met, this would be a matter for GPRC to consider under its role of ‘keeping under review the general well-being of the Party” (6(i)) and having ‘overall responsibility for agreed democratic procedures within the Party’ (6(iii)). Ruling re No Fault Suspension Confidentiality

On 11.08.2022 Robin Brabham wrote: ‘I am requesting a ruling on the following situation. There are a few questions around confidentiality, reasoning and limitations, in GPRC decisions on no-fault suspensions. This has arisen from one particular situation, but there are broader questions to consider here too. …. Are GPRC decisions regarding no-fault suspensions subject to confidentiality, to what extent, and decided by which documents? Does any confidentiality on these matters clash with GPRC’s duty for transparency, as expected of all GPEW members and bodies? To what extent can GPRC assert confidentiality on NFS suspensions, and to what extent can this be overruled? Are GPRC representatives forbidden from discussing all aspects of these decisions with ordinary GPEW members, such as who voted for which outcome and the reasoning behind it? If these decisions are confidential, what are the conditions for which confidentiality can be waived, e.g. particularly significant cases?’ The questioner has reproduced a number of parts of the relevant documents, for which we are grateful. SOC rules that The confidential status of complaints and the decisions surrounding them continue to apply when those complaints are passed to GPRC as with other party bodies or local/regional parties. SOC does not make a value-judgement on whether or not this clashes with GPRC’s duty regarding transparency. Except where the parties involved decide to waive confidentiality, these decisions cannot be overruled. The rationale being Standing Orders for Party Discipline (SOPD) 3.1(iii) says that all complaints, when received, are logged in the confidential folder. SOPD 1.8 says that certain groups are required to maintain confidentiality regarding this complaint: “the Complaints Manager, the Governance Assistant, the Minuting Secretary, members of the Referral Group, the Committee and the Appeals Committee”. Footnote 6 to the SOPD, clarifying the nature of No-Fault Suspensions, goes on to say that in the event of such a suspension being activated by a decision of GPRC, ‘Chairs/convenors/coordinators of the relevant local and regional parties and national party bodies will be informed on a confidential basis.’ It is clear that confidentiality continues to apply when the nature of a Complaint is discussed with bodies other than DCRG, DC or ADRC, even when they are not explicitly named in SOPD 1.8. GPRC Standing Orders 3.11 and 3.12 GPRC Standing Orders 4.5 does establish a mechanism for confidentiality: “All business discussed by GPRC that is agreed to be confidential must stay confidential among the members of GPRC” [emphases added]. This implies that GPRC may agree that certain material is not confidential, but it would appear that given the relevant provisions in SOPD confidentiality is almost always likely to be found where complaints and requests for a NFS are concerned. Section 12(ii)-(iii) of the Constitution says that ‘The Green Party is committed to open and accountable decision-making. The party also recognises that confidentiality is required in certain, limited circumstances.’ SOC does not see this as necessarily creating a conflict, as complaints and their substance are among the ‘certain, limited circumstances’ in which confidentiality takes priority. In a situation where parties are involved in a complaint, then ordinarily only the parties to that complaint can decide to waive confidentiality – nobody else may do it for them.

Ruling on ‘Friend’ Status

On 13.09.2022 Elise Benjamin wrote concerning a person who had recently had their membership of the Party withdrawn: ‘[This person] is now trying to maintain involvement in the party by claiming she has become a Friend. She is trying to use this status to still influence party policy… My understanding is Friend status gives her no power in the party but I wanted to check your understanding of this before the local party respond to her.’ SOC rules that The status of ‘Friend’ of the Green Party does not confer any of the benefits of membership, including the ability to vote on Party business or hold office within it, either at a local, regional or national level. The rationale being Section 4(iv)-(v) of the Constitution says that ‘Membership of The Green Party shall entitle members to vote on the business of the Party and hold office in it, in such ways as are laid down in this Constitution and Standing Orders made under it, and to receive certain services.’ …. ‘A Local Party may institute any form of Local Associate Membership and encourage Associates to participate in its business. The rights of such Associate Members shall be set out in the constitution of the Local Party, and those rights shall not extend beyond involvement in the Local Party. Local Associate Members shall not be considered to be members of the Green Party beyond the geographic boundaries of their Local Party, and they shall not be involved in decision making of the Party at a regional or national level, nor shall they be eligible to either contest, vote in, or nominate candidates for regional or national internal selection procedures. In the absence of any explicit provision in a local party constitution regarding the rights of Associate members to vote or be involved in the decision-making process or selection procedures of a local party, they shall be assumed not to have any such rights.’ The status of a ‘Friend’ of the Green Party is not enumerated in any of the Constitutional documents, and appears to be a means to facilitate monetary donations to the Party and nothing else. There is no other way than by being a member or associate member of the Party to vote on its business or hold office in it, either at a local, regional or national level. Whether or not non-members or non-associates may attend local/regional party meetings or other events is a matter for the relevant local or regional party. Ruling on Activities Permitted Under Suspension

On 03.08.2022 Andreas Christodoulou wrote: “At our previous DC meeting, the issue of what activities are permitted under suspension arose, and I took the action to get a ruling on this. SOPD footnote 6 gives an explanation for no-fault suspensions, but is silent on a disciplinary suspension. In addition, DC are unclear as to who would rule as to whether a suspension (disciplinary or no-fault) has been breached or not. Is this yourselves, GPRC, DC or some other body? We have had complaints in the past where part of the complaint has been that someone has contravened the terms of the suspension (and this has been heard as any other complaint). Is this the only method by which breach of suspension can be ruled on?” SOC rules that No activities that would be permitted to members are permitted to those under a suspension, whether no-fault or disciplinary. Any alleged breaches of the terms of such a suspension are to be dealt with by the body which imposed the original suspension, whether Green Party Regional Council (GPRC) or Disciplinary Committee (DC). The rationale being Standing Orders for Party Discipline (SOPD) footnote 6 says that ‘A No-Fault Suspension means that the suspended member is not able to volunteer for the local or regional party, nor any national party body; is not able to attend any local, regional or national events, including Conference; and access to the members website will be removed…’ If membership of the Party has been suspended, whether on a no-fault basis or disciplinary basis, there is therefore a presumption that none of the activities outlined in footnote 6 for a no-fault suspension would be permitted to those suspended on a disciplinary basis. SOC takes this to mean that no activities that would be permitted to a member are permitted to those under a no-fault suspension, including volunteering for a local or regional party, or any national party body; attending any local, regional or national events, including Conference; and accessing the members’ website. Realistically there is nothing left that a suspended member can then do that they might hitherto have been able to do as a member. Since the body which imposed the original suspension is likely to be most familiar with the original case and therefore best able to adjudicate on any subsequent breaches, the body which imposed the original suspension is therefore the body which deals with any breaches which might occur. Ruling Re Candidate Selection

On 09.06.2022 Marieanne Elliot wrote: “Sheffield Green Party are opening up a public selection process for a general election candidate for our Central constituency. We are inviting applications from people who aren’t yet GPEW members. As there is no precedent for such a public selection please could you look into this and provide a ruling. Request for a ruling; Sheffield Green Party is beginning the selection process for a candidate for the next general election. We want to include people who may not yet be members in the selection process, and would like a ruling on the interpretation of section 9 of the by law referenced in clause 5(xii) of the constitution. The first sentence reads: “Each nominee must have been a member of the GPEW for at least one year by the last possible date for the election and must hold continuous membership up to the date of the election.” The last possible date for the next election is December 2024 so a member joining now and included in the selection process would have been a member for one year by that date. Does this mean that we can, at this stage, include newly joined members in the selection process without seeking the permission of GPRC as required by the second sentence of section 9?” SOC rules that A selection process can ask for interest from those sympathetic to the aims and objects of the Green Party, and not a member of another political party, and who have not yet joined provided that there is sufficient time for them to satisfy the membership requirement before the last possible date for the election, and provided they commit to joining the Party or join in anticipation of the selection process. SOC would caution any party considering this to bear in mind that if an election were called before the anticipated next date for a general election, or in the event of a by-election for the constituency, that would take place before the year of membership had been completed, then a new selection would have to be carried out including only candidates who fulfilled the membership requirement. The rationale being Section 4.1 of the Constitution says “Membership is open to any person who subscribes to the object of the Party, and is not already a member of another political party, other than Green Parties abroad.” which sets out the requirements for membership. Section 3 of the Constitution sets out the object of the Party. Green Parties abroad are those accepted for affiliation by the Global Greens. The selection of candidates for Parliamentary elections is governed by the bye-law referred to in Clause 5(xvii) of the Constitution. Sentence 1 of Section 9 of which reads: “Each nominee must have been a member of the GPEW for at least one year by the last possible date for the election and must hold continuous membership up to the date of the election” This clearly sets out that the terminal date for the year of membership is the date of any parliamentary election. Advice to GRT Policy Working Group

On 09.11.2022 Hannah Charlotte Copley wrote: “I am one of the co-conveners of Gypsy, Roma & Traveller (GRT) Policy working group… Here is the situation:

  • An enabling motion passed Autumn 2021 - E17 Enabling Motion and Policy Statement for updated Gypsy, Traveller and Roma policies.
  • We have been working hard on this since with the goal of taking to Conference Spring 2023 and have completed substantial numbers of rounds of revisions with discussion with GRT communities, organisations and their representatives and members of other groups of the Green party.
  • We recently found out that there is a broader enabling motion (Rights and Responsibilities Chapter re-write) which encompases the area we have been working on.
  • One member of R&R (not either of the conveners) who attended one of our meetings advised we could not pass our policy, because it prevent R&R from passing their motion until 18 months had passed after ours passes (in the assumption ours passes Spring 2023).
  • I have been trying to arrange meetings with various people (PDC, R&R Co-convener) to try and find a solution.
  • Today we had a very constructive meeting with Carla Denyer who advised that this a SOC decision.

So the question is:

  • Could we take a motion replacing part of R&R chapter as specified in E17 Autumn 2021 conference, and could R&R then take a motion which is replacing the rest of R&R chapter (but not our section) within 18 months?”

SOC advises the following: The motion brought by the GRT group does insert a statement in RoPS. The Enabling Motion passed at the relevant Conference mandates a GRT PWG to bring a Draft Voting Paper, and then a Voting Paper, to future conferences to replace RR700 - RR709. The same conference mandated a Rights & Responsibilities Policy Working Group to bring a rewrite of the whole chapter (motion E03). There are several implications.

  1. The GRT PWG cannot bring a policy motion to Spring Conference - they could bring a DVP (which would go into section F of the agenda).
  2. The R&R PWG could accept that into their DVP with any amendments discussed with the GRT, and the two could then run together as single DVP brought by the R&R PWG (if needs be jointly with the GRT PWG)
  3. If it looked as though there might be any delay in processing the full review within the time period, then the GRT PWG, having submitted their DVP to scrutiny at Spring Conference 2023, can take it forward as a VP by itself.

Ruling re Spring Conference

On the 15.11.2022 Mary Clegg asked whether Motion D01 ‘Reforming the Party’s Annual General Meeting’ passed at Autumn Conference 2022, meant that there was no requirement to have a Conference at Spring 2023. SOC rule that There is a constitutional requirement to hold a Conference at Spring 2023, that fulfils the requirements set out in s.10 of the Constitution as current at the start of Autumn Conference 2022, most of which is retained in the new version of s.10. The rationale being In s.20(iv) of the constitution current at the start of Autumn Conference 2022: “Changes to the Constitution take effect at the close of the Conference in which they are agreed” The changes agreed in motion D01 did not take effect until the end of Autumn Conference 2022 The constitution current at the start of Autumn Conference 2022 is explicit at s.10(ii): “The Party shall hold a Spring Conference each year .. unless the preceding Autumn Conference decides otherwise.” (SOC emphasis) To suspend or change the form of Spring Conference 2023 a motion would have to have been brought through the agreed process to Autumn Conference 2022. No such motion was brought so the party “shall” hold a Spring 2023 Conference. The revised version of s10(ii) adopted at Autumn Conference 2022 allows the issue of not holding a Spring Conference by removing the imperative “shall”. The new s.10(ii) reads: “Where the Party holds a Spring Conference….” In terms of the requirements of a Spring Conference the new s.10(ii) retains those in the constitution Ruling re London GP Meetings

On the 23.11.2022 Joe Hudson-Small asked ‘It’s planned that at an ordinary meeting of London members (on Monday 28/11/2022), a vote will be held on considering an out of order motion. The London secretary ruled this motion out of order, so this would be a vote to overrule that decision. ….. Would SOC please provide a ruling on if it’s constitutional to hold the vote to consider the O.O.O. motion at an ordinary meeting? ….. On a similar note, I’m not sure the meeting planned for 28/11 has had sufficient notice. The 21/11 ordinary meeting was ‘adjourned’ at 9pm to be resumed one week later. I’m concerned that this an insufficient notice period, as standing orders necessitate publication of notice for the meeting 21 days ahead. On the same date, the same person also asked: ‘What is SOC’s view on the legal routes to remove GPRC reps?’ On 22.11.2022 Nate Higgins asked: ‘I wasn’t at the meeting of London last night [ie. 21.11.2022] as I was at Full Council, but I’ve since heard they’re planning a meeting on Monday next week to continue business leftover… I want to focus on whether London constitution/standing orders would allow a meeting to be called at such short notice or whether business should be deferred to the next properly called meeting.’ Since these questions related to the same subject SOC has treated them together. SOC rules by majority that An ordinary meeting cannot override any decision by an elected Officer of the London Green Party. No meeting of the London Green Party could vote to remove a GPRC representative. An ordinary meeting requires at least 21 days’ notice, which the meeting of 28 November 2022 does not have. The rationale being: Part 1: Clause 4(d) of the London Green Party (LGP) Constitution says that: ‘General meetings shall have the power to override any decisions of the officers’ Although ‘General’ and ‘Ordinary’ meetings are both mentioned in Clause 5(a), it does not go on to set out the distinction between them. The Standing Orders of the London Federation of Green Parties, however, has two specific sections devoted to each of these meetings. It is apparent that they are to be treated as distinct for these purposes. Therefore it is only at a general meeting, not an ordinary meeting, that the decision of the Secretary to rule a motion Out of Order could be overridden.

SOC Note: a minority of SOC members wished to make explicit their view that this conflicts with section 12(i) of the national Constitution (“Every effort shall be made to reach decisions … within Local Parties and elsewhere by consensus. In the absence of consensus decisions shall be made by a simple majority vote unless otherwise provided”) and that, read in tandem with the preceding clauses, the distinction between ‘ordinary’ and ‘general’ meetings relates to decisions taken between meetings in their individual capacities, and that the current question therefore relates to a meeting where section 12(i) must apply. Their view being given here is not to be treated as setting a precedent.

Part 2 Section 6a of the LGP Constitution lists the various Elected Officers posts, and then goes on to say ‘The Federation will also elect representatives to the relevant Green Party of England and Wales bodies in accordance with the roles, timetables and methods set out in those bodies’ constitutions, standing orders and other guidance as appropriate.’ (emphases added) Section 6d goes on to say that: ‘Elected officers shall be elected… to serve until the count of the full ballot following the next AGM, except that the GPRC representatives…. shall serve for the term stipulated by the Green Party.’ (emphases added) It is apparent to SOC that the Constitution as written does make a distinction between the Elected Officers of the Federation and those Elected Officers who, like GPRC representatives, are elected under different national provisions and who operate under distinct standing orders, constitutions, terms of office etc. The Constitution of the Green Party of England and Wales sets out in section 6(iv) and 6(ix) that: ‘The Regional Council shall consist of two members elected by postal ballot (as specified in Appendix C) by and from each constituted Region. Each term of membership of Regional Council shall be for two years commencing from the date of election.’ and ‘By a two-thirds majority of its voting membership the Regional Council may suspend from office any member of the Regional Council, if there is evidence of sustained conduct which in the opinion of the Regional Council is against the interests of the Party, subject to the right of such a member to appeal.’

The Constitution therefore provides a mechanism for bringing to an end the term of office of a GPRC member (aside from voluntary resignation or the ending of their membership for whatever reason), and makes no mention of votes to remove a GPRC member by local or regional parties. A local or regional party’s Constitution could not override the national Constitution on this point. Therefore, no meeting of the London Green Party could vote to remove an elected GPRC representative from their position.

SOC Note: an individual member of SOC wished to make explicit their view that section 6 of the London Fed Constitution, quoted partially above, in fact implies that: the only distinction between GPRC representatives and other officers is the length of their term of office, nothing else; and GPRC representatives are to be regarded as among the ‘officers’ mentioned in section 6(f) who may be removed by a two-thirds majority vote, though they also note this may be an error on the part of those who originally wrote section 6. Their view being given here is not to be treated as setting a precedent.

Part 3 Section 3 of these Standing Orders specify that an ordinary meeting must be publicised with at least 21 days’ notice of the intended meeting. Whether SOC finds that ‘notice’ was given at the end of the previous meeting on 21 November (7 days) or in an email sent on 15 November warning that business might overrun (13 days), there is therefore insufficient notice to have such a meeting under the Standing Orders. It is therefore apparent to SOC that the proposed ordinary meeting of 28 November 2022 cannot take place on this date, and moreover could not vote to rule an Out of Order motion back into order.

Ruling on Disability Elections

On 13.11.2022, Cade Hatton Wrote:

“With regards to Liberation Groups, do Allies/Associate members have a right to stand in and vote for internal positions, such as the committee elections?” SOC Rules that: Taking “Liberation groups” to collectively refer to Greens for Animal Protection, Greens of Colour, the Green Party Disability Group, Jewish Greens, Green Left, LGBTIQA+ Greens, Green Seniors, Green Party Women, and Young Greens - the right to stand as a committee member and vote in committee elections depends on what is written in each individual group’s constitution. Where a constitution doesn’t make a distinction between “members” and “allies/associate members”, or fails to otherwise set a clear standard for who may or may not stand/vote, it should be assumed that any member may stand for vote. Having ascertained through follow-up contact that the question was being asked with regards to the Disability Group - SOC notes that the constitution of the Disability group sets out at section 3.1 that only those who self-identify as disabled may stand for positions and vote. The rationale being that: There is no clause in the constitution that sets out a requirement that members working groups (which those taken to be meant by “liberation groups” above all are) are required to allow anybody to stand for positions and vote, without any further eligibility requirements - only that membership must be open to all, and officers must be annually elected, as per part 3 of the bye-laws referred to in section 5(xii) of the Constitution: “Conditional upon the membership of the group being open to all Green Party members only, and on the officers of the group being annually elected, the group may be recognised by the Policy Development Committee, Campaigns Committee or the Equalities and Diversity Committee as a Members Working Group” Therefore, provided working groups permit all party members to participate as members, and hold their committee elections annually, they are free to set their own standards for committee/voter eligiblity, through their own constitutions. Ruling re Membership of Other Green Parties

On the 2nd November 2022 Ani Stafford-Townsend asked whether

  1. Members of the Scottish Greens (SGP) count as members;
  2. Are members of the GPEW commenting on a member of another Green Party subject to the requirements of the Code of Conduct and to any disciplinary process under it. SOC rules that
  3. Scottish Greens do not count as members.
    1. In dealing with non-members members of the GPEW are expected under specified circumstances to abide by the Code of Conduct (CoC), however it is unlikely that non-members can access the Complaints process. The rationale being Section 4(i) of the Constitution says that membership of the GPEW is ‘open to any person who subscribes to the object of the Party, and is not already a member of another political party, other than Green parties abroad’. Constitution section 2 defines ‘the Party’: “The geographical remit of the Party shall be England and Wales”, and goes on to say that “The party shall maintain links with the .. independent Scottish Green Party”. It is clear that the GPEW and SGP are separate and independent Green Parties and the only related privilege of membership of the GPEW is also being able to be a member of another Green Party. Scottish Greens would only count as members under the CoC if they were also, individually, members of the GPEW. While the request relates to members of other parties the Code of Conduct (CoC) might still be breached. CoC section 12.3 explicitly relates it to GPEW members (‘other members’) and says: “When a dispute exists members are expected to take special care to behave in a civil manner towards other members and take even greater care than normal not to indulge in behaviour that could be perceived as provocative, intimidating or offensive.” However section 12.1 might appear to have a wider potential application, although in context it refers to meeting people within the Party: “As the Green Party welcomes people from a wide range of backgrounds, members may encounter people who hold differing political or philosophical worldviews. Freedom of belief and the right to change that belief is a fundamental human right. Members should therefore show tolerance and respect towards people that hold political or philosophical worldviews that differ from their own.” Section 7.2 includes non-members, and says: “Members should maintain civilised standards of conduct towards each other and others such as political opponents or non-members when acting in a Party capacity, or when identifiable as a Green Party member.” We note also section 8.5 which says: “Members who express opinions in a situation in which their membership of the Green Party is known must take care to not bring the party into disrepute.” SOC ruled on the specific question of whether, if a term of the CoC is breached, a non- member could bring a complaint under Standing Orders for Party Discipline. SOC ruled on this specific question (published in the Agenda of Spring Conference 2021 pp.8-9 which provides the reasoning). The first part of that ruling reads: “1. The Constitution and Standing Orders for Party Discipline (SOPD) are currently unclear on the issue of whether a complaint against a member can be brought or maintained by a non-member.
  4. On balance complaints cannot be brought be non-members, except where a member brings a complaint on their behalf” The second part relates to the specifics of the earlier ruling but part 4 of the ruling does imply that the Complaints Referral Group should refer the matter to the Disciplinary Committee as: “…important for the well-being of the Party” or not: “as not representing a good use of the limited resources of the Disciplinary Committee” Ruling re Sheffield GP EGM

On 05.01.2023 Dylan Lewis-Creser wrote: ‘I would like to submit a ruling request to SOC as to the constitutionality of a motion that has been submitted for an Extraordinary General Meeting of Sheffield Green Party. The motion and email of the Executive receiving it is attached. Of particular note is the constitutionality of a local party interfering with national party disciplinary process. [Forwarded email content below] ….. As Sheffield Green Party members we hereby give notice of an Extraordinary General Meeting of Sheffield Green Party to take place as follows: Date: Thursday 26th January 2023 Time: 7.30pm Place: Central United Reformed Church, 60 Norfolk St, Sheffield, S1 2JB Agenda: Motion concerning the proper selection of [member under an NFS] as prospective parliamentary candidate for Sheffield Central The aforementioned motion is attached to this email. …..’ SOC rules that While the members in question have issued a valid ‘call’ for an EGM, and the Chair is obliged to send notice to members within fourteen days of receiving such a call, it is for the Chair to decide the date, time and place of the EGM itself, and to give a minimum of fourteen days’ notice to the members. The rationale being Section 4.5 of the Sheffield Green Party (‘SGP’) Constitution says that: ‘An Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) may be called by ten or more members by giving written notice to the Chair. A minimum of fourteen days’ notice of an EGM shall be giving to all members stating the date, time, place and business to be discussed. Notice must be sent to members within fourteen days of receipt by the chair. No further business may be discussed at the EGM.’ It is clear from the Constitution that members can call an EGM by giving notice to the Chair, who must then notify all members within fourteen days of receipt by the Chair. The members in question have done so validly in this case. While section 4.5 is not explicit in stating that the Chair will also be responsible for organising the date, time and place of the motion, it is clear from a practical and logistical perspective that they are the only party reasonably capable of doing so; to interpret the clause otherwise would be to invite a wide array of other potential difficulties. Not in the least, a Chair would have to be responsible for making themselves available at the meeting they would subsequently be chairing, and for ensuring that they execute their responsibilities for involving members in party business appropriately. It is also worth noting that only the Chair (or other members of the Party executive) can then give notice to all members using their given contact details without giving rise to potential GDPR or other issues. It therefore follows that, while members can ‘call’ a meeting (in the sense of triggering or initiating one) by giving notice to the Chair, they are not then responsible for organising the date, place and time, or other logistical business of the meeting itself. SOC also notes that the motion attached to the original email names a complainant in an ongoing disciplinary matter, potentially in breach of Standing Orders for Party Discipline (SOPD). The motion attached also refers to a category of membership, ‘Associate Membership’, for which SOC can find no reference in the SGP Constitution. This is noted only as information which may be of assistance to the Chair of SGP in carrying out their functions. Advice for Affiliated Groups re Internal Processes

SOC wishes to give the following advice to Chairs of all relevant affiliated groups, based on recent discussions at its General Meeting on 19.11.2022 (with apologies for the delay): Increasingly within the Party various bodies are allowing for the making of internal decisions via online or electronic balloting of the membership, mirroring the process by which the national party has conducted the Annual Ballot and other internal elections. SOC welcomes this move towards greater democratic engagement with the membership at all levels. However, SOC also advises that all groups conducting such exercises be mindful of the requirements of their existing constitutional frameworks, and recommends that periodic reviews are undertaken of what exactly those frameworks are and how they can be changed. This avoids any potential questioning of the validity of the process by which such changes are administered at a later date. Additionally, SOC would suggest that, when such ballots are conducted, some independent person/(s) be appointed to oversee the process of collecting and tabulating votes, and interpreting and applying the rules (however they are drawn up) for how such ballots are conducted. Such a person/(s) might or might not be referred to as a ‘Election Returning Officer’ (ERO), but whatever their title they would perform such a role as would an ERO in a wider Party ballot or election.

SOC Note: discussion among members has since noted that the term ‘affiliated groups’ does not appear in our constitutional documents, and it is likely that future discussion among members of SOC will be needed to clarify whether a single term can be used to encompass: special interest groups; groups of members with interests in common; groups recognised by either PDC, Campaigns Committee or E&D Committee; and all those generally known as ‘liberation groups’.

Last updated on 2023-03-11 at 12:29