A quick guide to the Green Party

The Green Party is a left-wing party in British politics. Greens believe in ecological sustainability, a fairer more stable economy and a more equal society. The Green party is considered to be uniquely democratic – with policy being developed and passed by the membership – not the leadership.

A brief history

The Green Party was founded in the 1970s as a response to growing ecological awareness with a focus on social justice. In the 1980s the party devolved into The Green Party of England & Wales, The Scottish Green Party and The Green Party in Northern Ireland.

The First Past the Post electoral system (which rewards the bigger parties with an exaggerated share of the MPs at the expense of smaller parties) has meant that Green representation in parliament has not reflected its share of the vote in general elections. Once Proportional Representation was adopted for European elections and for the London Assembly, Greens began to return members to both of those chambers. 

The election of Caroline Lucas to party leader in 2008 coincided with the global financial crisis and a greater desire among the British public to find alternatives to unregulated capitalism. Since then, as Labour has stayed towards the centre of politics, the Greens have advocated for policies on the Left.

In 2010 Caroline Lucas was elected to Westminster as the first Green MP and in 2012 Nathalie Bennet took over as leader of the party. Green party membership more than doubled in 2014 as trust in established parties came under threat.

The 2015 General Election saw the Green Party recieve it's highest ever number of votes as one of the main opposers of austerity measures. Despite, however, receiving 3.8% of the overall vote, the Green Party was unable to build on its presence in parliament, with Caroline Lucas remaining as the only Green Party MP.

In 2016, the Green Party had another leadership contest, selecting Co-Leaders Caroline Lucas MP and Jonathan Bartley, who previously set up Christian think-tank Ekklesia, which exists to "bring theological ideas to the public square" particularly on issues relating to social justice and the environment.

Christians and Green politics

The Green Party slogan is ‘for the common good’. The Common Good is an idea with longstanding roots in Catholic Social Teaching and, over the last century, in Christian socialism. There is no formal Christian movement within the Green party, but a growing number of Christians have joined, seeing their faith expressed through Green politics. 

The Green Party’s 10 core values:

1.     The Green Party is a party of social and environmental justice, which supports a radical transformation of society for the benefit of all, and for the planet as a whole. We understand that the threats to economic, social and environmental wellbeing are part of the same problem, and recognise that solving one of these crises cannot be achieved without solving the others.

2.     Humankind depends on the diversity of the natural world for its existence. We do not believe that other species are expendable.

3.     The Earth's physical resources are finite. We threaten our future if we try to live beyond those means, so we must build a sustainable society that guarantees our long-term future.

4.     Every person, in this and future generations, should be entitled to basic material security as of right.

5.     Our actions should take account of the well-being of other nations, other species, and future generations. We should not pursue our well-being to the detriment of theirs.

6.     A healthy society is based on voluntary co-operation between empowered individuals in a democratic society, free from discrimination whether based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, social origin or any other prejudice.

7.     We emphasise democratic participation and accountability by ensuring that decisions are taken at the closest practical level to those affected by them.

8.     We look for non-violent solutions to conflict situations, which take into account the interests of minorities and future generations in order to achieve lasting settlements.

9.     The success of a society cannot be measured by narrow economic indicators, but should take account of factors affecting the quality of life for all people: personal freedom, social equity, health, happiness and human fulfilment.

10.  Electoral politics is not the only way to achieve change in society, and we will use a variety of methods, including lifestyle changes, to help effect progress, providing those methods do not conflict with our other core principles.

Theologically these values resonate with:

- The kingdom of God as radical, systemic change;

- Jesus’ example of radical social inclusion for the vulnerable and most marginalised

- Creation as a gift to humanity and the responsibility to steward it well

- The mission of God in the world as ‘re-creation’, newness from within the old

- Individual change and commitment - repentance as lifestyle change - matters

- The image of God is in the ‘other’, so peacemaking with enemies is a priority

Party's website: www.greenparty.org.uk

For further reading read A Greener Faith: Christianity and the Green Party

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