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Greens will stick up for 'the little guy' says co-leader

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The Green Party will stick up for the "little guy" as they fight for a fairer economic system, co-leader Jonathan Bartley has told activists.He told its conference he wanted more public input into funding of services, locally controlled energy schemes and bank investment in "community bonds". While his party had "suffered" at the hands of the two-party system, he said Green ideas were now "common currency". It "will be the most influential" party in 21st Century politics, he added.In June's election, the Green Party of England and Wales saw their vote share fall as 82% of voters backed the Conservatives or Labour. It got 1.6% of the vote, down on 3.8% in 2015, as it failed to make hoped-for breakthroughs in target seats in Bristol, Norwich and Oxford.
Mixed feelings among Greens about election deals
Nevertheless, Mr Bartley said the Greens had succeeded in setting the political agenda by making the case for the introduction of the Living Wage and keeping climate change high up the agenda."At times, it might not feel like we are winning but where we lead, others follow. Our London Assembly members forced a Living Wage. Our MEPs stood up for refugees when others stood back. And in Parliament, we have consistently kept climate change on the agenda," he told the annual gathering. "And you know what. I believe we will be the most influential party in 21st Century politics."
'Honesty'
Outlining the Green vision for a new economy, he re-iterated his party's call for a guaranteed universal basic income, for Universal Credit to be scrapped and called for banks to invest in "the kinds of bonds and shares and trusts that hold communities together". His party, he argued, believed in everyone having an economic stake in society, through community-owned energy suppliers and "participatory budgeting" of local services."Other parties might flirt with changing the economy. Or the welfare system. But we are the only party that is honest about how much things need to change."He added: "The Green Party is the party of small business, of creators, givers, sharers and contributors. Of the little guy. The social entrepreneur. The activist. The creative coder and the brave builders. The party for anyone who has a dream. For everyone that wants an economy working for them, not against them."Also speaking at Harrogate, Ms Lucas said her party had helped "define the general election story" by being brave enough not to field candidates in seats where other "progressive" parties had a better chance of winning. The tactical alliances were criticised by some party members after Labour and the Lib Dems largely decided not to reciprocate.Ms Lucas said "progressive votes would continue to be wasted" until the UK adopted a proportional voting system but, defending her party's choices, she said it had "lived its values" by embracing "pluralistic co-operation" rather than tribalism.She told activists the Greens would always be "an insurgent force for good" that would "ask the big questions that other parties would not".On the third day of the party's conference, members backed an idea for a new bank holiday to celebrate the contribution of migrants to British society.
Jonathan Bartley
Green Party (England and Wales)
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