Population Matters statement about events following the Green Party Spring Conference 2020
On 21 March 2020, Population Matters took part in the Green Party’s Spring Conference, which was held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We were assigned a chatroom in which delegates were able to hold discussions with members of our team.
During the conference, an open letter was published by the Bright Green website, making a number of serious, false and defamatory allegations about Population Matters and those who work for the charity. A significant number of Green Party members, including party officials and those holding senior positions, chose to add their signatures to the letter. The open letter attracted a large number of reader comments. We were heartened that the overwhelming majority of these, including many from Green Party members, were supportive of PM – expressing dismay at the way in which Bright Green and the open letter mischaracterised us and misrepresented our actual positions and values.
Subsequently, we engaged with Bright Green and its editor. On providing him with detailed evidence of PM’s current stance and activities, he conceded that the central allegations made in the letter were indeed wholly untrue – and Bright Green apologised for them in a statement added to the article. Bright Green’s apology included a link to our detailed rebuttal of the false claims made in the open letter. In addition, Bright Green agreed to publish an article by our Campaigns Director setting the record straight on what PM actually does stand for.
PM also engaged with the Green Party’s Chief Executive and leadership team of Sian Berry, Jonathan Bartley and Amelia Womack. We were concerned that a comment posted by the leadership team beneath the Bright Green open letter could give the impression that the leaders agreed with the views it expressed, and effectively endorsed the allegations it contained. We were surprised by this, because PM’s participation at the conference had been approved following a thorough investigation by the Green Party Regional Committee (GPRC) which concluded that PM is “in alignment with the progressive values of the Green Party” – understandably, given our values and policy positions on population issues are consistent with those of the Green Party.
We provided the Green Party Executive Committee and leadership with the same evidence and rebuttal document, showing that the allegations made in the open letter published by Bright Green were and are wholly false.
In June, we had a virtual meeting with the Green Party leadership and Chief Executive. We were pleased to hear from them that:
- The Green Party leadership accepted the conclusion of the GPRC that Population Matters is “in alignment with the progressive values of the Green Party”, and confirmed that this finding stands.
- The comment posted by the leadership in response to the Bright Green letter was not intended to be read as an endorsement of the allegations it contained, or an assertion that they were true.
Following the meeting, the Green Party leadership published a clarification of their original comment, acknowledging Bright Green’s public apology for and retraction of its original allegations and confirming that they did not support the content of the open letter as published by Bright Green. We are grateful to the leadership and the Chief Executive for making their position clear. (The clarification is beneath their original comment on the Bright Green post.)
The leaders and Chief Executive also apologised for the offensive accusations made against us and our staff, in the virtual booth and elsewhere online. Whilst we have unresolved concerns about the conduct of some party members (to the best of our knowledge, no disciplinary or corrective action has been taken by the Party in this regard), we share the leadership’s wish, as expressed in our meeting with them in June, to develop a respectful and constructive relationship with the Green Party hereon. We also recognise and welcome the fact that a large number of Green Party members are also supporters of Population Matters – and that, as the responses to the Bright Green open letter showed, PM enjoys wide support within the Green Party and the wider green movement.