Anthony Slaughter – Green Party For Wales Interview

Anthony Slaughter speaks to us as we (hopefully) begin to see the end of a winter where many of us have stressed about heating our homes. I thought that it would be good to hear from the leader of the Welsh Green Party. The party have had moderate success locally and across all of Wales in recent elections but has this winter and our reliance on imported energy proven them right all these years? Are our attitudes changing and could we start seeing more and more green voices in Welsh politics?

I ask Anthony Slaughter these questions and about the (surprisingly) controversial 15 minute cities.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m Anthony Slaughter, the leader of the Welsh Green Party. I have been living just outside Cardiff for the last 18 years and so I am adopted Welsh. I have been an active party member (of the party) for the past decade and have stood in various elections, at council level, European and the Senedd.

My trade is a garden designer/gardener. For some time, I have been heavily involved as a community activist, Political campaigning about air pollution, road traffic accidents etc.. which led to an understanding on where my strengths lay but also that a level of activism is great but so often the framework is restricted and we need systematic change, which led me more into politics. 

Green Party Wales

What are the plans for the Green Party in Wales?

We are at an exciting time in politics, it is a precarious time also but exciting within the Green party. As you may know, we made some big breakthroughs at the last council elections. We broke though on 8 councils across Wales, including Chris Evans in Swansea and Nathan Goldup-John in Neath Port Talbot, both are doing a great job. We also got two councillors elected in Cardiff on the joint Common Ground ticket with Plaid Cymru.

The Senedd is our ambition. Under the new rules, if they get signed off, which I expect they will then winning a seat in Cardiff is well within touching distance. That’s based on our previous performances. We want to get that Senedd member and aim to have a green party member on every council in Wales.

I know that Nathan Goldup-John was instrumental in Neath Port Talbot declaring their own climate emergency, so it is important having that voice isn’t it?

Yes. That was Nathans motion, showing the difference that just one Green voice can make. What we are seeing is that when people get one Green council member, then they like what they see. That is why I am confident that we can build on that. 

Swansea – Cardiff

How does the party see Wales, the differences within it, what role does Swansea have in comparison with Cardiff?

That’s one of the things that I was really pleased with (in the council election vote) – the geographical spread, it wasn’t just Swansea or Cardiff but in the north, the west, we are for all part of Wales. We are a pro-independence party because we believe in power and decisions being made as close to home as possible. We aren’t just talking about shifting power from Westminster to Cardiff Bay, because that can feel every bit as remote to some people. The Green Party want local issues dealt with by local people. Locally focused. Its coming together to be as de-centralised as possible.

15 Minute Cities

What are your thoughts on 15 minutes towns and cities. It seems that certain members of the public have miss-understood them.

That’s been a strange one to watch unfold. We have long been an advocate for it, it means that you should have things that you need within walking or cycling distance. It doesn’t mean that you cannot have a car or ever leave your community. It isn’t to limit things.

The response has been very bizarre. There is always stuff bubbling in the backgrounds, conspiracy theories etc.. and I think that Covid heightened that. People were scared, but we all spent a lot of time at home, on social media and that has changed certain culture. The ‘war on woke’, certain politicians are winding people up and then let them go. With the 15 min cities, people were turning up to protest against things that are not based on reality. I saw on Twitter, someone who went there, and it was a hard read, they went from anti-15 min cities to anti-vaccine, to that ‘man didn’t walk on the moon’.

The modern world can be scary and people like a simple narrative. The conspiracy theories that people have are usually based around people feeling that they have stuff done to them. Whether Westminster or Cardiff but it’s never the communities that have any input and it stokes division.


You speak about council elections and maybe a Senedd seat but with Starmer bringing the Labour party more central, is there a gap for the Green party to do more?

Absolutely and we see that in Scotland and the success there. It’s about media coverage, some people perceive us as a single issue party which we aren’t and we never have been. If you look at our policies and Jeremy Corbyn, they are very much of that vein. I am a socialist, that’s the redistribution of resources.

Interestingly, we did see young members going to Labour when Corbyn was there, but they are all coming back. Starmer is the greatest recruiting agent that we have, every time he talks with tory-light views, we see our membership increase. It will be a very interesting place after the next general election. I think that there will be disappointment, there will be relief that the Tory party will be gone, but the issues that we care about will still be there.

What’s been interesting about the strikes is seeing both the UK government and Labour in Wales hoping that the public will turn, but what they don’t realise is that the unions are the public. The train drivers, the nurses etc. On the picket lines, the sense of solidarity, the sense of class awareness. That does highlight peoples growing interest, how unfair things are and that will be a benefit for the Green Party.

Tree Hugging Hippies?

Does the party have an image problem? Do many in the public still see tree hugging hippies?

I think we are making good progress. The breakthrough in England came in Solihull which is a real working-class area. Still, the number of times I’m told ’you are all the same’ when it comes to being a politician. However, on the picket line, talking to people for a while and then they ask, ‘where do you work?’. When I say I’m from the Green Party, they say ‘I didn’t realise you were a politician’.

Most people go into politics to make a change, we may disagree in the approach, but most people at least think that they are doing the right thing. Yet it is very much a case of ‘we know what is good for you’.  Politics is very much a middle- or upper-class thing, partly because its expensive. The time you need to give up.

With the best will in the world, if you have never gone down to your last £5, with three days before your next payment, then you will never know what it’s like or if you have never been unemployed. Its that disconnect, the political class are a class into themselves. We need to appeal to all communities.

Working Classes

How does the Green party appeal to more working-class people?

I think that’s an issue for politics in the whole. There is a perception and, in the past, based on some facts [that the Green party have been a party of the middle classes]. I lived in hackney, in London and I do find it slightly different here in Wales. A large number of our councillors are working class but it’s getting that message across. It goes back to communities that have been abandoned. I’ve been knocking doors, just outside of Neath, talking about green jobs for the future and people rightly ask, ‘what are these jobs?’ when we talk about the Green deal, people ask ‘what does it mean?’.

I’m keen to do more with these communities. They are the people that will get the brunt of the climate emergency. Interestingly one new member said ‘I’m in the Rhonda, I’m not going knock doors and talk about climate change’ and I said, talk about cheap public transport, energy, etc.. we need to engage with all demographics. 


There are still climate deniers. Is there just a lack of trust in society?

I think that goes back to the conspiracy theories. Its scary. The climate emergency is scary. Its easier to see that it doesn’t exist. I come across it less and less. People argue with the details. People will say that it is real but that the timing is out or something. There are powerful media sources out there denying it because it sells books.

We are facing record gas and electric bills. What does that feel like for a party that have been continually campaigning for another way to source energy?

Nobody likes people saying ‘we told you so’ but the crisis that we are in now, if we started the programme of insulation ten years ago then we wouldn’t in in this mess. If we had a tidal lagoon in Swansea, the green energy investment that we have been calling for then we wouldn’t be here.

Wrong Approach?

Have the Green Party been wrong in their approach? Shouldn’t the message have been ‘invest in renewables because its cheaper as against its good for the environment’?

Yeah, I think that point has to be made. Doing the right thing, doing the green thing is seen as the expensive option but its not. It is a challenge to get people to care about the planet when they can’t pay for food. We need to get the message across that it is also the better option for everyone financially as well as good for the planet.

Welsh Independence

In Scotland, the Green Party are in favour of independence. There are growing calls for Welsh independence, where does the Green party stand on this?

The policy in the green party is made by the members. For a while our policy was that we would support independence if voted for by the people of Wales in a referendum, this was changed several years ago to a policy of actively campaigning for Welsh independence.

What surprised me, with Brexit and the power grab from Westminster, is that it increased people’s awareness of how Westminster isn’t working for Wales and wont, no matter who is in charge. It’s been interesting, as we have engaged more, it has shaped our policies. One thing that led us down this road, is that when we are writing a manifesto for the Senedd for example, do you write within the powers of the Senedd? Time and time again, it came up that ‘we can’t do that because we don’t have the powers’.

We recently took part in the Melin Drafod Welsh Independence Summit alongside Plaid Cymru, Labour for Indy Wales, Yes Cymru and other progressive organisations. Wales are good in ambition but poor implementation, Wales should be proud of future generations act for example. An independent Wales would resolve some of its issues, especially with a Green voice. Speaking with other Green party members in England, we also want to see powers devolved to cities like Manchester, the English regions and all parts of the UK. We don’t want to build walls, but to offer local solutions for local communities, working together with other progressive parties and organisations.