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Green Party appoints officer to check evidence base

The Green Party has appointed its first policy research officer to draw the latest academic evidence into policy.

“There’s a real gap in bringing the contemporary research in society into policy, so I wanted to build that bridge”, Monique Vanni, hired in August, told Research Fortnight Today.

The party says it already has a firm commitment to evidence, as stated in its core policy document: “We will base our policies—including economic measures, regulation and public education initiatives—on well-funded, evidence-based research.”

Vanni says she wants to be involved in building a database of policy ‘experts’, a process now underway as a result of a motion passed by members at the party conference, which ends on 10 September. The database will be populated by party members who state their own area of expertise.

Stuart Jeffrey, the party’s policy coordinator, confirmed that only members will be added to the database, most of whom will not be professional researchers. “That doesn’t worry me”, he said. “When we’ve been attacked on policies, we do tend to take note. We listen to what external people and critics are saying.”

The party has not ruled out a database of external advisers, although the motion passed at conference this weekend mandates a database only of party members.

Caroline Allen, a vet who sits on the policy committee, said that researchers could be brought in more formally than previously. “That hasn’t been a path we’ve trodden but we wouldn’t be against it,” she told Research Fortnight Today.

She added that people will be informally vetted before being added to the database. “We’re not just going to let people say ‘I’m an expert’,” she said, “because there are some people who like to say they’re an expert who aren’t.”

Vanni has also been tasked with summarising the party’s policies in briefing papers to be used by party spokespeople and members of the policy committee, and checking that the party communicates the research behind its policies.