Will the suspension of Alison Teal sink the Sheffield Greens?
She was a star candidate — now allegations of transphobia have created an extraordinary rift in a party that was on the up
Good afternoon members — and welcome to Thursday’s Tribune.
There is currently no more divisive issue in British politics than trans rights. It seems like most political parties in the UK are struggling with it in one way or another, and this week the Sheffield Green Party has found itself uncomfortably in the spotlight. On Tuesday, The Tribune broke the news that Alison Teal, hero of the Sheffield tree protests, had been suspended because of her views on the issue. Today, Harry Shukman and I look at what impact her suspension could have on the Greens, and whether there is any hope of a reconciliation.
Editor’s note: This edition is written for our members but non-members are also being sent the first section. The Tribune is entirely funded by our members and we still need many more subscriptions to become a news source that can serve Sheffield for years to come. Join us as a paid member today to get the full story below and all our members-only journalism.
🏫 A Sheffield school has been accused by parents of having prison camp-like discipline policy. Around a dozen parents from Astrea Academy, a high school in Burngreave, have said their children have become anxious and depressed as a result of the school’s strict rules. Pupils can be punished for offences as minor as turning round in class, talking in the corridor or asking to go to the toilet, and up to 200 students are kept behind for detention every day.
💷 Sheffield City Council’s investment policy has been called into question after it was revealed that they had put £7.5m in to the Qatar National Bank. The revelation came about as a result of a Freedom of Information request that was confirmed to Now Then by the council. Councillor Brian Lodge said that the investment, which took place between 2016 and 2017, did not “align with the values of our city”, and that it would not be repeated.
🌳 Sheffield is often said to be the greenest city in the UK, but when it comes to the city centre at least, that just isn't true. According to a study done by researchers from the University of Sheffield, the city has in fact got the fourth least green city centre in the UK, with only Liverpool, Leeds and Glasgow below it. The survey looked at 68 towns and cities with populations of at least 100,000, with the city of Exeter in Devon coming out on top.
Things to do
🎤 Coming to the University of Sheffield’s Octagon Centre on Friday, 25 November is comedian Sara Pascoe on her biggest tour to date. Pascoe wrote and starred in her recent BBC 2 sitcom Out Of Her Mind, and also hosts BBC Two’s The Great British Sewing Bee. She also created and performed in the BBC Radio 4 series Modern Monkey and has written two books: Animals and Sex Power Money. Tickets are £15-£24 and doors open at 7.30pm.
🎁 On Saturday, 26 November, Meersbrook Makers’ Market returns for a second year with some of the best talent in Sheffield. Meersbrook Makers’ Market first started as an online community during lockdown, to promote local businesses at a time when markets and shops were closed. They held their first physical market last year and are coming back in time for Christmas 2022. A plant swap also takes place at the Oak Street Scout Hut the next day.
🍿 And on Sunday, 27 November is a rare chance to see Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 masterpiece Alphaville on the big screen. Starring Eddie Constantine and Anna Karina, the film blends film noir and science fiction and is considered to be one of the best films in Godard's remarkable career. The screening is part of Sci-Fi Sundays, a new community cinema project screening the best of science fiction cinema at the Abbeydale Picture House.
The real ‘streets in the sky’
The cast of Standing at the Sky’s Edge visited Sheffield’s Park Hill flats yesterday in preparation for their performance of the musical at The Crucible this Christmas. The award-winning play, which tells the story of the building over six decades and features the music of Richard Hawley, opens on Saturday, 10 December.
By Harry Shukman and Dan Hayes
“Show me a hero,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “and I’ll write you a tragedy.” It may sound extreme to invoke the author of The Great Gatsby in the same sentence as — wait for it — the Green Party of Sheffield, but hear us out. There was a time when the Greens were the rising stars of this city. Within the space of a few years, the party had ascended from irrelevance (for most of the noughties, they were lucky to have a single councillor) to build a team of 14 councillors. This was an achievement which put them, through a coalition with Labour, in partial control of the town hall. Just 18 months ago, Green politicians were predicting a glorious future.
The party’s success was seen as a case study — or a harbinger, perhaps — of how the party could succeed nationally. “If you want to get yourselves ahead of the next big story in British politics, see this long read,” one polling expert tweeted at the time, sharing our article about the rise of the Sheffield Greens. “Sheffield is at the threshold of something new and fantastic,” said Paul Turpin, a Gleadless Valley councillor. “It is brimming with potential and many pieces seem to be falling together at the same time.”
How sad those words now sound, given the state in which the Greens find themselves. As we reported this week, Alison Teal, the candidate who party members chose to contest Sheffield Central in the next general election, has been suspended. Accused of posting transphobic tweets, Teal is unable to attend Green meetings until her complaint is heard by the party, although a date has not been set.
It is hard to fully encapsulate just how acrimonious the situation has become. We got a hint of it when we broke the news on Twitter about Teal’s suspension: it was like we had been briefly exposed to the compromised nuclear reactor at Chernobyl.