Lib Dems under fire as Greens gather for annual conference

By staff writers
September 10, 2010

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas is expected to attack the Liberal Democrats’ decision to form a coalition with the Conservatives when she speaks at her party’s annual conference this weekend.

She will accuse Nick Clegg's party of "draconian" spending cuts and say that the Greens are the only party of “genuine fairness”.

Members of the Green Party of England and Wales are arriving in Birmingham today (10 September) for the beginning of the conference, the first since the party gained an MP. Lucas was elected to represent Brighton Pavilion in this year’s general election.

The Greens’ progress continued in the early hours of this morning, when council by-elections resulted in a Green group of fourteen on Norwich City Council. This is the largest ever number of Green councillors on any local authority.

But there is likely to be disappointment that the Greens did not become the largest party in Norwich. They will continue as the main opposition to the minority Labour administration.

Tories and Liberal Democrats lost ground to both Labour and the Greens in the Norwich elections, which were called after a court overturned previous electoral arrangements earlier this year.

Speaking to the BBC ahead of the conference, Lucas said, "There is a voice that is needed in politics that is standing up for genuine fairness, for opposition to Trident and to nuclear power, to all of the things many Lib Dems thought they were getting when they voted for Nick Clegg but clearly aren't”.

The Green Party is hoping to attract former supporters of the Liberal Democrats who are dismayed by the coalition government’s major spending cuts.

Raising a new policy idea, Lucas suggested today that pairs of parliamentary candidates should be able to stand on a joint ticket and share the job if elected.

"If you have job-sharing MPs, what that would allow you to do is to keep MPs with a foot in their community, keep their caring responsibilities, do voluntary work, continue part-time in their profession,” she explained, "It would enable far more women to get into politics”.

There is likely to be a positive mood at the conference, given the new Green presence at Westminster. But there will also be controversy in some areas, with the conference set to debate and determine the party’s attitude towards the Alternative Vote (AV) system. There will be a referendum on the introduction of AV in May.

While the Greens support proportional representation (PR), many want to campaign for a 'yes' vote to AV as a step on the way. But others argue that the party should not actively campaign for AV, but focus its energy on a campaign for PR.

Lucas has already proposed an amendment to the bill on the referendum, which would put the option of PR on the ballot paper.

While Lucas is expected to be re-elected unopposed as party leader this weekend, there is a contest for the role of deputy-leader. The two candidates are Adrian Ramsey, who currently holds the position, and Derek Wall, who has support on the eco-socialist left of the party.


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