Thursday, 30 September 2010


Adam Bandt makes first speech to Australian Parliament

"Imagine if we reacted to the financial crisis in the same way as the climate crisis, with global meetings deferred for years at a time.

"Perhaps if the planet were a merchant bank, we might see the speedy, internationally coordinated and massive government activity we saw during the financial crisis. Keeping Australia out of recession and avoiding double digit unemployment is of course the right thing to do. I simply hope our institutions of government here and abroad will extend to the planet the same courtesy as they do to the finance sector."
*From Green Party member, Jim Jepps excellent Blog - The Daily (Maybe)

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


(Picture) Anti Incineration campaigners fighting against Incineration
at the CEMEX plant in Rugby

Due to pressure from Greens in Coventry and Warwickshire and the building of a broad based coalition of community groups in Coventry - the plans for a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) funded new Incinerator in Coventry has been scrapped.

PFI which puts the local tax payer in hock to private companies - with no get out clause for 25 years at a vastly inflated price is no way to build schools and hospitals let alone a potentially health damaging Incinerator.

Thanks to Keith Kondakor from Nuneaton Green Party for the news and his great deal of hard work over the issue - if the honours had any real bearing to reality - Keith should be getting an OBE for services for protecting our communities!

Coventry Council PR 5424 24/09/2010 [For Immediate Release]

Councillors set to axe waste to energy plant scheme

Coventry City councillors look set to pull the plug on a controversial scheme to build a new waste to energy plant in Coventry, following a report by engineering experts into the potential lifespan of the current plant at Whitley.

The engineering report was commissioned by the Council's Cabinet earlier this summer, following concerns about the cost of the scheme which would be financed through a Private Finance Initiative government scheme and delivered in partnership with Warwickshire and Solihull councils. The report confirms that the existing plant at Whitley can operate safely until 2040 - giving it another 30 years of life.

"It was important to review the scheme, because it was clear we needed to take a good look at the alternatives to replacing the plant with a new, larger, expensive PFI funded energy from waste plant," said Cllr Harvard.

"Now the engineers' report has confirmed that the existing plant is fit for purpose for the next 30 years, as long as we continue to maintain it properly. In these challenging economic times I'm pleased we are able to recommend pulling the plug on the project."

The move - if approved by councillors at Full Council on 19 October - will mean the Council will not have to spend an extra £4.5million a year from 2016, when the proposed new waste to energy plant would have been completed. The Council has so far spent £640,000 on the scheme.

"As a Council we're absolutely committed to finding the best ways of dealing with waste issues. We now have 20 years or more to see what systems develop," Cllr Harvard added.

"However finding long term and value for money solutions to the challenge of disposing of Coventry's waste is a key responsibility and one we take very seriously as a Council. It's always important to investigate different ways forward before making the right decision for residents, and council officers have been working hard on making sure we've got all the information we need to take this decision.

"We're still committed to explore how we can work with Warwickshire and Solihull Councils to manage our waste cheaply and effectively, and have learnt a lot about the key challenges we're facing as a result of the project."

Notes for editors

The government awarded the scheme £129m of PFI credits - the overall cost of rebuilding and running the new plant was estimated at around £1billion.

For Political Comment:

Cllr Lindsley Harvard, Cabinet Members for City Services, 024 7683 4961


Europe marches against the cuts and austerity

From Lisbon to Liverpool and Dublin to Dubrovnik, the trade unionists and workers of Europe marched in Brussels today against the cuts. With them were the National Pensioners Convention and the RMT, along with other UK trade unionists. This is the people of Europe saying NO to the bankers and peddlers of austerity.

They were joined by all of the Green MEPs and the Federtion of Young European Greens.

*Thanks for report from Joseph Healy - Member of Coalition Of Resistance (COR) national steering group and Green Party



*Coventry Socialist Party Councillor Dave Nellist and former MP explaining the cuts planned by Coventry City Council and how they should be resisted!
*Coventry Trades Union Council are taking the lead in
organising the movement in Coventry
*Coventry Youth Fight For Jobs stall last night.
Youth need to be at the forefront of the campaign.


Sunday, 26 September 2010


Already thousands of individuals, trade unions, community groups and well known personalties - including Caroline Lucas and Tony Benn have signed up to the statement. Sign today and say no to CON DEM cuts!



  1. is a broad united national campaign against cuts and privatisation in our workplaces, community and welfare services, based on general agreement with the Founding Statement issued by Tony Benn in August 2010.
  2. is linked to no particular political party, but committed to open working in a non-sectarian way with all organisations seeking to co-ordinate resistance; and is dedicated to supplementing, rather than supplanting, trade union, student, pensioner and community opposition to austerity measures.
  3. is based on thousands of individual supporters, together with national unions, union branches, anti-cuts campaigns, student, pensioner, unemployed, youth and other organisations which affiliate.
  4. seeks to provide a national umbrella for a network of local and sectoral campaigns; and aspires to support, encourage, coordinate, and facilitate a transfer of experience rather than to command.
  5. invites affiliation from functioning local campaigns championing public services or fighting the cuts; encourages the establishment of new local campaigns where there are none; and offers local campaigns the opportunity to call themselves local Coalitions of Resistance if they wish.
  6. organises newsletters, a website , meetings, conferences, lobbies, rallies, marches, demonstrations and other events.
  7. vehemently opposes all proposals to “solve” the crisis by discrimination or scapegoating on the grounds of disability, race, religion, ethnic origin, gender, age, sexual orientation or identity.
  8. liaises closely with similar opposition movements in other countries and has issued a call for international resistance to austerity measures.
  9. encourages a wide debate on how to protect the welfare state and develop an alternative programme for economic and social recovery in line with its founding statement.
  10. is run by a steering committee meeting on a weekly basis and advised by periodic meetings of activist supporters of the founding statement until theFounding National Conference on 27th November 2010.

Thursday, 23 September 2010


Roy Sandison from Rugby Green Party reports on the meeting;

An excellent and successful meeting took place on Wednesday 22nd Sept, at the Three Horse Shoes Hotel which agreed to set up ‘RUGBY AGAINST THE CUTS.’

The meeting attended by local trade union leaders, community activists and also local representatives from Rugby Green Party and Rugby Red Green Alliance resolved to build a community and workers campaign in Rugby against the planned savage cuts of the CON DEM Government.

RUGBY AGAINST THE CUTS agreed to support the protest meeting (below) organised by Coventry Against The Cuts on the 28th September and also agreed to affiliate to the national Coalition of Resistance originally promoted by Tony Benn, Caroline Lucas and many other well known people – which is committed to supporting local people in building community anti cuts campaigns in every part of the UK.

RUGBY AGAINST THE CUTS welcomes all local people to become involved in the campaign - either through their trade unions, community groups or as individuals - everyone has something to offer the campaign and all ideas are welcome!

A website is currently being set up and contacts for the campaign will be available on the site.

The next meeting of RUGBY AGAINST THE CUTS is Thursday 7th October, Three Horse Shoes Hotel, Sheep Street, Rugby at 7.30pm. All are welcome!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Caroline Lucas on why the Lib Dems have sold out

Caroline Lucas argues cogently and passionately that the Lib Dems have sold out on their core principles. Nick Clegg's announcement in the Independent at the weekend that they were not a party of the Left and that those who supported the party following the Iraq war and Charles Kenneddy's more progressive leadership can now find a home elsewhere in the final nail in the coffin for any viewpoint that they are out to change British society in a significant way. Rather it is the final proof that they have indeed become the Yellow Tories which many have long accused them of being.!


"The council leader can no more be a chief executive than a chief executive can be leader". It added that the relationship between officers and elected members was the 'modus operandi of a local authority' and the 'cornerstone or the British system of democracy'."

The coronation of Tory leader Craig Humphrey Chief Executive of Rugby Borough Council has hit the buffers this week as an independent organisation made up of senior Government civil servants responsible for over seeing local government have poured scorn on this undemocratic move.

Rugby Green Party along with other, wrote expressing our concerns - only for this to fall on deaf ears within the Rugby Council but as forecast by us the move proved unpalatable for organisations responsible for local government proper practice.

We believe Councillor Craig Humphey should immediately stand down not just as Chief Executive but should also resign as a Councillor for his clear breach of local government rules.

Panel blasts leadership role

CONTROVERSIAL management arrangements at Rugby Borough Council (RBC) have been blasted by an independent report.

RBC is the first authority in the UK to combine the elected role of council leader with the sixfigure-salary role of chief executive – the post currently filled by council leader Craig Humphrey.

However, an Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) has refused to recommend a 'premium rate' Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA) for Cllr Humphrey on the grounds it rejected the combined leader/chief executive model. The IRP, which is made up of senior public servants, was asked to consider RBC's new management arrangements, as well as reviewing councillors' allowances.

The panel said there had been 'little thought or reflection' on 'accountability, transparency and openness' in changes at the council. However, in recognition of the extra work undertaken by Cllr

Humphrey the panel did recommend an increase in the council leader's SRA from £10,378 to £16,983.

Their report said it was concerned by the widespread representation, throughout the authority and in the media, of the combined leader/chief executive role, and the linked expectation that Cllr Humphrey should receive a significantly higher allowance.

It added: "The council leader can no more be a chief executive than a chief executive can be leader". It added that the relationship between officers and elected members was the 'modus operandi of a local authority' and the 'cornerstone or the British system of democracy'.

It continued: "Whilst a case can be made for a new style of political leadership, such a case has not been constructed and presented.

"It is also unfortunate that the proposal was submitted and recommended only by the individuals most affected. They place themselves at risk of criticism of self interest, whether warranted or not."

The proposal document was submitted by Cllr Humphrey and the council's two executive officers Ian Davis and Andrew Gabbitas in July which was also made public this week. At the time, the report was taken out of the public domain in a move fiercely criticised by opposition political groups.

The document reveals that by not replacing the former chief executive Simon Warren, the authority is in line to save £104,000 a year due to the new leader set up.

Cllr Humphrey, said: "The panel has put together a lengthy and comprehensive report that will take some time to analyse and digest. It will be discussed at a meeting of the full council on October 19, when we will have an opportunity to clarify its contents and ask questions of the panel."

Sunday, 19 September 2010


ORGANISING MEETING for trade unionists, community/political groups and concerned individuals to set up



The Three Horse Shoes, Sheep St, Rugby

Wednesday, 15 September 2010



Over 100 local people from Rugby demanded answers from NHS bosses over the threaten closure of the Accident & Emergency Department at Rugby St Cross Hospital at a public meeting on Thursday 9th Sept at the Benn Hall.

This crucial service is currently run as a doctor led service with assessment taking place in Rugby with patients transferred to Coventry University Hospital if needing greater levels of medical care - Immediate life threatening cases and those involving children are already taken to Coventry.


NHS bosses were at great pains to say this was not financially led, but had to admit the cost savings by not providing a doctor in Rugby was a factor.


Local residents asked why in the consultation, that none of the two options on offer included the current arrangement of being a doctor led service - in a fairly confusing and at time contradictory response it was admitted that this was the case - but that people could ask for this anyway?


One of the options that seem to be preferred by NHS bosses is a nurse led service – concern was expressed by the limits of expertise on offer from a nurse and the ability of the nurse to use only limited pain killers (not morphine) and limited other medication.


NHS bosses to a question from a Rugby Green Party member about the similarities between Stafford hospital and Coventry hospital denied any similarities despite its PFI status, sucking in local hospitals and its emphasis on meeting targets.



The Rugby Green Party member also asked about the statement last month by the Tories that they were going to close the telephone service, NHS DIRECT, but this question was not answered by any of the NHS bosses or our Tory MP, Mark Pawsey who chaired the meeting.



One alarming point at the end was the statement by Bryan Stoten Chair of NHS Warwickshire who said that in fact the service provided in Rugby was 'unsafe' asked why then it was not stopped immediately he said legally they could not do this until October – something that raises serious questions.

The ‘Consultation’ can be found at closes on the 18th October 2010.

Please ensure our MP knows your feelings over the issue by sending him a copy of your response:

Monday, 13 September 2010

WinkBall's "citizen reporters" in and around the Green Party conference put 633 minute-messages online

*Rugby Green Party delegates also give their views

"What three key issues do you think the government should be focusing on?"

The video messaging website WinkBall visited the Green Party conference this weekend, interviewing over 600 party members and members of the public (1).

The Winkball site aims to enable easy communication through online video. It has been used for purposes as varied as one-minute video election messages from politicians to sending goodwill messages to service personnel serving abroad.

At the conference, Winkball reporters asked leading Green politicians, delegates and members of the public: "What three key issues do you think the government should be focusing on?" and asked Greens how their party would address them.

Party leader Caroline Lucas MP outlined the Greens' objection to the government's "draconian cuts program", labelling them "not only socially devastating but also economically illiterate".

Caroline called for investment in green jobs, for example those surrounding renewable energies and energy efficiency, in order to combat the deficit. She described this as "one of the fastest job-creating schemes you can imagine".

Caroline also underlined the need for serious action on climate change, emphasising that the economic and ecological crises could be confronted together through a big government investment programme creating many hundreds of thousands of jobs.



1. WinkBall's Green Party wall can be viewed at Note that a large proportion of the 633 people interviewed are members of the public and not Green Party delegates, and the views they express may not reflect Green Party policy.



Green Party joins with trade unions to fight public service cuts


Speaking at the Green Party's autumn conference this weekend, Billy Hayes, General Secretary of the Communication Workers' Union (CWU), emphasised the Green Party's key role in the growing campaign against the government's planned public service cuts.

In the week of the TUC Congress, which continues today, Hayes also set out his union's opposition to the imminent spending cuts:

"The CWU rejects this manufactured consensus that public service cuts are necessary. The private sector caused this recession and now the government has unfairly chosen to attack the public sector. Our priority is to expand the economy out of recession and this week at the TUC congress our union will be seconding a motion to support the creation of a million new green jobs."

Speaking alongside Billy Hayes, Green Party deputy leader Adrian Ramsay voiced the party's anger at the coalition's plans:

"The government is using the recession as an excuse for its cuts and privatisation plans. Unemployment, rather than the deficit, is now the biggest economic problem that we face. Green Party councillors and activists up and down the country are campaigning against cuts in public services that threaten their communities. I'm delighted to be working with Billy and his union to protect public services from cuts and privatisation and to show that a different economy, driven by Green party values, is possible."

Adrian Ramsay went on to call for investment in green jobs: "Dismantling our public services is no way to build a fair society and it's no way to build a strong economy. We need more green jobs to increase employment, aid economic recovery and build a sustainable economy for the future."

panel on public services at autumn conference


- Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP and other Greens have recently signed up to Tony Benn's coalition of resistance to the government's planned budget

Green Party conference strongly criticises NHS privatisation

Green Party conference strongly criticises NHS privatisation

An emergency motion, passed unanimously at Green Party autumn conference, has strongly criticised the privatisation of the NHS.

The motion called for a campaign to have those health providers which have already been privatised brought back into the NHS, and for the NHS to be promoted as a public service free of commercial interests.

Caroline Lucas, Green Party leader said: "The White Paper spells out just how far the Tories and Liberals will go with their destruction of our essential services. They are planning on full privatisation of NHS service across England, a move utterly opposed by us. They have hidden their idea as Foundation Trusts and Social Enterprise, but as residents in Huntingdon have found with their local hospital this is just a short step from takeover by corporate giants."

"Health care is not a market and shouldn't be run as one. Buying and selling packets of treatment like widgets in a factory is the wrong way to provide health care. It is expensive, fragmented and destroys quality. Health care is a service, an essential one, and should be run as such. Health care does not lend itself to the business models of Tesco or Asda."

"The new government's ideas are a death knell for the NHS and we will fight these changes. The NHS is a public service and should be publicly owned and run as such. "

Friday, 10 September 2010

Caroline Lucas speech to Birmingham autumn conference

Caroline Lucas speech to Birmingham autumn conference



Thank you and welcome to Birmingham.

And I want to start by thanking the organisers and Birmingham Green Party, and indeed all those in the West Midlands, who have helped to make us so welcome.

Our membership has grown significantly over the last year, up by nearly a third.

It's such a pleasure to see so many people I don't recognise!

And so I welcome all new members.

New members who share our values and ambitions.

Who will build on what we have achieved already as a party

And who are ready to help to create a society genuinely based on fairness, justice, and sustainability - values that the Green Party is committed to putting at the heart of the political process.


And perhaps we can be forgiven for beginning our Conference in reflecting on our achievements.

For we have an autumn Conference where we can celebrate success.

First, hot off the press, the by elections for Norwich city council yesterday, where the Norwich Greens continued their unstoppable momentum, holding all their seats, winning another and now, with 14 seats, the largest Green council group in the country - ever.

In the local elections in May, we won our second city council seat in Cambridge and made our first breakthroughs on Reading, Reigate and Rochford councils.

Places that now have Green representation for the first time.

So I'm delighted to congratulate our newly elected councillors Adam Pognowski, Rob White, Jonathan Essex and Michael Hoy.

Their success is another sign of our growing challenge to the three main parties.

But it also means more communities that now have the kind of principled and committed representation that the public want and deserve.

And while the London results didn't reflect the enormous efforts of London parties like Hackney, Camden and Lewisham, knowing many of those activists as I do, I share their optimism for building the vote towards the London Assembly elections in 2012.

So, successes in local elections.

And great work being done by Green representatives in dozens of local authorities, in the London Assembly, and in the European Parliament.

Was there something else?


It was one amazing night for us all.

I cannot tell you what a privilege it was to stand on that stage, and represent this wonderful movement of ours, and so, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much to everyone who made it possible.

So many thoughts crowding in - and fortunately crowding out the fact that none of us had slept for 24 hours!

How it started here in Britain, over 30 years ago.

People, and then the Ecology Party, as the first political movement based on ecological principles. On what we have come to call Green principles.

And the years, the decades, of tireless work by so many thousands of people, over so many years, believing against all the odds, ignored or even at times ridiculed, by the mainstream, yet never losing faith.

A long journey, a difficult journey - where the odds have been stacked against us all the way.

But the results showed us, and the wider world, that the big guns don't always win in politics.

That's a wonderful message to put out to the country.

But that is what we've done, and will continue to do.

To give hope for a better way, a better world.

The idea that politics can be different.

It's as simple, as powerful, as that.

The time when a political party takes, for the first time, its rightful place in our parliament.

Shared Achievement

It puts me in mind of the Critical Mass cycle rides.

You might remember when the police were trying to stop the London rides, using one of the many hundreds of pieces of anti-protest legislation brought in by Labour, that they tried to find out who were the leaders of Critical Mass, so they could serve an injunction on them

And of course, it doesn't have any leaders. It's spontaneous.

People gather, and when the time is right, when everyone is ready, someone chooses to pedal off.

And with Critical Mass, as with our own party, it's not the one at the front who matters. It's everyone who is there.

Of course, when we set off, it was not spontaneous - far from it.

The campaign we ran in Brighton, from day one, was carefully and creatively planned. I was privileged to have the best campaign team in the country!

And that amazing team pulled together to take on the bigger parties, against the odds, and they inspired huge numbers of members and non-members to get involved, staying focused and spirited until the very last vote was counted.

But what we have achieved, we have done together.

All of us here today, and all our members and supporters, past and present.

And the thousands, the hundreds of thousands of people in the country, who vote for our candidates.

They are what made it happen in Brighton.

It's been a long journey.

But also the beginning of a new one, as a political party represented at Westminster at last.

Now is a moment to pause, and reflect. And it's right to remember those who are not with us now. Those who worked for this moment, who helped make it happen, but didn't live to see it.

We can all call people to mind. For me, it's Mike Woodin, a much valued and much missed colleague from Oxford days, whose ideas and principled actions have played such an important role in shaping this party.

I wish he were here now. I wish they all were. And we must keep them in our minds as we face the next stage on this journey. Shared Responsibility

Conference, we have been given the chance to be that new voice in politics. That is a great responsibility.

And like the achievement of this historic victory, the responsibilities that come with it are also shared.

There are tasks we now face together, as a party.

Our Policies

First, what we want to achieve, and how we articulate this for the many people who, for the first time, are looking to the Green Party with interest.

We have always been a party that combined aspiration and pragmatism.

We dare to think big, to dare to imagine the world that we want, not the world we are told we have to put up with.

Some of our ideas have become mainstream.

Lowering the voting age to 16, for example, was seen as a bit of a joke when we first put it forward. Now, it feels like an idea whose time is coming.

Or the living wage, the supposedly radical idea of paying people enough to live on - an idea which Jenny and Darren fought for and won on the London Assembly, and which is now being picked up across the country.

But we are also pragmatists. Our experience as elected representatives has taught us that sometimes the best can be the enemy of the good, and that it's right to concentrate on the areas where we can make real improvements to people's lives now.

Idealism and pragmatism - I believe that our party needs both.

More than that, I believe each one of us needs both.

We shouldn't see ourselves as one or the other - idealist or pragmatist.

We all need to keep an eyes on our ideals. To influence the debate. To shape the future.

And we all need the satisfaction that comes from making a difference here and now.

It needs discipline to get the balance right.

But we can be daring and imaginative, and also practical.

For example, I'd like to see the law changed to allow candidates for Parliament tostand as job shares. Nothing would do more to open up politics to women.

Now I know theEstablishment will pour scorn on the idea and say its ideas like that which make us unelectable.

Fine. Let them.

But I also know that this too is an idea whose time will come.

We've been told that job-shares are no good for all sorts of professions, from doctors to lawyers, and in every case the men and women in those job shares have proved the doubters wrong.

It's little different from the time when we were told that women didn't have what it took to be pilots, or a blind person couldn't serve as a magistrate.

These battles must be fought, and whatever the criticism, I will fight them and I know you will too.

And of course, we will also continue to repeat the apparently heretical notion that a world of finite resources cannot sustain a system of infinite production and consumption, however much politicians of the other parties act as if the contrary were true.

So we must never lose that radical perspective.

And there are other challenges.

Every week in Parliament, there are dozens of votes. In each one, I will have to vote for or against.

Green Councillors up and down the land have all had the "between a rock and a hard place" experience.

And it's the same in the House of Commons.

Not least because at Westminster, at the mother of parliaments, I discover, there are no mechanisms to abstain.

So each vote forces us to take a position, and if we are honest, some of these are areas where Conference may not have a fully developed position.

So for all of us, it means redoubling our efforts to bring our policy-making process up to date.

Reaching out to the wealth of organizations at all levels who share our values, and want to work with us.

Together turning our vision of a greener, fairer, more peaceful world into a tangible and compelling reality.

New Members

We are helped enormously in that challenge by the news that, since Spring Conference, thousands of people have joined the party. Some have come from other parties.


Labour members, who have finally realized that even with the passing of Blair and Brown, they are still stuck in the New Labour nightmare.

Labour's leadership campaign has been a demonstration of political amnesia on a positively heroic scale.

The gang of four men - the "geeks in suits" in Dianne Abbott's words - are collectively choosing to forget as much of Labour's record as they possibly can. Iraq? PFI? The BAE bribery scandal? Growing inequality? Rising carbon emissions?

They act as if they were all out to lunch while ithappened!

And so whether the new leader is Burnham or Balls, or someone from the firm of management consultants Miliband and Miliband, many Labour supporters know that the party will never again truly represent them.

They've had enough of Labour. Some have had enough of politics full stop.

But others still believe that it is important to be involved, and still want to work to defend the vulnerable, stand up to big business and vested interests, and take care of our natural environment.

To those people, I say the Green Party is your natural home.

Liberal Democrats

We are gaining members from the Liberal Democrats too. Perhaps their anguish and sense of betrayal is all the more sharp, for being so unexpected.

Could they really have imagined during the election campaign, when Nick Clegg could hardly open his mouth without saying the word "fairness", that they would be voting for a party that would become an apologist for the most brutal, savage cuts in a generation?

Cuts that are knowingly aimed at the most vulnerable Cuts that, as even the Institute for Fiscal Studies recently confirmed, clearly hit the poorest hardest, and women most of all?

Cuts which are as economically illiterate as they are socially devastating, because it is at a time of recession that we need government investment in jobs all the more.

Cuts which are decimating communities up and down the country.

People like the woman who came to my surgery a few weeks ago, desperate to be re-housed because she, her partner and child were all living in a single room in Brighton, and she was expecting another child very soon.

That's why the Green Party is committed to fighting these cuts every step of the way.

Now let me make clear, the Green Party is not against political parties working together.

We've co-operated with other parties on local councils and in the European Parliament.

Other Green parties in Europe have entered coalitions. And at Westminster, I have voted alongside members from all the other parties when this was the way to represent our policies and our values.

I know, too, that this sometimes means difficult decisions and compromises.

I don't criticise Nick Clegg and those around him for agreeing to work with the Conservatives.

But I do criticise him for the terms of that deal.

Amongst Liberal Democrats, the rebellion against this coalition is growing.

But what an irony it would be if Liberal Democrat members, appalled by their alliance with the Tories, should switch their support to the Labour Party.

A Labour Party which, with its obsession with privatization and PFI, has spent the last 13 years paving the way for the coalition's assault on public services.

Which has presided over 13 years of increasing inequality, undermining our civil liberties and plunging us into an illegal and ruinous war in Iraq.

With our principles and our courage to be honest with the public about the greatest issues of our time, such as climate change, we are the natural home for Liberal Democrats who feel betrayed by their leaders.

And so to those Liberal Democrats, I say, join us. Many of your former colleagues are already here.

Don't give up on politics. There IS a party out there of principle and integrity - and it's the Green Party.


And there are Conservatives too who see that the kind of government Cameron offers - vacuous on the outside, and shamelessly favouring the rich and powerful underneath - is not for them.

Many people were taken in by Cameron's silky words on the environment. Vote Blue, get Green.

No wonder he was paid so much when he worked in Public Relations.

It sounds so much better, doesn't it, than Vote Blue, Screw You?

Now we see the reality.

The Sustainable Development Commission, there to tell government uncomfortable truths: axed.

The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, which has advised on new environmental standards since the 1970s: axed.

Funding for environmental protection: cut.

Green energy targets, weakened.

And nothing, not one single thing, in the Queen's Speech to protect our natural world or deal with climate change.

Within the Conservative Party, there are people who are guided by respect for what's good in the traditions of the past; who believe in conserving our natural environment. Who value civil liberties and fear an all-powerful state;

Who want to see One Nation, and an end to the grotesque inequality that blights our country;

And perhaps most of all, who have been horrified by how New Labour behaved in government and turned to the Tory opposition - perhaps not realising they would provide more of the same.

They too will be welcome.


And most import of all, we should be there to welcome those who have given up on politics altogether. We must offer them hope, and live up to our values.

Young people, who give up on politics before they have even begun, because they listen to the messages coming from the big 3 parties, and hear nothing at all that speaks to them about the things they are concerned with - climate change, global poverty, the state of the world that they will soon inherit.

We must make sure we reach them, too.

That's why the wonderful work of the Young Greens is so important, reaching out to new people and giving them a voice - they have done a brilliant job, and they need to be supported further.

The Need for a Real Opposition

I spoke earlier about responsibilities.

One that I feel particularly heavily is our role as an opposition party within Parliament.

I doubt that any of us expected the realignment of British politics that has come in the aftermath of May's election.

But its implications are becoming ever more clear.

And one of these is that, on a whole range of issues, there is no effective opposition to the coalition and its plans.

And that makes the role of the Green Party more important than ever.


Take nuclear power. The Conservatives are in favour. So are Labour. And now that the Liberal Democrats have joined forces with the Tories, their ability to put the other case is fatally compromised.

And so we have the prospect of a resurgence of a dirty, dangerous and discredited form of power just at the moment when we should, as a nation, be investing in the energy sources of the future. And that's why we need the Green Party.


It's the same with education. Labour championed the Academies programme, despite all our warnings about the risk of creating a two-tier education system.

Now - surprise, surprise - the Coalition has dropped any requirement that Academies should gain from outside sponsorship, or should help those communities most in need.

Any pretence of a higher social purpose is out.

Michael Gove's plans are simply about an ideological opposition to state education and a chance to allow private companies to make a profit from our schools.

And Labour, having opened the door to this in the first place, cannot mount an effective, principled opposition, despite their heroic efforts to try to rewrite history.

And that's why we need the Green Party.


Take Trident. The public are hardly clamouring to replace it.

Particularly at a cost of perhaps £100 billion.

And like many senior military figures, they don't see how it will make this country any safer.

But again, the Tories are for it. Labour are for it.

And the poor Lib Dems are to be let of the leash for the night to vote against, safe in the knowledge that it will go through anyway.

And remember, this isn't a minor disagreement about the detail of legislation.

This isn't Clause 96 of the Local Government Finance Bill.

This is a question of whether Britain will spend £100 billion expanding its nuclear arsenal. Yet there is no serious debate.

This isn't democracy. It's a conspiracy of self interest.

We saw this in July, when the Liberal Democrats supported the Conservatives to ensure that Trident wasn't covered by the planned Defence Review.

Yes, that's right - a strategic defence review that will not take into account Britain's strategic deterrence. That's the Lib Dem position, because that's what the Tories want, and they are not prepared to put what they have at risk to fight for their principles.

And that's why we need the Green Party.

And so this responsibility falls to us


Friends, it is a great pleasure to return to Conference and reconnect with the lifeblood of the Party.

There is so much to do at parliament - questions to table, answers to chase, amendments to table, votes to make, and all the rest of the behind the scenes activity.

But I remain conscious of how strange, even alien, Parliament is.

It isn't just the odd language, the arcane procedures and strange costumes.

It's an institution designed for, and run by, an elite, who simply don't want to let the people have a real say in decisions.

I want it to change.

But the question is, can parliament reform itself?

I think that the proposed referendum on electoral reform will be the test.

Obviously, each different voting system benefits different parties in different ways.

The Tories gain from First Past The Post, so they back that.

The Liberal Democrats gain from any change, and will take the Alternative Vote if that's the only crumbs that the Tories will let them have. And Labour, hopelessly divided on this, will try to look like they want change, while hoping to stick with the current system.

They simply cannot put aside political self-interest.

But Greens believe the people should choose, not the politicians.

Of course, at the moment the public won't be given the choice.

The referendum question only has two options: stick with the current system; or go for AV, two flavours of vanilla. Genuine reform is not on the menu.

That's why I've tabled an amendment that would give the public a real choice.

A choice between all the voting system now being used for elections in the UK. If the other parties decide to oppose it, and deny the people their right to choose, then they will have failed that test.

It is a particular test for those who claim the title progressive, whether it is the Liberal Democrats around Nick Clegg or the Milibands. This is the time for them to put aside party interest and live up to their rhetoric about trusting the people of this country.

But for us, this might never have happened.

It is just one example of why we the Green Party need to be represented in Parliament.

Why for all those years, so many worked so hard towards this moment, when we would take our place at the heart of British politics.

The long journey has been worth it.

We are finally there.

Now our work can begin.