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The Greens and the London Elections

In the Greater London Assembly elections Ken Livingstone has called for a vote for the Green Party in the party list section. We spoke to Terry Liddle, Green Party GLA candidate for Greenwich and Lewisham, about the Greens' policies.

What programme is the Green Party putting forward in the London elections?

The main thing the Green Party is concentrating on in these elections is public transport, which is a big issue for Londoners. One of the policies we are advocating is a reduction in bus fares and a freeze on Tube fare increases for a five-year period. We are opposed to privatisation, wholesale or retail, of the Tube. We want to see more bus lanes and for these to be strictly enforced, and more conductors back on the buses. We also want a reduction in the speed limit, from 30 miles an hour to 20. We want to impose taxes on employers' parking spaces and bring in congestion charges.

Apart from transport, other polices we have include a ban on the production of GM foods in London. We want to make the police more accountable. We want strict laws to oppose discrimination on any grounds. We want to create 80,000 jobs in the environmental sector. We're opposed to Terminal 5 at Heathrow, to the development of Crystal Palace and Rainham Marshes. And we want to create an economic strategy which will close the gap between rich and poor in London.

You are standing as Green Party candidate for the London Assembly in Greenwich and Lewisham. How's the campaign going?

It's going quite well. I've spoken at all sorts of meetings. Two trade union branches have invited me to speak, and Friends of the Earth, and pensioners, and Goldsmith students as well. I've been getting support, apart from the Green Party itself, from ex-Labour Party members, ex-Communist Party members and even an ex-member of the SLP.

Some socialists would argue that the Greens are not part of the left. How would you answer that?

The Green Party is part of the left, but perhaps part of a new left, which is different from the traditional left, both social democratic and Leninist. Certainly the majority of Greens, particularly in London, would see themselves as part of the left.

You describe your own politics as "eco-socialist". Do socialists represent a significant current in the Green Party?

Yes, they do indeed. There is a strong socialist tendency in the Green Party, which is grouped mainly around the journal The Way Ahead. Also a lot of socialists in the Green Party are part of the Green Socialist Network, which includes members of other parties as well. I am convenor of the London group of the GSN.

The Green Party is standing candidates for the Assembly, in both the constituency and the party list sections. How well do you expect to do?

If we repeat the results we got in the European elections we should hope to get between 7 and 8 per cent. On that basis we would get two seats.

Ken Livingstone's call for a Green vote in the list section will significantly improve your party's prospects in the Assembly elections, won’t it?

Tremendously. We could get three seats or even four.

So you welcome Ken Livingstone's support?

Yes, we do. Our candidate for mayor, Darren Johnson, said in a press release issued on 3 April that Ken Livingstone is a candidate with whom we can do business. The Green Party's position is that we are asking those who are giving their first preference vote to Ken Livingstone to vote in the top-up list and the constituencies for the Green Party. We have also decided to ask people who give their first preference vote to our mayoral candidate Darren Johnson to give their second preference vote to Ken Livingstone.

The election of several Green candidates would improve Livingstone's position in relation to the Assembly, as you would presumably be more willing to work closely with him than the New Labour members would?

Undoubtedly, yes.

Some on the far left would argue that Livingstone should not be supporting the Greens but the London Socialist Alliance. How would you answer that?

Well, Ken Livingstone has gone to some pains to put distance between himself and the London Socialist Alliance. That's a matter between him and the LSA. Aside from the political differences, I think Livingstone has realised that we are a proven radical alternative. We have two Members of the European Parliament, a Member of the Scottish Parliament and several dozen councillors in local government, whereas the London Socialist Alliance has got one councillor in Lewisham. So, on those figures, we're the best bet!

You have long been an advocate of a Red-Green alliance. How do you see the London elections affecting the prospects for this sort of political co-operation?

If the situation comes about where the London Socialist Alliance and the Green Party get one seat each, or the LSA gets one and we get two or three, I think it would make sense that we work together. And of course if that trickles down to local level – and having got to know [Socialist Party councillor and LSA candidate for the London Assembly] Ian Page a lot better that I did before, locally – I think that if people overcome some of their sectarianism and myopia it augurs well that we really can work together.