“This weekend I met with members of the Green Left – a grouping within the Green Party.
They were having one of their regular meetings in Birmingham and they had offered to help with some campaigning beforehand. I was grateful for their support - we need all the help we can get!
On a very cold but fresh Saturday morning we all set off distributing leaflets and door knocking in the Springfield ward. The issue we are campaigning around at the moment is the threat to plans to re-open Sparkhill swimming baths, the local community pool.
After a couple of hours of traipsing the streets we reconvened for discussion, chat and some food at Birmingham’s Metropolitan Community Church, which is around the corner from the charming Friends of the Earth Warehouse Café.
Inevitably our discussion focused on how national politics could be levered in a progressive direction.
Someone asked whether a new national left-green coalition could be set up. My answer was that we don’t have to belong to one party to work together. Right now the priority should be turning words of solidarity and co-operation into real localised bottom-up examples.
That is why during the recent European elections I backed the Green European candidate Felicity Norman. Felicity was campaigning openly on a very principled stance of opposition to racism and the BNP and she was the candidate best placed to advance a progressive agenda for the West Midlands. I was proud to support her.
We are developing new ways of working and I have been very encouraged by recent developments in Birmingham Green Party.
They have elected a new committee, staffed with a talented bunch of young, enthusiastic, idealistic and tactically astute members. They don’t just talk about unity, they practice it. It was their initiative to campaign among their members not to stand a candidate in Hall Green constituency in order to enhance my chances of winning. It is the kind of sensible, but very rare, co-operation between people of different parties on the left that makes me optimistic for the future.
By working together in the city, my hope is that we can illustrate in practice how collaborative working can strengthen progressive politics.
All in all it was a very encouraging day. Thanks again to my new friends in the Green Party for making it so.”