This is an exciting time to be a member of the Greens in the UK. Starting with the upsurge in political debate around the Scottish Referendum this summer and leading into autumn and the major parties' panic over the rise of UKIP there has been a marked surge in Green Party membership and support on both sides of the border.
This has been recently assisted by the massively supported online campaign for Greens to be represented in forthcoming UK election debates on TV and radio. The desire of the Tories and Labour to ape UKIP (to - so far unsuccessfully - win over some of their support) and the continuing decline of the Lib Dems as the coalition "mudguard" have played a part in this. Another factor is the increasing move amongst left of centre younger people to see the Greens as a viable expression of many of their progresssive and egalitarian views. The unfortunate floundering of the "Left Unity" project (sadly locally now tagged "Left Disunity" due to ongoing quarrels) has led some towards, or back towards, the Greens as a relatively well established and internally democratic option that can actually have some success in local politics. It is my opinion that Leninism is a long term brake on the development of left and progressive politics in the UK and all projects that allow Leninists of whatever stripe to take a dominant role are doomed to failure. The Greens do not have this baggage and the main left currents in the Greens are eco-socialist and libertarian socialist - currents that are far more in tune with the online, connected and eclectic activist world of today than the centralism and sectarianism of UK Leninists.
Whilst problems remain in the Greens in England and Wales (lack of political education, a shoestring organisational budget, off message councillors and the odd careerist, and some infuriating administrative and financial communication barriers would be my personal bugbears) the Party remains the best short term option for anyone wishing to make a noticeable impact on British politics and create a space for dissemination and discussion of ideas outside the neo-liberal consensus.
The Greens face a major struggle to keep Caroline Lucas MP in Parliament (largely due to Labour now openly targeting the Greens for "elimination" - perhaps resenting us as an unwelcome reminder of the Labour Party's increasing inadequacy as a Party of the Left - and also some of the aforementioned "off message councillors"in Brighton). But it should be possible to retain her seat and possibly even gain more next year if the current momentum can be maintained or improved upon, and particularly if we can get Natalie and/or Caroline onto televised and radio debates.
Austerity, fracking, attacks on civil liberties and sucking up to corporate and financial interests remain very unpopular despite the efforts of all the recent "governmental" parties to support them. The reservoir of Green support is there for tapping into and articulating. A key aim should be to strengthen all the movements fighting these things regardless of the election result next year. So the Greens can play a key role in both building the fightback and putting forward positive alternatives. Come and join us....