THE GREEN Party annual conference took place in Salisbury last weekend in the wake of the party's best ever general election result. The Greens now have 49 local councillors, one member of the Scottish Parliament, two members of the European Parliament and three members of the Greater London Authority.
The conference had its fair share of the kind of detailed debates of what policies a Green government might pursue in office which are typical of the party's gatherings. It also saw a number of key debates on issues where the Greens' stance is similar to that many socialists would adopt
The Greens are backing next week's protest at the Labour Party conference. They are also mounting campaigns on global warming, in defence of refugees, and are heavily involved in the movement against corporate-led globalisation. There is tension within the party about the relationship between involvement in campaigns and elections.
Some want a much sharper focus on elections. That was the tone of the keynote conference speech by Mike Woodin, who was stepping down as one of the party's two 'principal speakers'.
The conference also saw a debate on the devastation of the World Trade Centre. A motion was unanimously passed expressing horror at the attacks, but opposing any retaliatory bombing or a move to war by the US or Britain.
Many at the conference wanted to go further, and moved a motion arguing that the root cause of the attacks lay in the policies of the US, and Britain, around the world.
That motion did not win the two thirds support needed to pass, but around half of those present voted for it. The conference also saw a major discussion about the Greens' relations with the Socialist Alliance.
It was acknowledged by almost all at the conference that at a local level the Greens and Socialist Alliance should discuss and cooperate. It was also agreed that in wider campaigns, such as fighting privatisation, Greens, the Socialist Alliance and many others should work together where possible.
Some at the conference, mainly from London, argued for formal dialogue at national level between the Greens and the Socialist Alliance. The majority, including most of the leading Greens, opposed this for fear of the party being seen as too tied to the left.