Some 1,300 people attended the Green Party spring conference in Liverpool last weekend. It was the largest conference the Greens have ever held.
Green Party membership has exploded over the past few months.
It has grown from a party of fewer than 20,000 members in September last year to more than 55,500 members.
Many new members see the Greens as an alternative to the mainstream parties.
Kelly, one of the delegates, is a student from Liverpool University who left the Labour Party to join the Greens.
She told Socialist Worker, “The Labour Party supports austerity measures that disproportionately affect women. And they don’t support free education.”
Kelly had been on the free education demonstration last year where Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, spoke. But Labour only plans to cut fees to £6,000 a year.
Kelly said, I’m involved in organising protests. I want free education—£6,000 isn’t good enough.”
Bristol hospital porter and Green Party member Will agreed.
He told Socialist Worker, “Labour have abandoned anything that even looks like social democracy.
“The Green Party is much more to the left. When we were on strike in the NHS the Green Party supported us but the Labour Party didn’t”.
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said in her opening speech that a large Green vote at the general election would represent a “peaceful political revolution”.
She said the Green Party would “end the failed austerity experiment, end the spiteful blaming of the poor, the sick, the vulnerable for the mistakes of the wealthy”.
And a successful motion instructed Green MPs to “do all they can to remove the Conservative Party from government”.
It also said that the Greens should negotiate to support other parties after the election without joining a coalition.
But crucially the motion that was passed said that refusing to support austerity should be a “clear and objective red line”.
Caroline Lucas told conference that the Greens would seek to enter a “progressive alliance” after the general election in May.
She said, “With the rise of the SNP, Plaid Cymru and our own Green surge, we have the chance to form a new progressive grouping in parliament.”
Delegates were worried that Green MPs would succumb to pressure to agree an austerity budget.
Last week Greens teamed up with Labour to pass an austerity budget through Brighton and Hove City Council, despite opposition from six Green councillors.
Kelly wasn’t worried about the Greens supporting austerity. She said, “I don’t think the Green Party would do that.
“They’re a party of morals and principles. They’re against austerity”.
But John, a new member from Sunderland, was concerned that the Greens could end up moving to the right.
He told Socialist Worker, “I’ve seen some things on the members’ forums from the Green Party ‘old guard’ that I would consider quite right wing.
“But I think if the Greens started making cuts or moved to the right, most of the members would quit or resign.”