UK Politics

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas seeks to woo Lib Dems

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Media captionCaroline Lucas on job shares: This as an "idea whose time will come"

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas has appealed to Lib Dem supporters disillusioned with the coalition's policies to join her party.

Ms Lucas told her party conference that the Lib Dems had become apologists for "brutal and savage cuts".

The Greens were already wooing members from other parties but she said they must not lose their "radical" edge.

Ms Lucas, who became the party's first MP in May, also floated the idea of MPs sharing jobs when elected.

Pairs of parliamentary candidates should be allowed to stand in elections and share the job afterwards, she told activists in Birmingham, describing this as an "idea whose time will come".

Natural home'

Although the Greens made their Westminster breakthrough at the last general election, the party got fewer votes than either UKIP or the British National Party.

She told party members to savour her victory, saying: "We are finally there. Now our work can begin."

The Greens were committed to fighting the "most brutal and savage" spending cuts in a generation, she said, arguing the UK must continue to invest to support the economy.

She turned her fire on the Lib Dems, saying they had signed up to a "shoddy deal" with the Conservatives and were "apologists" for an assault on public services.

She appealed to Lib Dems unhappy with the coalition and concerned about the environment to come over to the Greens whom she said were "their natural home".

Earlier she told the BBC: "There is a voice that is needed in politics that is standing up for genuine fairness, for opposition to Trident and to nuclear power, to all of the things many Lib Dems thought they were getting when they voted for Nick Clegg but clearly aren't."

Job sharing

Ms Lucas won the seat of Brighton Pavilion in May, with a majority of 1,252, fulfilling the party's long cherished ambition of getting representation at Westminster.

Urging further reforms to make Parliament more diverse, she said enabling MPs to share jobs would open politics up to more women.

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Media captionDarren Johnson says the party's appeal is growing

While acknowledging critics would "pour scorn" on her proposal, she described it as "incredibly sensible" and in keeping with radical proposals the Greens had first championed such as a living wage and votes for 16-year olds.

"If you have job sharing MPs, what that would allow you to do is to keep MPs with a foot in their community, keep their caring responsibilities, do voluntary work, continue part time in their profession.

"It would enable far more women to get into politics."

Darren Johnson, a Green Party member of the London Assembly, said he needed convincing about the "practicalities" of the proposal but having a debate about it was a good idea.

The Greens hoped to seize control of Norwich City Council on Thursday following a series of by-elections but fell short, remaining two seats behind Labour as the leading opposition party.

Ms Lucas said it would have been a "big ask" to gain control of Norwich, one of its main strongholds, but stressed the Greens had added one seat and would "certainly" become the largest party in future.

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