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Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
Greens urge US restraint
Anti-capitalist protests saw violence in Genoa
The Greens are warning off violent protestors
America should to be restrained in the way it responds to this week's atrocities, says the Green Party as it begins its annual conference in Salisbury.

Mike Woodin, who is stepping down as the party's principal speaker when the conference starts on Thursday, sent his "heartfelt sympathy" to the people of America.


We believe the real strength of American freedom and democracy will be shown by a holding back from any immediate vengeful attack

Mike Woodin
Green Party principal spokesman
But he said the Greens had often predicted in the past the "rather insensitive, assertive and aggressive" US foreign policies would drive people into the arms of Islamic fundamentalists.

Away from the aftermath of the attacks, highlights for the conference include debates on the future of anti-globalisation protests and a keynote speech from London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

'Appalled'

Dr Woodin said he was "appalled" by the attacks and could only begin to bear to imagine the suffering of those caught up in them but urged the US to react with restraint.

"We believe the real strength of American freedom and democracy will be shown by a holding back from any immediate vengeful attack on any other nation," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Darren Johnson, environment adviser to Ken Livingstone
Darren Johnson is likely to become the party's principal spokesman
Explaining the Greens had often criticised US foreign policy, especially in Iraq, Dr Woodin said they had predicted the US stance could create the conditions for people to commit atrocities.

The Greens are critical of globalisation, which they say creates an undemocratic system that suits multi-national companies and ignores the interests of local people.

"Our response is obviously nothing like that of terrorists but it does provide a way to understand the chilling logic behind terrorist actions."

Non-violent protests

The Green Party plans to hold non-violent protests against globalisation at this year's Labour Party conference in Brighton.

In the wake of the violence seen in demonstrations in Genoa, the party is stressing it does not want its message obscured by people breaking the law.

"We are resisting the right-wing argument that it is irresponsible to organise a protest like that because there may be a punch-up.

"You cannot be terrorised into not doing something legitimate by people who might take advantage of it."

Mr Livingstone is due to give his speech on Friday and another issue for the party will be its aim of increasing its membership to 5,000 by the end of the year - it currently stands at 4,500.

'Improving prospects'

There are no Green MPs at Westminster, although Lord Beaumont of Whitley represents the party in the House of Lords.

The Greens contested 141 seats at the general election and has two MEPs, while there are about 40 Green councillors in England and Wales, including power sharing on four councils.

Dr Woodin said the party was in better shape than four years ago and could be boosted further in coming years.

"Following our best general election result ever, serious planning is starting to take shape for the next few years.

"We might expect to see five Green MEPs in 2004, more Greens on the Greater London Assembly and breakthroughs onto a number of local authorities."

Darren Johnson, environment adviser to the London Mayor, is unopposed in his attempt to replace Dr Woodin as the Greens' principal spokesman.


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See also:

04 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Greens to protest at Labour conference
23 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Greens set sight on electoral success
16 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Livingstone 'to turn to Greens'
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