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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 12:12 GMT
Greens join anti-euro campaign
William Hague
Can the Greens can make being anti-euro cool?

In one of the most unlikely political alliances of recent years, the Green Party is teaming up with the No campaign to fight the UK adopting the single European currency.


We are going to make being anti-euro fashionable by the summer

Alan Laing, New Europe
Green activists, more used to battling global capitalism, are to work with with Save the Pound campaigners - to push the case most commonly associated with eurosceptic Tories.

The Greens claim the euro will hand control of the economy to an undemocratic central bank, speeding up the process of globalisation.

They are campaigning to give economic control back to local communities and governments.

'Winning side'

Alan Laing, of left-leaning anti-euro pressure group New Europe, believes the dedication of grass roots Green campaigners will be the No campaign's secret weapon when a referendum is called.

The Greens could also help the No campaign shed its image as the home of union-flag waving Little Englanders, boosting its appeal with younger voters.

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"We are going to make being anti-euro fashionable by the summer," Mr Laing told Greens in Scarborough last week.

"We are on the winning side."

Xenophobia

Local Green parties are being encouraged to work with the No campaign to prepare for a referendum.


There is this rather naive idea that if you are a big internationalist then you must be in favour the euro

Caroline Lucas, Green MEP
Many in the No campaign admit privately that their cause is not always helped by its xenophobic fringe.

No one could accuse the ultra-liberal Greens of being xenophobic or small-minded.

The Greens championed the legalisation of cannabis long before it became politically fashionable and recently voted to decriminalise prostitution.

The party is aware that they make unlikely bedfellows with the Save the Pound brigade.

But, they argue, the issue of the euro crosses traditional left/right boundaries.

Broader alliance

"I don't think anybody could think of the Greens as a right wing party," Green MEP Caroline Lucas said.

Dr Caroline Lucas
Dr Lucas: 'It's OK to be against the euro'
"We stand for the most progressive and radical ideas in politics.

"So the fact that we are associated with the anti-euro campaign will stand out and make people realise that it is much broader alliance than they might have thought."

Confusion

She added: "There is this rather naive idea that if you are a big internationalist then you must be in favour the euro.

"People who are against the euro are seen as being xenophobic Little Englanders - but it doesn't necessarily follow.

"We have got to break down the perception that it is a Tory issue."

She said there was a lot of confusion about the euro issue and many liberals have been "enormously relieved" to learn that it is "OK to be against the single currency."

She also acknowledges that the British Greens are at odds with most of their European colleagues on this issue.

'Undemocratic'

But, she argues, the euro flies in the face of Green notions of "sustainability".

"If we are trying to shift our economy to a more sustainable path it simply does not make sense to hand over the key levers of economic decision making to an unaccountable bank in Frankfurt," she said.

The single currency will drive the process of globalisation faster, she argues, and she denounces the European banking system as "wholly unaccountable and undemocratic."

She continued: "The fundamental lack of credibility and legitimacy, which can only get worse in the EU, will affect the level of democracy in our everyday lives."

The Greens want communities and local governments to take control of their own economies and enable them to rebuild stability.

This is a model not only for Britain but also for all the regions of the world, Ms Lucas said.


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18 Mar 02 | Politics
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20 Jan 02 | Politics
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