Page last updated at 14:13 GMT, Thursday, 15 April 2010 15:13 UK

Manifesto Watch: Green Party

By Brian Wheeler
Hilton Metropole Hotel, Brighton

VENUE: Anonymous function room at Brighton's Hilton Metropole hotel.

Caroline Lucas
Caroline Lucas says the Greens thought of the fairness slogan first

The party's best hope of winning a seat is in Brighton - and the gods had even conspired to give us a sneak preview of what life might be like under a future Green government, by closing all airspace across Britain. There was not a single condensation trail to spoil the cloudless blue sky and bright sunshine on the seafront.

ATMOSPHERE: Lib Dem party conference fringe meeting. A lot less fun than Green Party events used to be - there was not a pair of sandals or a straggly beard in sight - but considerably better attended by the press.

MANIFESTO WATCH
Labour, Tory, Lib Dem manifestos

The fact that some of Fleet Street's finest had made the journey to the South Coast shows how seriously the party is being taken these days. The problem is that they are starting to look and sound a lot like the other parties, despite their still highly distinctive policy platform. Even their slogan "Fair Is Worth Fighting For" has a familiar ring to it, although leader Caroline Lucas insisted they were talking about fairness a long time before the Lib Dens and Labour joined in.

VISUAL STYLE: No frills.

ANY MUSIC OR VISUALS? No. This was a press launch not a rally. But there was an economist in a pin-striped suit on hand to help explain the sums, which was just as well given the accusations of "fantasy land economics" flying around.

STAR TURN: Caroline Lucas is their first leader, and she was on typically loquacious form, but the Greens remain a collegiate bunch at heart.

DO SAY: There is a big vacuum on the left in British politics and with their new emphasis on social justice the Greens might just be the party to fill it. It is not too fanciful to see them overtaking Labour eventually, if they succeed in getting a foothold at Westminster.

DON'T SAY: "50% increase in tax on booze and fags? More expensive petrol and an end to cheap flights? Doesn't sound very fair to me. Hi, I'm Jeremy Clarkson."

KEY SOUNDBITE: "We need a party that does not forget the environment when the going gets tough."

TELLING MOMENT: Totally unprompted, London Assembly member Darren Johnson announces that the Greens would not "prop up a Conservative government and put Cameron in Number 10". If the Greens succeed in getting their first MPs - and they believe they are in with a chance in Brighton, Norwich South and Lewisham Deptford - where Mr Johnson is standing, they would not support the Conservatives in a confidence vote, if there was a hung Parliament, he says. Looks like David Cameron may have hugged all those huskies in vain...



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