How to hug a Green and get away with it

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The Independent Online
IT'S A sideways action. An arm around the back or on the shoulder. There even might be a gentle squeeze.

This is the politically correct hug and it will be demonstrated today at a special session of the Green Party conference at Weston super Mare so that huggers can get it right. Other kinds of hugging are thought to be predatory and sexually threatening.

The Greens, with a reputation as the most friendly and open political party, have a far higher number of hugs per delegate than their rivals. Airy kisses on both cheeks, favoured by many in other parties, are replaced by warm welcomes of full body contact. But there is a fear that men, even Green men, have not learnt the proper non-threatening techniques.

"They genuinely do not understand that they are being threatening," said Miriam Kennet, a Green Party executive member who will be demonstrating the correct approach. "They are new men who are really making an effort, but who are making mistakes. A lot of them end up feeling rejected."

The hour-long conference session will demonstrate the appropriate degree of affection to be shown between colleagues.

"A full frontal hug would be totally inappropriate in a situation like a political conference," said Ms Kennet. "Just because someone is in the Green Party doesn't mean they want to be hugged all over the place."

Ms. Kennet, a professional engineer for 15 years, and experienced in the traditional tactics of the insensitive male, advises all potential huggers to watch for the right body language.

"The time has got to be right. Both people have got to be in the mood. You can often detect that in facial expressions, but that's one of the things men are less good at," she said.

"A Green hug is a means of saying `We are working together and I want to support you and I want you to support me.' "