Defection hits Green splinter group

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GREEN REALIGNMENT, a group which splintered from the Green Party, has got off to an uncertain start. One of its founding members rejoined the Green Party just before the inaugural conference last weekend, writes Nicholas Schoon.

Lou Betts, a member of Green Realignment's six- strong steering group, went to the Green Party's offices in Balham, south London, and told staff he wanted to be a campaigner. Most of the steering group quit the Green Party during bitter infighting last year, or are no longer active within it. The party's campaigns organiser, Ron Bailey, said he was puzzled but happy to have Mr Betts's support. Mr Betts, a former member of the Green Party's executive, said: 'It has become increasingly clear to me that there are a lot of excellent people still in the Green Party and it remains a viable political unit. I'm going to see what happens.'

At Green Realignment's inaugural conference in Twickenham, west London, on Saturday, it was clear that there was no support for forming a new environmental political party for at least the next few years. That leaves the new organisation struggling for a role and a way of making any impact, despite powerful speeches by leading green figures including Sarah Parkin.

Ian Kilpatrick, spokesman for the steering group, said Green Realignment aimed for a middle course between being a political party seeking votes and a green pressure group such as Friends of the Earth.