Porritt endorses Plaid Cymru

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JONATHON Porritt, the former director of Friends of the Earth, faced calls for his resignation from the Green Party yesterday after he endorsed Plaid Cymru against an official Green candidate in Mid and West Wales.

The new giant constituency which covers 75 per cent of the principality, stretching from Llanelli in the south to Llanrwst on the edge of Snowdonia in the north, is Plaid Cymru's best hope of their first Euro MP in a contest which could see two nationalist victories in Wales and two for the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Scotland.

In what is at least on paper a four-way contest for the massive and largely rural Welsh seat, the fate of the 12 per cent of votes the Greens took in 1989 could prove crucial in deciding whether Labour or the nationalists sneak the result.

Yesterday Mr Porritt endorsed Marc Phillips, the Plaid candidate, arguing that he was 'eminently electable' and would serve the wider Green agenda in Europe 'better than any other'. The Greens were not going to win in the constituency this time, 'come hell or high water', said Mr Porritt, who has argued for greater realism and more alliances in Green politics.

His endorsement of Plaid Cymru follows the election of Cynog Dafis who took Ceredigion and Pembroke North as a joint Plaid-Green candidate at the general election, officially endorsed by both parties. For the Euro-elections, however, the Greens have rejected any similar deal.

Yesterday the national Green Party pronounced itself 'disappointed' by Mr Porritt's endorsement of tactical voting, saying 'we believe you should always vote for what you believe in', while Chris Busby, the physical chemist who is standing for the Greens in Mid and West Wales, attacked Plaid for 'a cheap trick'. He added: 'I am not surprised because at the end of the day Jonathon Porritt is a Green Tory and Plaid Cymru are the Tory party of Wales. I don't see how he can remain a member of the Green Party and act like this. I think there will be calls for him to be disciplined in some way.'

Mr Porritt acknowledged that some would see his decision as 'betrayal' but argued that the link between Plaid and the Greens in Ceredigion and Pembroke North had been 'a huge success' in Parliament and that the Green Party's insistence on standing in all seats in Wales was 'gesture politics'. He would still be voting Green in his own Gloucestershire constituency, he said.

Dafydd Wigley, Plaid's president who has his own hopes of winning North Wales, hailed Mr Porritt's decision as 'significant' as he joined forces with Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP, to talk up the nationalists' chances of winning at least four seats between them in Europe.

The balance of power in Europe was 'swinging the way of small nations' said Mr Salmond, symbolically swapping manifestos with Mr Wigley. Once Norway, Sweden, Finland and Austria joined, a Europe of 16 would contain 11 small nations able, through qualified majority voting, 'to wield power and influence out of all proportion to their actual size'. Scotland and Wales needed their own independent voices within that, he said, arguing that the SNP was in 'pole position' not only in the Highlands and Islands which it holds but in North East Scotland, which on May's council election results it should take. The party was second in the six other Scottish constituencies, he said.

(Photograph omitted)