An activist leader
In her first Green Party conference speech as an MP, Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party, told her audience in Birmingham that: "I doubt that any of us expected the realignment of British politics that has come in the aftermath of May's election. But its implications are becoming ever more clear. And one of these is that, on a whole range of issues, there is no effective opposition to the coalition and its plans. And that makes the role of the Green Party more important than ever."
Lucas went on to outline why, on nuclear power, the Trident nuclear deterrent, and education, the Green Party is providing the real opposition to the coalition government:
"Labour championed the Academies programme, despite all our warnings about the risk of creating a two-tier education system. Now - surprise, surprise - the Coalition has dropped any requirement that Academies should gain from outside sponsorship, or should help those communities most in need. Any pretence of a higher social purpose is out. Michael Gove's plans are simply about an ideological opposition to state education and a chance to allow private companies to make a profit from our schools. And Labour, having opened the door to this in the first place, cannot mount an effective, principled opposition, despite their heroic efforts to try to rewrite history. And that's why we need the Green Party."
"We are gaining members from the Liberal Democrats too. Perhaps their anguish and sense of betrayal is all the more sharp, for being so unexpected. Could they really have imagined during the election campaign, when Nick Clegg could hardly open his mouth without saying the word "fairness", that they would be voting for a party that would become an apologist for the most brutal, savage cuts in a generation?
"Cuts which are decimating communities up and down the country.
"Cuts that affect people like the woman who came to my surgery a few weeks ago, desperate to be re-housed because she, her partner and child were all living in a single room in Brighton, and she was expecting another child very soon.
"That's why the Green Party is committed to fighting these cuts every step of the way.
"I don't criticise Nick Clegg and those around him for agreeing to work with the Conservatives. But I do criticise him for the terms of that deal. With our principles and our courage to be honest with the public about the greatest issues of our time, such as climate change, we are the natural home for Liberal Democrats who feel betrayed by their leaders.
"And so to those Liberal Democrats, I say, join us. Many of your former colleagues are already here."