Norwich Greens have this morning launched their manifesto for the special by-election on September 9th, brought about by a court ruling overturning a one-year term extension for nine city councillors.

Read the Norwich manifesto summary here (PDF)
Read the full Norwich manifesto here (PDF)

Following the judge’s action, the Greens are neck-and-neck with Labour as the largest group on the council, and can reasonably expect gains from the coalition-tainted Lib Dems. This could be the election that entrusts the Greens with their first principal authority – in my view, an occasion every bit as historic as our first MP, if not more so. And certainly with higher stakes.

We’ll have more analysis of the manifesto later – I am supposed to working after all – but for now I’d draw your attention to the first section, Open Council.

For me this is the most interesting part of the Nowich vision – because it starts to ask the kinds of questions that can fundamentally remake society. I wholeheartedly support insulation schemes and farmers’ markets, but these are after all good policies that could be implemented by any party without challenging any of modern life’s fundamental dysfunctions.

A Green council should do all those things but also be radical in the way they lead their community, and (rightly) tentative first steps like devolving some spending power directly to local areas – making participatory budgeting a real possibility – suggest a transformative project, not just a managerial one.

In fact, in this manifesto you’ll see plenty of the vision outlined by my colleague Peter McColl on these very pages: All Power to the Communities! How a Green Council would act.

A Green MP is an incredibly powerful voice for change – as ours has already shown on Trafigura, on Gaza and on civil liberties. But it’s only green government that can actually deliver it, and we may very well be about to see some.

As I say, I’ve no doubt that we’ll come back to this subject in the coming days; but for now, consider this an open thread for comments on the Norwich manifesto and on what green local government should mean. And volunteer to help in the Norwich election campaign – call 01603 611909 or email