Former Labour MP gives his backing to the Greens in the East

Ian Gibson speaks in the crowded room at the Vauxhall Centre as the campaign to save mental health s

Ian Gibson speaks in the crowded room at the Vauxhall Centre as the campaign to save mental health services is launched. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2013

The Green Party has been given a major boost in its bid to win its first seat for the East in the European Parliament after a former Labour MP has given its lead candidate his backing.

Ian Gibson has endorsed the party in a letter urging people to consider voting Green in the poll later this month.

The former Norwich North MP, who resigned from the House of Commons in 2009 in the wake of the parliamentary expenses scandal, said that while he was not a member of the Green party, its lead candidate Rupert Read was the one who grabbed him the most.

The Greens missed out on a seat in the European Parliament in the East by 1pc in the last Euro election.

But while Dr Gibson gave his backing to Dr Read in the European elections, he said he did not have any advice to people for the local Norwich city council elections which will take place on the same day.

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'I haven't really taken a position on that. I suspect we will carry on in the same old way. The old British saying is we will muddle through.'

Dr Gibson has signed a letter of support, along with Sir Jonathon Porritt, former chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and the journalist and author George Monbiot.

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It said: 'We are asking you today - whoever you normally vote for, and whichever party you intend to vote for in council elections or in next year's general election - to consider voting Green this time.

'A Green vote on May 22 would elect Rupert Read to be your European Parliamentarian. He came very close last time around; the Greens need just 1pc more than last time to get an MEP this time, as the people of the neighbouring London and South East regions have already got.

'Please give the Greens a chance in the proportional representation European elections, and elect an MEP of whom you will, we are confident, be proud.'

But Labour MEP Richard Howitt said: 'As the member of the European Parliament who has piloted through EU law for companies to report on their environmental impact and who was the only British MEP to be on the European delegation at the UN negotiations on sustainable development, there is a strong case for voters who care about climate change and for the future of our planet to vote Labour at this election.'

Dr Read said: 'I feel honoured to have this distinguished group behind me, but it's especially exciting to have the backing of people like Ian Gibson and Peter Tatchell who have previously been prominent themselves in other political parties.'

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