By Alex Stevenson
Norwich North's former Labour MP Ian Gibson would be welcome in the ranks of the local Green party, its candidate Rupert Read has said.
Mr Read made the offer in an interview to politics.co.uk on the eve of today's by-election, triggered by Dr Gibson's resignation.
He quit parliament after falling victim to Labour's 'star chamber', the panel which found his expenses claims to be so unacceptable he could not stand again for the party.
"His views are almost identical to the Green party in most respects," Mr Read suggested.
"Maybe in the long term he might find a new political home, you never know."
Rupert Read on what makes the Green party in Norwich stand out:
Dr Gibson's position on GM foods clashed with Green party policy but Mr Read said his positions were very similar in other respects.
Eight former Labour councillors have already embraced the Norwich Greens and there are now 18 Green councillors in Norwich South. Norwich North, where today's by-election takes place, has two Green councillors.
"I think anything is possible in these political times and certainly if someone like. Ian were ever to make a candid approach to us I think we would be extremely interested," Mr Read added.
The Green party faces a tough fight against the larger budgets of the three main parties. Mr Read made clear while he is aiming to win in today's poll he would settle for less.
"If we achieve second, or third, or ten per cent or 15 per cent, all of these would be good things," he continued.
"It's very, very difficult. But we're finding a lot of support. People are absolutely fed up with the main parties. They're looking for an alternative, and they're looking for us."
Green issues have a particular resonance in Norwich North because of plans to expand the city to the north.
Extra housing will lead to more infill development and extra congestion. Plans to make a key infrastructure route a dual carriageway has proved a major divisive issue in the campaign.