We must not make the same mistake with the Greens that we did with the Lib Dems

28th October, 2014 8:10 am

Given the extent to which UKIP has wrong-footed Labour (nationally we don’t seem to have decided yet whether to attack them or triangulate them, or even whether they represent a threat or an opportunity), it is reassuring that another emerging threat to Labour is being taken seriously: the Greens. The appointment of Sadiq Khan as a shadow cabinet lead on taking them on, pulling together best practice from areas where they have already been a local problem, is timely.

Partly because of the collapse of the Lib Dems the Greens have had a small but significant boost. One recent poll put them on 8%, ahead of the Lib Dems. According to YouGov, 50% of their current support are ex-Lib Dems, who presumably might have headed in our direction instead, and more worryingly 22% are people who voted Labour in 2010. They recently went past 20,000 members for the first time.

green party

The Greens are ambitious. They have publicly declared they are targeting twelve parliamentary constituencies in the General Election – their current seat of Brighton Pavilion plus Norwich South, Bristol West, St Ives, Sheffield Central, Liverpool Riverside, Oxford East, Solihull, Reading East, York Central, Holborn & St Pancras and Cambridge. They won’t get anywhere near winning most of these this time but they will distort the major party battle in some of them and potentially position themselves as a serious challenger in 2020. Some of these seats could become four or five way fights where the winning party only needs 25% of the vote. Many of these seats have a big student population, and all of them except St Ives and Solihull are either Labour seats or seats Labour has held in recent years. There is clearly a risk here for us both in terms of long-term threat of losing seats to them and short-term them splitting the left vote to hurt our chances of regaining some of these. A similar pattern has already been seen in Australia where the current Green leader Natalie Bennett happens to be from.

Those of us who live in areas where the Greens have targeted council seats know they are not a party that looks on Labour benignly as a potential ally in some kind of red/green coalition but as an enemy they want to shove aside. If they were kindly disposed towards Labour they would join us and lobby for green policies through SERA, Labour’s green affiliate. In Hackney where I fought them in four elections they ousted the Labour leader with a smear campaign, then blocked a black working class woman who was a tenants’ leader from getting elected, largely by mobilising middle class voters who lived in houses that would qualify for the proposed Mansion Tax. On the council they held the balance of power in 1998 but refused to work with Labour, ensuring Hackney had three more years of Tory and Lib Dem initiated cuts and privatisation. In the second period when they had a councillor, her main policy demand was to try to impose Vegan Mondays on the borough’s school children, staff and social services clients. They are a huge drain on campaigning resources – effort we could have spent gaining seats from the Tories was wasted defending Labour seats they were targeting.

In almost every instance where the Greens have had seats in a hung council they have done exactly what they did in Hackney – defined themselves primarily as anti-Labour and chosen to work with the Tories and Lib Dems.

In Brighton where they have actually held power on the council they have been a disaster, cutting services for the least well-off and causing a bin strike when they clashed with the GMB union over pay – as chronicled by Labour Peer Lord Bassam.

Their national policies are a mix of ultra-leftism on defence and foreign policy, opposition to everything Labour and the unions stand for on economic growth and manufacturing, and single-issue crankiness. The option of triangulating the Greens does not exist because if we move towards their policy stances we will alienate vast numbers of mainstream voters.

Sadly the message that the Greens are not a welcome addition to the UK’s political spectrum does not seem to have reached a certain segment of the party who get their ideological guidelines from the pages of the Guardian (a paper the Green Party’s leader used to be a journalist for) rather than real life experience.

So we have the Compass think-tank hosting Green MP Caroline Lucas repeatedly at Labour Conference fringe events.

We have comments on social media complaining that we shouldn’t be trying to win back Brighton Pavilion from her because she is “better” than Labour MPs.

We have Labour London Assembly Member Tom Copley tweeting that he wants proportional representation for local government because it is “an affront to democracy that the Greens came 2nd in the popular vote in Hackney and got no cllrs when 3rd & 4th placed Tories & LDs did”. If you want PR for councils at least let your primary motive be improving Labour representation in rural areas, not giving a free pass to the Greens in councils where we have been fighting for years to stop them getting elected.

And we have many Labour people demanding that the Natalie Bennett is given the national profile that comes with a place in the General Election leadership debates.

It is difficult to tell whether this naivety is caused by self-hatred from Labour people who don’t actually like Labour that much and wish it was more like the Greens or by a misguided belief in “fairness” towards them based on an assumption that the Greens are a sort-of well-meaning pressure group rather than a) extremists and b) one of our electoral competitors.

We have been here before, but with the Lib Dems. Repeatedly in the run-up to 2010 we had a similar narrative from the Compassite wing of Labour and from the Guardian calling for tactical voting for Lib Dems and waxing lyrical about how wonderful a coalition with them would be.  Those of us who warned the Lib Dems were an anti-Labour force and might go into coalition with the Tories were derided as “tribal” and “dinosaurs”. We all know how that story ended. Let’s not make the same mistake twice.

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  • swatnan

    We also have Caroline Lucas sitting smack in the middle of our Labour Opposition Benches, with her Labour pals, like a Trojan horse, slowly eating away at our Labour & Co-operative support.

    • David Stringer

      You’ve just given me the image of hundreds of little Caroline Lucases popping out of her, overwhelming her neighbouring Labour MPs, holding them down and preventing them for heroically voting for renewing Britain’s nuclear missile programme.

      Made me laugh, anyway.

  • Obsidian Blade

    Hope you told Ed and co to bog off when you got a bollocking for your last article, and the reason lifelong labour members and supporters are moving towards the greens is because at least their policy’s offer an alternative to the discredited neoliberal project that labour are still wedded to. I voted green for the first time at the euros and unless labour abandons its adherence to the neoliberal ideology I wont be going back.


      Labour needs to recognise that the Greens aren’t tree hugging Tories but a Left of Centre Party with many important policies relevant to the future. They could be part of a Labour lead coalition along with the SNP and Plaid Cymru!

      • Doug Smith

        A majority of the Progress-heavy, never-had-a-proper-job PLP would most likely prefer to form a coalition with the Tories.

      • treborc1

        Maybe worth having a look the labour party is off on it wonders.

  • Theoderic Braun

    I think it very likely that I may vote Green in 2015 on a point of principle, not because I believe that I will end up with a Green MP, or even in the hope of frustrating the Conservative candidate by tactical voting, but because the Greens now reflect my own political aspiration if only approximately. Although Ed Miliband has promoted a few good ideas (as well as some bloody awful ones) this perpetually grinning boy clearly isn’t up to snuff and no more fit to be British Prime Minister than shallow, superficial, weak, dishonest, disdainful Godawful David Cameron has proven to be. Further when you look beyond Miliband and see nakedly ambitious Ed Balls alongside his pastey wife Yvette Cooper and other sundry New Labour duds hovering like wraiths in the shadows… well… let’s just say it’s tremendously dispiriting and uninspiring and leave it at that.

    I never expected much from Ed Miliband and he hasn’t disappointed me.

    I no longer regard voting Green as letting the side down.

    • Michael Murray

      As the anniversary of Atlee’s groundbreaking government looms the problem for Labour is that The Greens seem closer to the spirit of 1945 than we do. The problem for the Greens is that there is no chance of them forming a government, unless, like the Lib Dem stooges, they swallow their principles and go into coalition. So I will not be voting for the Greens. I will go on voting Labour and hope that our manifesto contains policies that Atlee and Bevan could be proud of. For example, let’s scrap Thatcher’s ‘Right to Buy’ and stop talking about ‘affordable ‘ homes that so many of our natural constituency will never be able to afford. Let’s promise to build a million council homes with the money that’s going to be poured down the throats of the companies and consultants who will be building the completely unnecessary HS2 and HS3. The people need homes not high speed trains.

      • Danny

        Currently, I’m in the same boat as you. I’m praying that some miracle descends on Ed and the Labour frontbench and between now and May a radical manifesto appears, one that steals many of the attractive and popular policies the Greens are selling.

        Our system of election does not encourage voters to select the party to which they are most aligned and I still just about believe that a Labour government will be less damaging than Tory.

        However, the closer we get to May, the less and less inclined I am to vote Labour. And I was massively optimistic when Miliband was elected. It’s what triggered my membership of the Party. For about a year, I honestly though the party was on the right track. How wrong I was.

        • Michael Murray

          Well, there is nothing on your bucket list that I oppose apart from the abolition of Trident and That’s because of the dreadful experience of having been in the Labour Party throughout the time of The Longest Suicide Note in History. That has left me with the conviction that for the British electorate the abandonment of our nuclear defence is a step too far. But, of course, I could be wrong. It has been known. I am much more optimistic than you regarding our direction of travel under Ed Miliband. Repeal of the Bedroom Tax and the loathesome Health and Social Care Act; the imposition of the Mansion Tax and votes for sixteen year olds are all good straws in the wind that point to a radical manifesto much more consonant with our party’s socialist past. I truly hope so. The thought of another five years of Tory policies whether they be blue , orange or purple is the stuff of nightmares. But I can see why Ed Miliband is not revealing his hand to early. Why should we put ourselves on offer? The Tory dominated media either completely ignores our policy initiatives or rubbishes them. We are never given a fair hearing.

  • BillFrancisOConnor

    What a great piece! Three things we need to remember IMHO:

    1) The Greens hate us more than they do the Tories.

    2) Look at what has happened down in Brighton.

    3) The Green Party is a swear word for many Irish people in Britain with families in Ireland ( following their period in office 2007-2011).

    • Doug Smith

      Have you joined Progress yet?

      • BillFrancisOConnor

        Following yet another attack on the poorest section of Brighton council’s workforce (the bin men) the GMB are on strike again. Solidarity with the GMB in Brighton?Thought not.

        You know that I’m not a supporter of Progress but still feel the need to lie.

        • treborc1

          You do not act that way and telling us about the GMB are you a member or do you just have a look to put something up on here.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            No I am a member of UCU.
            I’m not a supporter of Progress and I think that Blair’s time has come and gone but no doubt you’ll be back again accusing me of being a Blairite, Progress supporter or whatever!
            Actually I was speaking to a Progress member at the weekend who said that Progress wanted a fight with Labour Party members like me. I asked him ‘Why’? His response was ‘we want the drains up’ and that Miliband had tacked left while the country had tacked right- hence the poorer poll showings.

            I am of Irish descent and have family in Ireland – The Green Party is a swear word for us.

        • Dave Postles

          I’m afraid that the GMB drastically cut its funding to Labour – it obviously does not expect substantial support from that direction. For every Brighton which under pressure from reduced allocations attempts (sadly) to alter terms and conditions, there is a Labour Birmingham shredding tens of thousands of jobs. Everywhere, we are back to the dented shield policy of the 1980s.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            ‘I’m afraid that the GMB drastically cut its funding to Labour’

            Maybe, but it’s not giving its money to The Greens, is it? (Well not in Brighton anyway).

          • Dave Postles

            Well, I hope that makes you feel better – as if it was ever a possibility. Still, £1m loss is nothing for Labour (or any of us) to crow about – it just reflects the dissatisfaction of the unions with political parties, as the leader of your own union (not affiliated to any party) expressed in Hyde Park.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            Not sure it really reflects the dissatisfaction of which you speak. By the way I want to see a Labour government and a resurgent Labour movement.

          • Dave Postles

            Yes, well, have it your way.

        • John Smith

          When the greens came to power, they implemented a legally binding comittment to equal pay for male and female workers. In the face of severe cuts to funding from central goverment, the only way to achieve this was unfortunately to reduce the wages of some male employees. This is what led to the refuse workers strike. Do labour oppose equal pay?

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            Happy to answer that point. But first can you explain why the Green Party in Ireland voted to put the debts of the Irish banks on the national balance sheet thereby bankrupting the government and why it voted to cut old age pensions and make the sick children of the poor pay for visits to doctors. Please don’t spin the usual line of ‘nothing to do with us guv’.Here’s what the Irish Green Party says about its sister parties in Europe on its website:

            The Green Party has strong ties with its European counterparts and has looked to other Green Parties who have been in Government. The Party is a member of the European Green Party and works closely with the Green MEPs in the European Parliament, who are organised as the Greens-EFA Group.

    • treborc1

      Bill mate your obviously a secret agent for Blair.

    • Graham Ward

      1) Most of us don’t. Many of us are ex Labour members who have refused the compromises and sellouts of so-called New Labour.
      2) No worse than has happened in many Labour run areas.
      3) What has that got to do with anything? The Green Party of England and Wales is not accountable for the actions of the Irish Green Party.

      • BillFrancisOConnor

        With respect to point 3 check out the actions of the Green Party in Ireland when they were in coalition government in Ireland 2007-2011. They helped to bankrupt the country, cut old age pensions and made the children of the poor pay for visits to the doctor. Many of us of Irish descent have families in Ireland who are still paying for the disastrous period of the Fianna Fail/ Green government. Unemployment went up to 14% and thousands upon thousands of Irish people had to emigrate. After bankruptcy the Irish government had to go cap in hand to Strasbourg/ Frankfurt where our German friends insisted on the need to impose decades of austerity on the country. In 2011, the Greens were completely wiped out in the Irish General Election of that year. The suicide rate of males in Ireland sky-rocketed following the calamitous policies that they were a part of- perhaps you can now understand why we feel very angry about it?

        • Graham Ward

          Granted the FF/Green coalition in Ireland was a failure. But I still can’t see what that has to do with the Green Party of England and Wales or Scottish Green Party. We’re not the same party.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            Because some of us are Irish and have families in Ireland who are suffering as a consequence of what the Greens did there from 2007 to 2011.

  • Danny

    “The option of triangulating the Greens does not exist because if we move towards their policy stances we will alienate vast numbers of mainstream voters.”

    Spoken like a true Progress-ite.

    Nationalising the railways.

    Binning HS2.

    Scrapping Trident (63% in favour according to a 2010 survey by those commies at the Mail on Sunday).

    An alternative to austerity.

    A cap on bankers bonus and an onus on reducing the pay gap.

    Turn the national minimum wage into a Living Wage.

    Stop the NHS sell-off.

    Reverse (not just stop) the flogging of public services.

    These are not policies that would “alienate” vast numbers of mainstream voters. I’m sure they would rile a number of fellows in the PLP and the Progress lobby, and I would enjoy the outrage complete morons like John McTernan, John Rentoul and Rob Marchant would express on Twitter (though not all at once, they have to pass their shared brain cell between one another to enable them to type). However, to say the majority of their policies would alienate vast numbers of mainstream voters is idiotic and contrary to vast amounts of polling data.

    The few people policies like this would alienate would be countered tenfold by the numbers of long-term alienated non-voters that cannot stomach a voter for Labour, the number of Lib Dem defectors who will not consider Labour with their current Tory-Lite agenda and would bring back many of the 22% you yourself said are considering Green who voted Labour in 2010.

    There are many things I dislike about the Green Party. There are many things I dislike about Labour. However, at the moment, the Green’s policy offering is far more aligned to my own ideology than Labour’s. Yet when I do an ICM poll, I’m still stating my intention to vote Labour. So 22% of 2010 Labour voters are committing to Green right now. How many people committing to Labour, on top of the 22%, are wavering?

    Start publicly criticising some of the policy commitments of the Green Party and that 22% will only increase.

    Start adopting some of the Green Party’s more popular policies, and that 22% will all but vanish.


      Dont entirely agree but keep up the good thoughts.

    • PG_Bill

      Bang on target, but a waste of time – you might as well be writing in Martian for all the notice Labour’s leadership will take. The concepts are too alien

    • David Stringer

      As a low level Green Party activist, I’d love if Labour properly moved to the left. When I first heard the announcement that Miliband was going to call for an £8 minimum wage I was excited – until I realised that it probably would still be significantly below the level of the living wage when the deadline’s reached.

      Given that a much smaller number of Green Party members have been lifelong members, I’d say a lot of our votes are still up for grabs if Labour can prove they’re serious about moving away from Thatcherism.

    • Michael Murray

      And you would reduce the deficit by . . .?

      • RegisteredHere

        Calling “odious debt”?


      • Danny

        Growth. The deficit is not as big a problem as many people would have you believe.

        Besides, many of the policies listed would assist in deficit reduction, some in the immediate term (binning Trident and HS2) but most as part of a longer game. A higher minimum wage would decrease the welfare budget and increase the treasury’s tax receipts, assuming that it did not cause massive job losses but if you take the introduction of the minimum wage as a case study, that won’t happen. Reducing the pay gap will increase consumer spending power and therefore the treasury’s VAT tax receipts and will boost employment in certain sectors. Nationalising the east coast mainline has seen an increase in its contribution to the nation’s coffers and a decrease in its subsidies (whilst improving customer satisfaction levels), expanding it into other franchises should have similar results, which would further reduce the deficit you seem to fret about.

        Because none of the policies I mentioned involved cuts, you assume they will not assist in reducing the deficit. Don’t let yourself be hypnotised by the Tory spin machine. Cutting is not the only way, nor the quickest way, to reduce the budget deficit. That’s pretty much been proven. The Tories said they would get rid of it in 5 years in 2010. At the rate they’ve managed, it’ll be more like 15. Do you think a comprehensive economic stimulus plan would have taken anywhere near as long or had anything like the disastrous, and in extreme cases fatal, consequences?

        It’s far more important for the economy and society to get more people into jobs and out of poverty pay than it is to cut the deficit by slashing spending. There is little to suggest that Labour will put an emphasis on the former. They’ll continue to peddle the Thatcherist agenda that has royally f*cked us and will continue to royally f*ck us periodically until radical reform of our economy and our politics is instigated. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Unfortunately for us the leading politicians in all the mainstream parties do not appear to be au fait with that particular pearl of wisdom from Einstein.

        • Michael Murray

          So the Greens believe that our 1.4 Trillion deficit is going to be reduced solely by growth? No cuts? No High levels of taxation? All right. What levels of growth do you forecast for reducing the deficit and over what time frame? And by the way I’m too old and too jaundiced to be influenced by any spin machine, Tory or Green.

          • The deficit is not £1.4 trn, it’s a tenth of that size.

          • John Smith

            No , just a paid up member of the Labour spin machine, geez !

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          Unless you are a City bond trader, with the ability to affect interest rates, I think you will find that the level of deficit is a very big real world problem.

          Thankfully, the people who will be taking decisions on economics and finance in the next five years (Balls or Osborne) are not listening to you. And given that while individually they are both wanting, there are several thousand impartial civil servants doing the arithmetic to support the judgements.

          The entire intellectual might of the Treasury vs the wisdom of Danny, the man who likes to be photographed next to a murderer? I trust the judgement of the civil service a little more.

          • Michael Murray

            Would that be the same Civil Service that sent borrowing up over the last quarter?

          • PeterBarnard

            I’m afraid that the “entire intellectual might of HM Treasury” is founded on the writings of the defunct 19C “economists,” David Ricardo and Rev Thomas Malthus, Jaime.

          • Danny

            Wait, what? Osborne and Balls don’t visit LabourList and form their policies based on what they read? Oh man, if I’d have known that I’d never have bothered posting.

            “There are several thousand impartial civil servants doing the arithmetic to support the judgements.”

            What a quaint and naive belief in how the Treasury forms economic policy.

            “The man who likes to be photographed next to a murder?”

            Semantics. Though I do see a potential epitaph in there. It’s puzzling that it bothers you so, considering you’re a person who has stated admiration on here for Tony Blair, a man who has shaken Gadaffi’s hand and enjoyed millions of pounds from consulting a murderous and oppressive Kazakh regime. Does your black or white approach to ethics cease to be relevant when you make moral judgements on people more aligned to your own ideals?

        • Robert Leslie

          You raise two key points here. Firstly the introduction of the ‘living wage’ as the level for the minimum wage. Let us put a stop to employers remunerating their work force with ‘poverty pay’ and the state topping up their workers’ income through tax credits. Why are we subsidising employers? Secondly, in the same vein, let’s build council houses. There is a crying need for decent housing at affordable rents – let’s address it! In one fell swoop we can put a stop to greedy private landlords lining their pockets from Housing Benefits receipts. Why are we subsidising private landlords?
          Do these two things and we will not only make the UK a better place to live but also get a grip on the benefits budget by cutting the subsidies that we grant to the rich and the powerful.
          It’s an agenda I would vote for. If the Labour Party can’t offer it then I will vote for a party that does. If that is the Greens, well….

          • Michael Murray

            You are so right. The subsidisation of private landlords is of course one of the consequences of Thatcher’s ‘Right to Buy’. Elsewhere on here I have argued for the scrapping of the Right to Buy and the building of a million new council homes. Now that is something UKIP can’t and would never promise. As well as being the right thing to do it would connect us once again to our core vote. Ditto the Living Wage.

          • PeterPuffin

            Labour target of 200,000 homes only addresses the growth of households so the key is how is it going to redistribute the existing resource more fairly; silence from Balls and Miliband which makes them, as a Labour member and a tenant, useless to me; plus fair rents see above

    • PeterPuffin

      This is a very disappointing factional diatribe that is full of the politics of small time local rivalries and very little on policy and how an earth the Labour Party attends to the fact of gaining a majority that commands respect in and a vision for the country. I have for some time been arguing that a Bristol West / Brighton Red Green one constituency Pact would protect Caroline Lucas who has been outstanding and should remain in Parliament. The key issue for me is housing;1) Labour needs to address the Buy to Let empire it created, its rip of rents that are key for millions. The fact that the housing resource was built by previous generations and should be “not for profit”; ownership rights strong for the owners of 1/2 properties; fair rent act based on 3.5% returns on invested value; ie 420 pounds a month for 150,000 plus a contribution for upkeep; say 500 a month and owners of the BTL estates unhappy with this encouraged to sell……………………that would release massive housing resource for the people and win millions of votes. Then let Labour say that its puts people first; massive vote winner amongst the young across the south. As for climate change have nt heard a peep from Labour while its target of 200,000 homes only addresses the growth of households so the key is how is it going to redistribute the existing resource more fairly; silence from Balls and Miliband which makes them, as a Labour member and a tenant, useless to me.

      • treborc1

        That;s devolved and Carmarthenshire where I live the right to buy ended months ago, sadly we have very little left the council stopped building council houses in the 1990’s

    • mollie collins

      On the cusp of relinquishing my Labour Party membership to join the Greens because of the policies you listed.

  • OO

    Unlike most people here I’m not a Labour member. I’m a floating voter, currently leaning a bit red. Let that not be mistaken as enthusiasm though, Labour is lacklustre at the moment and my current support owes more to the failings of others than to anything inspiring from the red camp. Which, to be honest, is timid as a dormouse except when attacking others.

    So why post this on a blog where it’s plainly not going to be received well? Because attitudes like those in this post are a large part of why I’ve never bought into the Labour brand, and are also why Labour are failing to win (back?) these voters.

    There are more political positions than Labour and Tory. Where do they go? A full on socialist has little reason to vote Labour these days. A social liberal may well have reasons to be suspicious after Blair. An environmentalist may think Labour have done too little, a green Labour group won’t cut the mustard with them! This is to say nothing of people who just don’t trust Labour, I know plenty of people who are not averse to Labour policy but don’t trust them to deliver or who feel betrayed by New Labour.

    The question isn’t why aren’t they voting Labour because that’s clear. Labour has not made much effort to offer these swathes of centre and left voters anything. Labour is not entitled to all left wing votes, the Greens and, yes, the Lib Dems offer something better to some of them. Stop raging and make a counteroffer to these voters if you want them in the red fold. You’re just alienating them (and swing voters like me) by complaining. It looks childish. Those like Tom Copley, putting democracy over party political advantage, are far more attractive to undecided voters and soft voters from all sides. Learn from him, temper your tribalism and become less cynical.

    And while those other parties exist they can, should and do compete against Labour. They offer something different for different people and for them to offer Labour a free pass is undemocratic. Yet many Labour loyalists don’t seem to understand this. Political opinion is diverse.

    And also, incidentally, Labour/Conservative coalitions in local government have existed. So you might want to row back your criticism a bit, lest you leave yourself open to accusations of hypocrisy.

    So less attack, more offering reasons to vote Labour please. I live in Brighton and the Labour group’s strategy of attacking the Greens with ridiculous fruit analogies have lost my firm Labour vote next locals. The Greens have been incompetent but the Labour group seems to lack any ideas and seem to just want power for its own sake, which is even worse.

    Tl;dr: if Labour wants to stop losing support to other left parties then how about actually giving their voters a positive reason to vote for you, policy-wise? Constant attack fires up the party base but entrenches opposition and alienates soft and swing voters (like me).

    • Visual

      Good post!

    • Michael Murray

      I admit to being a Labour member but I don’t think it’s correct to say that most people on here are.

  • Socrates11

    Extremists eh?! The refreshing thing about the Greens I find is a lack of slandering of other parties, with the focus very much on policies necessary for social justice. Business as usual with the rich screwing the poor/environment drastically needs to stop, I really don’t think the Labour political elite get this point.

    • Nicky Easton

      Not slandering of other parties? Come to Brighton. Here Greens stalk women council candidates.

      • John Smith

        Come to South Liverpool were an elected labour councillor printed and posted hundreds of smear leaflets against the Greens, he doubled the Green vote !


      I have just left the Green Party after 11 years, as it is continually demonstrating in Brighton that it too is happy to screw the poorest, in alliance with Labour and Conservatives.
      They are no friend of the workers.

      • John Smith

        And Labour is ?


          No. They’ve been a big obstacle to social change on this island, as people have put faith in them, in the belief they have represented socialism (though have never been a socialist party, merely a party with socialists in) only to be betrayed over and over again.

  • Doug Smith

    What’s the point of voting for the Tory/Lab/Progress – we need an alternative to the military disaster-supporting, austerity-enforcing Establishment parties.

    I’ve never voted for any party other than Labour but in 2015 I’ll vote Green or UKIP.

  • jonathanlindsey

    One of the failures of labour is to grasp the need for radical policies about where we are going, not simply as a party, or a nation, but as part of a culture where the intertwined fates of growth, consumerism, gross inequality and corporate world dominance are placing well attested threats to our persistence as a species. These are the sorts of issues that Greens do concern themselves and yes do get obsessive about. There are many voters, young and not so young who feel those concerns.One can say that they feel these issues as important as they have no job, or one which in no way reflects their capabilities. But they do not turn from labour because they are not recognised but perhaps more because they see a larger picture than climbing up the ever more elusive ladder of success in a dwindling world of point or purpose; a world increasing digitilised and where traditional labour or work can be encompassed by intelligent machines and moreover where traditional politics is taken over by a class of self selected individuals whose expertise is politics and its ever more empty circle. True in contrast to the Conservatives Labour is a party whose concern is peoples welfare, but through a pair of glasses that see almost only this contrast. But try to suggest change in the Party and it will evaporate as yet another committee gets down to its business.

  • Visual

    Dear oh dear oh dear oh dear

    Such a load of tribalism, Luke, is not good politics. Where is any kind of analysis of why Greens are oppositional to Labour in various circumstances? Anything to do with Labour mantra of: “Labour Labour Labour all else is rubbish??” It was Labour who months ago put Caroline Lucas’ seat (the only Green MP, who on many issues has been the progressive voice) on the target list for winning at the General election, so not surprising that they target Labour seats. Our first past the post voting system forces some of these antagonisms, of course, and we argue for PR BECAUSE IT IS RIGHT AND BECAUSE IT IS ABOUT DEMOCRACY not short-term tribal influence. We have to learn to build alliances, yes and reach out to groupings that we may have our differences with, but with whom we can work on certain issues. Don’t blame all the others; look at our own practice and approach. The party that can make the first moves is the party of progress. But not with your combatative, harmful approach, Luke.

    Have you noticed that even under FPTP we are moving to coalition governments? The argument about being opposed to PR because you would have to “do deals” (I would say learn to work with other people and find acceptable compromises) simply does not hold water any longer.

    Your article is a demonstration of what turns people off politics. Haven’t you noticed the dangerous alienation of voters from politicians? Don’t you think you should have a look at whether your approach ameliorates or exacerbates the dysfunctional culture of politics? When I read your article, a bit of me wanted to just walk away and let people like you get on with it. Frustrated, alienated, angry. And I guess that mirrors what many voters feel about how politics is done in UK.

    We need a change of culture. Your article does nothing to assist except to show how much we need to change.politics

    • David Powell

      The problem with our electoral system is precisely because it is a system designed to appear to legitimise the power of the winner, with power to those who put friends in safe seats, and bnot tro empower the electorate over those elected

  • Harry

    This article saddens me. To ‘triangulate’ UKIP on immigration and yet deride the Greens for proposing genuinely Lefty policies shows how close Labour is to losing any real intellectual and electoral ‘space’ and support base at all.

    • I have to ask why is it that it some so-called Labour supporters and
      spokespersons say we should listen to UKIP and their voters (and be just be a
      bit racist) and yet engage in street combat with the Greens. Without a
      policy programme that addresses the needs and desires of those we look to
      compete for all we have is name calling and the promise (or otherwise) of
      victory. It isn’t enough.

  • B. MacIntosh

    Expediency over principle at every turn. You represent the moral bankruptcy of the Labour Party.

  • The reason that Labour voters are turning to the Greens (and “Red Ukip”) is because Labour is still too Blairite. Nobody in UK Labour has the guts to admit this, and by making up feeble alternative excuses they will lose in 2015.

  • Ben Gardner

    Like many others here I feel saddened by this article. It’s a hangover from New Labour days that your reaction to a rise in a left wing cause is to blindly defend the short term interest of your own party. If Labour isn’t willing to own the progressive agenda in the UK it’s can’t complain that other parties fill the void. The real lesson from both the Lib Dem and Green situation is not to complain and attack people for voting for them, it’s to offer them a realistic alternative.

  • MikeHomfray

    Many of us not on the right of the party do like the Greens and welcome the fact they don’t hold Luke’s views on defence and nuclear weapons
    If Murphy gets selected as Scottish leader, then I think many more Labour voters would opt for the Greens.
    I think if we want PR, and I know Luke does, we would have to work with allies – the Greens are the obvious choice on the left.
    Certainly infinitely preferable to the LibDems!


      Given the amount of Lib Dems jumping ship and joining the Green Party, there is only one way they are heading.
      That is why I have just quit the Green Party after 11 years.

      • Graham Ward

        Where’s your evidence of a rightward shift in the Green Party?


          I’m not saying there is a rightward shift. They haven’t shifted. This is where they have been all along, and it is only now, when they have been in a position of any power, that they have been exposed as to their true nature.
          As with Labour of old, claiming to to be a friend of the Working Class, we saw the reality of this myth whenever they became the Government.
          The Green Party have been exposed also.

          • John Smith

            I am afraid you are talking utter nonsense, you are just a sad little man with a personal axe to grind. God help any political party that ends up with you as a reprsentative or member !

      • Chrisso

        But in another post above you said you had quit the Green Party because “it is happy to screw the poorest, in alliance with Labour and Conservatives. They are no friend of the workers.” So which reason did you really have: ‘because LibDems are joining them’ or because the Greens are aligning ‘with Labour and Conservatives’? Or did you just make this up?


          All of the above.

    • uglyfatbloke

      If Murphy gets selected as Scottish leader there may be some slippage to the Greens, but it will be a mere trickle compared to the number of voters who turn to the gnats. Hopefully he’ll stick to bullying and making himself rich and keep out of the Scottish leadership campaign entirely.

  • WibbleWibble

    This article neatly illustrates why voters like me are finding it more and more difficult to support Labour. I’ve voted Labour all my life, flyered half of Bethnal Green and Bow for Oona King, been an on-off member of the party, and am utterly appalled at the destruction the shower of shits in power have wrought on our social fabric. But when I look to Labour I see pusillanimous, don’t-frighten-the-horses policy offers, missed goals, a complete acceptance of the neo-liberal agenda with just a bit of messing about at the margins, and an utter disconnect with real people’s lives. This is why I can’t be bothered about helping out Naushabah Khan’s campaign in Rochester even though I live next door – what, exactly, would it change?
    I opened this article hoping for a bit of discussion about the relative merits of policies and alternative visions of our society. Instead it is full of bile, arrogance and impotence. The writer fulminates at the Greens for going after voters, sneers at the voters who voted Green, and lashes out at people who might support the Green policy offer.
    If you want people to vote Labour, offer policies that people support. If not, they’ll vote elsewhere. It is still our right to cast our ballots as we choose, we don’t owe them to Labour.

  • duncanjdavis

    Where did I put my var?

  • RegisteredHere

    This article puts me in mind of the many Tory-authored articles rubbishing UKIP.

    ConLab coalitions ahead?

  • Ms Mary Lloyd

    When I was fighting a council seat for Labour in 2011, there was a big environmental issue in the ward (huge Biomass proposal). I made sure to work with the locals (heavy rep from Tories, Greens Libs, a few Lab) against it & became 2-i-C of the No Southampton Biomass campaign. This activity (which residents still top me to talk about) along with raising sustainability issues on doorsteps, meant that the Green vote was 50% down and I achieved the best Labour turnout for 10 years. Not ALL the Greens are like those you mention in Hackney.

    • Dave Postles

      Well done to you and thanks.

      • Ms Mary Lloyd

        Thanks. Don’t know hat I’d do without Labour List. You may like to know that the ward was won for Labour in 2012 an we have an excellent candidate for 2015.

  • Penis Van Lesbian

    As an outsider, there is something both depressing and farcical about the way this issue is framed in this article. Hint:there is 0% discussion about whether the greens are monsters or a reasonable alternative. They are just an “enemy”.

  • Dan

    You’re probably right about what the Greens are really like (I might sound paranoid, but I really don’t trust a party run entirely by middle-class people to not “go native” if they ever got a sniff of power like the Lib Dems did), but Labour cannot absolve themselves of blame for the Greens’ rise. If Labour wants to win back these voters who are sick of austerity and Tory economic policies, they will simply have to change their own policies.


      You are right not to trust the Green Party leadership. As a former Green Party member from 2003 until earlier this month, I wouldn’t trust the leadership as far as I could throw them.
      Even those posturing to be left-wingers would now sell their souls for just an ounce of power.

      • Chrisso

        Oh dear. You keep repeating yourself.

      • John Smith

        Or are you just a Labour stooge ?

  • robertcp

    A depressingly tribal article. Luke sounds like an East European Communist during the late 1980s.

  • Caroline Molloy

    What a bad tempered, ill informed article from Luke Akehurst – whose Hackney Labour party formed a coalition with the Tories to keep the Lib Dems out. Meanwhile Green councillors do work in coalition or co-operation with Labour – for example in Stroud where I live – not sure what his evidence is that they mostly form coalitions with Tories.

  • Tigger123456

    It might help if “Labour” was the slightest bit left wing, not racist, and not in the pockets of corporate lobbyists. What is the modern Labour Party for? You deserve a good kicking every bit as much as the Tories. Targeting Caroline Lucas’s seat in 2015 shows just what anti-social tribalists you are. Disgusting.

  • Tigger123456

    It might help if “Labour” was the slightest bit left wing, not racist, and not in the pockets of corporate lobbyists. What is the modern Labour Party for? You deserve a good kicking every bit as much as the Tories. Targeting Caroline Lucas’s seat in 2015 shows just what anti-social tribalists you are. Disgusting.

    • Chrisso

      “What is the modern Labour Party for?” This is the question on the lips of the Welsh and Scots. And many English people too. At present with just 7 months to go, the Labour Party seems likely to go into terminal decline. And I leaflet for them locally as a supporter but not a member. As long as they continue with the current blue Labour policies I become less likely to bother doing even that.

    • John Smith

      Spot on !


    After 11 years as a Green Party member in Greenwich, and coming closet to becoming the first ever Green Party Councillor in the Borough of Greenwich in May 2014, I have now quit the party.

    The actions of the Green Party in Brighton, as well as the electoral opportunism in the Greenwich branch of the party, have ensured that as a Socialist, I could no longer remain in the Green Party as I couldn’t remain in the Labour Party in the 1980’s.
    You are judged by your actions, not by your pretensions.
    The Green Party had clearly demonstrated it is a bourgeois party, and that its “green capitalism” has ultimately nothing to offer the Working Class.

    • Dave Postles

      I see the points which you are making. Where do you go? It’s up to the unions to develop that party, but they seem to tolerate Labour. TUSC just doesn’t seem to have any traction.

      • BillFrancisOConnor

        Big piece on Radio 4 about the possibility of a deal between the Fibs and the Greens next May and proposed by Andrew George the Fib MP for St Ives in Cornwall.
        Look: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-29815432

        • Dave Postles

          ‘But Caroline Lucas, former Green leader and currently the party’s only MP, was not receptive to the idea.
          She told the BBC that as long as the Liberal Democrats are
          “going in exactly the wrong direction on everything from fracking, nuclear power, and nuclear weapons, then I don’t think that’s got much traction.”‘

          None of the parties appeal; they all have faults, some more than others. I’ll stick with the Greens, but I’m more interested in unions and extra-Parliamentary action. I see no prospect of voting Labour.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            There is only going to be a choice between two possible governments next May. If the Tories get in we know that we’re going to get a continuation of The Bedroom Tax, the Health and Social Care Act, etc while a vote for the Greens could help the Tories. The choice seems pretty simple to me.

          • Dave Postles

            Most of us live in ‘rotten boroughs’. Our vote will only be determinate in any sense in terms of the popular vote (aggregate votes cast). My voting Green will neither assist Ken Clarke nor impede the election of a Labour government (if such it is). It will, however, send a message through the aggregate vote: that we do not like Labour as it is constituted and it would really be better either allying with or accepting policies from the Greens, either through a formal coalition or, more likely (given the smell from Labour), a confidence and supply arrangement. The Green strength is in the west, which is why George made an approach to the Greens. Keep up.

    • John Smith

      Trevor Allman, who claims to be a Green Party local candidate in Greenwich, London, says on 10 Apr 2013 that he wishes the British Prime Minister had been killed by terrorists.
      The Green Party looked into it and replied: “Not candidate or Green Party member (records show lapsed 2010).”
      Allman’s twitter account was taken down.


        My account was suspended by Twitter, not by me. and was up and running again within hours and is still going strong.
        Whilst I hadn’t been a member of the Green Party nationally since 2010, I had been a local member, as it was £5 cheaper, and I didn’t get the continual mail-outs.
        And I received 1,098 votes for the Green Party in Blackheath Westcombe Ward on 22 May 2014, and was closest Greenwich Green Party candidate to being elected, as I was in 2010.
        And I stand by my comments about Thatcher.
        Hope the above is helpful to you.

  • PeterPuffin

    This is a very disappointing factional diatribe that is full of the politics of small time local rivalries and very little on policy and how an earth the Labour Party attends to the fact of gaining a majority that commands respect in and a vision for the country. I have for some time been arguing that a Bristol West / Brighton Red Green one constituency Pact would protect Caroline Lucas who has been outstanding and should remain in Parliament. The key issue for me is housing;1) Labour needs to address the Buy to Let empire it created, its rip of rents that are key for millions. The fact that the housing resource was built by previous generations and should be “not for profit”; ownership rights strong for the owners of 1/2 properties; fair rent act based on 3.5% returns on invested value; ie 420 pounds a month for 150,000 plus a contribution for upkeep; say 500 a month and owners of the BTL estates unhappy with this encouraged to sell……………………that would release massive housing resource for the people and win millions of votes. Then let Labour say that its puts people first; massive vote winner amongst the young across the south. As for climate change have nt heard a peep from Labour while its target of 200,000 homes only addresses the growth of households so the key is how is it going to redistribute the existing resource more fairly; silence from Balls and Miliband which makes them, as a Labour member and a tenant, useless to me.

  • robertcp

    The “mistake” Labour made with the Lib Dems resulted in the Tories failing to win a majority and then the Lib Dems committing political suicide. What is the problem? Labour was never going to win in 2010!

  • Liam John Liburd

    The Greens are starting to fill a vacuum. This vacuum was left by a Labour Party that seems extremely reluctant to do what is popular and is fully in accord with their principles (or what’s left of them). If the Greens are increasingly popular because their policies are unambiguous in their commitment to defending public services and reversing privatisation, increasing the tax burden on the rich, re-nationalising transport and power, implementing the Living Wage, defending workers’ rights (after all LABOUR Party), scrapping an expensive, pointless and dangerous weapons system, maybe it’s time Labour did some serious “soul-searching”. It might be socialism, but now it’s a practical and desperately necessary alternative. And I say this as a Labour Party member.

  • Tuğrul Crombach

    ” if we move towards their policy stances we will alienate vast numbers of mainstream voters.”

    Double check the last part of that sentence. It makes no sense. Labour have already alienated vast numbers of mainstream voters. *Rare* is the time when Labour have *not* alientated vast numbers of mainstream voters.

    So that sentence makes no sense, and should probably be re-thought as “we have nothing to lose by moving twoard their policy stances.”


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