Starmer “missing in action”, say activists fighting for ‘Green New Deal’

Sienna Rodgers

Keir Starmer has been accused of being “missing in action” as 1,300 Labour members have demanded a ‘People’s Green New Deal’ as part of the hard-hit UK’s coronavirus pandemic recovery.

Supporters of the Labour for a Green New Deal campaign have sent a template submission calling for a “new social settlement” to the party’s national policy forum consultation on a green recovery plan, which has now ended.

The activists are urging the leadership to back public ownership of key industries and utilities, free full-fibre broadband, public stakes being taken in failing airlines and stringent conditions on government bailouts.

Starmer pledged to “fight for a Green New Deal now, not in 2024” during his leadership campaign, but has been criticised for failing to mention it in the run-up to Rishi Sunak’s financial statement next week.

The opposition party has repeatedly told the government to set out a ‘back to work budget’ that keeps people in their jobs, supports those who have lost their jobs and creates new opportunities – yet the call does not touch on green priorities.

“Labour members have been pleased to see Ed Miliband call for a Green New Deal in recent weeks. Yet Keir Starmer has been missing in action,” Labour for a Green New Deal co-founder Angus Satow said.

“At a time of social, economic and climate crisis, the Labour leadership is ignoring both party policy and members’ proposals for a green recovery in favour of empty soundbites. Boris Johnson might be showboating, but Starmer isn’t even on the pitch.”

The activist group is waiting for a response from the party to its “bailouts for workers and planet, not billionaires” petition signed by 1,600 Labour members and submitted two weeks ago.

Lauren Townsend, spokesperson for Labour for a Green New Deal, added: “Labour should step up the fight for a real Green New Deal… We need an unprecedented state mobilisation for a just and green recovery, now.”

Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and other Socialist Campaign Group MPs joined party activists last week in calling for the new leadership to support the ‘Green New Deal’ policy programme.

They signed a letter demanding that Labour does not drop the climate programme put forward by Labour in 2019, and stating that party policy includes committing to a path to net-zero by 2030 and public ownership of the energy sector.

But asked whether Labour backs a 2030 net-zero target, Keir Starmer’s spokesperson did not confirm that the aim was currently party policy and instead stressed that the manifesto would be “written in four or five years’ time”.

Miliband, as Labour’s business and energy spokesperson, called last month for the creation of a “zero-carbon army of young people” and “the most ambitious climate recovery plan in the world” post-coronavirus.

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