Monday, 6 April 2020

Labour’s Apparent Shift to the Right is a Big Opportunity for the Green Party

Keir Starmer’s convincing victory in the Labour leadership election appears to mark a move away from the Corbyn era of the last five years. Starmer talked a left wing stance during the leadership campaign, and that with his ‘statesman’ type demeanour, looks to have been enough to swing the result his way. But judging by the indications of his shadow cabinet appointments so far, it does seem that his leadership of the party will pursue a more centrist route than that of the Corbyn years.

Looking at social media, many Labour members are unhappy with Starmer’s victory, and saying they have left, or are about to leave the party, but others, perhaps most, are saying they will stick around to see what policies emerge from new leader. When things settle down, there may well be a mass exodus from the Labour party, of many of those who joined the party after Corbyn’s surprise victory in 2015, of perhaps hundreds of thousands of members. Will these people abandon party politics, or will they join other parties?

On social media again, some ex-Labour members have said that they are joining one of the various small socialist sects, and some are saying that they have joined the Green party, or are thinking about it. We should remember, that in 2015, before Corbyn became the Labour leader and the huge surge in members to the party, there was a large-ish surge in membership of the Green party, reaching in excess of 70,000, a record high for the Greens.

The 2015 general election saw the Green party record 1.1 million votes, another record high, but this momentum was reversed once Corbyn became Labour leader. All of this was part of the same phenomenon, a feeling of dissatisfaction with politics as usual, particularly on the left. Might we see history repeating itself, in reverse, with a surge from Labour to the Greens?

Many long established Green party members also joined Labour after 2015, especially those activists on the left of the party. Might some of these people return to the Greens, now that Labour appears to be reverting to type, a centrist Tory light party? One of the main reasons that I decided to stick with the Greens, rather than follow some of my comrades into the Labour party, was that I suspected, at some stage, Labour would revert to its pre-Corbyn leadership mode. It looks as though I was right.

Many of the policies that Corbyn’s Labour championed were taken from the Green party, pretty much a straight lift, like the Green New Deal, but will these policies continue to be pursued by Labour? Starmer, during his campaign to become leader, gave the impression that these policies would not change, but there has to a huge question mark over this now he has won. I expect that they will be quietly dropped or at least watered down to be become worthless in any meaningful sense.

The Green party is not perfect, far too many members are ‘lifestyle’ greens of a liberal persuasion, and if anything once Corbyn became Labour leader, has shifted to right, which was to be expected with large numbers from the left of party joining Labour. There will be enough competition for the centre ground at the next general election, with the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems pitching their tents there, so it is pointless for the Greens to follow suit. The electoral space will be on the left, the radical left.

There are still socialists in the Green party, me amongst them, but the ‘not left nor right, but forward’ brigade has been gaining influence. Of course an influx of socialists from Labour would boost the left’s influence in the Green party.

There is an ecosocialist grouping in the Green party, to which I belong, called Green Left, which is organised and provides a pole of attraction for socialists in the Green party and a campaigning group to push ecosocialist ideas, inside and outside of the party. Any recent socialists who may have joined the Greens recently, can join Green Left, by following the instructions here:

For peace, ecology and socialism, the Green party is the largest party in England, and so is best placed to carry the fight on, when Labour abandons these positions in favour of the soggy centre ground, which it surely will.  


  1. Rebecca Long-Bailey stuck to her 100% support for Jeremy Corbyn right through her election campaign. A close ally of John McDonnell and champion of what she called " The Green second industrial revolution" at a Unison meeting in Salford during her campaign,she certainly is not a " centrist" . And yet, Kier Stamer has brought her in his shadow cabinet with a key job for Education. Keir Starmer's declared main objective is to win elections. And he was in favour of a People Vote too !

  2. Not again Mike. How many times does the Party has to be driven down the the disastrous path of overt leftism, trying to occupy a space that does not fit with Green Politics, and is so easily reclaimed by Labour.

  3. It was very successful in 2015, and can be again, as long as we avoid daft things like a pact with the LDs. I think you are a ring winger Peter, given your opinions on population matters, but not all greens are.