Saturday 18 February 2023

Is it time for the Labour Left to Support the Greens?


Written by James Dickins

The Labour Party has returned to the politics of blaming the victims and rewarding the bankers and super-rich who have got Britain into its current catastrophe. In his speech on Wednesday this week, Keir Starmer, the Labour party leader’s message to the Labour left was, “If you don’t like the changes we’ve made,” “the door is open, and you can leave.”

Maybe for these honourable people, it’s time to embrace a new kind of politics which prioritises ordinary people and common decency instead. Despite maybe it being imperfect, should left Labour voters send a message to Labour, and back the Greens at the next General Election?

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor – 'dog whistle’ politics

In 2013, Reeves said that Labour would be “tougher than the Tories” in slashing benefit payments.

In 2020, Reeves led a campaign to erect a statue of notorious Nazi sympathiser, Lady Astor, who once described Hitler as a potential “solution” to the “world problems” of Jews and communism, and said “there must be something of the Jews themselves which had brought them persecution throughout all the ages. Was it not therefore, in the final analysis, their responsibility?”

In 2022, Reeves falsely claimed that “the Government are not deporting people today even when their [asylum] claims have failed.”

The Green guarantee:

We will never engage in ‘dog whistle’ politics – which targets the vulnerable and minorities in search of cheap votes.

Rachel is a banker

Between 2006 and 2010, Reeves worked for Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS), which was centrally involved in the 2008 financial crash. In 2017, two former senior HBOS officials were sentenced to 11 and 4 years respectively in prison for fraud in the period leading up to the financial crisis. Reeves is currently Labour’s Shadow Chancellor. The bankers got Britain into its financial crisis. Now Labour is now proposing to use them to get us out of it!

The Green guarantee:

We will never allow special interest groups to make national policy – particularly when these groups have themselves caused our problems in the first place.

And Starmer is a liar

In 2019, Keir Starmer made 10 pledges to Labour members to get himself elected Party leader – all of which he has now broken. The Green Party supports all the policies abandoned by Starmer in an attempt to appease powerful interests. We will work tirelessly to carry them through.

What Starmer Promised  

Pledge 1 - Economic Justice:

“Increase income tax for the top 5% of earners, reverse the Tories’ cuts in corporation tax and clamp down on tax avoidance, particularly of large corporations.”

Pledge 2 - Social Justice:

“… Stand up for universal services and defend our NHS. Support the abolition of tuition fees ...”

Pledge 3 - Climate Justice:

“Put the Green New Deal at the heart of everything we do …”

Pledge 4 - Promote peace and human rights

No more illegal wars. Introduce a Prevention of Military Intervention Act and put human rights at the heart of foreign policy. Review all UK arms sales and make us a force for international peace and justice.

Pledge 5 - Common ownership

Public services should be in public hands, not making profits for shareholders. Support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water; end outsourcing in our NHS, local government and justice system.

Pledge 6 - Defend migrants’ rights

“Full voting rights for EU nationals. Defend free movement as we leave the EU. An immigration system based on compassion and dignity. End indefinite detention and call for the closure of centres such as Yarl’s Wood.”

Pledge 7 - Strengthen workers’ rights and trade unions

Work shoulder to shoulder with trade unions to stand up for working people, tackle insecure work and low pay. Repeal the Trade Union Act. Oppose Tory attacks on the right to take industrial action and the weakening of workplace rights.

Pledge 8 - Radical devolution of power, wealth and opportunity

Push power, wealth and opportunity away from Whitehall. A federal system to devolve powers – including through regional investment banks and control over regional industrial strategy. Abolish the House of Lords – replace it with an elected chamber of regions and nations.

Pledge 9 - Equality

Pull down obstacles that limit opportunities and talent. We are the party of the Equal Pay Act, Sure Start, BAME representation and the abolition of Section 28 – we must build on that for a new decade.

Pledge 10 - Effective opposition to the Tories

Forensic, effective opposition to the Tories in Parliament – linked up to our mass membership and a professional election operation. Never lose sight of the votes ‘lent’ to the Tories in 2019. Unite our party, promote pluralism and improve our culture. Robust action to eradicate the scourge of antisemitism. Maintain our collective links with the unions.

What Starmer Did

Pledge 1 - Starmer has abandoned all of these policies. He also took £50,000 (only declared after he was elected) to fund his Labour leadership bid from wealthy businessman Trevor Chinn, who has defended low income-tax rates and the loopholes used by the wealthy to avoid paying tax. Chinn is also a major donor to Rachel Reeves.

Pledge 2 - Labour has now abandoned universal services, in favour a contributions-based system – meaning the poorest and most vulnerable will get less under Labour. Labour’s Health Minister Wes Streeting has said Labour will further privatise NHS services. Streeting has taken £15,000 from John Armitage (who has also donated over £3 million to the Tories) who has huge investments in private health-care firms. Armitage will no doubt be expecting a ‘return’ from his ‘investment’ in Starmer’s Labour Party. Labour no longer supports the abolition of tuition fees.

Pledge 3 - Starmer has abandoned the Green New Deal, now saying that Labour will only match the Tories’ commitment to go ‘carbon-neutral’ by 2050. By then, it will be too late to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Pledge 4 – This remains to be seen, if Labour wins the next General Election, but Blair’s Labour said the same thing, and look where that led.  

Pledge 5 - Starmer has abandoned the public ownership of mail, energy and water. Labour now supports further outsourcing (privatisation) of the NHS. When Reeves was asked in 2021 if she supports renationalising the railways, she just laughed.

Pledge 6 - Instead of ‘compassion and dignity’, we get Rachel Reeves’ dogwhistle lie, “the Government are not deporting people today.”

Pledge 7 - Starmer’s  Labour Party has time and again refused to back striking workers, even those on the lowest wages. Asked whether he supported the strike by British Airways check-in over management’s refusal to reverse a 10% pay cut, Shadow Cabinet member, David Lammy said: “No, I don’t. It’s a no. It’s a categorical no.”

Lammy was paid £140,000 over three years as a Labour MP, for after-dinner speeches he gave to international banks, and other corporations, like Citicorps, Deloitte and Novartits – firms that will certainly be wanting to see a ‘return’ on their investment should Labour ever get into power.

Pledge 8 - Starmer’s  Labour has no intention of redistributing wealth from the rich to ordinary people; it is too tucked up in bed with the banks and powerful commercial interests. Under New Labour, the rich actually got richer and the poor poorer, as the meticulous research of  Prof. Danny Dorling (University of Oxford) has shown.

Pledge 9 - While  Labour may be “the party of the Equal Pay Act, Sure Start, BAME representation and the abolition of Section 28”, they are also the party, which under Blair and Brown made Britain more unequal by 2010 than it had been when Blair was first elected in 1997.

Under Keir Starmer, racism has been allowed to flourish in the Labour Party. “They don’t value us,” one Black councillor told me. “As a community, we are politically lost” (Independent, Mar. 1, 2021).

Pledge 10 - Far from offering ‘forensic opposition’ to the Tories, Starmer’s Labour Party hardly offers any opposition at all.

Former Tory mega-donor, Gareth Quarry, who recently defected to Labour, giving it £100,000, commented “Under Starmer, it is not a dramatic change.”

What The Greens Will Do

Pledge 1 - We will do all this – and more – to build a genuinely fair Britain, where the rich, who have benefitted massively from the ‘neoliberal’ Tory and Labour policies of the past 40 years, are made to pay more to support hardworking ordinary people.

Pledge 2 - The Greens absolutely support universal services, and oppose the further privatisation of the NHS. We will abolish student tuition fees.

Pledge 3 - The Greens will implement Labour’s abandoned Green New Deal – and more – by 2030. Unlike Labour, we believe in giving our children, our children’s children – and the world, a viable future in a world not destroyed by climate change.

Pledge 4 - The Greens will continue to be a force for global peace. This is why, in the Middle East, we oppose Israel’s apartheid against the Palestinians (through the peaceful civil-rights-based Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movements, we oppose Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s war on Yemen (through a ban on weapons sales to both these countries), we oppose the Iranian regime’s suppression of its ethnic and religious minorities.

We similarly oppose Russia’s war on Ukraine, China’s oppression of the Uyghurs  and Tibetans, and Modi’s anti-Muslim Hinduvista. Unlike Labour and the Tories, Greens know that peace has to be built through international solidarity, rather than waiting until a war breaks out.

Pledge 5 - The Greens absolutely support renationalisation of rail, mail, energy and water, and a fully public NHS – public services for the public good.

Pledge 6 - The Greens recognise that immigrants – from doctors and nurses, to agricultural workers, IT specialists and professional carers – have made, and continue to make, a massive contribution to Britain’s economy and society. We absolutely reject Labour’s anti-immigrant dog-whistle politics.

Pledge 7 - The Greens support a national ‘social contract’, under which all workers will get fairly and decently rewarded for the work they do.

Pledge 8 - The Greens are committed to a fairer, more equal, as well as greener society. Unlike Labour, we do not take funding from powerful business interests, and we will not bow to these interests at the expense of ordinary people.

Pledge 9 - The Greens stand for genuine equality and social justice – unlike the empty rhetoric of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party.

Pledge 10 - The Greens offer real, principled opposition to the Tory policy of making the rich richer, and the poor poorer – and to Labour’s feeble, watered-down version of this. Britain deserves better than Keir Starmer, and his corporate-backed Labour Party.

Keir Starmer lied to get himself elected as Labour leader. How could we possibly trust him to do what he said he will, if he was leader of the country?

The Green guarantee:

Unlike Labour, we will stick by our commitments. We will never allow wealthy and powerful interest groups to dictate national policy – particularly when these groups have themselves caused our problems in the first place.  

James Dickins is a member of Leeds Green Party and a Green Left supporter.


  1. Probably wishful thinking, but argument well put. However, the GPEW will have to get its act together in terms of internal democracy and sharply veer off its dominant identity politics ideology if it is to retain anyone on the left of Labour contemplating joining the party. And that looks like a tall order right now.

    1. We are already seeing Labour members joining the GP.

    2. The membership remains static around 50.000, according to the chair of the GP's Executive' s latest report. Slight drop in paid memberships due to " the cost of living" but an increase in " supporters".

  2. A good - and interesting - piece; and very timely now that it's confirmed that Jeremy Corbyn will not be allowed to stand as a Labour Party candidate. But there's also the question of whether a well-intentioned and principled - but essentially protest - vote is more/less important than trying to ensure the Tories are kicked out of power. Plus, of course, if the Greens decide to hold hands with the LibDems again, as they did in 2019, would that end in a fudge not that different from Starmer's position? Because the LDs are still neoliberals - and thus NOT 'Progressive'! Difficult questions for ecosocialists - which will need to be resolved very soon.

  3. we have seen the dilemma for voters in the US: whichever party they vote for, they get much the same (rotten) policies. That lack of real choice is what we now face in UK. Sadly Greens in Europe seem to crumble when in coalitions. If GPEW ever comes near to sharing power, would our values and policies be compromised? Even now, a conference motion proposes reducing our current opposition to NATO

  4. And support HS2

  5. Since Jay's comment, GPEW Conference DID vote to support NATO - &, seemingly, the use of nuclear weapons: I believe the motion which passed merely asked NATO not to be the first to use nuclear weapons. And another worrying 'Realo' trend: it seems that, unlike Left Unity & Breakthrough Party, GPEW are not officially supporting this weekend's 'The Big One' in London. If correct, I assume it's because they don't want to upset LibDems & other 'soft tory voters'!

  6. If the Labour Party was to finally commit to legislate for a fair vote where every vote counts - PR actually IS their policy - then may be the greens may possibly consider entering into some kind of negotiations at constituency level to form an anti-tory electoral pact.

  7. i see no sign of Labour supporting PR, despite most CLPs doing so. But if they did, many people, including some Greens, would be pleased to unite to defeat Tories.