Who’s afraid of the Green party? Within Labour, the answer varies depending on which member of the shadow cabinet you speak to. Some laugh off the idea that the Greens present an electoral threat from the left, because of the two-party system. As one party veteran puts it: ‘Labour has two opponents. In England, it’s the Tories. In Scotland, it’s the SNP. It’s that simple.’ The prevailing view among many of Keir Starmer’s disciples is that left-wing voters – Green or not – will be so desperate to oust the Tories that they will vote for Labour no matter what.
On the other side of the shadow cabinet table are those who think there is a risk in the Labour party looking Tory-lite. ‘I do worry about the Greens,’ says one shadow minister. ‘There’s a chance that voters go there instead.’ A recent YouGov MRP poll in the Telegraph suggests the Greens pose a threat to shadow culture secretary Thangam Debbonaire. It projected that the Greens are just four points behind Labour in the seat she is contesting, Bristol Central. ‘There’s a reason she’s not been sent on the morning rounds to defend Starmer’s position on Gaza,’ says one Labour figure.
The internal debate also provides a helpful way of finding out how MPs feel about the current direction of the party. Concern about a threat from the Greens tends to be code for saying Starmer is not radical or left-wing enough.
Nowhere is the quandary more apparent than the confusion over the pledge Labour made three years ago to borrow £28 billion a year to reach clean power by 2030.