Greens rule out Momentum chief’s call for merger with Labour

A senior figure called the idea 'just patronising'



The Greens have hit back at calls by a key Corbyn ally for a formal merger between the Labour Party and the Green Party.

Jon Lansman, the founder of Momentum – the Corbyn-backing campaign group – today raised the prospect of taking a ‘progressive alliance’ to the next level through the Greens becoming a semi-formal wing of the Labour Party – in a similar relationship to the Co-Operative Party, which does not run candidates against Labour.

Speaking at a Labour conference fringe meeting in Liverpool on Tuesday, Lansman said: ‘Why shouldn’t the Green party have the same relationship with the Labour party that the Co-op party has with the Labour Party?,’ according to

Lansman said under his proposed model, Greens would be able to join Labour with equal voting rights, ‘including the very important one of selecting candidates’.

However, a senior source ruled out the prospect of any merger between Labour and the Greens: ‘We’re not going to become a party within the Labour party. [We’ll stay] separate parties, working together when possible/useful.’

Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, told Left Foot Forward:

‘While I have great respect for the traditions of the Labour Party, and agree with the leadership on many things, I believe both in the distinctiveness of Green policy and in the merits of a multiparty democracy.

That’s why my Party will continue to make our united voice heard loudly and clearly, on issues such as trident replacement, stopping Hinkley power station and democratizing the post-referendum process, but we’ll also look to work across party lines wherever there is common ground.’

However, she added:

‘Since no one single party has a monopoly on wisdom, and the chances of a Labour majority are vanishingly small, we owe it to the public to explore whether our separate parties can work together to bring about a progressive Government at the next election.’ She said backing proportional representation would be a condition of the Greens engaging in any progressive alliance.’

Another senior Green Party figure responded to Lansman’s merger plans, telling Left Foot Forward:

‘There’s room for doing something differently, but the idea of being a wing of the Labour Party is just patronising.’

A progressive alliance – including a formal pact between Labour and the Greens – was a key plank of Caroline Lucas MP and Jonathan Bartley’s leadership campaign this summer, with the two securing 87 per cent of the vote.

However, the response from Lucas and other senior figures suggests anything more serious than standing down in selected seats on the condition of Labour backing PR is off the cards – at least for now.

Josiah Mortimer is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

7 Responses to “Greens rule out Momentum chief’s call for merger with Labour”

  1. John Clarkson

    The Labour Party are fundamentally a party of heavy industry, and those on social benefits. The Green Party are fundamentally a party of everyone, because a clean environment, sustainably developed using modern clean, increasingly low cost technology (like solar, wind, wave power) and a society developed to be more sustainable in terms of human impacts on future generations (reducing waste, building houses in sustainable areas away from flood plains and getting society to be less reliant on medicine, and more reliant on helping themselves stay healthy in a natural way where possible) is quite different to Labour’s short term thinking! The Greens are the party of what MUST happen once oil is too expensive to harvest. It is not a matter of IF, but WHEN. Even Shell know that 2026 – 2046 will change everything once it takes $1 to extract $1 of oil….

  2. Joe Chapman

    It seems that Momentum want *all* the votes, including in places with Labour candidates who Momentum themselves consider to be ‘Blairite’. This could equate to, for example, in Oxford City where there are no Tories, the only opposition to the right wing politics of Labour Oxford City Council (The Greens), would be wiped out. Which may well happen anyway as Labour have used the popularity of a leader they don’t even want, to attack the only party that is opposing the right.

    I joined the Green Party, not Labour, I don’t support Labour, it’s not radical enough, even under Corbyn and it’s in utter disarray backed by a new kind of cockiness where people laugh in the faces of those who point out Corbyn, as it stands, is virtually unelectable, by claiming that because members have elected him leader, he must therefore be electable in a general election. It’s a logical fallacy though, because most Labour voters aren’t Labour members, most Labour voters voted for the MPs that don’t want Corbyn. Utter disaster and it’s bringing the entire left down and helping the Tories.

  3. Chris Foren

    Mr Lansman’s proposal was rather typical of the controlling nature of the Labour party. I am a member of the Green Party and have been advocating an electoral pact since before the last general election. In my view this should embrace the LibDems as well, (and SNP and Plaid).
    Such an agreement would stop the Tories benefitting from a divided opposition. Each party would remain distinct and independent. Lansman’s plan is merely a crude takeover bid.

  4. Simon Cross

    I agree with both comments above but would go further and say that I have never felt so insulted in 30 years of supporting the Green Party. We are not like Labour, just because they plagiarise then manhandle our policy does not make them Green. Over and above this, the Momentum faction of Labour are very much like Millitant and however much people gravitate towards Corbyn Nd McDonnell they also have more in common with the Tribalism of Millitant than the inclusive politics of true Greens.

  5. Anonymous

    Can we please focus on looking for common ground in terms of policies, rather than have two broadly non-neoliberal parties fighting each other over their differences ? John Mc Donnell called for a ban on fracking; if we focus on this common ground, it will help both parties; if however, we continue to reinforce messages of how unelectable they are, how fragmented they are, this just serves the neoliberal cause.

  6. Gerhard Lohmann-Bond

    It can’t happen the way Jon Lansman is suggesting (if only because that would require a change of party rules which is unlikely to find broad support among our membership), but we shouldn’t decry attempts at looking to cooperate where such cooperation makes sense. I welcome the way Corbyn has taken over large parts of last year’s Green manifesto and made them his own (plagiarism IS a very sincere form of flattery), although an acknowledgement of his intellectual indebtedness to the Green Party is still missing. Even if that is not likely to be forthcoming, I still think the best way of getting other parties to accept our ideas is to make them believe they thought of them in the first place. What is missing so far is some kind of reciprocity. Greens shouldn’t dismiss Lansman’s suggestion out of hand, even though they are clearly not workable as they stand. Instead we should welcome them as the opening gambits of a concerted attempt to end the reign of a Conservative government, which has clearly run out of ideas.

  7. Jonathan Kent

    Lansman’s comments betray a worrying lack of both political nous and emotional intelligence. Greens have had to endure all sorts of abuse from certain Labour members, especially in any area where the Greens have had success – the bitterness of some Labour figures in Brighton and Oxford has been deeply depressing.
    Today’s politics are plural. People coalesce around issues. They lend their support, they don’t pledge it. The old two-party system is dead and I’d be amazed if it returned. The internet is building constituencies based on interests not geography and it’s not lending itself to mass movements, but to more focused activism.
    Unless Labour can ditch the tribal mentality, embrace the new plural politics, fight for a properly democratic system that reflects all views rather than that pushes people into two camps, and learn to work constructively with others, it will simply be a large opposition party rather than the leader of a broadly constituted government.
    I’m a Green because I believe not only that its vital to hand our children and grandchildren a viable planet and a viable future, but because I value freedoms and civil liberties. The last Labour Home Secretary or Shadow to be truly liberal in this regard was Roy Jenkins. Labour is very right wing on personal freedoms. I couldn’t fight for a free society within Labour so I do it with the Greens.
    That said I’ve never, in thirty years as a Green, baulked from finding common cause in good faith with others. Less of the taking over and more of the talking over please.

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