There’s a clear route to Labour election success: a Green New Deal

'Labour must propose radical solutions to the climate crisis, and history shows us that relying on market driven solutions is a dead end'.

Labour Party Rosette

Michael Anderson is a policy researcher for Labour for a Green New Deal.

The 2021 election results will have provided serious food for thought for anyone who wants to see a Labour government (let alone a radical one). Aside from glimmers of light in Wales, success in Preston and Salford, and holds in key mayoral seats, the results were, to say the least, a disappointment for the British Left.

Labour not only failed to increase their share of the vote in the Red Wall Hartlepool by-election, they lost thousands of votes and the seat two-to-one. With hundreds of council seats being lost across the country, and Labour again slipping backwards in Scottish Parliament elections, Labour is certainly not where it needs to be.

This will all be of little surprise to anybody who has observed British politics for the last year. Starmer’s policy strategy has always lacked bite – appearing to rely on a lack of faith in people to be able to understand, or care, what they’re voting for, and consequently relying on air-filled policy offers and empty rhetoric. 

Not only does this feel wrong instinctively, we have data that makes clear the opposite case:  there is a clear route to electoral success based on offering fundamental change to people’s lives – specifically, radical economic change. On the basis of Datapraxis’ quantitative analysis the Labour Together report concluded that ‘a strategy that builds greater public support for a big change economic agenda, that is seen as credible and morally essential, rooted in people’s real lives and communities’ is the most ‘likely to attract a coalition of voters broad enough to return Labour to government’. And this is no one-off: time, time and time again the public has consistently expressed support for radical economic policies. 

A key strand of big economic change policies are those aimed at addressing the climate crisis. With governments now having less than a decade to take the action necessary to prevent the worst consequences of climate change, the importance and urgency of this issue means that any politician looking to promise big economic change must start here. And, in line with what we know about public opinions on big economic change policies, this strand of policy is popular: 56% of the public support rapid and total decarbonisation of the UK by 2030.

So, Labour must propose radical solutions to the climate crisis, and history shows us that relying on market driven solutions is a dead end. The radical economic and environmental transformation which our society so desperately needs will not be won through triangulation or focus groups, but through presenting a clear, compelling vision for the future. A Green New Deal must be this vision for the future. It would rejuvenate deindustrialised communities up-and-down the country; unite young and old voters, and shift wealth into the hands of the working class. It is the radical position the Labour Party needs to take in order to prevent further ecological, economic and electoral catastrophes.

In recognising this, Labour for a Green New Deal is assisting local campaigners, politicians and CLPs through creating accessible, informative policy primers (available to access here). From creating low carbon and integrated transport systems, to implementing the ‘Preston Model’ and tackling food poverty, these policy primers explain not only what a Green New Deal is and what it looks like, but how it can be implemented – including today, particularly in local government and in localities more generally.

This is a key part of our primers because simply campaigning on these issues will not be sufficient. If Labour wants to prove to voters that it is capable of delivering the changes that this country needs, we have to begin in every mayoralty and council we run. We have to use every policy lever at our disposal and we have to organise in workplaces across the country. A Green New Deal is nothing if it is not concrete, and we must show it can be.

Doing so will go so far to emphasise the key distinction at the heart of the difference between the Green New Deal and the empty, air-filled, election-losing politics of yesterday: that these are policies which can enable the radical change that people want for their lives.

Labour for a Green New Deal is a Labour campaign group building a coalition to fight for a Green New Deal. You can find out more about their work here

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