Most Green Party supporters share the same values and aims as the Labour Party: reducing inequality, saving the NHS, building more homes, a commitment to human rights and civil liberties and protecting our environment. It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning and it’s why we entered politics.
Like me, they were proud of the many amazing achievements of the last Labour government: the introduction of the minimum wage, reducing child poverty by a third, the introduction of the Human Rights Act, civil partnerships and the groundbreaking Climate Change Act. But after 13 years of Labour government, they also had concerns on issues such as civil liberties and the Iraq war.
These concerns were shared by Ed Miliband in 2010. It’s why he ran for the leadership of the Labour Party on a message of change, it’s why I decided to support him and, ultimately, it’s why he won. Under Ed’s leadership Labour has rediscovered its radicalism and boldness and we have redoubled our historic fight against inequality.
Labour’s policies are the most radical of any party, six months away from a general election that there’s every chance we will win. Reducing inequality is at the heart of our economic agenda. We will massively increase the minimum wage, bring back the 10p tax rate for low earners and scrap the bedroom tax. We will introduce a mansion tax on properties worth more than £2m, and bring back the bankers’ bonus tax and the 50p tax rate for the very wealthiest. We will build 200,000 homes a year by the end of the next parliament, invest at least £2.5bn in the NHS and make schools accountable to local communities again.
On human rights and civil liberties, we are committed to defending our Human Rights Act from Tory attacks and staying in the European Court of Human Rights. We will extend voting to 16- and 17-year-olds. And we will end the abuse of stop-and-search powers. When it comes to foreign policy, Ed has apologised for the Iraq war, which both he and I opposed. We stopped David Cameron’s rush to war in Syria last year, and just last month we voted in Parliament to recognise Palestine.
Ed’s environmental credentials put David Cameron to shame. Ed was the first Secretary of State for Climate Change – a position he fought to create. He played a key role in saving the Copenhagen climate change negotiations from collapse. We will build on our Climate Change Act by creating 1.5 million new green jobs by 2025, making five million homes energy-efficient within 10 years and make the UK’s energy supply carbon-free by 2030.
There will always be those who say we need to go further. But ideals alone are not enough – it’s action that makes a difference to people’s lives. I visited Brighton last week, where the Green Party has run the council since 2011. The council is in real trouble and deeply unpopular with local people. Recycling rates have fallen dramatically and are now among the worst in the country. Less than a third of the affordable homes that were promised have been built. There have been months of strikes by council workers because pay and conditions have been attacked. Piles of rubbish were left festering on the streets throughout a summer of discontent. For me, the failed Green experiment in Brighton shows that creating a better society needs more than just the right values, it also needs realistic plans that can be put into action.
All the opinion polls say that the Green Party will not win a single MP next year. Even Caroline Lucas, with whom I agree on a great many things, looks set to lose her seat. The only party that can form a green and progressive government is Labour.
Like it or not, under the first-past-the-post system, every vote for the Green Party only makes it one vote easier for the Conservatives to win the election. It splits the progressive vote in many constituencies, and means that Tory candidates can win, despite a clear progressive majority opposed to them. Voting for the Green Party next year will only make it more likely that David Cameron will stay on as Prime Minister. That means more tax cuts for the rich, failures on climate change and the continued privatisation of the NHS.
I want those voters considering supporting the Green Party next year to give Labour a chance to prove that we are a truly radical party again. We will be a government they can be proud of and I want them to vote for us with pride. Because the choice is clear: you can either vote for the Green Party, or for a green government – and that can only mean a Labour government.
Sadiq Khan chairs Labour’s Green Party Strategy Unit and is shadow Justice Secretary
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