by Peter Franklin
Friday, 12
February 2021

Why Keir Starmer should be worried about the Greens

A halfway competent protest party on the Left could cause him problems
by Peter Franklin
Is this what a Stalinist hatchet man looks like? Credit: Getty

Are the Greens about to eat Labour’s lunch? No, says David Jeffery in a soundly-argued post for UnHerd. A bit of movement in a couple of polls is no cause for excitement. Keir Starmer has little to fear from the Brighton-and-Bristol party — nor does he have much to gain by chasing their votes (adds Nick Tyrone, in a post for the Spectator yesterday).

But, hang on, what’s this? It’s yet another poll, this one from YouGov, putting the Greens in third place. Admittedly, overhauling the Lib Dems right now is not the grandest of achievements. Still, if we keep getting results like this then we’ll have stop calling it noise and declare a trend.

At the very least, we should recognise the potential for a significant loss of Labour support. After all, it’s happened three times in the last twenty years. In the aftermath of the Iraq War, a lot of Labour voters went off to the Lib Dems (under Charlie Kennedy and, later, Nick Clegg). Then there’s the loss of Labour’s traditional working class support, first to Nigel Farage and, subsequently, Boris Johnson. The third great disaster was the wholesale loss of Scotland to the SNP. Remember that the reds won 413 seats in 2001; they’re now on less than half that total.

Could we see yet another iceberg calving-off the melting Labour glacier? If I were Starmer, I’d pay close attention to research conducted for More in Common, which splits the electorate into seven “tribes”. One of those tribes — “the Progressive Activists” — stands out for its political correctness, lack of patriotic instincts and outspokenness on social media.

You couldn’t think of a bunch of people less likely to be impressed by Labour’s attempt to wrap itself in the Union Jack.

In Germany, voters like these — young, urban, college-educated — have quit the Social Democrats for the Greens. As is the way with tipping points, this happened gradually at first and then suddenly.

Of course, the Germans have proportional representation, which makes things easier for minor parties. And yet UKIP didn’t need PR. First Past The Post stopped them from winning seats, but not from upending British politics — and changing the Conservative Party for ever. A halfway competent protest party on the Left could do the same to Labour.

For instance, it could take the form of a ‘progressive alliance’ between the Greens, Lib Dems and other Left-leaning movements. Obviously, this would require some hitherto ineffective politicians to get their ducks in a row, but, as Jeremy Corbyn proved, these things sometimes happen.

Join the discussion

  • What Labour need to do seems obvious to me.

    Talk endlessly about real jobs, schools, housing and hospitals until the traditional meme is fully reinstated.

    Every woke utterance (or kneel) sets their reputation back to the disastrous perception widely held at the 2017 election.

  • ‘Talk endlessly about real jobs…’

    And what would anyone in today Labour Party know about ‘real jobs’?
    it would be like you or I talking about astrophysics.* We know nothing about it and we have no right to speak on the subject.

    *My apologies if you happen to be an astrophysicist or something of that nature.

  • It’s a shame you have responded to my comment – which was written with the intent of helpfully reminding Kier Starmer what matters most to the electorate – as a means to air your apparent contempt of people whose views you have guessed to be more right wing than your own.

  • To get involved in the discussion and stay up to date, become a registered user.

    It's simple, quick and free.

    Sign me up