In the News

Vote red, drop green?

Mike McCartney

27th June 2023

Labour's environmental policies look muddled. Does it matter?

Andrew Rawnsley in this week's Observer thinks it does.

In September 2021, Rachel Reeves, the Shadow Chancellor, nailed Labour's green credentials to the mast with the announcement of a £28 billion green investment plan.

Or so we thought. Fast forward to earlier this year, and the party appeared to backtrack on this commitment.

This had echoes of David Cameron in opposition in the mid-2000s. In the run up to the local elections of 2006, the Conservative Party released pictures of its leader in the Arctic being pulled along by a sleigh of huskies. This ran parallel to a Tory theme at the 2006 polls, encapsulated by the slogan, "Vote Blue, Go Green." See video below. No need to watch it all, I'm just posting it as evidence.

But when the Conservatives gained office in 2010, there wasn't much evidence of the greening of the party. See this audit of the party's green credentials a decade on from Cameron's husky pledge. (Note that this was shortly before the resigned as party leader - the two issues are unrelated.)

So does an apparent wobbles on environmental policy by Labour under Keir Starmer matter? Rawnsley argues it does, arguing that Labour needs to stick to its more radical green agenda, both because it's good government, but also because it's electorally popular. With regards to the latter, I'm not convinced that environmental policy matters all that much when voters go the polls in national elections as much as it is a deciding factor at local elections.

See Rawnsley's article here on why Labour should u-turn on its u-turn.

More background reading on Labour policy under Starmer here in a previous blog post.

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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