Why socialists say vote Labour, not Green

By Jo Sneinton

Early predictions of a surge in support for the Green Party in the general election have not materialised. In particular, polling suggests that support for the Greens among young people has declined heavily during the course of the campaign, in favour of Labour. Nonethless, the Greens may win significantly more votes than they did in 2017 and 2015.

People who are left-wing, who want a society that is freer and more equal, who care about migrants’ rights, peace and combating the deadly threat of climate change, should vote Labour, not Green.

One – valid – argument is that in every virtually every seat, Labour is much better placed than the Greens to defeat the Trumpesque, hard-right, hard-Brexit Tories. In Labour-Tory contests, voting Green very straightforwardly helps the Tories win. But that is not the only argument.

On some important issues – airport expansion, Brexit, migrants’ rights and nuclear weapons spring to mind – the Greens have a better or clearer position than the Labour Party. For all Labour’s shortcomings, however, the Green Party is in no way a working class-based or socialist force.

The political and social character of the Green Party was vividly demonstrated by Green MEP and parliamentary candidate Molly Scott Cato’s idea, published in an article in the Independent on 10 December, that the Greens are best on climate change “because we are not beholden to unions or corporations”.

Some of the criticisms Scott Cato makes of trade union conservatism on climate change are just; but rather than arguing to transform the unions, she lumps them in with big business as a vested interest to take on.

It is very noticeable that the Green manifesto says little about workers’ rights and still less about trade union rights – in contrast to Labour’s manifesto, for all its limitations.

And as explained here, the Greens’ policy for confronting climate change is in some respects actually less radical and ambitious than Labour’s – in ways which its lack of focus on the class structures and dynamics of society help to explain.

Despite Corbynism, Labour’s character as a workers-based movement has weakened; it needs strengthening, not further downgrading. The Greens push in exactly the wrong direction. Only a working-class movement fighting capitalism can really confront and begin to tackle the climate crisis and other burning social questions.

Vote Labour on 12 December!

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