By Yuri Prasad
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The Greens are making gains but are they an alternative?

The Greens pitched left in big towns where Labour holds office, but tacked right to win over Tory votes in rural areas
Issue 2904
Councillor Mothin Ali illustrating a picture about the Green Party

Mothin Ali won of the Green Party in Leeds with the ­glorious battle cry, ‘We will not be silenced. We will raise the voice of Gaza. We will raise the voice of Palestine. Allahu Akbar’

The Green Party in last week’s local elections won over many left wing Labour voters furious with Keir Starmer’s support for Israel’s war on Palestine.

The party has long called for a full ceasefire in Gaza, stopping the sale of British arms to Israel and a targeted boycott campaign in support of Palestine.

In big towns and cities where Labour generally holds office, the Greens pitched left. Here they talked about the need for renters’ rights and new council houses—and their opposition to the war.

These popular, left wing positions helped the Greens win 34 of the 70 council seats up for election in Bristol, for example. The party left Labour trailing a distant second with just 21 seats.

In Leeds the Greens took three seats from Starmer’s Labour. Mothin Ali won in Gipton and Harehills with the ­glorious battle cry, “We will not be silenced. We will raise the voice of Gaza. We will raise the voice of Palestine. Allahu Akbar.”

The party also took seats from Labour in Newcastle, South Tyneside, Sefton, in Merseyside and in Stroud, in Gloucestershire. In London, the Green Party vote for mayor dropped by 2 percent compared to the 2021 election.

But that fall reflects the change to the first “past the post” election system and the way the media talked up chances of a Tory victory. We can be certain of this because the Greens nearly doubled their previous vote tally in the London Assembly elections held at the same time.

Carla Denyer, the co‑leader of the party in England and Wales, said, “There is no doubt our stance on national and international issues also affected how people chose to vote. We had a lot of voters bringing up Labour’s disappointing positions on Gaza and the £28 billion climate change investment.”

But her party was far less forthright about Palestine and climate change ­investment in elections in more rural areas, where the Greens are mostly in a battle to win over Tory voters. Here it preferred to campaign solely on “local issues”, such as litter in the streets, obstructive ­parking and the need for more journeys to be made by bicycle.

In Hastings, a small coastal town in southern England, the Greens surged from the fourth party to the first in the elections by ­winning seats from both Labour and Tories.

The party’s election ­leaflets here were barely distinguishable from those of its Liberal Democrat rivals. There was no mention of the Palestine and social justice issues the party ­campaigned over in Bristol and Leeds, for example. And there was also no mention of the coming ­climate catastrophe.

That shows that the Green Party are trying to face in two different directions. In some areas, they talk up the radicalism needed to solve the crises facing people and planet.

But the party really wants to divert social movements from the streets into the safe channel of voting. In other areas, the Greens want to prove themselves an efficient but more environmentally friendly manager of the system.

And in towns and cities where the party will now be in charge, we’ll get to see what that means. In Bristol, for example, the Greens attacked Labour’s budget last year for its cuts. But will the Greens in office be brave enough to defy the law and set an illegal budget without cuts? That’s unlikely.

Those who depend on local services—and all those who march for Palestine and the environment—need far better than either of the two faces of the Green Party

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