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Anger from Labour activists after Green New Deal motion blocked

The Independent logo The Independent 16/09/2021 Andrew Woodcock
a close up of Keir Starmer: keir-starmer.jpg © PA keir-starmer.jpg

Labour climate campaigners have accused the party leadership of a “stitch-up” after their motion on a Green New Deal was blocked from debate at this month’s annual conference.

The motion, submitted by 21 constituency parties and backed by the left-leaning Momentum movement, was rejected by the conference arrangements committee days ahead of the Brighton gathering, when Keir Starmer is expected to clash with supporters of his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn’s former shadow chancellor John McDonnell told The Independent that the move would “demobilise and demotivate a large section of our membership”, particularly among younger voters, at a time when the party roll has been shrinking.

But party sources insisted the Green New Deal remains a Labour commitment. With many motions submitted by members and affiliates, the issue will be on the priorities ballot when the final subjects for debate at conference are decided.

Labour for a Green New Deal blamed party staff for keeping the Green Jobs Revolution motion off the agenda, while other less radical proposals were allowed to go through.

Momentum co-chairs Gaya Sriskanthan and Andrew Scattergood said there was no doubt that responsibility lay with Starmer and his new general secretary David Evans, and called for a demonstration in protest on the first day of the conference on 25 September.

It is understood that the Labour for a Green New Deal motion was opposed on the grounds that it was too wide-ranging, as it took in commitments from Corbyn’s 2019 manifesto including the nationalisation of key industries like energy and rail as well as the creation of a National Care Service and free broadband.

LGND co-founder Chris Saltmarsh said: “By interfering to block this motion, the CAC and party staff have stifled the will of members.

“It makes a mockery of party democracy and further exacerbates unnecessary division between the leadership and the Labour membership. It also sends entirely the wrong message to voters: that Keir Starmer’s Labour is uninterested in the bold solutions we need to tackle the climate crisis.

“This anti-democratic decision must be overturned now.”

In a joint statement, Ms Sriskanthan and Mr Scattergood denounced the decision as “a disgraceful rejection of our responsibility to each other, to younger generations and to the rest of the world”.

“Tackling climate change requires systematic transformation, and our policies in this area cannot be siloed into isolated, ineffective parts,” they said.

“There can be no doubt this was a stitch-up to keep progressive policy off the agenda.

“While the right had a majority at today’s meeting of the committee, the recommendation to remove the Green New Deal motion came directly from Labour Party staff.

“Responsibility lies with David Evans and with Keir Starmer, who pledged in his leadership election campaign to put the Green New Deal at the heart of everything we do.

“It is now well known in the Labour Party that the pledges Starmer stood on are worthless, and it will soon be known to an entire generation of people who are looking to political leaders to stand up and take action against climate change. Without the support of these people, Labour will never again get into government.”

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