Exclusive: Compass members endorse Ed Miliband

Miliband tops ballot of Compass members, with Diane Abbott in second place.

In the first indication of how Labour members might vote in the leadership contest, Compass members, in a secret ballot, have overwhelmingly endorsed Ed Miliband to be the next leader of the Labour Party.

More of a surprise, perhaps, is that Diane Abbott, often regarded as no more than a maverick, came second in the vote, further indication of how the party and its members are turning left following the failures of New Labour in its terminal phase.

Earlier today, as my colleague George Eaton reported, David Miliband's campaign released details of a YouGov poll, commissioned by them, showing that voters see David as the most credible alternative leader to David Cameron. But the people surveyed are not Labour members and David Miliband is a former foreign secretary, and thus much better known than his rivals.

In the Compass poll, David Miliband, who is sometimes unfairly caricatured as a Blairite, finished third. Ed Balls finished last, even though he has been widely praised for his expertise as an economist and for his attacks on the coalition's deficit reduction programme by, among others, Irwin Stelzer and David Blanchflower, both writing in the New Statesman magazine, and Martin Wolf, writing in the Financial Times.

Neal Lawson, the chair of Compass, said: "This overwhelming result shows that amongst centre-left party members and activists Ed Miliband is the clear choice for leader. It is time to break with the now electorally disastrous politics of New Labour so that first the head and body of the party can be reunited and then Labour with the country."

Despite Jon Cruddas, the Dagenham MP who is close to the Compass group, having endorsed David Miliband (to the dismay of many), it's possible that Ed Miliband may now emerge as the figure around whom the pluralist left of the party will gather.

Here is the result in full:

Ed Miliband: 55%

Diane Abbott: 19%

David Miliband: 12%

Andy Burnham: 4%

Ed Balls: 3%

None of the above: 7%

Jason Cowley is editor of the New Statesman. He has been the editor of Granta, a senior editor at the Observer and a staff writer at the Times.

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The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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