Brighton, where the Green Party run the council. Photo: Getty
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The difference between radicalism set in reality, and the Green Party

A vote for Labour in 2015 will bring about a government that will help deliver a progressive economic, social and environmental agenda.

Personal experience tells me that many Green Party voters share the same values as Labour: reducing inequality, saving the NHS, upholding human rights, building homes, creating sustainable jobs and protecting the environment. These are values we share in our attempts to create a fairer society for all. But in reality, the opportunity to put our shared values into practice is put at risk every time the progressive vote is divided.

The last Labour government took the hugely significant step of establishing the minimum wage, but some Green Party voters were concerned that inequality continued to rise. They shared our passion for social justice but questioned our commitment to civil liberties. We recognise that we made mistakes. That’s what Ed Miliband said in his campaign to be leader of the Labour Party in 2010, and why under his leadership, our party has rediscovered its radical spirit – one that drives our policy programme.

We want to build a fairer country and that’s why reducing inequality is the cornerstone of our economic agenda. Taxing bankers’ bonuses to support the next generation of young talent, a mansion tax to fund more doctors and nurses, and the restoration of the 10p income tax rate all show how serious Ed is about creating a more equal society.

We have renewed our belief in social justice. We are fully committed to the European Court of Human Rights, which ensures the protection of the sick, disabled and vulnerable. We also believe in making our political debate more relevant to people’s lives. This means deepening and expanding our democracy and we are proud to support extending the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds. And we want to devolve more power away from Whitehall and strengthen local government.

We also have an ethical foreign policy we are proud of. The instincts that led Ed to oppose the Iraq War were the same ones that made him stop the rush to war with Syria last year. Just this month, Labour MPs led the vote in Parliament to recognise Palestine as a state.

Ed was the first ever Secretary of State for Climate Change, and his commitment to tackle climate change is crystal clear from his pledge at Labour conference to make the UK a world leader in the green economy by 2025, creating one million new green jobs

This is a truly radical agenda and we will be a government that all progressives can be proud of. Crucially however, it is a radicalism grounded in reality – and a far cry from the Green Party’s approach to office.

You just have to look at my home city, Brighton and Hove, where the Green Party run the council, to see what an unrealistic agenda looks like. Indeed, they have given radicalism a bad name, with unwanted gesture politics and unattainable promises.

Elected on a “No Cuts, No Privatisation” ticket, they’ve delivered cuts totalling 50 per cent with greater private sector involvement than when the Tories were in charge. Recycling rates have not only decreased but are now less reliable than at any point I can remember. They said they would build 1,000 new affordable homes but have not even reached a third of that. Their blinkered approach to education has seen temporary classrooms built on primary school playing fields, and a failure to invest in a new secondary school that will see the city run out of places in three years’ time.

Compare this with the achievements and practical radicalism of Labour-run authorities. Islington’s administration wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo by taking its waste and recycling services back in house, resulting in a more efficient deal for local residents. In Barking and Dagenham, Labour has a £9-an-hour living wage for all council staff. Oldham, meanwhile, is working to fight fuel poverty through the Fair Energy scheme, helping 38,700 households each save over £170.

To those still considering voting for the Green Party next May, and yet to be put off by the Brighton and Hove experience, I have one simple message: Labour has changed. A vote for our party will bring about a government that help will deliver a progressive economic, social and environmental agenda. Join us and be proud of what we achieve together.

Lord Bassam of Brighton is Labour’s Chief Whip in the House of Lords and a former leader of Brighton and Hove council. He is part of Labour’s Green Party strategy group. He tweets at @StevetheQuip

Steve Bassam, Lord Bassam of Brighton is Labour’s chief whip in the House of Lords. He tweets at @StevetheQuip.

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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.