Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan speaks at the Labour conference in Brighton last year. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Exclusive: Sadiq Khan appointed to lead Labour unit on Green Party threat

Shadow justice secretary tasked with preventing loss of voters to left-wing rival. 

In recent months, Labour figures have become increasingly concerned by the electoral threat posed by the Greens. The growth of the party, which has polled as high as 8 per cent in some polls and has increased its membership by 45 per cent this year to 26,000, is in danger of creating a split on the left to match that on the right. 

Alongside their traditional environmentalist platform, the Greens are promoting policies with strong appeal to Labour voters such as a £10 minimum wage by 2020, a wealth tax on the top 1 per cent and the renationalisation of the railways, branding themselves as "the only anti-austerity party". In close contests with the Tories and the Lib Dems, most notably in London, the level of the Green vote could make the difference between winning and losing. 

In response, I can reveal that Labour's election strategy chair Douglas Alexander has appointed shadow justice secretary and shadow London minister Sadiq Khan to lead a unit on addressing the threat. Khan, a leading figure on the left of the party (he ran Ed Miliband's leadership campaign) and a former chair of Liberty, is regarded by party sources as a figure well placed to reach out to a group of voters who lie to the left of most of the public and who were alienated during the New Labour years. 

That the party has taken the step of creating this role shows just how seriously it is taking the Green challenge (avoiding the complacency that some Tories demonstrated towards Ukip). After being excluded from the broadcasters' TV debates proposal, party leader Natalie Bennett and her colleagues will cite this as further evidence that they deserve a platform alongside Ukip. The Tories, as I noted yesterday, will certainly hope they are successful.  

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs

Obama:

The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.

Trump:

For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming

Obama:

With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

Trump:

On the Middle East:

Obama:

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 

Trump:

We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”

Obama:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.

Trump:

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

 

On trade

Obama:

This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  

Trump:

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland