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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How Jeremy Corbyn and an Arsenal player roasted Piers Morgan… in Spanish

Muy burn.

As if politics in the UK wasn’t spicy enough, watch what happens when you do it in Spanish.

It all started when backward ham Piers Morgan complained in a piece for the Mail that Jeremy Corbyn and his wife froze him out of a conversation with the Arsenal player Héctor Bellerín at the GQ Awards:

“Later, fellow Arsenal fan Jeremy Corbyn came over to speak to him. When I tried to interrupt, the Labour leader – whose wife is Mexican – promptly switched to fluent Spanish to shut me out of the conversation.

‘What did you tell him?’ I asked.

Corbyn smirked. ‘I told him to please send Arsène Wenger my very best and assure him he continues to have my full support, even if he’s lost yours, Piers. In fact, particularly because he’s lost yours…’

A keen-eyed tweeter picked up the passage about speaking Spanish, and the anecdote went viral:


So viral, in fact, that Bellerín himself commented on the story in a tweet saying, “Come on mate, don’t take it personally” to Morgan – punctuated masterfully with a crying laughing emoji.


Then the Labour leader himself joined in the great burning ceremony, replying to the thread in full Spanish:


His response translates as:

“It was nice to meet you. It’s better that we don’t tell him what we were talking about, he wouldn’t understand. Well-played in the game on Sunday.”

And muy buen juego to you too, El Jez.

I'm a mole, innit.