Greens secure four seats in best-ever UK result

The Green party has achieved its best-ever election result, capturing all four of its target seats and bringing its total in line with Reform UK.

Co-leaders of the party Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay won Bristol Central and Waveney Valley in Suffolk, while Ellie Chowns won North Herefordshire and Siân Berry secured Brighton Pavilion.

“We’ll be pushing the new government to be bolder because Keir Starmer’s been somewhat timid in this election,” Ramsay told the BBC. “People haven’t been massively inspired by Labour and have looked elsewhere.”

The party was able to attract leftwing voters that had distanced themselves from Labour as Starmer watered down his green policies and moved the party to the centre ground.

The Greens also drew some support for their stance on the conflict in Gaza, calling for sanctions on Israel and an end to arms sales to the country.

Chris Hopkins, a pollster at Savanta, said that the party had overcome the huge barriers thrown up by the first past the post system and would probably be a “thorn in Labour’s side for a while”.

“They are taking votes from Conservatives too, so their electoral coalition remains broad enough to make gains at the next set of locals and use this momentum to keep building,” he said.

The party took both Waveney Valley and North Herefordshire from the Tories, overturning a majority of nearly 25,000 in the latter. In Bristol Central, the Greens ousted Labour’s shadow culture secretary Thangam Debbonaire.

Business, investor and civil society groups said on Friday that Labour’s landslide victory showed there was clear support for ambitious action on climate change, while the Conservative strategy of downgrading net zero had failed to win voter support.

In the run-up to the election, the Tories, which rolled back a host of environmental measures last year, heavily criticised Labour’s green policies, arguing they would be costly.

Labour has made energy security and climate action as one of its “five missions”, with plans for a new state-owned energy company called GB Energy, an industry decarbonisation fund and a national insulation programme worth about £1bn a year. 

The party also promised to end issuing new oil and gas exploration licences, which if carried out would see the UK become the first G7 country to take such action.

Greg Jackson, chief executive of Octopus Energy, the UK’s second largest household energy supplier and a renewable energy developer, said Labour had been “in tune to the underlying feeling of voters”. 

“The attempt to create a culture war over net zero really hasn’t worked,” he said. He urged Labour to take “quick, decisive” action to deliver on its plans to reform the planning system to enable new renewable projects to be built. 

“The quicker they act on it, the quicker we can deploy the capital. Billions of pounds in investment have been going to other countries because we couldn’t deploy it in the UK,” he said.

James Alexander, chief executive of the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association, which promotes sustainable investment, said investors wanted to see “rapid delivery” of Labour’s promises.

“This [election result] is the first step in the right direction for bringing huge amounts of private capital into the UK for the sustainability transition,” he said.  

“But we need to see those actions now happening very quickly and rapidly to make sure that the investors realise exactly that the new government is serious about the commitments they’ve made during the election process,” he added.

The We Mean Business Coalition of 16,000 companies globally calling for climate action said: “Large and small businesses in the UK stand ready to support the new government in driving renewable energy deployment, energy efficiency and working towards a managed phaseout of fossil fuels — the principal cause of climate change.”

But the new government will be wary of going beyond its manifesto pledge, having scaled back its plans for £28bn a year of green spending in favour of a more restrained £5bn-a-year package. One ally of Starmer said his supporters were wary of any suggestion he will “tack to the left”.

In addition to its signature policies, including ramping up investment in renewable energy, the Green manifesto contained radical proposals to redistribute wealth, increase taxation and invest in public services.

It pledged to introduce a wealth tax of 1 per cent on people with assets above £10mn, and 2 per cent on those with assets of more than £1bn, as well as align capital gains tax with income tax rates.

It also said it would charge the basic 8 per cent rate of national insurance contributions on the upper earnings limit, up from 2 per cent today, which it estimated would impact only 5mn people in the UK.

The party said these changes would raise between £50bn and £70bn per year in 2024 prices. It also said it would raise up to £80bn from a carbon tax to be set initially at £120 per tonne of carbon emitted, while adding that it was “prepared to borrow to invest” further.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies poured cold water on the Green party’s proposals, saying the policies would be unlikely to raise as much revenue as the party claimed and would be likely to come at a serious economic cost.

Climate Capital

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