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The reasons young Labour voters turned Green

Young voters who previously voted Labour have branded Sir Keir Starmer “untrustworthy”, telling i they have moved towards the Greens due to Labour’s stance on Gaza, housing and trans issues.

Despite Labour winning an electoral landslide thrusting it into government with a historic majority, swathes of young voters discontent with the party’s leadership appear to have exited its ranks in favour of backing the Green Party.

While Labour gained more than 200 seats since its 2019 general election disappointment, the party only increased its vote share by around 1.6 per cent.

The Greens, meanwhile, saw their vote share more than double throughout the country from 2.7 per cent in 2019 to 6.8 per cent – with two constituencies still yet to declare.

Speaking after her election – alongside three other Green MPs – co-leader Carla Denyer said they would now push the incoming Labour government to be “braver” on key issues including the climate crisis and housing.

The new MP for Bristol Central, who pushed out Labour frontbencher Thangam Debbonaire after partly building her local campaign on the Israel-Gaza conflict, said Thursday night’s results showed “many voters have had enough of incremental change” and that the country needed “far-reaching action that can make a real difference to people’s lives, to tackle the issues they are facing”.

Green voters have now echoed Ms Denyer’s sentiments, telling i they were unable to back Labour due to its “uninspiring” leader, the party’s position on the Gaza policy and lacklustre climate policies.

‘Labour’s response to Gaza conflict troubled me’

Liem Doar, 26, from Smethwick

Liem Doar from Smethwick, West Midlands – which the 26-year-old described as a “traditionally safe” Labour area – said his decision to switch his vote for Greens reflected his “desire for stronger, more progressive policies”.

He took issue with Labour’s response to the Gaza conflict, which he said “deeply troubled” him.

“The Green Party’s position on this issue resonated more with my own views, advocating for proactive policies that support the people of Gaza,” he said.

The Labour leader in November 2023 voted against a motion demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

During the election campaign he then reaffirmed that he would not “pronounce that something is either genocide or not” as said Israel had a “right to self-defence”.

While he said every country including Israel “has to be properly held to account in the court of international law” and promised to review legal advice on arms sales to Israel in government, Sir Keir’s commitments appeared to do little to persuade voters concerned over Gaza.

Mr Doar continued: “Labour’s recent cutbacks on progressive climate policies are concerning,” Mr Doar, who works as a climbing centre duty manager, added.

“In the face of an escalating climate crisis, we need bold and ambitious action.”

Mr Doar also cited Sir Keir’s treatment of Diane Abbott as one of the barriers to him voting for Labour, calling it “disheartening” and leaving “much to be desired”.

The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington had previously claimed that she was blocked from standing by the Labour leadership, despite Sir Keir later saying she was “free to go forward as a Labour candidate”.

Ms Abbott, the first female black MP, was suspended from Labour last year after suggesting Jewish, Irish and Traveller people experience prejudice, but not racism “all their lives”.

She later apologised and had the party whip withdrawn. Claims she was being blocked from standing came amid accusations the Labour leadership was seeking to purge left-wing MPs from the party.

He said by voting Green he had hoped to “send a clear message to Labour” that he hoped would eventually lead to “more left-leaning policies” and “genuine commitment to environmental sustainability”.

‘The Greens will fund public services’

James Armstrong, 39, from Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven (Photo: supplied)

James Armstrong, a former teacher who now works for the National Education Union, said the key reason he switched from Labour was due to the party’s stance on Gaza.

The 39-year-old from Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven said his decision not to vote for Labour this time was due to “broader issues” that didn’t only include its approach to Gaza.

“The Green Party is the only party in the country willing to talk about taxing wealth, to fund our public services, which I think we need to do,” he told i.

Mr Armstrong noted that his former MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle – widely considered to be on the left of the Labour Party – was prevented from standing as a candidate for the party.

He said the Labour leadership “parachuted a candidate without any Democratic accountability from the right of the party” into the constituency, which made it impossible for him to vote Labour.

“All the way through the election they were telling me the Labour Party has changed. And I didn’t like that change actually, because I’m somebody that’s on the left in politics. So it was very, very easy to vote Green,” Mr Armstond said.

“Because of the spending plans that they’ve got on their fiscal rules. So you know, I think there’s a lot of people who’ve got real concerns about the direction of this led party who are not doing enough to deal with things like wealth, inequality.

“They’re not really serious about funding our public services.”

He said he believes Labour will see the country “return to austerity”.

The former teacher suggested that weak Labour vote share meant there was “a wider discontent within Starmer’s Labour Party” that was “being obscured by the obvious political landslide”.

While Labour has picked up 412 seats – with two constituencies yet to declare – the party has a vote share of around 34 per cent. This is less than the 40 per cent Jeremy Corbyn won in 2017 which still left the party in opposition.

Mr Armstrong said he also switched from Labour because the Greens were “better” on the issue of Gaza.

“They’ve called what’s happening a genocide,” he said. “They’ve spoken out against it much more consistently.”

‘Keir Starmer is not inspiring’

Eve Mills, 24, from Sheffield Hallam (Photo: supplied)

Eve Mills, from Sheffield, is one such voter who opted for the Green Party for the first time, having only previously ever voted for Labour. The 24-year-old raised concerns over Sir Keir’s “stance on Palestine and trans-rights”.

“Labour has not been progressive enough on either,” the public relations worker told i, adding that Sir Keir had said “some troubling things about trans people and about Gaza. I think he’s got it all wrong.”

“The Greens have much more progressive stances so there was a lot more for me to vote for,” Eve said.

“I also think that housing is a really important issue that Labour didn’t really have many inspiring policies on – as a renter, there wasn’t much for me there.

“I don’t find Keir Starmer very inspiring. I think he’s going to be quite a boring prime minister in a way. I didn’t really like him when he got elected [as Labour leader] in 2020 and he’s kind of got worse since then.”

Eve added: “I really hope we can hold the new Labour government to account on these issues and see what happens.”

The 24-year-old from the Sheffield Hallam constituency which saw Labour retain its safe seat said: “I told Labour canvassers, ‘look, I just can’t vote for you guys’.”

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