The Green Party leader Caroline Lucas has launched an attack on the new Labour leader Ed Miliband, suggesting that he is already failing to live up to his reputation for taking a strong position on climate change.
Lucas' comments followed Miliband's speech to the Labour Party conference yesterday (28 September). They make clear that the Greens are firmly positioning themselves well to the left of Miliband, who much of the media have portrayed as a left-wing figure.
"The right-wing media seemed obsessed with Red Ed before the speech, but where did Green Ed go?” asked Lucas, the MP for Brighton Pavilion.
“Only at the very end of his speech did he address the environment,” she added, “And given that he said that steps to protect our planet are 'the greatest challenge our generation faces,' it was disappointing that the speech contained absolutely no suggestions on how he plans to address that challenge”.
Miliband said that Labour in the past had been wrong not to stand up to the “old ways” in the banking industry and that he understood public anger over “personal debt, including tuition fees”.
But Lucas criticised Miliband's dismissal of “irresponsible” strike action, saying "People are right to be very angry over coalition cuts, and Ed was wrong to condemn unions and possible strikes over cutbacks to the public sector”.
In response to Miliband's support for a “living wage”, Lucas said that Labour-run councils, as employers up and down the country, should be paying a living wage. She also urged Miliband to back a significant increase in the state pension.
“We need a commitment from Labour to transparency and public control in the councils they run,” she insisted.
The Greens are not the only party to make clear that they are still to the left of Labour. Plaid Cymru urged Miliband to “reverse Labour’s thirteen-year legacy in government by joining Plaid in fighting for Welsh communities and not just the needs of south-east England”.
Plaid MP Hywel Williams criticised Ed Miliband's recent defence of the Barnett Formula, the funding system which Plaid regard as unfair to Wales.
Williams said, “I would invite Mr Miliband to think again about his obviously misplaced faith in the Barnett Formula”.
Plaid urged Miliband to campaign hard for a Yes vote in next year's referendum on increased powers for the Welsh Assembly. Plaid and Labour are likely to be the leading contenders in the elections to the Welsh Assembly, due in May 2011.