Owen Jones quits Labour to back new movement supporting Greens and independents

Political activist Owen Jones has quit Labour, claiming Sir Keir Starmer’s party “won’t even do the bare minimum to improve people’s lives”.

The socialist Guardian columnist is supporting a new political initiative supporting left-leaning candidates standing against Labour.

The We Deserve Better campaign will support Green and independent candidates in seats where Labour could be vulnerable.

The group will back Green co-leader Carla Denyer against shadow cabinet minister Thangam Debbonaire in Bristol Central, and independent Leanne Mohamad against shadow health secretary Wes Streeting in Ilford North.

It will also back Jamie Driscoll, a former Labour politician, in the north-east mayoral contest in May.

Mr Jones suggested the movement could exert pressure on Labour from the left in the way Reform UK influences Tory opinion from the right.

In his Guardian column, he blamed Sir Keir’s position on Gaza and abandonment of policies he championed during his Labour leadership campaign.

“My decision isn’t based on a desire to see Labour forever in the wilderness,” Mr Jones said.

“Reaching it has been a gradual, painful process of realising the party won’t even do the bare minimum to improve people’s lives, or to tackle the crises that have led Britain to catastrophe; and that it will, in fact, wage war on anyone who wants to do either – making anyone with politics to the left of Peter Mandelson feel like a pariah on borrowed time.”

In a statement on the launch of We Deserve Better, he added: “Until now, opposition to Labour has been fragmented.

“We Deserve Better marks the beginning of that opposition coming together to form a serious challenge to Labour in key seats, pressuring Labour from its left flank, mirroring Reform UK and the Conservatives.

“Labour will win the next general election by default thanks to the Tories’ self-immolation.

“So those of us who cannot in good conscience support a party which plans to maintain ruinous austerity measures which, for example, keep 250,000 children in poverty, or back a Labour leader who defends Israel’s war crimes, can be safe in the knowledge that there’s no risk of the Tories getting back into government if we campaign for non-Labour candidates.

“Starmer has alienated Labour’s base and taken seats for granted based on an arrogant assumption that those voters have nowhere else to go. But at the next election, they will be able to back an alternative based on the politics of hope.”