Left Hand View – By Malcolm Tipper

LABOURS GREEN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

When Rebecca Long-Bailey introduced Labour’s 30 point plan green pledge it rather caught got up in a lot of other radical ideas in Labour’s 2019 manifesto. Fortunately Rebecca has an opportunity during the Leadership campaign to devote more time to perhaps the single most important issue facing all of us.

The climate crisis messages have been with us for some time and are still occurring “Record heat in world’s oceans is ‘dire’ warning on climate crisis” Guardian 14th January 2020. The causes of oceans warming is obviously not the responsibility of just one country but each country must clearly show it is taking climate change very seriously and that is why we mustn’t lose sight of Labour’s radical policy when the leadership changes.

Rebecca Long-Bailey when shadow Business Secretary said that a future Labour Government would oversee an economic revolution, using the full power of the state to decarbonize the economy and create hundreds of thousands of green jobs in towns and cities across the UK. We can be pretty sure that the new Tory Government is unlikely to use the full power of the state in anything bar supporting the United States in any wars it might start or clamping down on terrorist organisations such as Extinction Rebellion!  As Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell promised legislation to force UK listed firms to take adequate steps to fight the climate emergency, this is not going to happen now.

A lot of analysis has gone into why traditional Labour voters in areas in the north and midlands have switched their allegiance to the Conservatives who are unlikely to act in their best interests on wages, benefits or local services. I have a fairly simplistic view that in the Thatcher years Conservative Governments closed down swathes of traditional industries employing thousands of people and did nothing to replace those jobs. The Labour Governments that followed did nothing to support those communities and in some ways encouraged the low skill, low wage, insecure job market that now exists across the country.

Labours Green pledge had at its heart the creation of 850,000 skilled jobs in the green industry. The figures were not just plucked out of thin air but were prepared by a team of economists at the Sustainability Research Institute backed by the University of Leeds. These jobs would arise out of:

  • Insulation upgrades for every home in the country such as double glazing focusing first on damp homes and areas with fuel poverty.
  • Installing 8m electric heat pumps to start getting away from gas heating.
  • Building another 7000 offshore wind turbines and 2000 onshore wind turbines
  • A national network of electric vehicle charging points
  • Enough new solar panels to cover 22,000 football pitches

The Green pledge would necessitate nationalization of the energy network as Rebecca Long-Bailey has said “energy customers have been ripped off by the privatisation of the UK’s energy grid, with shareholders paid £13 billion pounds in dividends over the past 5 years”. She went on to say “only by taking the grid into public ownership can we decarbonize the economy at the pace needed to secure the planet for our children and grandchildren while ending the rip-off, creating good jobs in local communities and making heating and electricity a human right”.

Allied to the policies for climate change is the tricky subject of meat and dairy production particularly in a county like Devon. For me as a vegetarian and subscriber to Veganuary giving up meat and dairy is not a hardship. The magazine Science published a paper showing that a plant-based diet would release 76% of the land currently used for farming. This land could then be used for the mass restoration of ecosystems and wildlife. If our grazing land was allowed to revert to natural ecosystems, and the land currently used to grow feed for livestock was used for grains, beans, fruits, nuts and vegetables for humans, this switch would allow the UK to absorb an astonishing quantity of Carbon. Now would a Conservative Government encourage farmers to make the change and without EC subsidies to offset the cost, answers on a postcard!

For Labour voters and supporters it was tragedy that we didn’t win the election, however, it is important not to dilute the green pledge that appeared in the manifesto as I think increasingly this will be the issue that will attract voters and I would encourage members to use their vote in the leadership election to support the candidate you think is most likely to honour that commitment.