Barry White – a personal comment piece
Just where are we on Labour’s commitments to create a new green deal to make Britain a
clean energy superpower? Writing in The Observer on 25 June Andrew Rawnsley its Chief
Political Commentator commented: “….Talking is a whole lot easier than doing. When the
crunch comes, when a Labour cabinet faces the horribly tough choices that are going to
confront them in power, will their fine words turn out to be little more than hot air?
“That’s a concern since Labour backtracked on its centrepiece green prosperity plan after
aggressive attacks by critics from both outside the party and within. The plan, as originally
set out, was to borrow £28bn a year from the beginning of a Labour government to invest in
wind power, tidal energy, solar, green hydrogen, battery factories, home insulation, carbon-
capture and other climate-friendly projects. The plan acknowledged that achieving a
decarbonised, more sustainable and more resilient economy requires a substantial
commitment by the state because the private sector on its own will not do what needs to be
To be fair we won’t really know the final details until the general election is called and
manifestos are published, so what do we have so far?
To get the current position I looked up the Liverpool conference speech made by
Ed Miliband MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero on 9
October, which you can read in full here.
After many denunciations of the government’s environmental and energy policies, Ed
Miliband set out Labour’s programme to make Britain a clean energy superpower by 2030
with more renewable energy, create a National Wealth Fund to secure good jobs, and
legislate for an Energy Independence Act.
“….We’ll double onshore wind. We’ll treble solar. We’ll quadruple offshore wind. We’ll
invest in nuclear and hydrogen and carbon capture and tidal power. That’s the new Britain
we can build together.
“And with a Labour government, Britain will finally have what the Tories have refused for 13
years— a proper warm homes plan. Saving hundreds more off your bill. Creating tens of
thousands of good jobs. Lifting millions out of fuel poverty. Insulating 19 million homes.
“And who will make this happen? Labour local authorities. That’s the new Britain we can
He continued: “Now some people will tell you we don’t have public ownership of energy in
Britain. Of course, we do. It’s just by state-owned firms from other countries. France’s EDF,
Sweden’s Vattenfall, Denmark’s Orsted. Other countries own nearly half of our offshore wind
because they know it creates jobs and wealth for them.
“If it’s good enough for them why not us?
“Under Labour, the British people will own things again, build things again, profit as a country
from these investments again. GB Energy, owned by the British people, built by the British
people for the benefit of the British people. That’s the new Britain we can build together. A
key industry of the future is floating offshore wind.
“But just get this: under the Tories our largest floating wind farm wasn’t built in Britain. It was
built in Spain, assembled in the Netherlands and then was towed into place off the Scottish
coast. I say: not under Labour. GB Energy will invest in floating wind so Britain can lead the
“And as Rachel (Reeves) said this morning, we will ensure we have the grid we need and
rewire our country. Power for Britain, wealth for Britain, jobs for Britain. That’s the new
Britain we can build together.
“And this is about a partnership to build the future: public investment unleashing private
investment. Our national wealth fund will invest, alongside the private sector, in our ports,
hydrogen and saving our steel industry and communities. And unlike with the Tories, this
won’t be crumbs of help after change has blown through communities. It’s a proper plan to
build our future prosperity for every part of Britain….”
A summary can also be found here.
Meanwhile I leave the last words to Andrew Rawnsley…
“The Labour leader and his colleagues ought to be mindful of the dangers of giving the
impression that they make grandiose-sounding pledges to change the world only then to
retreat when they encounter challenge and resistance. That’s not the way for an opposition
to generate confidence. As a method of running a government, it would be terrible.”