Over the course of the past few weeks there has been a rumbling debate within the opposition Labour Party about its one ‘solid’ and ‘sensible’ policy concerning investment in a low-carbon economy.
In the face of Government criticism, its £28bn green economy pledge has been dropped, despite the proposed investment being described by many as an absolute minimum.
According to Jürgen Maier, the former UK head of Siemens, massive investment is needed to rebuild the UK economy and make it fit for the future, and that it should concentrate on low-carbon energy, transport and industry.
“The £28bn is not a cost, it’s an investment,” he said before the decision to drop the pledge was announced.
Labour had a solid policy, but why were they so scared of making the case for it when it would benefit the UK, the economy and local communities?
Maier is advising Labour on transport and infrastructure and said that the current Government had turned its back on business and industry and urged Labour to stand firm on its £28bn commitment.
I agree. Labour needed to stick to this plan and not respond to attack lines from opponents warning of tax rises to fund this investment.
The Government claims that investment by the private sector investment in the UK’s low-carbon economy stands at £200bn since 2010, with a further £100bn expected to have been invested by 2030 vindicating its approach, but those figures doesn’t stand up well when compared to our international competitors and much more needs to be done.
The Government hasn’t invested enough in the UK’s electricity grid, high-speed rail or manufacturing – it can’t even reach make a simple decision on the sale of the Newport Wafer Fab to Vishay Intertechnology.
The transformation to a low-carbon future does need intervention by government.
The US is spending £291bn on green industries and the EU has similar policies in place. If the UK doesn’t get its act together its going to fall further behind its rivals.
Research shows that investment of £26bn a year would generate additional private sector investment of twice as much, as well as helping to reduce energy bills, create more jobs and stimulate the economy.
The £28bn commitment was about investing in long-term resilient growth; it was about borrowing to invest and reversing the underinvestment of the past 45 years. Just look around the UK and that’s self-evident.
If Labour is serious about rebuilding Britain it should have kept its promise of green investment.
Sometimes politicians, whatever their persuasion, need to make big choices and bold moves.