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Labour turns the lights back on, on energy policy

25 August 2022

By Beth Tarling

With a month to go until party conference season and only a short window until we meet our next Prime Minister, there’s no doubt that Labour is ramping up its campaign machine. What makes things different, this time around, is that energy industry leaders may well want to sit up and listen.
Standing ten points ahead in the polls, Labour is once again a credible opposition – something which may seem unsurprising giving the cost of living crisis and the uncertainty a leadership race inevitably creates for the current Government. But it’s not long since this position seemed somewhat out of reach for the Labour Party, down beaten after over a decade of Conservative rule.
With temperatures running high (quite literally), it’s certainly no surprise that energy policy takes front and centre in Labour’s campaign. The latest announcement from Starmer is a proposed energy price cap freeze, suggesting that under a Labour Government people wouldn’t “pay a penny more” on their gas and energy bills this winter. Some commentators say that this is an attempt to make the first move, before the new Conservative Leader – anticipated to be Liz Truss – makes a u-turn and suggests something similar in her party conference debut.
Where Starmer significantly differs from Truss could be – amongst many other things – his approach to energy development. Looking to the longer term, Labour’s energy plan pledges to double the UK’s offshore wind capacity and invest in solar, tidal and hydrogen. By contrast, at a recent Conservative Party event in Exeter, Liz Truss said that Britain’s fields “shouldn’t be full of solar panels” and vowed to “change the rules” so that high value agricultural land is instead used for farming.
Only time will tell as to whether Truss, or her opponent Rishi Sunak, effectively change the game when it comes to energy policy – and, in turn perhaps, the Conservative Party’s stakes. What is certain is that Labour will most certainly be waiting in the wings, where they’ll take their own strong position on the matter.
So, as a busy political season approaches, it’s time for industry players to start ramping up their own campaigns and engagement with more than just the ruling party – or risk trying to play catch up further down the line.

This article was originally published in Advocacy Local’s Politics and Planning Newsletter. To receive our fortnightly newsletter straight to your inbox, subscribe here: