Vote Red go Green: Starmer goes green with ambitious renewable energy package package
By Joe Cooper
In his keynote speech to party conference, Labour leader Keir Starmer set out his ambitious green policy agenda with the aim of making the UK a world leader in the field of renewable energy.
Setting out the importance of renewables to securing the future of Britain’s energy supply and of the planet, Starmer asking why the country couldn’t be the world leader in the fields of hydrogen, onshore and offshore wind, and other forms of green energy.
The most headline grabbing announcement will no doubt be the creation of Great British Energy – a publicly-owned energy company to help drive an expansion in green energy. While full details are yet to be revealed, Labour sources said that the plan will start small, then grow, with a model akin to French energy giant EDF.
Starmer’s team will hope that this announcement will go some way to addressing the criticism often levelled that his policy platform is lacking in ambition and clarity. Today’s announcement on Great British Energy follows the previous headline announcement to make the UK the world’s first major economy to generate all its electricity from renewable resources by 2030.
In many ways today’s speech will be seen as the icing on the cake for what has been a major success of a conference for the Labour leader. Coming into today’s speech, Labour registered a record 17-point lead for Labour in the polls – the largest in YouGov’s history, and with the fallout from Friday’s ‘mini-Budget’ seeing the pound fall to a new low against the dollar; Starmer could hardly have asked for a more fertile ground for setting out his party’s credentials as the government in-waiting.
Echoing Tony Blair’s speech in 1994, Starmer described his party as the ‘political wing of the British people’ which is now firmly ‘back in the centre ground’. That Starmer feels more at ease with publicly quoting the former leader is a clear indication in the direction that the party has taken under his leadership – and there can be little doubt that this was one of the more optimistic and forward-looking conference in years.
Setting out his credentials for tackling the current economic crisis, he spoke openly about his experience growing up in a working-class family amid rising costs in the 1970s and hailed the importance of “collective hope” that things would get better. In failing to tackle the current cost of living crisis, he criticised the Government for ‘failing to prepare and preparing to fail’ before saying that his government would be different with a “fresh start, a new set of priorities, and a new way of governing”.
For Starmer this represents a considerable turnaround in fortunes from his speech delivered at last year’s conference in Brighton. After being heckled during his speech last year, the party avoided what might in previous years have been a disaster waiting to happen in singing the national anthem to kick off proceedings. This also provides an insight into the resolution of many of the party’s internal battles too – with Starmer and his team firmly in control of all aspects of the party’s apparatus.
More than anything, Starmer’s team will be keen to avoid being complacent about the party’s current position. Labour have had leads in the past, and events can quickly turn political fortunes around, but it is hard to shake the feeling that this is a party which believes it will be entering government for the first time since 1997.