Jeremy Corbyn and Rebecca Long-Bailey unveiled two new energy policies fleshing out Labour’s wider goal of sparking a ‘green industrial revolution’. On a visit to Yorkshire, the leader and energy spokesperson are set to announce that Labour would install solar panels on 1.75 million homes – mostly social housing and low-income households – and bring the national grid into public ownership, making heat and electricity a “human right”. The plans, detailed in the new document ‘Bringing Energy Home’, have been slated by the right-wing press.
The most important thread running through these policies is that they align with Labour’s ‘for the many not the few’ slogan. Both are examples of what the party means when it says it wants a ‘just transition’: in moving from our current economy to a low-carbon one, Labour does not want the burden of change to fall disproportionately on the less wealthy. As Corbyn puts it: “Too many think of green measures as just another way for companies or the government to get money out of them, while the rich fly about in private jets.” The sell to the public is that these moves would create jobs and lead to cheaper energy bills. Read further details here.
On the subject of radical left-wing policy-making, Momentum has big news today. The organisation that grew out of Corbyn’s 2015 leadership campaign will start campaigning for radical policies that go beyond existing Labour commitments. From introducing a four-day week to abolishing all detention centres and adopting a green new deal, Momentum will work with other grassroots groups to encourage local parties to pass motions ahead of party conference in September.
John McDonnell has already flirted with the shorter working week idea. It shouldn’t take Diane Abbott much encouragement to extend Labour’s existing proposal to close Yarl’s Wood and Brook House (the most notorious centres) to all such facilities. And, as outlined above, the leadership is already working on the detail of a green new deal. But this is the first time Momentum has engaged with policy. Until now, it has largely acted in the way that the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy did during the left wilderness years, pushing for internal democratic reforms on parliamentary selections and the make-up of liberation groups for example. I’ll be writing up further details and analysis on the site today.
The latest internal Labour row will, for many on the left, illustrate the need for Momentum’s help on policy. Nia Griffith, Labour’s defence spokesperson who is typically regarded as more Watsonian than Corbynite, tweeted seemingly in support of Penny Mordaunt’s planned amnesty for war crimes committed by British troops more than 10 years ago. While the Tories are arguing over whether the proposal should apply to veterans who served during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, Labour members are outraged by the whole idea, as you’d expect.
As Patrick Maguire points out, it has taken six days for anyone to notice Griffith’s tweet. But the news has spread quickly now that people have caught on. An open letter to Corbyn demanding her resignation has already attracted more than 1,000 signatures, boosted by the support of youth rep Lara McNeill. London Young Labour has released a statement calling for Griffith’s suspension. LabourList has requested comment from Labour press, but no lines have been offered so far. Under Corbyn’s leadership, you would think at least firm clarification is surely on its way.