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Labour's green plan makes total sense

Labour leader Keir Starmer and Iceland boss Richard Walker (Alamy)

3 min read

Labour's decision to ditch the £28bn price tag was entirely sensible. As a businessman, I know the move will reassure the markets — unlike the Tories who catastrophically spooked them.

The challenges facing our planet are monumental and sadly only getting bigger.

Last week brought disturbing news of the first full year in which global temperatures have passed the 1.5 degree threshold above pre-industrial levels – the limit we dare not exceed if we are to avert climate change that will be catastrophic for humanity and nature alike.

Against this dire background, absolutely nothing in our politics matters more than pressing on with decarbonising the economy to ensure that we meet our legally binding Net Zero targets.

From my perspective, Labour absolutely gets the critical importance of the climate issue, and it has a clear programme to deliver the transition we need through its Green Prosperity Plan to produce more clean energy while creating jobs, reducing energy insecurity and tackling fuel poverty.

At their worst, the Tories – Sunak included – are neo-Trumpian deniers ready to stir divisiveness over climate change with shameful fake news about ‘meat taxes’ and seven bins.

Labour’s announcement last week removed the price that was attached to their programme three years ago, when borrowing costs were at rock bottom. This change is an entirely sensible move in the light of subsequent economic events following the Government’s budget in Autumn 2022 when the financial markets were spooked by their unfunded spending spree – and we are all still paying the price for that.

Working people like my customers have been let down too often with broken promises – it’s refreshing to see in Keir Starmer a leader with the guts to be truthful about what he can and can’t do. Voters deserve that honesty, especially ahead of a general election.

Labour knows very well that sustained public investment will be required to leverage further private capital expenditure to deliver the green energy transition. This is at the heart of its vision for a new national champion, Great British Energy.

Fiscal discipline and the confidence of the markets will lower the cost of government borrowing.

A clear industrial strategy will leverage in private capital.

The super-tight fiscal messaging Labour delivered last week will actually help by reassuring markets and so helping to keep borrowing costs on a downward trajectory – which will ultimately boost the Government’s spending power.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, seem content to row back on their environmental commitments in the hope of making this a wedge issue in what I believe will prove to be the vain pursuit of short-term political gain. Good Tories like Chris Skidmore, who quit Parliament over the issue, know that weaponising the environment in this way can never be in anyone’s interests. It will cost the Conservatives dearly at the ballot box.

We have endured 14 years of broken promises on both infrastructure projects and housing.

From my perspective as a businessman, an end to this dithering is well overdue.

Labour understands the urgency of taking the right decisions, delivering on the key environmental and economic issues, greenlighting projects and getting Britain moving forward once again.

 

Richard Walker is the executive chairman of Iceland Foods.

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