Labour Party Conference 2018 – Brexit, renewables and feminism

Thousands of party members, journalists, lobbyists and others descended on Merseyside for the Labour Party’s annual conference this week, as Labour looks towards post-Brexit Britain and the possibility of a forthcoming General Election.

While Brexit, nationalisation and a commitment to equality dominated much of the narrative, what became clear was Labour’s determination, up and down Britain, to return to power.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, and many others, spoke at great lengths of the Britain they want to see, and the best means of achieving it.

One of the key themes to come out of Corbyn’s Leader speech was a commitment to green policies, putting renewable energy and efficiency at the heart of Labour’s offer.

Earlier in the week, Rebecca Long-Bailey the shadow business secretary, set out that the party is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the middle of the century (the UK’s current goal is an 80% cut by 2050). 

The aim is that almost all of Britain’s homes and businesses would be powered by wind, solar and nuclear power by 2030, including the development of 13,500 onshore and offshore wind turbines, solar panels on thousands of roofs and widescale home insulation.

Critically, Corbyn has chosen to place environmental issues at the centre of the party’s economic offer, with the aim of creating thousands of sustainable, high-skilled jobs, the impact of which would be to tackle joblessness in communities that have borne the brunt of deindustrialisation, whilst also recognising that the environment is a key issue. In addition, Corbyn has promised to back proposals for a tidal power lagoon in Swansea Bay if Labour wins power.

Focusing on Wales, First Minister Carwyn Jones struck a chord with the crowd, not for his beard jokes, but for his wish that the next UK Government in Westminster would be Labour, calling for his English counterparts in Westminster to match Labour’s dominance in Wales.

Jones spoke of Wales’ commitment to sustainability and the transport revolution, whereby trains are being built in Wales, for Wales, and not for profit.

He also spoke of gender-equality, or lack of it, expressing his disappointment that he may need to use his Welsh leadership election nomination to endorse Eluned Morgan AM to ensure there is a woman on the ballot paper this autumn.

Our attention now turns to the forthcoming Conservative Party Conference and also the Plaid Cymru Autumn Conference following today’s election of Adam Price as the new party leader.