Rebecca Long-Bailey launched her campaign to be Labour leader with an article in Tribune, published overnight. It was better than her false start in the Guardian, but that would not have been hard. And, right from the outset she made clear what she means to campaign on:
Labour’s Green New Deal, our plans to radically democratise the economy and to renew the high streets of towns across the country are the foundations for an economic transformation that will combat the climate crisis and hand back wealth and power to ordinary people.
What is immediately apparent from the piece is that the crass description of Labour’s programme as a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ has been dropped. I decried this recently, saying:
Let me be precise as to my criticism. First, no one else but Labour is talking about a Green Industrial Revolution. So it must be something different from the Green New Deal most people think we need.
Second, that difference would appear to arise because Labour do, indeed, see this as a bit of industrial policy. In fact, they see it as an excuse for a bit of post-Keynesian investment-led growth.
And, third, that’s not remotely what the Green New Deal is.
Long-Bailey clearly agrees. She continued, saying:
It is true that one reason we lost the election was that Labour’s campaign lacked a coherent narrative. But this was a failure of campaign strategy, not of our socialist programme. Labour’s Green New Deal is the mostambitious agenda for tackling climate change of any major political party. And throughout the election it was tragically undersold.
Not only did it provide a compelling frame for our entire economic programme, it was most popular in those deindustrialised regions where we suffered our most devastating losses: the North West, the West Midlands and the North East. The popularity of our Green New Deal bridges the divides in our electoral coalition, with huge support in the cities and marginals in the South East too. It should have been a core part of our offer: this is how Labour will help you take back control.
I stress, I am not saying as a result I am endorsing Long-Bailey. But she is clearly going to be influential, and the bookies have her second in this race right now (not that coming second did Owen Smith any good). What is important is the change in emphasis. We do not need some post Keynesian growth. We need a Green New Deal. I hope the rest of Labour now gets it and the McDonnell / Corbyn line is dropped.