Keir Starmer sets out a hopeful vision which could be the antidote to populist fantasies that Britain desperately needs – Scotsman comment

The UK risks becoming a global backwater if it clings to fossil fuels for too long and allows the US and EU to dominate the Green Industrial Revolution

In a major article published in The Scotsman today, Keir Starmer sketches an outline strategy of what a Labour government would do, if it wins the next general election. A major theme is the modernisation of the economy as the world moves towards net-zero carbon emissions.

This is no ideologically driven vision of a supposed anti-growth utopia. Instead, Starmer points to what many hard-nosed investors have known for years: the Green Industrial Revolution is a major economic opportunity.

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One secret of success in business is to understand where the market is going to be in the future and get there first. The UK became a global superpower because the fossil fuel-powered Industrial Revolution started here. If we now cling to old, polluting technologies, Britain risks becoming a backwater. The US and the EU are both pressing ahead with huge packages of funding to kickstart their economies.

Meanwhile, the UK has been falling behind as it carps from the international sidelines. Starmer pointed out that while the UK has vast amounts of offshore wind energy, Denmark, a country with less than a tenth of the UK’s population, has three times as many jobs in the sector, while “Malaysia and Munich – the city of Munich – currently own more of our offshore wind assets than we do. How do you explain that?”

One explanation is that the Conservative and SNP governments have been respectively obsessed by Brexit and independence, not quite to the exclusion of all else but nearly. Drawn to these twin mirages, the country has drifted aimlessly, like a rudderless ship, as the world turns.

The most encouraging thing about Starmer’s article is that it provides a real-world alternative to these populist fantasies. The plan needs some work on the details and some of the Labour leader’s more left-wing rhetoric is regrettable – for example, removing tax exemptions from private schools is a policy that could backfire if it forces pupils into struggling state schools – but overall the message is a hopeful one.

Climate change is reality. Our economic future is clear. The UK needs a government that can lead us there.



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