Labour’s green appeal to first time voters

Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband this morning launched Labour’s ‘green manifesto’. The Climate Secretary made an appeal direct to first time voters.

Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband this morning launched Labour’s ‘green manifesto’. With polls suggesting the public are continuing to shift from Labour and the Tories to the Lib Dems, and Nick Clegg enjoying a particular surge from first time voters, it was perhaps telling how Ed Miliband chose to present his party’s climate plan.

Secretary of State for Climate Change, Ed Miliband said:

“The first-time voters of today will be the ones who will live with the consequences of all of our decisions for years to come. Tackling climate change isn’t just about avoiding disaster but also ensuring we have a prosperous future and a fair one.”

There is certainly nothing earth-shatteringly fresh or bold in Labour’s new ‘ten point green plan’ but what differentiates it from previous presentations of their green policies is their linking the green agenda with their emphasis on fairness. For example, there’s a pledge to “create a new statutory code of consumer rights”, and to “help pensioners on low incomes with their energy bills.”

Green groups will surely welcome the pledge to negotiate “a shift in the EU budget towards low carbon and environmental technologies and infrastructure.” With a pledge that would create 5,000 low carbon apprenticeships and new green jobs, this shows a clear recognition of the role clean energy should play in our economic recovery, and opens up a dividing line with the Conservatives who are allied in Europe with, to quote Nick Clegg, “a bunch of nutters, anti-Semites, people who deny climate change exists, homophobes.”

A little noticed shift in policy first announced when they launched their main manifesto – but repeated and emphasized again today – is a pledge that beyond the third runway at Heathrow, “we will not allow additional runways to proceed at any other airport in the next Parliament.” This may look more significant than it is since it’s not clear any new runway decisions were expected to be made in the next Parliament anyway, but the language here is so defensive, it does illustrate how bruised Labour have been by the whole Heathrow debacle.

Where this green manifesto is particularly lacking however is in explaining how they will raise the necessary funds for the greening of our economy at a time when there is such pressure to cut public spending. But as outlined in my piece in today’s Independent on Sunday, this is a criticism that can be made of all three major parties – and which Left Foot Forward levelled at Nick Clegg’s otherwise impressive £3 billion green stimulus package last week.

Nick Clegg is expected to launch the Liberal Democrats’ ‘green manifesto’ later today.

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