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Starmer vows to avoid mistakes of coal mine closures in shift to green energy

06 Jun 2023 3 minute read
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Picture by PA / James Manning

Sir Keir Starmer vowed not to repeat the mistakes made when coal mines closed when challenged over plans to ban new oil and gas extraction licences in the North Sea.

The Labour leader was warned at the GMB’s conference that that communities could be “decimated” by the move, which has also drawn criticism from the union’s general secretary.

In a speech to the GMB Congress in Brighton, Sir Keir pledged to work with unions to “seize the opportunities” of hydrogen power and carbon capture and storage projects.

“For too long, Britain has allowed the opportunities of the new energy technologies to pass us by. Without a plan, the energy industries that we rely on will wither and decline,” he said.

“Change is coming and yes it can unsettle us. But mark my words, on my watch, good jobs – good, union jobs – will be fundamental to that change.

“Decent pay, respect, dignity and fairness, cleaner, safer work, new and better infrastructure for Britain.

“These are the purposes of our party and they are historic prizes that we will win again.

“I won’t pretend that just because a technology is greener that automatically makes working conditions fairer.

“So as new nuclear, battery factories and offshore wind repower Britain, Labour will build strong supply chains that create jobs, skills and decent wages here in Britain.”

Trade unions

Sir Keir vowed to “strengthen the role of trade unions and our society” and to urge Amazon and other businesses to recognise them.

A Labour government would ensure that “the next generation of jobs” and supply chains would be in the UK, he said.

His bid to persuade unions to back his plan for a shift to green energy came after GMB general secretary Gary Smith said the party’s policy on North Sea licences would create a “cliff edge” that will hit jobs.

In the Q&A after his conference speech, a delegate told the Labour leader that the plan “is a threat to Scottish jobs and UK energy security” and asked: “When the current fields in the North Sea are depleted and Scotland’s oil and gas jobs evaporate, what will you tell your members working in these sectors and in communities which will be decimated?”

Sir Keir replied that the UK must “seize the next generation of jobs in nuclear, in new nuclear, in renewables across the country” or risk “repeating the mistake that was made when the coal mines were closed down”.

“What I will never let happen is a repeat of what happened in coal mining, where an industry came to an end and nobody had planned for the future,” he said.

He also stressed that “oil and gas are going to be part of the mix for decades to come, into the 2050s”.

Labour is expected to set out full details of its green energy plan next week.

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Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 year ago

Oh, so Labour leader Keir Starmer wants to avoid the mistakes of the past made during the coal industry by becoming more greener. Funny, I assumed by Labour adopting Tory values, he & they were fast becoming blue rather than green. I assume once in power Labour plans to devolve full water powers to Wales? And yes, I did say that with an air of sarcasm. But I jest, although what I say is tue. Labour are indeed centrist anti-devolution Conservatives in the mould of Margaret Thatcher whose current ideology is to attack striking workers, unions that find them, who… Read more »

Llwarch Hen
1 year ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

I am all for independence but we need to make the most of devolution first. Let’s build our own hospitals rather than seeing Welsh ambulances queuing at Saesneg hospitals. Let’s develop a maritime route between Pembroke and Europe. Let’s make Rhoose work and develop maritime tourism to the fullest.

Bachelor Lerpwl
1 year ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Liverpool was at the time the greatest Welsh speaking city in the world. 100 Welsh chapels a Welsh speaking department store and Welshmen escaping the b*****d cerrig.

Paul Beglin
Paul Beglin
1 year ago

Wales can be a powerhouse for renewable energy – if people will just let it.

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