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There’s No Green Future Without Public Ownership

Ruling Labour for a Green New Deal's conference motion 'out of order' stifles debate about public ownership just as public support for it reaches new heights. It needs to be put back on the agenda.

Recent polling has shown widespread support for bringing energy companies back into public ownership, with 60% of the public and 76% of Labour voters in support. (Fossil Free UK)

We’re facing a repeat of last year. As public support grows ever wider for public ownership of key industries, supporters of Keir Starmer are blocking debate over transformative socialist responses to the climate crisis. The party’s Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) has ruled Labour for a Green New Deal’s motion ‘out of order’, on the basis that it covers more than one topic for the second year running.

Since 2019, Labour for a Green New Deal, or LGND, has been organising in the Labour Party for a system-wide approach to tackling the climate crisis, with public ownership as the central building block. Our motion calls for key services to be taken out of the private sector, so we can build democratic control of our energy, water, and transport sectors. However, rather than allowing this motion to be debated and democratically voted on at the Labour Party conference this month, the CAC have blocked it from reaching the conference floor.

Last year, our motion was ruled ‘out of order’ for the same reason. We won the appeal, giving a clear precedent for this year’s motion—which covers a similar span of topics—to be ruled in. This is an effort by the party bureaucracy to stifle debate at the party conference. Our motion deliberately roots the climate crisis within the class struggle, an idea which is anathema to a leadership which has failed to back striking workers.

We’re calling for a just transition that puts ordinary workers front and centre. With publicly owned services that are worker-led, we can rapidly decarbonise and create thousands of unionised green jobs. This is the only way we can transition to clean energy at the scale and pace that’s needed, while protecting workers’ conditions instead of profits being siphoned off to shareholders.

The climate crisis cannot be addressed as an isolated issue. For a party that’s supposed to represent working people, it requires a system-wide strategy that centres the interests of working people. In choosing to ignore this complexity, the CAC is using the party rulebook to block solutions to the devastating impacts of the climate crisis that will hit the working class the hardest.

This decision also risks putting Labour at odds with its own members, as well as the wider public. Recent polling has shown widespread support for bringing energy companies back into public ownership, with 60% of the public and 76% of Labour voters in support. It should not be surprising that under private ownership we are seeing our household bills soaring, with 40% of the public expected to fall into fuel poverty, while the UK’s Big Six energy companies recorded over £1 billion in profits ahead of this year’s price hike.

The Labour Party cannot afford to alienate the public on this issue in the midst of the cost of living crisis, which is only going to accelerate under the current government. Keir Starmer must act on this issue and seize the opportunity to radically transition our energy consumption to renewables without appeasing the fossil fuel industry through private companies. Our motion recognises the urgency of tackling both the energy and climate crises as interconnected issues by setting out our demand for public ownership of energy companies as a core principle of our 2022 conference motion.

Alongside the growing support for energy nationalisation, the Green New Deal has been backed consistently by the majority of party members and our 2022 motion speaks to the concerns of the many younger climate-conscious voters. We are united on the issue of energy. It is the leadership who now needs to listen to our demands and show they are committed to a transformative Green New Deal, as promised in Keir Starmer’s leadership campaign.

Despite this enormous support, we are yet again having to challenge the CAC on their decision to block our motion. We are again urging the CAC to reverse this decision ahead of party conference. Popular and urgent policies should be opened to democratic debate and discussion so we can offer a radical alternative to the Conservative government that speaks to voters. The climate crisis is only going to escalate year on year; we cannot afford to approach this as single-issue.

In yet another last minute push to appeal the decision of the CAC we are calling on all supporters of the Green New Deal to email the CAC to demand that they overturn their decision to block our motion.