“It’s time for a bold and ambitious plan.” Ed Miliband and Anneliese Dodds have challenged the government to ‘Build it in Britain’ and support the creation of 400,000 new jobs as part of a green economic recovery from the Covid crisis. It would see at least £30bn invested over the next 18 months, dedicating funds to low-carbon industries. The stimulus package would aim to recover jobs, retrain workers via an emergency training programme to equip those affected by Covid unemployment, and rebuild business with the creation of a national investment bank (a policy promoted by John McDonnell). Developed after a consultation on a green new deal, proposals include upgrading ports and shipyards for offshore wind supply chains; expanding investment in carbon capture tech; accelerating investment in electric vehicle charging; new orders for electric buses to help struggling manufacturers; a new National Nature Service; energy efficiency and retrofit programmes, including in social housing; new sectoral deals to protect jobs and promote the shift to net zero; and flood protection investment. The challenge is there. Let’s see what happens at the comprehensive spending review expected later this month.
Cautious optimism was the watchword for the Prime Minister’s Covid briefing in the wake of the news of the first effective vaccine. With a string of frankly painful metaphors – featuring trains, football, arrows, “the distant bugle of the scientific cavalry”, swallows and slam dunks – Jonathan Van-Tam and Boris Johnson stressed that its still early days in delivering a vaccine. Although we know the vaccine is effective, the government does not yet know that it is safe and there will be difficult challenges with the roll out. But this is, for the first time in months, good news. Trials show 90% Covid protection achieved within seven days of the second dose (keep in mind, that figure is based on only 94 confirmed cases out of the 43,538 participants so precise effectiveness may change). And Pfizer and BioNTech say they will have enough safety data by the third week of November to take their vaccine to regulators.
As Labour leader Keir Starmer has said, this is “encouraging”. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey also welcomed the news from Pfizer, saying it “reflects the professionalism, skill and dedication of Unite’s membership across the company”. He called on the government to “build on this glimmer of hope” by investing in manufacturing supply chains needed to “turn it into the genuine breakthrough it can become”. UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea declared that “this could be the news the world’s been waiting for”, but has strongly warned the vaccine must be delivered by public health bodies and the NHS after the “test and trace fiasco”.
The government suffered a large defeat in the House of Lords last night on its internal market bill, with peers voting to reject clauses allowing ministers to break international law and override the EU withdrawal agreement. Members voted by a majority of 268 against the powers and all parties expressed concerns about the contents of the proposed legislation. Labour’s leader in the House of Lords Baroness Angela Smith said the government would likely react with “bravado” and try to dismiss the votes, and indeed Downing Street has already said it will retable the clauses in the Commons. Keep watching for some parliamentary ping-pong. Also to watch out for is our editor Sienna Rodgers live in conversation with John Healey this evening. Tune in here at 6pm and please email in any questions you have for the Shadow Defence Secretary. Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.