Labour passes policy on GND, community wealth building, public ownership

Elliot Chappell

Delegates at Labour’s annual conference have passed the first batch of policy motions this afternoon, following a compositing meeting on Saturday evening.

Green new deal composite motion one, put forward by Labour for a Green New deal, was passed by conference this afternoon. Counter proposal green new deal composite motion two has gone to a card vote with the result expected later.

Community wealth building composite motion three, put forward by trade unions CWU and ASLEF, passed by a show of hands. It noted the “significant electoral success” where a ‘community wealth building’ agenda had been adopted.

The motion saw conference resolve to adopt community wealth building as the “main approach to local economic development across the UK by ensuring more of our economy is democratically and socially owned”.

It resolved to make it party policy to support unionisation, zero-carbon public supply chains and democratic ownership, insourcing of public services, use of land and property to generate wealth for the community, workforce policies to counter in-work poverty and “more inclusive and democratic ownership of local economies”.

High street and business recovery, composite motion four, was also carried after a show of hands. Put forward by Labour Business and trade union Usdaw, it called on the Labour Party to develop a “new deal for workers”.

This is to be based around a living wage, guaranteed hours and a “more equal distribution of wealth and economic power”, better rights at work for employees and the self-employed, “ending no-rights employment”.

It also called on the party to challenge the government to establish continuing economic support for those affected by Covid, support local leaders to regenerate high streets and rebuild post Covid and post pandemic for a net-zero economy. It also called for the reform of UK tax law.

Public ownership, composite motion five, passed after a show of hands. Proposed by CWU and Unite the Union, it commits the party to bringing Royal Mail back into public ownership, as well as the broadband-relevant parts of BT and to deliver free full-fibre broadband to all by 2030.

Below is the full text of the composite motions considered this afternoon.

Green new deal one – composite one

Conference notes:

  • As with Covid, the climate crisis exposes sharply the inequalities in society in the UK and internationally and we must ensure that workers are at the heart of any future programme and that means unshackling trade unions.
  • The UK faces a post-covid unemployment crisis with insecurity and lowpay rife for workers.
  • Intensifying climate and environmental breakdown brings devastating threats to public health and livelihoods.
  • The UN’s latest climate report states that temperatures are likely to rise by more than the vital 1.5C limit in the next two decades, bringing widespread devastation and extreme weather.
  • That only immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in emissions can prevent such breakdown.
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  • Local communities in the UK and countries around the world are experiencing climate change related extreme weather events, including devastating flooding, wildfires, hurricanes, and droughts. This is with warming at 1.2°C above average pre-industrial levels. Currently, we are headed for a 2.9°C temperature increase.
  • Keir Starmer has pledged to hardwire the socialist Green New Deal into everything we do.
  • The UK spends billions of pounds per year on fossil fuel subsidies and is a key jurisdiction for the enforcement of globally accrued debt.

Conference believes:

  • Ahead of COP26, Labour should promote a just, green recovery combining efforts to address unemployment, climate change, and public health.
  • The Tory government is posturing on climate change with no serious plan to meet its climate targets. It has cut Green Home Grants and paid £40bn fossil fuels subsidies since March 2020 alone.
  • Privatisation has undermined decarbonisation and pandemic response measures.
  • The Covid Pandemic has shown that the levers of the state are required to respond to crises.
  • Debt relief is essential to achieve climate justice.

Resolves to support:

  • The socialist Green New Deal that will shift power from capital into the hands of workers .
    Public ownership of energy including energy companies, creating an integrated, democratic system.
  • A government program creating millions of well-paid, unionised green jobs with publicly owned entities
    Creating well-financed publicly owned national and regional green investment banks.
    Mass investment in green technologies and renewables;
  • A just transition with a comprehensive re-training program and green job guarantee on union rates for affected workers.
  • A just transition for British steelworkers, through sustained investment to decarbonise the steel industry
  • Expansion and electrification of integrated public transport, including public ownership of our railways; free local bus networks, rail electrification, highspeed rail, sustainably powered rail freight and electric buses;
  • Just climate adaptation, investing in fire and rescue services, flood defences, and resilient infrastructure;
  • Retrofitting all homes to the highest standard of energy efficiency
  • The creation of a National Climate Service, similar to creation of our NHS by Labour in 1948, to now tackle the crisis facing our planet
  • Subsidies to support a comprehensive investment programme in renewable energy, home retrofit and zero carbon homes, decarbonisation of industry and transport, and nature restoration.
  • Universal basic services, including a national care service
  • Gearing education and training to climate transition.
  • Banning fracking.
  • National Nature service including ten new national parks, strategic rewilding, land regeneration, and particularly the restoration of upland bogs.
  • Agricultural transition with the contribution regenerative farmers make by capturing carbon, managing water and promoting biodiversity to be recognised with funding
  • Repealing all anti-trade union laws so workers can freely take industrial action over wider social and political issues, for industrial action to ensure action on climate change.
  • Workers organising to decarbonise industries and the global supply chain.
  • Using public procurement to promote decarbonisation, environmental protections, and international justice in global supply chains.
  • All future stimulus and bailout eligibility linked to climate action and just transition plans;
  • A global socialist Green New Deal, debt relief for low-income country debt held by UK institutions, financially assisting the transition in developing countries and freely sharing technology and resources internationally.
  • Legal recognition of climate refugees’ right to asylum.
  • Linking internationally with indigenous groups, trade unions and groups resisting ecological assault.

Green new deal two – composite two

Conference notes:

  • Already 1.2°C of warming has taken place, causing floods, droughts and rising seas disproportionately impacting on developing countries.
  • The IPCC August 2021 report is a ‘code red for humanity’ and that this is the significant decade for preventing catastrophic climate change by limiting global heating to below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
  • The COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow this year may be the final opportunity for the world to slow and then reverse climate change.
  • Intensifying climate and environmental breakdown bring devastating threats to public health and livelihoods.
  • Even before the pandemic, air pollution represented a national health emergency resulting in an estimated 40,000 early deaths each year, costing the UK £20 billion annually.
  • The UK also faces a post-Covid unemployment crisis with insecurity and lowpay rife for workers.
  • Climate change is a global issue that requires international solutions, because this is as much a social injustice as an environmental one.
  • The environmental cost of imported steel is greater than domestically produced steel, and any transition that does not keep steel in the UK is a false economy.
  • Keir Starmer has pledged to hardwire the Green New Deal into everything we do.
  • Labour councils lead on decarbonisation: Nottingham City has reduced per capita CO2 emissions by 52.3% since 2005 and aims to be carbon neutral by 2028.

Conference believes:

  • Britain must cut the substantial majority of carbon emissions by 2030
  • Policies must be developed with workers and trade unions, not imposed on them.
  • In working with businesses to reduce their impact on the environment.
  • In line with the ILO’s definition of a just transition, that ‘strong social consensus on the goal and pathways to sustainability is fundamental.’
  • Privatisation has undermined decarbonisation and pandemic response measures.
  • Public and alternative forms of ownership will be necessary to tackle climate and environmental breakdown.
  • Ahead of COP26 Labour should promote a just, green recovery combining efforts to address unemployment, climate change, and public health.
  • The UK’s pathway to 1.5°C needs a balanced and secure energy mix that includes renewables, nuclear, and the flexibility currently provided by gas and in future by fuels including hydrogen.
  • Debt relief is essential to climate justice.
  • We can solve the unemployment crisis and rapidly decarbonise with a Green New Deal creating secure, well-paid, unionised green jobs.

Conference resolves to support a just transition toward a low-carbon economy, including:

  • Mass investment in green technologies, such as green gas;
  • Expansion of public transport, and electrification;
  • Just climate adaptation, including investing in fire and rescue services, flood defences, and resilient infrastructure;
  • Upgrading homes to the highest standard of energy efficiency, including retrofitting and insulation.
  • Agricultural transition and sustainable food policies, putting food and farming at the heart of the global response to the climate emergency.
  • Establishing a legal right to breathe clean air by ensuring the law on air quality is at least as strict as WHO guidelines, with tough new targets, deadlines and duties on Ministers to enforce them and new powers for local authorities;
  • A comprehensive training program;
  • Creating well-financed publicly owned national and regional green investment banks;
  • Using public procurement to promote decarbonisation, environmental protections, and international justice in global supply chains;
  • New nuclear plants, including Sizewell C and Small Modular Reactors;
  • Reform of international trade rules to better build up our domestic energy manufacturing sectors;
  • Devolving powers to devolved and local authorities to support a just transition for workers;
  • A global Green New Deal, sharing technology and resources internationally, bringing forward debt relief and financially assisting the transition in developing countries.

 

Community wealth building – composite three 

Conference notes:

  • that the Community Wealth Building (CWB) agenda is being adopted by councils and local leaders across the country, signalling an attempt at reconfiguring local economic development by offering real, on-the-ground solutions to communities that have faced decades of neglect;
  • that this has led to significant electoral success, including in Red Wall and post-industrial areas where the Party has otherwise struggled to retain its core support;
  • that there is now a serious attempt to connect these efforts with trade unions and community groups to deliver more locally, and that there is recognition that this can be done now, with no need to wait for a Labour government in Westminster.

Conference resolves:

  • to support CWB to become the main approach to local economic development across the UK by ensuring more of our economy is democratically and socially owned;
  • to express support for Labour councils and leaders who are adopting the CWB model and delivering on-the-ground solutions in their communities;
  • to make it party policy to support:
  • progressive procurement in support of unionisation, decent work, zero carbon public supply chains, and democratic ownership; o the insourcing of public and local council services as preferred providers
  • the use of land and property to generate wealth for local communities;
  • workforce policies that counter in-work poverty and zero-hour contracts;
  • more inclusive and democratic ownership of local economies, including support for cooperatives and municipal enterprise.

Communication Workers Union
ASLEF

High street and business recovery – composite four 

Conference notes with deep concern the impact of the pandemic on the UK economy, business and high streets across the country. Lockdown closures and reduced footfall have exacerbated the existing crisis caused by many years of neglect, creating new problems and exposing existing weaknesses. The impact of Covid has been felt by employees and thousands of businesses, through retail job losses and closures. Those that work for themselves through a limited company or as freelancers were excluded from any support.

The retail sector continues to be held back by long standing national issues, such as business rates and commercial rents. Business rates are an outdated method of assessing the profitability of a business and its impact on infrastructure.

Until these issues are addressed, high street retailers will be unable to compete on a level playing field with online only operators. Despite government promises there is still no arbitration process for dealing with commercial rent debt, causing uncertainty and distress.

The pandemic demonstrated the key role of providing essential services that high streets play in our communities. Vibrant high streets can also deliver high quality employment and help to tackle isolation. Conference further recognises the key role that local Labour authorities and leaders can play in promoting community investment and delivering regeneration.

Conference acknowledges that high quality and secure employment must be an essential aspect of the recovery plan for our high streets.

Conference calls on the Labour Party to commit to:

  • Develop a new deal for workers based around a genuine living wage, guaranteed hours and a more equal distribution of wealth and economic power, securing better rights at work for employees and those that work for themselves as freelancers or through their own business, ending no-rights employment.
  • Challenge the Government to establish continuing support for the individual businesses, places and people who have been most affected by this economic crisis.
  • Reform corporate governance so all stakeholders have a say, including unions and communities.
  • Support from Labour Local Authorities, Councils, Metro Mayors and all local leaders to deliver community investment, regenerating high streets and providing access to high quality transport networks and parking facilities.
  • Re-build the post-Brexit and post-Covid economy based on the key principles of engaging with all businesses of all sizes across all sectors of the economy and support for business to make necessary changes for Net Zero.
  • Reform of UK tax law to ensure that companies pay their fair share of tax through tackling tax avoidance and the use of offshore havens, to include a digital tax. Usdaw Labour Business

Usdaw
Labour Business

Public ownership – composite five

Conference notes that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a widely held desire for a new economic model that meets the needs of our communities and not just those of exploitative shareholders and external investors.

Timid tweaks to the current system will not fix the structural problems that the pandemic has both exposed and exacerbated. Deep and transformative change is required, and the case for extending democratic public ownership in the post-covid economy could not be clearer.

This is certainly the case in the postal and telecoms industries, where CWU members, as keyworkers, have made a huge contribution to their communities throughout the course of the pandemic.

The aim of the next Labour government must be to transform our economy by delivering an irreversible shift in wealth and power to working people. In order to achieve this. Conference:

  • commits to bring Royal Mail back into public ownership, reuniting it with the Post Office and creating a publicly owned Post Bank run through the post office network;
  • commits to bring the broadband-relevant parts of BT into public ownership, with a jobs guarantee for all workers in existing broadband infrastructure and retail broadband work, so as to deliver free full-fibre broadband to all by 2030;
  • believes that we must continue to build quality public services that are democratic and give workers and their communities a greater voice as well as involving trade unions in both their establishment and delivery.

Communication Workers Union
Unite

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