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Why Corbyn is promising a “green jobs revolution”

The Labour leader's promise to create 400,000 new skilled jobs is a direct pitch to Brexit Britain – and an implicit criticism of Gordon Brown and New Labour.

By Patrick Maguire

A Labour government would “kickstart a green jobs revolution” in a bid to radically overhaul the economy after Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn will say in a conference speech that implicitly criticises the last Labour government tomorrow.

Laying out his party’s vision to reduce carbon emissions and create 400,000 new skilled jobs by 2030, the Labour leader will tell delegates in Liverpool that his government will return “skills and security to communities held back for too long” with a large-scale programme of investment in green infrastructure and training.

Sources close to Corbyn have described the speech as a direct pitch to communities that voted for Brexit – “the millions of people who have been most directly affected by deindustrialisation and austerity” – and its policy platform as a bid to remedy to its root economic causes.

Corbyn will announce plans to reduce carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2030, and to zero by 2050, through a large-scale programme of public sector investment and sweeping changes to planning regulations.

A Labour government would seek to increase offshore wind power by seven times, double onshore wind, treble solar panel, and would launch a £12.8 billion home insulation programme. An independent panel of researchers said that the plans – which would involve both public and private sector investment – would create some 400,000 skilled jobs.

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Corbyn will describe the plans as a “radical plan we need to rebuild and transform Britain”, adding: “The old way of running things isn’t working anymore.”

The speech also contains several pointed implicit criticisms of New Labour. Referencing the tenth anniversary of the financial crisis, Corbyn will criticise how “instead of making essential changes to a broken economic system, the political and corporate establishment strained every sinew to bail out and prop up the system that led to the crash in the first place”. His spokesman said it was not intended as an attack on Gordon Brown’s bank bailout.

He will add: “Unless we offer radical solutions, others will fill the gap with the politics of blame and division.”

Outlining his plans for green jobs, Corbyn will say: “Our energy plans would make Britain the only developed country outside Scandinavia to be on track to meet our climate change obligations.”

“That means working with unions representing the workforce to ensure jobs and skills are protected as we move towards a low-carbon economy.

“And it means working with industry to change the way we build, and to train the workforce to retrofit homes and work in the industries we will build.

“It needs a government committed to investing in renewables, in jobs and in training.

“I can announce today that Labour will kickstart a green jobs revolution. Our programme of investment and transformation to achieve a 60 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 will create over 400,000 skilled jobs, based here and on union rates, bringing skills and security to communities held back for too long.”

The plans are underpinned by a line of thought that has not been as clear throughout conference as the leadership might have liked. In political terms, the means of Corbyn’s so-called jobs revolution – and its green tinge – is less important than its ends.

This year’s conference has been described by the leader’s office as “its most direct pitch yet to people in post-industrial towns and communities”. Its slogan is “Rebuilding Britain For The Many Not The Few”, but really it is a message to towns that voted for Brexit – the seats that will win or lose the next election for Labour – rather than Britain as a whole.

The Labour leader’s own “radical solution” is his “green jobs revolution”, a policy response to what Team Corbyn sees as one of the most powerful forces that drove the Brexit vote: a fundamentally unbalanced economic model (he will describe it as “greed-is-good, deregulated financial capitalism”).

Restoring skilled job opportunities and a sense of economic purpose to post-industrial communities is how Labour intends to redress the imbalance – both in the British economy and in its predominantly cosmopolitan electoral coalition.

Corbyn’s “Build It In Britain” campaign, which similarly championed the creation of skilled jobs in deindustrialised communities, was intended to push a similar message over the summer, but was overshadowed by Labour’s interminable anti-Semitism row. For his team, the test of this conference’s success will be whether its plan to reshape the economy or the party’s internal debate over Brexit is top of the agenda tomorrow.