As a born-and-bred Cumbrian I am encouraged that the whole Shadow Cabinet is taking rural, environmental, farming and tourism issues seriously to ensure that there are jobs for those displaced by the crisis and that our recovery builds an environmentally sustainable economy.

Shadow Business Secretary, Ed Miliband, is proposing a green economic rescue post-COVID. He says that the economic damage caused by the pandemic and the need to tackle climate change requires the ambition of Clem Attlee. The plan to create a sustainable economy that leads the world includes training a ‘zero carbon army’ of young people in areas like forestry, home insulation and green technologies.

The Shadow Energy Minister, Alan Whitehead, is leading the Green New Deal in Energy, and Shadow Climate Change Minister, Matthew Pennycook, says that complacency remains a far bigger danger to our existence than alarmism.

UK tourism is facing an existential crisis

The Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds says, “While the current recession is the deepest and widest in hundreds of years, the long-term costs of failing to deal with the climate crisis also pose grave risks for our economy. Public funds must be focused on sustaining and promoting employment, especially in those areas which are already struggling, and meeting our climate and environmental commitments.”

Labour Consult
Labour Consult

Alex Sobel, Shadow Tourism Minister recognises that the job-losses in tourism hit young people disproportionally, in rural areas where work for young people is already scarce. UK tourism is facing an existential crisis, with the highest proportion of workers on furlough of any UK industry. Sobel says the industry “needs a high level of intervention and support.” He has been talking to tourism bodies, businesses and workers about the COVID crisis and so has called for a special stimulus to help it bounce back.

The Shadow Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minister (DEFRA), Luke Pollard, has been active in defence of our farmers. On the threat to lower standards of a US deal: “The public doesn’t want lower animal welfare. They want to maintain our high standards for all food on sale in the UK. The Conservatives promised in their manifesto that they would not lower food standards yet they seem intent on allowing British farmers to be undercut with cheap imports. Labour stands alongside our farmers in opposing this change and we will be trying again to get a commitment in law that would stop Ministers undercutting our farmers.”

He sees farming as the kingpin of our post-covid strategy,  “Farming is essential to our way of life. And supporting British farmers is now not just about food production, it is a matter of public health. We must urgently rebuild our food sector after the coronavirus crisis. The pandemic has exposed just how fragile our food supply chains actually are”.

“lovely sustainably-farmed British food for the rich, and cheap foreign muck for the masses”

On the Agriculture Bill, many rural MPs who normally shout about their farming links, lost their voices and voted through a Bill without the protections that would prevent British farmers being undercut in future trade deals. I fear the Conservatives have taken rural communities for granted for far too long.”

Daniel Zeichner MP, the Labour Shadow Farming Minister, said of the Agriculture Bill, “We could end up with a two-tier market in the UK: lovely sustainably-farmed British food for the rich, and cheap foreign muck for the masses”. He attacked the Tory Bill as, ”not really about food or public good; without public voice; an open door for our food producers to be sold out in a trade deal with Trump; and English farmers put at disadvantage compared with other nations in the UK, while doing too little to tackle the climate emergency.”

You can be part of Labour’s strategy here https://labour.org.uk/page/green-recovery-consultation/

by Bar Nash Williams

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