The Labour leader distanced himself from Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto plan to nationalise the energy sector – and appeared to ditch a leadership pledge to support common ownership
Labour will not nationalise the largest energy firms on entering power, Keir Starmer has said.
The Labour leader distanced himself from his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto plan to nationalise the energy sector – in a move likely to anger the left wing of the party.
And he appeared to ditch his 2020 leadership pledge to “support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water”.
Asked if he would nationalise the big six energy companies, he told the BBC: “No.”
He was shown one of his 10 pledges during his leadership election which said “public services should be in public hands, not making profits for shareholders. Support common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water”.
Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)
“I don’t see nationalisation there,” he said.
“When it comes to common ownership I’m pragmatic about this. I do not agree with the argument that says we must be ideological.”
But he did not say what form common ownership would take if it was not nationalisation.
“I’d be pragmatic about it, and where common ownership is value for money for the taxpayer and delivers better services then there should be common ownership,” he added.
He pointed to the much-criticised Test and Trace system, which Labour would like to see under public ownership.
Shadow Energy Secretary Ed Miliband insisted earlier this that Labour was committed to public ownership to make the transition to green energy.
“Wait for the conference, but Keir Starmer said in his leadership campaign he was in favour of public ownership in those areas. We haven’t changed that commitment,” he told BBC Newsnight.
He added: “If we’re going to make this green transition, then public ownership is the right way to go. We don’t resile from those commitments.”
Delegates at conference backed a motion for a “socialist green new deal” – which included a commitment to nationalise energy firms.
The motion was promoted by the Fire Brigades Union and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), along with campaign group Labour for a Green New Deal.
Chris Saltmarsh, co-founder of Labour for a Green New Deal, said Mr Starmer was “alienating himself from ordinary members” and urged him to return to his leadership pledges.
He said: “This result shows that there is huge support for a radical agenda in the Labour Party, and that the membership and affiliated unions are united in their support for transformative politics.
“Starmer should recognise this, re-state the ambitious pledges of his leadership campaign, and put the Green New Deal at the heart of his leadership.”
GMB union proposed a less radical motion, with support for “public and alternative forms of ownership”.
A show of hards was too close to call but the motion was passed by nearly 60% in favour by card vote, according to LabourList.
Gary Smith, GMB General Secretary, said: “We support a Green New Deal but it can’t be based on running down industries and making tens of thousands redundant – that’s not how you take workers and their communities with you.”