Even though the energy crisis has taken a back seat in the news cycle, the impact it has had on consumers, their behaviour, and overall public awareness of where their energy comes from, is stark.
However many industry commentators believe that, to date, very little has been done by the Government to prevent such a crisis from happening again.
With several complex, but complementary, policy issues remaining high on voters’ agendas, the Labour Party has been tentatively navigating complex waters as it sets out its stall ahead of the next General Election, looking to capitalise on perceived current inaction.
Climate change, energy costs, and energy independence is a challenging trifecta to find a solution to at the best of times, let alone when the overriding priority is to project economic competence and fiscal trustworthiness.
An additional twist in the tale for Keir Starmer has been the dramatic way in which Scotland has electorally come into play, which 12 months ago he could only have dreamt of. Labour is now facing the very real prospect of tangible, double-digit Parliamentary gains north of the border, which could make the difference between a clear majority, or a hung Parliament.
Balancing each of these considerations has seen a number of previously solid commitments become softened, watered down, or changed altogether.
Two headline pledges, no new oil and gas licenses, and investing £28bn a year in green infrastructure, have been the main casualties.
The latter has been slightly amended so that instead of the full annual investment starting immediately, it’ll be built up to in the first half of a Labour Government. This has generally been interpreted as a pragmatic move, as deciding what to invest that level of money, finalising deals, and then spending it within 12 months was perhaps always an unrealistic timeline.
The former has been somewhat more eventful. Rifts have opened within the Labour front bench; and the unions, most notably the GMB, have started flexing their muscles. In addition, Anas Sarwar’s political capital has grown exponentially, making him an even more influential figure in the Party machine.
The result? A fudge. Labour will now honour any licences issued before the election, their position on CCS has suddenly become very positive, and the previous ban on new licences has now been limited to only blocking new exploration licenses, a minor but crucial difference, specifically aimed at keeping Scotland in play.
Beyond it being a fantastic case study for observers as to how the levers of power within the Labour Party work, it’s also a strong indication as to how seriously Keir Starmer is taking the Party’s policy development, not letting anything jeopardise any chance he may have of becoming the next Prime Minister.
‘Next Left’ – WA’s recently published Guide to Engaging with the Labour Party – explores the people, processes and politics shaping the development of Labour’s next election manifesto, and how businesses can engage with the party’s plans.
We will shortly be releasing a deep-dive specifically exploring the Labour Party’s emerging energy sector policies. To receive a copy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.