Labour insists green transition will be ‘polar opposite’ of Tory miners policy

By Craig Paton, PA Scotland Political Reporter

Labour’s plans to transition from oil and gas will be the “polar opposite” of the Conservative move away from coal in the 1980s, Richard Leonard said.

Speaking at a miners welfare in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, the party’s Scottish leader said the “green industrial revolution” being touted by Labour will be “by consent”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, speaking alongside Mr Leonard, also said he does not think his party’s environmental policy would spell the end for fossil fuels.

Mr Leonard said: “We’re sitting here today in a miners welfare in the heart of the Lanarkshire coal field and it’s an important reminder that if you just let the market wreak havoc through industries and communities, it can spell disaster.

“What we’ve said is in the change that’s needed in our economy, to net-zero carbon, we need to have a just transition.

“It needs to be a transition in such a way that communities are not left behind.

“The stark contrast of our approach, which will diversify the Scottish economy away from oil and gas, couldn’t be more polar opposite from the way the Tories handled the decline of the coal industry.”

In the 1980s, the Conservative administration attempted to move away from coal mining, closing pits and eventually, in 1994, privatising British Coal.

The closure of the pits, according to a study by Sheffield Hallam University in 2014, led to unemployment rising in coal producing areas from 3% under the national average to 12% above it.

The two Labour leaders, centre, were speaking in South Lanarkshire (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Leonard added: “When we talk about a green industrial revolution, I think we want to see a green industrial revolution by consent.”

Mr Corbyn said he is aware of the number of jobs dependent on the fossil fuel industry, saying work would not be scrapped entirely.

He said: “That won’t end immediately, although obviously I want to end our reliance on fossil fuels, but that doesn’t mean there will never be any fossil fuels.

“It just means that it will form part of an energy system that is more sustainable for our natural world.”