Labour conference 2022 – what was it like on the ground?

You’ve probably seen the news by now – Labour Conference this year brought many wins for the climate movement. The party shaped their entire conference around building a “fairer, greener future”, including the announcement of an £8bn National Wealth fund for green investment and a new nationalised renewable energy company ‘GB Energy’ within their first year of government. Most importantly, they announced they’re aiming to have 100% clean power by 2030, one of the most ambitious climate targets that exists to date. This is a great start.

But what was it like on the ground?

I'm Milla - I attended the Labour conference in Liverpool with a bunch of other GNDR activists from across the country. I was nervous about going, having never been to a political conference before and because of some negative experiences with UK politics in the past (including the Labour party).

But my nerves soon subsided because people around us were extremely friendly and we managed to have some really constructive conversations with politicians. For example, First Minister for Wales Mark Drakeford said he was on our side and in favour of a Green New Deal!

By the end of the conference - I definitely felt more confident in my activism and taking up space in a political setting. We’d challenged over 35 Labour MPs, including influential figures from the shadow cabinet ministers and other big characters like Lord Mandelson. We’d talked to others about how to get involved in fighting for a new green deal at a panel at the The World Transformed (a fringe event to conference). And of course, we’d had a bit of fun on the side (such as the Zarah Sultana pub quiz).

The Zarah Sutlana pub quiz (Source: The World Transformed)

A better future is inevitable so long as we keep fighting for it

We all know that things in the UK are incredibly bleak right now. But we need to meet this situation with revolutionary optimism and by being relentless in our demands. Through collective organising, persistence and determination, the future we want becomes possible. In our case this means a society for people and the planet, not for profit, via a Green New Deal. This doesn't mean ignoring the suffering happening now (such as with the horrific floods in Pakistan), quite the opposite. It means being steadfast in our fight for systems change. 

And when we apply that optimism to our situation, what has been announced so far is a good start. It’s not a Green New Deal in the fullest sense as there is nothing about full public ownership of energy or historical reparations for the communities most affected by climate change. But compared to last year where Keir Starmer outright ignored a GND Rising activist when she challenged him in Brighton, we along with many others, have forced serious climate policies into the conversation.

The GNDR team after challenging Labour MP Barry Gardiner

We did this by challenging dozen of MPs in person over the past year, and calling and emailing many more. We also worked with champions within Labour to build consensus around big ticket policies that come straight from the Green New Deal playbook. Of course, the next steps are getting people into power who will conduct these transformational policies and ensure they are held to account every step of the way.

I’ll end this on a few key points. Never underestimate the power of standing up for what you believe in. Never underestimate the power of direct action (including campaigning and protests). The world can and will be transformed with a Green New Deal. Politicians will – in time - get fully behind us.