I confess, the term “Industrial Strategy” doesn’t get the blood coursing through the veins, though Boris Johnson’s notorious outburst, “business” may have raised the CBI’s blood pressure a few notches. 

Johnson neglected Theresa May’s 2017 industrial strategy and in 2021, Kwartang, the short-lived chancellor, scrapped it. It hasn’t seen the light of day since.

 May’s industrial strategy was ditched because it departed from the Conservatives’ ideological opposition to state involvement in industry and markets. What nonsense! Markets have always relied on the state which provides essential infrastructure for a productive economy. The economist Mariana Mazzucato has argued that the state has done more: providing funds for research and development, subsidies, grants, tax-breaks and investments in factory construction. As urged by Mazzucato, under Labour, the state will retain a share in industry it invests in and taxpayers will benefit from profits that accrue.

 The innovative approach of Labour’s industrial strategy is to “escape the narrow attempts to identify and pick winners” but rather “to envision in partnership the direction for economic development and technical change”. Unlike May, partnership includes the trade unions, as well as government and business. And why not, working people make the profits and pay the taxes.

 So, what might Labour’s new industrial strategy mean for work in Cornwall? It is a strategy to raise wages. Many firms in the hospitality and leisure sector rely on poorly paid, inefficient, precarious workforces, competing by cutting costs rather than investing. Labour will ban zero-hours contracts, end hire-and fire, scrap qualifying periods for basic rights so that sick pay, parental leave and a claim for unfair dismissal are there from day one of employment.

 The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Employment Board reported two areas where skill shortages are most common: Manufacturing and Health and Social Care. The latter is a main focus of the industrial strategy. Labour will establish a Fair Pay Agreement in adult social care to raise terms and conditions across the sector, with skilled carers paid fairly, and progression opportunities.

 With a statutory Industrial Strategy Council, supported by an advisory board and funded through an £8-billion national wealth fund, this is a serious, long-term project for a Labour Government in 2024.

 Which brings us neatly to Labour’s centenary: 100 years since Labour’s first period of office in 1924. An historic moment for Labour which had previously relied on collaboration with the Liberal Party to better conditions for working people. From 1924 onwards Labour would eclipse the Liberal Party. Their successor, the Lib Dems, see their election prospects fade in SE Cornwall as unhappy Conservative voters opt for the Labour Party – not the Lib Dems (Source: Google Seat Explorer electoralcalculus.co.uk). 2024, another historic moment for Labour!

Tony Whitston of South East Cornwall Labour Party