This letter was published in the Guardian on 4 May 2018:
John Harris is right to say the left has articulated no comprehensive answer to the existing and future threats posed to employment by automation. Key to this must be prioritising labour-intensive sectors that are difficult to automate, such as health, education and elderly care. Equally key is a climate-friendly infrastructure programme. Crucial to this will be to make the UK’s 30m buildings super-energy efficient, thus dramatically reducing energy bills, fuel poverty and greenhouse gas emissions. The housing crisis should be tackled by building affordable, highly insulated new homes, predominantly on brown field sites, and local public transport links need to be rebuilt.
This massive work programme would provide a secure career structure for decades, and would involve a large number of apprenticeships and professional jobs, as well as opportunities for the self-employed and local small businesses. It can be paid for by “people’s quantitative easing”, from fairer taxes, local authority bonds and green ISAs. Since such savers are likely to be predominantly older, this would also be a necessary exercise in intergenerational solidarity.
Colin Hines
Convenor, Green New Deal Group

About the author