Harold Wilson famously envisaged a new society ‘forged in the white heat of technology’, with a compelling vision of a radical, dynamic and more equal Britain. Wilson was thinking of the kind of technology that made Coventry a boom town, the home of the UK motor industry – ‘the good old days before the Ghost Town’ caused by Thatcherism.
Fifty years on new scientific innovation is being developed in our city. Look at the breakthroughs being made through the innovation centre for battery technology (UKBIC) at Ryton, through the state of the art manufacturing facility for electric vehicles at LEVC in Ansty, and through the piloting of driverless car technologies. Partnerships like these, joining together public investment, high tech business and our two Universities, can make Coventry a beacon for a new economics. Our city could become the birthplace of a socialism based on creativity and innovation, and ‘forged by the green technologies of the future’.
The policies that John McDonnell and his team will put in place the financial incentives and public investment to make this vision a reality. They are right that Britain’s economy has become over-reliant on the financial speculation in the City of London, rather than the productive investment that generates quality jobs. There is an urgent need to rebalance our economy through regional investment and public support for the high tech industries of the future.
It’s even more exciting to think that many of the technologies that the next Labour government will support, are ‘made in Coventry’. On a personal level, I’m proud that some of the local pilots I championed through the council – like incentives to promote electric taxis, the expansion of electric car charging points, and the trialling of driverless cars – are being rolled out as national priorities. There are other successful initiatives which I piloted – like the use of ‘hard to recycle’ plastics as road surfacing – which I would push to see rolled out more widely.
The Climate Crisis is the biggest challenge facing us. Through my work on the council I have been able to make a difference locally, and pilot initiatives which have been adopted elsewhere. I took politically brave decisions when colleagues urged caution, and as a result I was able to radically increase recycling rates, and introduce ‘food recycling’ to Coventry – at the same time as saving a million pounds a year.
We sometimes hear about the ‘Preston model’ of sustainable development as a model for ‘Corbynomics’. With the political will, I believe that we can develop a ‘Coventry model’ based on the same principles of wealth generation and the creation of quality jobs, but also harnessing our manufacturing base and the expertise of our Universities.
As your MP I’ll ensure that Coventry is the beating heart of a new economy based on the ‘green heat’ of new technology