Rebecca Long-Bailey pledges the environment would be central to Labour policy | Politics

Rebecca Long-Bailey would make protecting the environment a core Labour principle by writing it into the party’s constitution, she has said.

The shadow business secretary has argued that Labour’s green industrial revolution, which she authored, was not prominent enough in the party’s election campaign last year.

She would seek to redraw Clause IV of the party’s constitution, which sets out its political aims, to include environmentalism, she said on Wednesday.

“As leader, I’ll centre Labour’s plans to tackle the climate crisis in everything our party does, and make sure it defines the next election. I know that we can build a winning electoral coalition around our green industrial revolution, uniting working people everywhere with a just, aspirational response to the climate crisis,” she told the Guardian.

Any changes to Labour’s constitution would have to be agreed by party members at its annual conference; however, Long-Bailey set out a series of principles that she said should guide the process of drawing up what she called a “clause IV for our time”.

The first of these is “a green economy and a sustainable planet, recognising that socialism and environmentalism must go hand in hand”.

Other principles include:

Universal provision of high quality public services, including childcare, education, healthcare, housing, social care, social security, transport and utilities.

A prosperous economy with a more equal distribution of wealth, ownership and economic power.

An independent foreign policy based on peace, internationalism, human rights, justice and international law.

Expanding democracy and devolving power.

Long-Bailey is widely regarded as Jeremy Corbyn’s chosen successor. He made a video alongside her last week in which the pair chatted about climate change, and he promised “absolute support” for her “green revolution”. However, Keir Starmer appears to be the frontrunner.

The long leadership campaign has featured increasingly detailed policy promises, with Starmer publishing “10 pledges”, which include nationalisation of “rail, mail, energy and water” and supporting the abolition of tuition fees.

Meanwhile, Lisa Nandy, the MP for Wigan, has sought to shake up the race by warning that Labour faces extinction unless it changes radically.

Long-Bailey has made clear that she is committed to retaining Corbyn’s leftwing policy stance but stressed that she believes it could have been explained and promoted better during the election campaign, saying her colleagues need to become “salespeople for socialism”.

And she has also emphasised widening party democracy – committing to campaign for open selection for MPs. Long-Bailey’s campaign chair, Jon Lansman, founder of the leftwing Labour group Momentum, has long advocated open selection.

Clause IV was originally agreed in 1918. It was rewritten in 1995, under Tony Blair’s leadership, to eliminate the commitment to “the common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange” after a highly symbolic public battle with the trades unions.

Rethinking Clause IV has already featured in Labour’s deputy leadership contest, with Richard Burgon proposing to ensure that nationalising key public services is “hard-wired into our party’s core”.

Long-Bailey and Starmer will both appear in separate interviews on the BBC’s Andrew Neil show on Wednesday evening. Her campaign has challenged the frontrunner in recent days to reveal more details about his campaign funding.

Jon Trickett, who is closely involved in Long-Bailey’s campaign, said on Wednesday there was a need to “end the secrecy,” in an escalation of tensions over the issue of donations.

Starmer committed to releasing his campaign donations in tranches on the official register of MPs’ interests but critics said these donations do not need to be officially accepted for 30 days and then they do not have to be declared for another 28 days.

The register of MPs’ interests was published on Tuesday and showed Starmer’s latest tranche of donations included £100,000 from fellow barrister Robert Latham, £5,000 from another barrister, Richard Hermer, £2,500 from an individual called Iain Simpson and the cost of various hotel stays amounting to around £2,500 from a company linked to Farah Sassoon, a wealthy Labour donor.

Long-Bailey and the third contender, Lisa Nandy, have both released what they say are full lists of their donations on their own websites.

Corbyn announced on the morning after December’s catastrophic election result that he would not lead Labour into another general election, but insisted a “period of reflection” was necessary, rather than rushing into a contest.

Voting is open in the race, with the result due to be announced at a special conference in London on 4 April.

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