SOMETIMES things just click, don’t they?

I was proud to bring Rachel Reeves – the woman I want to take charge of our country’s finances – to Darlington last week.

We visited Cummins, a large, well-respected employer on Yarm Road that is developing innovative zero-carbon technologies. They are making engines to export all over the world, all using the skill and ingenuity of North East workers.

The visit allowed me to reflect on Darlington’s transition from linen manufacturing to becoming a pioneer of the railways – a generation-defining embrace of new technology that transformed the next 100 years for not just our town, but for the rest of the world.

Standing on the factory floor with Rachel, it struck me that we might just be on the cusp of a similar moment of significance once again.

The climate crisis must be tackled – we owe it to the next generation to act now. I think the key to new industry in our region must lie in green investment. Growing our economy is how we make enough money to invest in our crumbling public services. Good quality green jobs will offer countless opportunities.

If elected as Darlington’s Member of Parliament, I will champion green investment in the North-East. Producing clean energy will tackle the cost-of-living crisis with lower energy bills, while also creating thousands of highly-skilled, good quality green jobs for our region. All that while also tackling the ever-increasing climate crisis head-on.

The impact of the war in Ukraine on household bills shows that we need long-term energy security. Yet the Conservatives are out of ideas and want to simply keep on drilling for oil and gas. This short-term sticking plaster will not deliver economic growth or tackle global warming. More extreme weather events including storms, heatwaves, and flooding will result in property damage and crop failure, leading to further rises in household bills and food prices. A vicious cycle.

Indeed, far from tackling the situation head-on, 14 years of Tory heads in the sand have directly increased living costs. Their 2015 ban on onshore wind projects raised energy bills by £180 a year. Under the Conservatives, home insulation has fallen dramatically. They withdrew investment to promote the switch to electric cars. And targets for landlords to increase energy efficiency – which could have eased bills for renters – were scrapped.

This Conservative government has wasted every opportunity to act. The result? Taxes at a 70-year high and cripplingly high energy bills. Labour has a plan to make things better.

Here’s how:

• Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan will rebuild our economy and deliver green growth in our region. It will attract investment and skills, create secure well-paid jobs in new green industries, and bring down energy bills.

• The National Wealth Fund will re-industrialise the North East by investing in electric car and battery gigafactories. Nationally, and regionally, we will invest £1.8 billion upgrading ports, ready for the expansion in offshore renewables. £1 billion will be invested to support a green transition for energy-intensive industrial hubs, including the Teesside chemical industries cluster.

• Labour’s Warm Homes Plan will insulate Britain’s homes to cut bills, creating thousands of new jobs for plumbers, electricians, and engineers.

• Our British Jobs Bonus will incentivise private investment into our region, to build clean, green technologies like offshore and onshore wind, solar power, green hydrogen, and carbon capture.

• We will Rewire Britain, unlocking billions of private investment to reform the planning system and upgrade the national grid, allowing renewable energy projects to connect without delay.

Together, over the coming decade, these policies will create 30,000 new jobs in the North-East. These jobs will provide a secure and exciting future for us all, and our economy will grow as a result. That means we’ll be able to invest in the public services so they’re cutting-edge and ready for challenges coming down the line.

To achieve this, though, we need your vote. We cannot change the government without a Labour MP in Darlington.

Our region has a proud industrial heritage. It’s time to harness the potential of our workforce, to train, upskill, and invest to deliver regional growth.

I will fight to ensure that Darlington is at the forefront of the green industrial revolution, to safeguard our children’s futures, to build a secure economy, and a sustainable environment.

It could just be that 200 years from the dawn of the railways, the North-East could be about to lead the world yet again.

But that won’t happen by accident. It needs care, investment, and a plan of action. In other words, it needs Labour.

  • Lola McEvoy is Labour's Parliamentary candidate in Darlington