The new MPs who could influence energy policy

With Labour’s landslide electoral victory last week, all eyes are on Sir Keir Starmer’s new government to see what policy announcements emerge over the coming weeks and months.

Labour’s ambition to position Britain as an energy superpower was a key part of its electoral strategy, hinging on accelerating the shift towards renewable energy sources. Central to this is the establishment of GB Energy, a state-owned enterprise headquartered in Scotland, which is set to drive investment in renewables and create around 650,000 new jobs with its initial £8.3bn capitalisation. This initiative is well-received, with a YouGov survey indicating 66% public support, suggesting widespread approval for national involvement in the energy sector.

Despite scaling back its original £28 billion green investment pledge, Labour remains committed to bold climate goals. These include achieving a Net Zero energy grid by 2030 and launching the Warm Homes Plan to improve domestic energy efficiency by the same year. While these policies reflect Labour’s serious dedication to environmental sustainability, they also present substantial financial and logistical challenges.

Importantly, the party has already hit the ground running – overturning the onshore wind farm ban and pledging sweeping reforms to the planning system, with Rachel Reeves claiming on Monday that Labour has “done more to unblock the planning system in the last 72 hours than the government did in 14 years.”

The tight fiscal environment means that funding will be competitive, particularly across key areas like wind and solar power, energy storage, and nuclear energy. Labour will need to judiciously determine which projects merit investment, and strategise on how to promote an optimal mix of energy sources. This will be crucial not only for meeting environmental targets but also for fostering an ecosystem that attracts further private investment.

For Labour, they hope that this approach will transform Britain into a leading force in renewable energy capable of exporting clean power, delivering energy security and crucially, controlling the UK’s economic future as a leader in the global energy sector.

With Ed Miliband appointed as Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, the rest of the team were soon annonunced: Sarah Jones, Lord Hunt, Kerry McCarthy, Michael Shanks and newly elected first time MP, Miatta Fahnbulleh.

So who is the newly elected MP who has gone straight into DESNZ as a minister? And who are the other new Labour MPs to look out for on energy policy?  We’ve put a spotlight on those that have the tools and experience to be influential when it comes to shaping the future of Labour’s energy policy framework. From economics to implementation, these MPs have different priorities and stand out for being vocal on energy issues.

Miatta Fahnbulleh MP, Peckham

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero
Majority: 15,228

With a wealth of political and policy experience as Director of Policy and Research at the Institute of Public Policy Research, Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation, and at senior levels for the Leader of the Opposition, the Cabinet Office, and the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit under Gordon Brown, Dr Miatta Fahnbulleh was bound to be an influential voice. One of our MPs to watch, Fahnbulleh has been appointed straight into the Ministerial ranks on her fifth day as an MP, taking up the role of Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DESNZ.

Taking up the baton from Labour’s longest-running MP Harriet Harman in Peckham, Fahnbulleh has campaigned on climate issues for over ten years. She remains a keen advocate for climate action, describing Labour’s plans as “a chance to tackle inequality whilst we transition to net zero.” She has also pledged to deliver a Green New Deal as one of her key national objectives.

Fahnbulleh recently received a glowing endorsement from Secretary of State for Net Zero and Energy Security Ed Miliband, saying “We need Miatta in Parliament to deliver the transformative change Labour can bring, from fixing our broken energy market, to setting up Great British Energy, to making the UK a world leader on climate action again.”

With an impressive background as an economist, Fahnbulleh will be an informed voice within the department on funding the transition to net zero, having already worked closely with both Ed Miliband and Angela Rayner as a senior economic advisor in the run-up to the election. Fahnbulleh has spoken on the importance of adequate skills training for new green jobs, and will also be a key advocate for training the green workforce of the future.

Katie White MP OBE, Leeds North West

Majority: 11,896

Katie White, representing Leeds North West, is not only a lifelong climate campaigner but also a key figure in the arena of energy policy.

Her journey to this point is rooted in her work as a climate campaigner and activist. Having co-led the influential campaign that ultimately achieved the 2008 Climate Change Act, she was awarded an OBE for services to climate change engagement in 2013.

 Before stepping into the political limelight, White’s career spanned significant roles at Friends of The Earth, WWF, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change, crafting her as a seasoned advocate for environmental issues. Her transition into politics as a Labour candidate was driven by her dedication to climate action, which she described in a Yorkshire Post article stating, “Climate is why I’m in politics.” Her own campaign placed a strong emphasis on initiating a green industrial revolution, viewing it as Britain biggest opportunity, with Leeds and Yorkshire positioned at its heart.

White’s vision includes robust support for Labour’s green initiatives such as the flagship GB Energy policy and the Warm Homes Plan. She plans to champion the creation of new green manufacturing jobs in Leeds, leveraging her extensive background in climate change advocacy to shape her policies.

Reaffirming her commitment to climate action on the day of her election victory, White wrote on X, “As I left the count this morning, the dawn was bright over the wind turbines.”

Matthew Patrick MP, Wirral West

Majority: 9,998

Matthew Patrick, the new MP for Wirral West, brings a focused and practical approach to the table, especially when it comes to energy and climate issues. At the forefront of his campaign is the push to make GB Energy more effective in driving down prices and boosting our own renewable energy production. He’s also a strong voice for protecting local green spaces and beaches, which is a big deal in the Wirral where the green belt is a key concern.

Patrick’s career started in a mortgage brokerage, but he moved into local government, serving on the Wirral Council. Since stepping down in 2018, he’s been involved in regulating financial services and energy sectors, and he has put his experience championing consumer rights at the centre of his campaign.

During his time as a councillor, he was the cabinet member for the environment. He also wrote recently for LabourList, making the case for climate action and a green industrial revolution that could bring quality jobs back to places like the Wirral.

Following his electoral victory last week, Patrick wrote on X, “Winning is not the prize, change is. It’s now our job to deliver it.”

With his combination of local government experience and his regulatory role in the energy industry, Patrick is well-equipped to make a significant impact. He plans to bring all this experience to bear in Wirral West, ensuring that his work as an MP is informed by an understanding of both the challenges and opportunities in managing our environment and energy resources.

Alistair Strathern MP, Hitchin

Majority: 7,109

The new Labour MP for Hitchin, Alistair Strathern, is determined to deliver ‘meaningful change’ and show that ‘politics can be better’ as he becomes the town’s first-ever Labour MP. After his narrow victory in the Mid Bedfordshire parliamentary by-election in October, he has now overturned a large Conservative majority for the second time in less than a year.

Winning in the Hitchin seat (under new boundaries), Strathern brings a wealth of experience to Parliament. He started as a councillor in Waltham Forest and then served as Climate Lead at the Bank of England, giving him a strong foundation in politics, climate issues, and economics.

His skills were quickly recognised within the Labour Party, and in January, he was appointed joint Parliamentary Private Secretary to both Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves and Shadow Secretary for Net Zero and Energy Security, Ed Miliband. This dual role has allowed him to play a significant part in informing policies on renewable energy and climate action.

Strathern’s environmental commitment is long-standing. He’s been actively involved with Greenpeace and has consistently pushed for more robust climate action. He has openly criticised the former Conservative government’s approach to Net Zero, advocating for more decisive measures.

Writing on X following his victory, Strathern said, “For too long ideology rather than reality has shaped the UK’s approach to clean energy, and it’s all of us who have been paying the price. Under Labour and Ed Miliband, that’s about to change.”