THE UK is being “left behind as a nation”, Labour leadership hopeful Yvette Cooper will warn today as she calls for increased investment in science and hi-tech industry to protect the country’s economic future.
She will set a target of creating two million new high-skilled manufacturing jobs and increasing public and private investment on research and development to 3% of GDP.
The shadow home secretary will claim that her plan would “transform our economy” and help the country “punch well above our weight”.
Ms Cooper will take part in the latest hustings with leadership rivals Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall and Jeremy Corbyn at a conference organised by trade union Unison in Manchester.
While she is in the city she will also visit the National Graphene Institute to highlight her plans for a “revolution in research and science investment”.
She will say: “Last time we had a leadership election in 2010 we talked about our party. It was an inward looking debate. Often about our past. Meanwhile big decisions were being taken about future of our country. This time we need to focus on the future challenges for Britain.”
She will claim that “rewarding, fulling work must be at the heart of all our plans”.
“We will fail in world markets unless our economy becomes more productive. And we will fail the British people if we don’t foster an economy creating good, new jobs that give everyone a better future,” she will say.
“We are being left behind as a nation. Some regions are being left behind faster than others.
“Our society is becoming more unfair. There’s more insecurity, and not just those on the lowest incomes but also those on middle incomes.”
Setting out the 3% target, she will say: “Just imagine what that would mean for our universities, our cities, our companies. That would transform our economy. It would be a down payment on a different future for Britain, for our children and their children after them.”
Under Ed Miliband’s leadership Labour faced claims from critics that it was anti-business but Ms Cooper will insist she will put the party on the side of hi-tech firms.
She will also establish a business advisory group, which will include inviting firms that do not support Labour, to help draw up plans on science and the digital economy.
In a reference to Harold Wilson’s speech about the pace of technological advance in 1963, she will say: “Just as Labour championed the white heat of technology in the 1960s, so today we need to champion the white flashing constellations of the networked world.”
But she will claim that the UK’s broadband is not fast enough and call for the the Government to be far more ambitious by guaranteeing high-speed connections for all small businesses.