In February Labour’s man in Scotland Jim Murphy announced Labours commitment to a new generation of nuclear power stations in Scotland. This morning Iain Gray - Scotland’s Homer – is broadcasting from Torness Power station. London Labour’s mind has been made up long ago and here’s some interesting reasons why.
In May 2007, before the Labour government’s second consultation on nuclear power, The Observer reported how Gordon Brown had already made up his mind over nuclear. “The Prime Minister-elect will give the green light to the plans that will show that he is backing Tony Blair’s support of the nuclear industry”, reported the paper. “The Chancellor will signal his support this week for a dramatic renewal of the nuclear power programme that will see the building of up to eight new stations, possibly within 15 years.”
What makes this decision politically sensitive, is that Gordon Brown has close family connections to the nuclear industry. His younger brother Andrew works for EDF Energy, the UK subsidiary of EDF ( Electricite de France) , which operates nuclear power stations in France, and which is one of the leading companies pushing for a nuclear rebuild programme in the UK. Andrew Brown was appointed as EDF Energy’s Head of Press on 13 September 2004. Previously, he worked for the lobbying company Weber Shandwick.
One of Brown’s key advisors is Ed Balls, whose father-in-law Tony Cooper is a long-standing nuclear lobbyist. As the Sunday Times and the rest of the Unionist press go into overdrive (Jason Allardyce’s weekend attacks represent only the last of a month long pro-nuclear campaign by the Sunday Times).
This is a laughable response to the huge environmental problems we face with climate change. Nuclear hasn’t and can’t resolve its waste issues - it is not carbon neutral (uranium mining is a huge cost of a finite resource) – and crucially nuclear undermines the shift we have to make to energy reduction, conservation and renewables.
At the time of the February announcement, Richard Dixon from WWF Scotland pointed out: “It is ironic that Jim Murphy is making his call for new nuclear stations on the same day that 10 offshore renewable energy sites are announced. At peak output these sites will produce 6GW of electricity, three times the capacity of Scotland’s existing nuclear stations and equal to all of Scotland’s electricity demand.
Our energy needs could be met with safe and efficient renewable energy technologies and serious investment in energy efficiency. Investment in these sensible alternatives would be undermined if UK ministers are allowed to foist a new nuclear power programme on Scotland. It’s time now for a mass cross-party campaign to oppose Labours plans to impose nuclear madness on Scotland against our wishes. Labour Party members should stand up – and greens, liberals, and independents should come together on this uniting issue.