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Showing posts with label renewable energy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label renewable energy. Show all posts

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Holyrood Labour and nuclear issues - and Margaret Jaconelli

The UK and Scottish news channels and media carried the story of the wonderful, world-class, groundbreaking renewable energy development in Caol Ila, the Sound of Islay. The world, the UK and the people of Scotland welcome this pivotal project, the beginning of a new era.

I will raise a small glass of Caol Isla, the little-known Islay malt to celebrate this event.

But not Iain Gray, or the Scottish Labour Party …

Iain Gray - what a negative politician, regrettably epitomising what his party has now become - a values-free, ideas-free, vision-free, talent-free, imagination-free zone of expedient political apparatchiks.

But how many of the reflex Labour voters see these performances? How many know what they will inflict on Scotland and themselves if they elect this bunch on May 5th?

But disenchanted LibDems in search of a new political home won't find it here, unless they too have abandoned everything they ever believed in.

Wake up, Scotland - and fast! Vote SNP on May 5th.


The enormity of the suffering visited on the Japanese people by the cataclysmic earthquake and tsunamai was bad enough, but the escalating nuclear emergency is now compounding their misery, creating a humanitarian crisis of almost unimaginable proportions. This latest threat may spread beyond the shores of Japan, threatening a much wider population.

A debate about nuclear power has inevitably been triggered by this, as the growing international consensus of recent years over the inevitability of nuclear power as a global response to the energy crisis. A massive rethink is underway, as government after government, nation after nation calls into question their nuclear programmes.

Some questions may legitimately be asked about the objectivity of many of the commentators who now abound on the media. They may reasonably be divided into those opposed to nuclear power because of scientific and environmental concerns, those who support nuclear power because they believe that the safety and environmental concerns are exaggerated,  that nuclear technology has now developed to the point that it is essentially safe and clean, and there is no real alternative to the energy crisis.

But the old, old question must be asked when considering those advancing the arguments - cui bono? - who benefits?

It can reasonably be said that no one benefits, in the sense of career, profits or narrow self-interest from opposing nuclear power. An argument could be made that companies researching and manufacturing green technology and renewables benefit, but since this research technology is also supported by the proponents of nuclear power, it is a rather weak argument.

But the nuclear industry itself is a vast, global aggregation of self-interest - economic, political, research-based and career based, and most importantly of all, is linked inextricable to the defence industry and to nuclear weapons and the policy of nuclear deterrence. It is bad enough for nuclear politicians that the public may distrust civil nuclear power because of its potential to fatally damage the environment and the health of the nation through generations, but when they inevitably follow-though on this logic to distrusting the manufacture, movement and stockpiling weapons of mass destruction within their borders, and the basing and movement of these agents of unimaginable destruction in and through their bays, lochs and international waters, then they know they have a problem on their hands.

And there is the self-interest of those whose finances, jobs and careers are intimately bound up with the continuation of nuclear energy generation and also nuclear weaponry. The danger with such people is denial, doublethink, and the insidious loss of objectivity and judgement. Asking them if they believe in nuclear power and nuclear weaponry and a defence policy based on nuclear deterrence and WMDs is akin to asking a priest, a minister of religion, a rabbi or an imam if they believe in God and churches, synagogues and mosques - if they answer no, their whole raison d’etre vanishes.

Let’s consider, as an example, Jamie Reed, Labour MP for Copeland and a shadow environment minister. One interesting aspect of Jamie Reed is that, according to a recent BBC programme - if I heard right - on which he argued in favour of nuclear power, is that he is a 3rd generation Sellafield worker. I would not dream of suggesting that this pedigree influenced his appointment by a party firmly committed at top level (rather different among the grassroots supporters) to nuclear power, nuclear deterrence and WMDs, nor that the fact that he and two previous generations of his family were dependent for their livelihood on the nuclear shilling might overtly affect his decision making.

What I do say is that in any other area of politics or business, this would have required a declaration of interest, and that his objectivity might just, wholly unconsciously, be affected by this familial background.

Or we might look at a piece in today’s Herald by Anne Johnstone, headlined Why I will speak up for nuclear power.

She makes her case, as she has a right to do, albeit with some rather coloured terms, and her closing paragraph starts with “It’s time we got real.” I agree with that, if not with Anne’s interpretation of getting real.

About half way through, Anne says -

My father, a nuclear physicist,  died last month content in the knowledge that after a generation out in the cold, nuclear power was back on the global agenda.”

I’m sorry for your loss, Anne, I respect your loyalty and your respect for your father’s memory, and don’t want to seem insensitive, but since you refer to his profession and his views, I must retain the same scepticism about your ability to remain objective about nuclear power, the industry that presumably delivered a large part of your family’s income during your formative years. Had you been the daughter of an anti-nuclear protagonists or a Greenpeace activist, I might have been more  inclined to pay significant attention to  your arguments in favour of nuclear power.

Another piece in the Scotsman in the last few days was headlined, with a crassness that defies belief in the light of what Japan is going through - Such accidents may be the price we pay to keep the light on.

This comment was the work of one Malcolm Grimston, described as ‘an energy expert at Chatham House and Imperial College London’.

He trots out the now familiar, feeble, and entirely irrelevant argument that renewable technology such as wave, tidal or offshore wind power ‘would simply have been ripped from the floor of the ocean bed by the earthquake, and washed away by the tsunamai …’

No anti-nuclear protagonist or advocate of wind and wave power has ever suggested otherwise.

What they can say with absolute certainty is that they would not have also represented a nightmare threat to the environment, with evacuation zones measuring tens of miles at minimum, exposing human beings to radiation sickness and cancers that almost certainly would pass through the generations, and pose a threat to the wider global community.

Is this expert, and those of his persuasion, deaf and blind to what is happening in Japan and to the agonised and fearful comments of the ordinary Japanese people, and those beyond its shores who are also at risk? Or are they too ‘part of the price we pay to keep the light on’?


Yet again the law has found for Glasgow City Council and against Margaret Jaconelli, today at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Is this the end for Margaret? Not if she can help it, not if Mike Dailly her solicitor can help it, and not if her friends can help it.

Somehow, the law must be made to see the gross nature of the injustice perpetrated against this Glasgow grandmother by the City of Glasgow.