A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Going nuclear after the election - the need to play politics.....

It is significant that today, the very day before the General Election in the UK, The Times leads with an excellent comment on nuclear power. Despite the failure of many electoral candidates of all parties to mention the 'N' word, it is abundantly clear to most sensible political commentators that there is no way that the next government will be able to duck the issue of developing a new generation of nuclear power stations. Indeed, because the only practical alternatives for generating 93% of Britain's electricity are coal and gas, there is no option but to face up to this vital issue - the energy elephant is beginning to break the furniture in the room.

My prediction (and I got one set of 'reds' - Liverpool - correct last night) is that Labour will be returned with a majority of around 78, or more. It is true that there will be some strange results locally, with odd Lib Dem Gains and Labour Losses, but Mr. Blair should be back in No. 10 by 4.0 am on Friday morning. I likewise predict that he will stay on as Prime Minister until 2007. Blair has long had his political agenda and he remains driven to see this through to a conclusion. I have no time whatsoever for the bleating 'left' which claims Mr. Blair is a 'liar' and cannot be trusted. Beneath, he is a man of conviction and of faith, and his concern to improve Britain is genuine and powerful. Here I agree entirely with Alice Miles writing in The Times (go to The Times, 'Opinion', today) and I disagree profoundly with Polly Toynbee in The Guardian.

What the rabid left cannot grasp is, that to achieve his agenda, Mr. Blair has to persuade an ever-reluctant and difficult electorate of unpalatable truths - but we should remember that treading carefully and warily is not deceit. It is practical politics in a complex and demanding democracy.

And it will have to be exactly so with nuclear power. Mr. Blair knows that, ultimately, we, as a country, will have little choice but to go nuclear. The question is: how to sell the big 'N' to a public that has been treated so poorly by the nuclear industry in the past? On this issue, there is indeed no trust, but not because of Mr. Blair.

Accordingly, I should like to ask my many friends and colleagues who are 'global warming' sceptics like myself (especially our American cousins) to try to understand precisely why Mr. Blair will have to argue for 'dangerous climate change' during the next couple of years. This will be the only way that he can convince the British public that nuclear power and technology are the way forward for energy. In essence, politically, he has to demonstrate that the dangers of 'global warming' are worth the risk of nuclear power. It's as simple as that.

Likewise, readers of this blog will know that I am as severe a critic as any of the 'global warming' paradigm; yet, because I am now so concerned by the looming gaps in Britain's energy provision, you may even hear me, of all folk, never mind Mr. Blair, setting aside on occasion my criticisms of 'global warming' in order to strive to bring some sense into energy policy. If in the end, worries about 'global warming' will help the new Prime Minister to achieve the next generation of nuclear power, then it has to be thus.

So, tomorrow: vote Labour with pride; yet, take Mr. Blair with a pinch of snuff on 'global warming'; but support him as strongly as possible when he attempts to turn the Good Ship 'Energy' round in turbulent British waters. Let's rid, as soon as possible, the landscape of those disfiguring wind farms that do nothing signficant about our energy problems and let's plug the energy gap at its core. Otherwise, Britain's economic half-life will be short indeed! Decay will be inevitable.

Philip, ready to play the politician when there is no choice. I had better take a long spoon to my morning cuppa....! "Yes, dear! And I will have a banana too." All this monkey business.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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