Tuesday, November 22, 2005


If the Times Newspaper report today (21st November) is to be believed, the Prime Minister is adopting a policy on Nuclear Power remarkably similar to the line for which Conservatives have been arguing.

Our policy at the last election was to commission a review of energy supply, to report within a year of the election. At the time Labour’s official policy showed far less urgency, but now we are told that the government will set up a review to report within a year.

In his speech at the Conservative Party Conference, David Willetts, the new Conservative Spokesman on Trade and Industry (including Energy), said that we must make the case for Civil nuclear power.

As he said in his speech,

"We face a growing crisis because we aren't building enough power stations. In fact if we have a cold winter there is a real threat of the lights going out in our offices and factories: and all because the Government doesn't reward investment in the future. With one exception: Ministers do have a strange obsession with wind farms – and that’s the trouble with Labour’s energy policy – it’s all wind."

He added that the next General Election could well take place in 2010 and all political parties must put before the country their vision of Britain in the following decade, out at least to 2020 vision. He then gave three economic policies to meet that challenge, and the first of these was

"We must make the case for civil nuclear power to tackle the energy crisis with least damage to the environment."

During the election the Labour party sent mixed messages about whether they agreed. In constituencies like Copeland where thousands of jobs depend on the nuclear industry, Labour made pro-nuclear noises, but their official statements remained very non-committal towards New Nuclear build and the anti-nuclear lobby was reassured that no decisions had been taken.

Sources close to Downing Street are now briefing the media that Tony Blair has decided that we do need new nuclear power stations. I hope that this is true and not just someone flying a kite to “test the waters” for a reaction.

If the Prime Minister does go for new nuclear power stations I am sure that, as with his return to Tory education policy, he will have Conservative support and the political difficulty in selling this will be with his own Labour backbenchers. Let us hope that the damage he did to his own authority with his absurd brinkmanship over locking people up without trial for 90 days will not prevent him getting through something on which he is actually right for once.

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