Another daft letter from the anti-nuclear brigade ...
About a fortnight ago I received a letter and enclosures from the "No need for nuclear" campaign, which I wrote up on this blog under the title "Elevating stupidity into an art form."
Today I received an almost identical letter with another copy of the same enclosures, but where the first letter had been addressed "Dear Councillor," this one was addressed to me by name and "as a former parliamentary candidate for the Conservative party."
Like the previous letter it is riddled with false statements such as the suggestion that "the government has never carried out an assessment of future electricity demand."
This is nonsense.
The previous government did just such an exercise last year, under Ed Miliband. They gave the results less publicity than in my opinion they should have, but nevertheless they did publish it online as an annex to of the "Low Carbon Transition Plan", launched in July 2009. This was picked up both by the Conservatives and the Daily Telegraph. As the Telegraph wrote here at the time, the annex "details supplies and expected demand between now and 2030."
They projected power demand out to 2030 and compared it to expected supply, and found that there was a serious risk of power cuts by 2017. The projected “energy unserved” gap in that year was 3000 megawatt hours per year - the equivalent of the whole of the Nottingham area being without electricity for a day.
By 2025 the former government projected that the situation would get worse with the shortfall hitting 7000 megawatt hours per year. That is the equivalent to an hour-long power cut for half of Britain.
Greg Clark who was then the Conservative spokesman on Energy and Climate change, assessed that exercise while we were in opposition, and although he wasn't terribly impressed with it, he concluded that if anything Ed Milliband was understating the risk of a serious shortage of electricity in the later years of this decade and an even worse one in the mid to late 2020's. You can read the comments he made at the time here.
All this was reported on this blog at the time: see my post "Left in the Dark" dated 2 September 2010.
Hence the central argument of the "No need for nuclear" campaign, that the government has never carried out an assessment of future eletricity demand, is just plain wrong.
But quite apart from the fact that the key arguments of the "No need for nuclear" campaigners are pure, 100% fertiliser, what I find amazingly inept about this letter is that, like the previous one, it asks me to write to my local MP.
What are these people on?
If you are sending letters to 2010 parliamentary candidates who are not now MPs themselves, who are their own local MPs going to be? Answer: their political opponents and personal rivals, making the former candidates just about the worst possible people through whom to try to influence those particular MPs.
However it is entirely possible that many Conservative or Liberal former candidates may have some political influence, not through the Labour MPs they fought, but through contacts with colleagues who are now ministers or sit on the government's backbenches.
The vast majority of Conservative MPs and candidates are pro-nuclear, but if the "No need for Nuclear" campaign had two working brain cells between them, they would know that if they can persuade a small minority of former Conservative candidates to help them, that help would be far more effective if they asked them to lobby their friends and contacts in government, not their own local opponents.
I am reminded of a statement by Voltaire: "I have only prayed one prayer in my life: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it."