Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lib Dem opposition to nuclear power goes down the memory hole

Ed Davey is enthusiastic about renewables. He is enthusiastic about nuclear. He is enthusiastic about everything.

It's like having a young labrador as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Times change, but I was sad that his announcement on Hinkley Point C yesterday marked the abandonment of the Liberal Democrats' opposition to nuclear power.

Because opposing the building of a reprocessing plant at Windscale (as it then was) was part of my political awakening. Forming the opinion that the great majority of the great and good could be wrong about something important was almost intoxicating.

I felt so strongly that I went out and bought a Penguin Special on the subject: Windscale Fallout: A Primer for the Age of Nuclear Controversy by Ian Breach.

The idea of buying a Penguin Special sounds like something out of the 1940s and the book is now so obscure that I could not find an image of its cover to illustrate this post. I did find an obituary for Ian Breach though: he died earlier this year.

So instead I have used this screenshot from Ed Davey's website, though I had to use the Google Cache to find it. The Guardian Diary explains why:
A big day for the government as energy secretary Ed Davey plights his troth to nuclear power. The coalition is excited. He's excited. But he once saw things very differently. There's that quote from him in 2006, launching the Lib Dem energy policy, when he said: "A new generation of nuclear power stations will cost taxpayers and consumers tens of billions of pounds. In addition to posing safety and environmental risks, nuclear power will only be possible with vast taxpayer subsidies or a rigged market ... People don't want nuclear." That seemed clear enough then, and it seemed clear enough today, when Damian Carrington, the Guardian's head of environment, found the page on Davey's website and flagged it up on Twitter. Ain't life full of surprises. Within the hour, the page had disappeared.
It had disappeared from Ed's site, but his words are still all over the internet. So it was not a sensible move.

These days, if you are made to look foolish by the Guardian Diary you really have been a fool.

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Tristan said...

More evidence that it doesn't really matter who's in power that much.

My political awakening was ID Cards and then surveillance, privacy and free speech in general. The Lib Dem ministers have almost entirely abandoned everything they once stated on these issues.

I don't believe the party has in general - but once in government it seems the parliamentary leadership has no accountability to the membership.

Ian Eiloart said...

It wasn't Ed Davey that changed our policy, it was federal conference in Glasgow this autumn. It was a close vote, as all recent nuclear power votes have been. And, it's possible that Ed Davey's speech swung the vote, but more likely the urgency of climate change.

Unknown said...

But, Jonathan, Ed isn't going out on a limb here. The Lib Dem conference supported him. I voted against nuclear, but I lost out as I did on every other flashpoint vote in Glasgow.