Bill Carmichael: Labour – the Leading Lights

Reading by CandlelightBy Bill Carmichael 

THIS may sound perverse, but as the country seemingly writes off Gordon Brown as a dead loss, I’m finding strong reasons why his beleaguered administration deserves our support.

Why? Simply because Labour is the only major political party to take seriously one of the gravest problems facing the UK over the next decade – the looming energy crisis.

According to Ian Fells, Emeritus Professor of Energy at Newcastle University, we are likely to see severe power shortages emerging any time between 2012 and 2015 because of the growing gap between supply capacity and expected demand.

Prof Fells warns the UK could be hit by repeated power cuts that would shut down public transport, reduce hospital services and cause chaos in supermarkets and offices.

The impact on our economy would be devastating – far more serious than the last major power cuts in the 1970s when computing power, email and mobile phones were not the essential business tools that they are today.

As Prof Fells put it: “Electricity is the life blood of civilisation. Without it we spiral down into anarchy and chaos.”

Yet the response from our political class to this very real threat has been little short of pathetic. The Tories seem to think if everyone straps a little windmill to the roofs of their Notting Hill townhouses then everything will be okay. The Lib Dems, meanwhile, have forfeited the right to be taken seriously on energy by swallowing the lunacies of the eco-fundamentalists hook, line and sinker – no coal, no gas, no nuclear.

It’s true that for more than 10 years Labour has neglected its duty to secure future energy supplies, but at last there are some signs that Ministers are beginning to recognise the urgency of the problem.

Business Secretary John Hutton told the Labour Party conference that clean coal technology and a “renaissance in nuclear power” were needed if we weren’t to leave ourselves at the mercy of gas imports from unstable and unfriendly foreign regimes. He bluntly told delegates: “No coal plus no nuclear equals no lights. No power. No future.”

Contrast this with David Cameron’s pandering to fashionable eco-opinion. His most notable contribution to the debate was to borrow a private jet so he could hold a photo-opportunity on an Arctic glacier.

What Labour have grasped, but the Tories have not, is that in the current economic climate green politics are a complete dead duck. Obsessions about global warming – or is it global cooling now? – are indulgences tolerated in an affluent society when there isn’t anything more serious to worry about. In hard times, thoughts inevitably turn to more pressing matters, like trying not to freeze to death.

Read the rest of this piece at the Yorkshire Post.

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