Thursday, 15 September 2016
Just Say No to Hinkley, Prime Minister
There are alarming reports emanating, one assumes from the Government, that a decision on Hinkley Point is imminent and is going to be in favour. Now we have to take these reports with a pinch of salt because the reports are confused and conflicting. But nevertheless we should be alarmed.
After a good start Theresa May is now coming up against the realities of governing. Having spent six years at the Home Office however this will come as no surprise. Decisions are tough, can be frustrating and however long you take over them there will be many who disagree, sometimes aggressively and rudely. Lawyers may get involved, vested interests will definitely get involved and the civil service will often put obstacles in the way or simply prove incompetent at implementation. The advice will often be conflicting or plain wrong. Often it will be opinion dressed up as expertise. That is governing. Theresa May knows this.
There are two issues currently in Mrs May's in or pending trays. I have already written about grammar schools but I am going to come back to that later in another post. It's important and it has to be got right. Mrs May was not good at PMQs on the subject. She is not a natural performer in this bear pit as Dave was. We shouldn't judge her for that. But it is why she needs to get the arguments straight in her head and rehearse them constantly.
But like I say, I shall come back to that.
But Hinkley Point is actually a pretty straightforward decision. It should be abandoned with great alacrity. It is a bad deal being done for the wrong reasons, at too high a cost and being built with the wrong technology by people who are out to do us harm. And that's just the French.
Seriously, the Chinese, who must always be viewed with suspicion, are the last people who we should be allowing to invest in so critical a project. It is just as simple as that. if that does short term damage to Anglo Sino relations then so be it. They are pragmatists and cynics. The next deal will bring them back to the table. Britain remains an open economy. But we have to demonstrate that we are not for sale at any price. It is a price too high in this case.
The technology is also fantastically expensive and unproven. It is going to cause huge problems down the line. It should be abandoned for that reason alone.
And big monstrous nuclear plants like this are yesterday's technology masquerading as the future. Smaller plants can be built at a fraction of the cost.
Oh and then there is the issue of gas and fracking. Gas generators can be built quickly and easily and for tiny fraction of the cost of these mega plants.
Yes it is appealing that Hinkley would generate so much electricity but at what cost? And are we sure it will ever work? Are we sure that it will not bankrupt EDF and mean that the Chinese have to step in and take complete ownership?
All in all then there are several reasons why this decision should be very easy to make. So please make it Mrs May. It will annoy the French and the Chinese. But these are just bonuses. Most of all it will show that you are able and willing to make tough decisions that break with the past and show that Britain, while open to investment and to the rest of the world, will not be taken for mugs.
This post was written on Wednesday night. The Government has now confirmed that Hinkley is to go ahead. Not unexpected but disappointing. It will come back to haunt Mrs May, although by the time the bloody thing is built and operational she will long since have gone into retirement I expect.