February 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
Note: this is from a piece I wrote for Redbrick Paper. You can find a host of other news about Birmingham and the wider world on their fine site.
Amid growing public opposition to wind turbines the government has unveiled plans to increase the role nuclear power will play in the UK’s energy economy over the next 8 years.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change has published figures that suggest by 2020 12% of the UK’s energy will come from nuclear power. Increasing the UK’s reliance on nuclear energy whilst building more offshore wind farms is expected to reduce the national grid’s reliance on coal-fired power stations.
Over the next 8 years the lifespan of existing nuclear power stations will be extended by ten years, according to the government’s report. Two new nuclear power plants are also expected to be connected by 2020, allowing the government to meet its targets on carbon reductions.
This report comes as 100 conservative MPs sign a letter to the Prime Minister David Cameron urging him reduce subsidies to onshore wind farms. This letter is designed to reflect the public opinion on wind farms, which many believe to be costly and unattractive. Tory MP Chris Heaton-Harris has said that “The more the true full cost of wind energy is exposed the more you have to ask why we continue to back such an expensive and intermittent source of energy”.
The latest figures from the government have revised the role wind power will play in the UK’s energy mix. Wind farms will now produce 4GW less energy than originally expected. This reduction will be balanced by an increase in the use of nuclear energy.
However, given the increased attention nuclear energy has received over the past year it is not clear that this new energy mix will be palatable to the UK public either. Nearly a year ago the Fukushima disaster saw the meltdown of 3 nuclear reactors following the Tōhoku earthquake. As the anniversary of the disaster draws nearer public fears surrounding nuclear energy will no doubt be heightened.
February 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
“Labour is one point ahead, on 37%, with Ed Miliband’s party up from 35% last month. The Liberal Democrats slip back two to stand at 14%, and the combined total of the smaller parties has climbed by four points, to 13%.
An outright majority of respondents, 52%, say that the bill – which would overhaul NHS management, increase competition and give family doctors more financial responsibility – should be dropped. That is against 33% who believe it is better to stick with the plans at this stage.
Only the very youngest respondents aged 18 to 24, the least likely to vote, favour sticking with the plans, by 46% to 39%. Opposition hardens with age, and is at its most marked among the over-65s – who favour dropping the bill by a 56% to 29% margin. A third of Conservatives(31%) and a significant majority of Lib Dem voters (57%) also want the proposed law to be ditched.”
February 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
Notice a lot of news about the Olympics lately? That’s partly because, for the people of Britain, its the sporting event of the decade. But, its also because every day the government is manufacturing three positive news stories about the Olympics. In what could be seen as an attempt to hijack the games for political ends, the government is taking every opportunity to promote their own story of the games.
The government’s News Co-ordination Centre has been told to produce one ‘main government story and two targeted at more specific audiences’ each day.
Speaking to The Times today Sir Menzies Campbell, a former Olympic sprinter and member of the Olympic board said, ‘its well to remember that the bid was achieved under the previous government’. He also reminded people of the non-partisan spirit of the games.
It’s clear that the government is taking every opportunity to promote the country oversees through their press centre. What remains to be seen is how far they will push their own image through their thrice daily news up dates.
If they do, they could face a number of problems. Primarily, they could face retaliation from Scotland in 2014 as the country simultaneously hosts the Commonwealth Games and goes to the polls to decide its future within the United Kingdom.
If the conservatives come across too self-righteous about the games they could lose face if the opposition seizes upon the opportunity to humiliate them.
Finally, we can expect a host of stories coming to light this year exposing the tactics of some PR agencies. This is tipped to be this year’s MP’s expenses. If the government’s press office comes into the limelight through the promotion of the games there is potential that it could be marred with the same brush, however clean its tactics really are. If the climate changes and people suddenly become sensitive to the techniques used by PR offices the government’s own centre could be humiliated, however unfairly.
February 13, 2012 § 1 Comment
As peers today debate around 25 amendments to the government’s controversial Health and Socialcare bill, Nick Clegg has shown his support saying that Andrew Lansley has is passionate about the NHS.
Clegg, the deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, told the BBC today that:
“Andrew Lansley is the architect of the NHS bill. He cares passionately about the NHS. He’s the right man for the job and he must see it through.”
This comes at a time when back bench Lib Dems are pressuring Clegg to speak out against the bill because of the controversial competition it would bring to the NHS.
Yesterday Simon Hughes, the president of the Lib Dems, said that Lansley had to go. Whilst Labour are taking every opportunity to attack the government on this bill.
David Cameron seems hell bent on forcing his reforms through parliament. In a move that is reminiscent of Tony Blair, he seems to be ignoring all opposition cries, and seems committed to the idea and even a bad reform bill is better than none.
What effect this will have on the Tores is not yet clear, but as they think about the next general election it is certain that the looming crisis in the NHS will enevitably be used by Labour as ‘proof’ that the Tories cannot be trusted with the NHS.
This bill could well become this generation’s poll tax, a fundamentally flawed idea which the government pursues with such tenacity that they blind themselves to the opinions of the voters.
However, after Cameron’s semi u-turn on Europe the PM getting quite a reputation for last minute cold feet. Especially when he thinks the public is against him, take bonuses for example. Perhaps he is pushing his broken bill through in an attempt to save face and restore the confidence of his back benchers.
He needs to do something to show the government won’t turn tail and run at the first sign of opposition.
February 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
Today The Guardian news paper has reported that Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the Lib Dems, has come out against Andrew Lansley saying that he should be replaced after the reform bill becomes law.
On the Andrew Marr show this morning he said “I’m clear we need to move on from this bill. My political judgment is that in the second half of parliament it would be better [for Lansley] to move on.”
Simultaneously a YouGuv poll has shown that the country is strongly against the bill. A poll for the Sunday Times shows that “only 18% of people said they supported the NHS reforms. It revealed that 48% opposed them, with 34% saying they were not sure.”