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Tuesday, January 03, 2006


The first motion listed for the forthcoming Scottish Lib Dem conference is that:

"Conference reiterates its opposition to the construction of new nuclear power stations"

There is a lot of stuff behind it & the title is Managing Radioactive Waste but that is the point of the motion. I believe the title & rest of the wording is to provide weight & to keep the debate moving in the "right" direction.

As drafted the motion is clearly expected to keep out of debate any mention of the fact that when Hunterston & Torness close (2011 & early 2020s respectively), along with much coal-fired power (due to new emission controls) we are going to have massive blackouts. The fact that UK nuclear currently costs 2.3p a unit, & France & Canada produce it at 1.5p whereas offshore wind is over 7p would also not be expected to be mentioned in a debate about waste. (1)

Unfortunately it seems extremely unlikely that I will be able to speak on this because the executive have voted to expel me from the party (although a 2nd vote is required on 21st January - hint). The reason given for this is that I have written letters to the papers which are alleged to be "illiberal" (which I firmly dispute) although they have, so far, refused to say what specific remarks I have made that are "illiberal". Since the only letters I had published immediately prior to the expulsion were 4 letters, 2 in the Herald & 2 in the Scotsman, advocating nuclear power it seems likely that this is at least a primary cause.

Last time nuclear was debated I, along with Steuart Campbell, were the only ones to speak against. Despite that & the fact that Jim Wallace spoke for it in his leader's speech & that Ross Finnie made a very fine speech entirely about not embarrassing the leadership & guaranteeing that they would not allow blackouts, about 40% of you had the courage & open mindedness not to vote against nuclear electricity. I regret that I will not have the chance to speak again.

It seems likely that this motion is to pre-empt any popular attempt to change direction. Last time I tried to introduce an amendment on the subject I was informed that mention of nuclear power would "unbalance" any debate on electricity production. I would have liked to propose 3 amendments:

1) Delete the first line.

2) Amend section 2 to read "Radioactive waste is divided into 3 classifications - Low level radioactive waste (LLRW), Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste (ILRW) & High Level Radioactive Waste (HLRW). LLWR is less radioactive than natural background radioactivity in some places such as parts of west Cornwall. Much ILWR, is not much worse. HLRW from reactors is extremely dangerous - however to be highly radioactive it has to have a short half life, such is the nature of the universe, so that HLWR is turned into ILWR in 50 years & LLWR in a few centuries."

3) (conference) welcomes the offer of the Australian government to set aside a few hundred acres as a world nuclear storage site & would accept it so long as the cost is less than storage under UK regulation."

24,000 UK pensioners die unnecessarily each year because of fuel poverty (a Chernobyl every 4 hours of the winter months) & we are building only the most expensive & unreliable generating capacity.(1)

When we have massive blackouts the death toll will be far higher. Decisions have to be taken now. It may already be to late to have new power in place before Hunterson closes.

I do not believe the Scottish people would, or indeed should, forgive a party responsible for death on such a scale.

I have been, on & off, a Liberal activist since I delivered leaflets for my father 36 years ago. I challenge anybody to show on what point my views are clearly less firmly in line with traditional liberal values than those of the current party.

Neil Craig

(1) 2.3p figure from Royal Academy of Engineering. 1.5p from - figure given in cents

(2) Help the Aged figures

(This is a copy of an email I have sent to all the Lib Dem MSPs, Scottish MPs & many councillors & activists - this will obviously not do me personally any good but we are killing people & will kill more)

I'm not a member of the party so I'm not sure how useful this'll be (and apologies if you've mentioned this before) but I did see John Thurso discussing the nuclear issue on Question Time a while back. He basically said that LD policy was to oppose more nuclear power but that he had a different view. He then described his own pro-nuclear views in some detail. He wasn't expelled from the party for that rather high profile statement as far as I know. Perhaps there might be some value in pointing that out to the control freaks in the party.
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