Whitehaven News column – 15th May 2014

Arrest that man

Anyone who has followed my work in Parliament over the last decade will know that I’ve been heavily involved in the development of new nuclear policy and that this is incredibly important for us here in West Cumbria. Policy isn’t just made in Parliament, though. Good policies command popular support, have a precise purpose, solve clear problems and act overwhelmingly for the public good and our national interest. As such, policy makers come from all over the place – journalism, academia, the workplace and more.

Some of the most important voices in helping to develop new nuclear policy came from outside Parliament – including George Monbiot: environmental journalist, campaigner, Guardian columnist and celebrated ‘Green.’

I’ve met George Monbiot a few times; charming and erudite, his opposition to new nuclear policy and nuclear power in general caused us to disagree – including in front of Andrew Neill on the BBC’s Daily Politics programme. Recently though, George has changed his mind; he’s seen the evidence, he understands the threat of climate change better than most and he’s a committed advocate for nuclear as one of the best tools we have as a planet if we’re serious about halting climate change. His voice is persuasive and his change of mind has been significant.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I read that Radiation Free Lakeland had established a website calling for the arrest of George Monbiot because of his support for nuclear power. Forget that naturally occurring radioactivity means that Lakeland (or anywhere else for that matter) will never be ‘radiation free’, but what kind of organisation seeks to arrest a journalist for expressing an opinion about energy policy? The website pays a bounty to anyone who can arrest dear George, so George has promised to arrest himself just so he can pick up the bounty and has even offered to split the bounty if anyone else would like to apprehend him with a citizens’ arrest. Generous, if nothing else, George writes that he will use the money “…to help finance research into the development of integral fast reactors, which could (an estimate endorsed by a government chief scientist suggests) transform our nuclear waste pile into enough energy to power the UK for 500 years, without carbon emissions, thus solving three problems (nuclear waste, our future energy supply, and most of our contribution to global warming), all at once.”

A very sensible chap, George Monbiot. Arrest that man…

Zombie Parliament

The Prime Minister isn’t famed for his work ethic, but his inability to bring forward government policy for Parliament to discuss is a pretty damning indictment on the government. With a year to go before the general election, the government appears to be out of steam and out of ideas. The Queen’s speech on June 4th may be the shortest ever, little wonder many are beginning to describe this final pre-election year as a ‘zombie parliament’…

Appointment Problems

Are you having problems getting an appointment to see your GP? Most people tell me that they are and the truth is that GPs are swamped. Get in touch and let me know what’s going on at your surgery. 

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