Election season is in full spin throughout much of Britain with devolved legislatures and local councils going up for election. So who cares? The important one is the election in 2009 or 2010, which may very well see the Conservatives returning as the largest party in the House of Commons, if only in a hung parliament.
In the interests of nuclear power, that most cuddly of energy sources, would it be better to have the Blue-Green warrior in Downing Street, or would we rather keep the Dour One?
Yesterday, Iain Dale interviewed the Shadow Secretary of State for Trade, Industry and Energy, Alan Duncan MP. Yes those subjects are part of the same office. It's hard to keep track sometimes and parties keep on changing their mind how they organise their Cabinets.
Iain cut straight to the point and asked the Right Honourable Member Rutland and Melton what the Conservative position on nuclear power is. Okay, anything short of him standing up a yelling in Tom Cruise fashion that he's in love with every fissile nucleus in the universe is bound to not be enough for me.
But objectively I have to say he made the Conservative position look rather favourable. He said the LibDems have their heads in the clouds with their unequivocal opposition and that simply depending on renewables alone to fill the energy gap in the face of a need to reduce fossil fuel use is somewhat impractical.
He also said that a Conservative government would aim to streamline planning regulations to avoid prohibitively burdeonsome enquiries and that with the new level playing field, they would support any investor building a new reactor if they desired.
Still, he said Tony Blair's commitment to bring nuclear power back with a vengeance was a little too extreme. I like vengeance, but to be fair to Duncan, he was right when he said that Labour has yet to demonstrate any policy to back up that rhetoric.
Essentially, both parties are the same. They want to level the playing field for new nuclear build and depend on the market to make the choice. That's perfectly fine for both parties. While the Labour vengeance rhetoric is enjoyable, I suppose the Conservatives deserve credit for being more transparent about the reality of their policy.
So who to vote for?
To split the difference between Lab and Con, look at the wider parliamentary parties. The Labour front bench is more pro-nuclear than the back benches, meaning a Labour government may face internal strife over giving too much support. Bad. The Conservative front bench is less pro-nuclear than the back benches, meaning a Conservative government may face internal strife over giving too little support. Good!!
And then there's the LibDems. A hung parliament is the most likely outcome of the next general election. The tipping point will be who is the largest party. Ming the Merciless of the LibDums has already implied, if not admitted, that he would go into coalition with El Gordo long before Cammy. Essentially, the big competition is between a Conservative minority government and a Lab-Lib coalition (which worked so well in the late 70s).
I think it's pretty obvious which one would be better for the nuclear revival in the UK. The Conservatives are the safer bet.
Vote Blue, Go (annoy a) Green!
(See the interview with Alan Duncan at 18 Doughty Street.)