The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 10th March 2006

Welcome To Our Weekly Digest Edition

Please feel free to use this material provided the New Worker is informed and credited.



by Caroline Colebrook

Development Commission (SDC), a Government-appointed advisory, last week produced a report strongly advising against proposals to build a new generation of nuclear power stations.

Currently nuclear power provides 20 per cent of Britain’s electricity but that is due to fall to seven per cent by 2020.
 Huge rises in the costs of imported oil and gas as stocks of these natural resources fail to keep up with global demand, coupled with the global warming problems caused by their use, have led the Government to consider building a new generation of nuclear power stations. Prime Minister Tony Blair has made no secret of his support for this plan.

 But his own advisers in the SDC, which is headed by Sir Jonathan Porritt, have come down very firmly against it on five main grounds:

1)    There is no long-term solution for dealing with nuclear waste, which includes spent fuel from atomic power stations. This nuclear waste includes radioactive plutonium, with a half-life of 24,000 years (meaning that in 24,000 years it will have lost half of its radioactivity; in another 24,000 years it will have lost half of what is left of that and so on).

2)    The costs of building new nuclear power stations are not certain. If costs escalate, the taxpayer is likely to be left with the bill.

3)    Going for the nuclear option would lock Britain’s energy generation and distribution planning into one route for the next 50 or so years. This would make research and development into alternative energy sources more difficult.

safety risk

4)    There is a safety risk with nuclear power stations – it may be small but one accident could have devastating consequences. The SDC says that if Britain opts for nuclear power, other countries “with lower safety standards” are likely to follow. There is also a danger of terrorist attacks on nuclear power stations.

5)    A new nuclear power programme would fail to encourage energy efficiency.

 Environmentalists feel this would do nothing about the long-term problem and would foster a dangerous delusion.

 The SDC did not mention the other major objection, that the production of nuclear energy in Britain will produce weapons-grade plutonium, making a new generation of nuclear weapons possible. Peace campaigners say this is the Government’s ulterior motive in opting for nuclear power.

 Porritt said: “Our advice to the Government is that there is no justification for bringing forward plans for a new nuclear programme at this time, and that any such programme would be incompatible with its own sustainable development strategy.”

 He also said: “Instead of hurtling along to a pre-judged conclusion (which many fear the Government is intent on doing) we must look to the evidence.

 “There’s little point in denying that nuclear power has its benefits but, in our view, these are outweighed by serious disadvantages.

 “The Government is going to have to stop looking for an easy fix to our climate change and energy crises – there simply isn’t one.”

 The SDC said that doubling Britain nuclear energy output would reduce carbon emissions by only eight per cent from 1990 levels.

But developing a range of sustainable energy sources, such as wind, wave, solar and bio-mass – sources which produce no greenhouse gases – could supply between 68-87 per cent of Britain’s energy needs, if fully exploited.

 The environmentalist group Friends of the Earth welcomed the report, saying: “Tony Blair and his government must now seize the historic opportunity presented by the energy review to set the UK on a course to becoming a world leader in developing a low-carbon, nuclear-free economy.”

 But the response from the Government was not promising. Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks picked up on the fact that the SDC panel was not unanimous.

 Of the 16 commissioners from academic, scientific, business and campaigning backgrounds, eight voted for a complete rejection of nuclear energy, another five voted that it was a wrong policy at this time and two said it should remain an option. Porritt, who chaired the commission, did not vote.

Wicks said: “As the commission itself finds, this is not a black and white issue. It does, however agree that it is right we are assessing the potential contribution of new nuclear.”

The Government is due to produce its own energy review soon, then we shall see if it has listened to the SDC report.


Blair and God

PRIME MINISTER Tony Blair last week told chat show host Michael Parkinson that God would be his judge on the decision to go to war against Iraq in March 2003. And he claimed that in general his policy decisions were underpinned by his faith.

He did not go quite as far as President Bush, who not long ago claimed that God had told him to invade Iraq. And he refused to be drawn on whether he and Bush prayed together before the war.

 Dr Johnson once said that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel but religion has to come a close second. It is the response of those who have completely run out of rational arguments to try to defend their indefensible actions, who resort to using something mystical and incomprehensible, something that cannot be challenged by mere mortals.

 Imperialists have always claimed to have God on their side – often putting Him on several different conflicting sides all at the same time. They create their own God in their own image but the God who approves of the wanton murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis for the benefit of the giant US oil barons must be a pretty ugly specimen. Even Pope John Paul II – a man with a history of close friendship with western imperialism – did not recognise Blair’s version of God and condemned the illegal invasion of Iraq.

 Involving God in the politics of running the country is a problem the people of England thought they had sorted out once and for all in January 1649, when Oliver Cromwell, leader of the parliamentary forces in the civil war, along with other republicans, authorised the execution of Charles I, who had claimed to rule by divine right.

 This was followed by the Age of Enlightenment, marked by significant advances in science and philosophy. But it seems that now irrationality and superstition are trying to make a comeback. 

 The teaching of science in schools is on the decline, largely due to a lack of qualified teachers. Fewer and fewer school students are taking it up at A level. A lack of understanding of the basic principles leaves young people vulnerable to being taken in by all kinds of superstition, by cults and extremist and fundamentalist faith groups of all kinds.

 Now we find that in some schools – the semi-privatised academies that Blair is so fond of – creationism is being taught as equally valid with Darwin’s theory of evolution. The private sponsor of these schools insists that Christian beliefs are injected into every subject across the curriculum. Pupils are taught that homosexuality is a sin – as is any kind of sex outside marriage.

 Trying to impose the cultural values of the bronze age Israelites onto modern young people may be seen as ridiculous but it damages those children, leaving them confused and vulnerable.

 Blair is trying to use the same sort of mystification and confusion – like the magically amended dossier and the mysteriously struck-down Government weapons expert – to confuse his MPs and the electorate. But we are not gullible schoolchildren who know no better and we are not having it.

 Blair is guilty of the crime of making illegal war against the innocent people of Iraq – and making our troops into war criminals by doing so. We don’t need any supernatural power to reach that simple, logical judgement. Blair must go – and quickly.

 Back to index

If you find these articles from the New Worker Online interesting and useful them why not subscribe to our print edition with lots more news, features, and photos?

To the New Communist Party Page