Friday, 29 July 2016

My analysis of by-elections from this week and why approving the Hinkley nuclear plant is a serious mistake

The results of by-elections featuring Green Party candidates from this week were as follows:


South Hams DC, Totnes: Liberal Democrats 812 (44.2%, +26.7%), Green Party 499 (27.1%, -6.4%), Independent Labour* 391 (21.3%), Conservative 137 (7.4%, -6.6%). All changes are since May 2015.

*The Independent candidate was actually a member of the Labour Party and had been selected with haste, but she was not eligible under national Labour Party rules having been a member of that party for less than a year prior to the close of nominations.


Haringey LBC, Harringay: Lab 1054 (46.2%, +4.2%), Lib Dem 765 (33.6%, +3.3%), Green 325 (14.3%, -2.6%), Con 99 (4.3%, -1.6%), UKIP 36 (1.6%).

Newport UA, St Julian's: Lib Dem 948 (53.7%, +11.9%), Lab 432 (24.4%, -21.3%), UKIP 156 (8.8%), Con 135 (7.6%, -4.9%), Plaid Cymru 71 (4.0%), Green 25 (1.4%).

Sutton LBC, Carshalton Central: Lib Dem 1250 (43.4%, +5.7%), Con 1061 (36.9%, +11.7%), Green 211 (7.3%, +0.4%), Lab 176 (6.1%, -3.2%), UKIP 150 (5.2%, -11.5%), CPA 29 (1.0%, -1.2%).

It was a most disappointing moment when the Green Party failed to win that Totnes seat from Labour, who did not defend it and this is largely due to the internal turmoil Labour is still going through with Owen Smith's challenge to Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership.
The Liberal Democrats benefitted from it instead, recovering from the drubbing they had received in the Totnes constituency last year when their vote collapsed leaving them in fifth place behind the Green Party; their gain also meant that the Liberal Democrats have taken official opposition status (to the usually-dominant Conservatives) from my Green colleagues in South Hams district council.

The Liberal Democrats have been experiencing many local by-election revivals this year, which included their easy hold in St Julian's even though their former councillor, Ed Townsend, had only narrowly held on in 2012 due to a strong personal vote; with a new candidate they managed a 16.6% swing from Labour. However, due to UKIP's inexorable decline, the Conservatives edged close to them in Carshalton Central's by-election, the only one this week to record an increase in the Green vote share; we also managed third ahead of Labour, UKIP, and the Christian Peoples' Alliance. Given that Carshalton & Wallington, the Liberal Democrats' last parliamentary foothold in Greater London, will almost certainly be abolished in the next round of boundary changes, this result could spell bad news for them.

Amidst all this, the proposed new nuclear plant near Hinkley, Somerset, was approved by the board of EDF (Electricite de France, France's national electricity company) even though it will increase the energy bills of already hard-pressed users and businesses and generate considerable nuclear waste even though no real plans have been made for storing it safely. The British government has wisely (especially in light of the foolish decision to abolish DECC) called for further scrutiny of the project. However, this project needs to be scrapped altogether, not merely halted.

Nuclear energy is essentially the videocassette of clean energy (carbon-free energy), due to its inherent danger, the need to store nuclear waste for thousands of years at least (much like most of the contents of an old cassette tape, it does not break down naturally within a realistic time frame), the fact uranium is also a non-renewable energy source, and the large amounts of space needed to build nuclear plants (as opposed to wind turbines and solar panels). It is a dead-end we need to break out of and we do not have enough space for enough nuclear plants to replace electricity generated by fossil fuels. We instead need to invest more in renewable energy, especially wind, solar, and hydro-electric energy, and the development of technologies utilising it, for this will be key to giving Britain a secure future, meeting our energy needs in the long-term, and combatting long-term unemployment in former industrial/mining areas.


1 comment:

  1. The fact that both Brixham & Totnes Liberal Democrats, Teignmouth & Dawlish Lib Dems and Kingsbridge Lib Dems have received a huge influx of lapsed and resigned Green Party members and the entire Totnes Lib Dem campaign was run by Ex GPEW members - we needed to take South Hams DC to give the Tories the same scrutiny we give them in Teignbridge. Devon & Cornwall Lib Dems are on a growth roll at the moment and hopefully should rebuild the party damaged by Nick Clegg. In all nationwide Green Party seems to be holding there own with losses in more traditionally strong wards offset by gains elsewhere. - In the meantime Totnes proved to me what is possible to do with a good candidate, a small dedicated team and enough public distrust in other parties. The good news for the Green Party in Totnes was the Town Council By-election which our candidate chose not to stand in where 3 of the 4 vacancies fell to the GPEW candidates and the 4th to an Independent who is more likely to work with the Green cllrs than the Tory block.