I know it’s nearly six months away, but election fever is beginning.
This post is about UK politics, and next years’ election is the most open for a long time. We seem to be moving towards five or even six party politics. Despite the disaster of the ConDem coalition, we may yet get another five years of it, or worse – a Con-UKIP coalition. Since it is also likely that we will enter a period of extreme economic difficulty, globally (see my last post), perhaps the younger talent on the left thinks that 2015 is a good election to lose. Perhaps, but that is a selfish view and I am not sure that the country can afford another five years of plutocratic larceny, or the risk of leaving the EU that the in-out referendum of 2017 presents.
It should be clear by now that my sympathies lie on the left; I consider myself a progressive but find that Labour’s reluctance to embrace progressive politics, as well as its refusal to admit its failings when last in office, deter me from giving them unequivocal support. When I participate in online surveys of parties I should support, based on my opinions, the Greens invariably win, and I have voted for them in the past. They are the only party that has consistently, sane, left-of-centre policies; but I cannot give them my wholehearted support for two key reasons:
Firstly, their policy on genetic modification: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/fa.html (scroll down to the section starting FA710).
It is true that most commercial GM is used for the purposes of simplifying industrial monocultures: Monsanto’s Roundup Ready glyphosate-tolerant crops being the most egregious example, and there is little doubt that industrial monocultures are damaging for biodiversity. But GM is potentially an enormously positive technology, harnessing the huge strides we have made in genetic science. It is far better controlled than other methods such as cross-breeding.
Secondly, their policy on nuclear power.
I have changed my mind on this issue several times in my life: originally, strongly in favour; then, after Harrisburg-TMI coming to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth the risk, a view that the Chernobyl disaster reinforced, and most recently, after Fukushima-Daichi coming once again to the view that it is a manageable risk: because, despite the scale of the disaster, the number of global premature deaths it caused or is likely to cause is minimal. It hit the headlines, but more than 10,000 Japanese people died in the tsunami. Not one from radiation. Most of all, I think it is tragic that public opposition to nuclear power (including mine) stopped suitable research funding taking place. Heysham C will be the same type of reactor that failed at Harrisburg (a pressurised water reactor): much safer, not doubt, as a result of the lessons learned since then, but not one of the many potentially-safer designs such as molten-salt reactors, thorium cycle reactors etc – none of which has been developed even to prototype stage let alone commercial viability because the research funding dried up.