“It is a devolved affair, that is up to people in Edinburgh to decide what their nuclear policy is.”
Thus spake Kwasi Kwarteng when asked whether Scotland would play its proper part in the Government’s proposals for a new generation of British nuclear power stations. Instead, all eight will be built in England and Wales.
Assuming they get built at all, of course. Because the Business Secretary’s reluctance to build in the face of local opposition is not merely owed to the unfortunate state of devolution.
Challenged on Radio 4 about other aspects of the energy strategy, such as wind farms, he offered the following:
“So unlike other countries, we can’t simply impose infrastructure on people if they don’t want it and that’s a really important democratic principle.”
Except it isn’t. The ability of a (democratically-elected!) central government to impose decisions reflects the facts that many things of great benefit to the nation impose local costs; if you give local communities a veto, vital infrastructure doesn’t get built and we’re all poorer for it.
In this case, Scotland will benefit as much as the rest of the UK from greater British energy security. It should therefore play its full part in delivering it, including through the construction of nuclear plants.
Unfortunately, the Government and its predecessors have instead given the SNP free rein to indulge their unscientific antipathy to one of the best sources of clean energy we have – and likely free-ride on the British solution being delivered elsewhere. Energy should not be devolved.
At least it hasn’t given them a veto on North Sea oil and gas production, which is set for a boost.
Tories fielding highest-ever number of candidates in Wales, but fighting just half of seats
Today Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, announced today that the Party will be contesting more seats than ever before at next month’s local election.
According to the BBC, there will be 669 Tories on the ballot paper in May. Yet whilst an improvement, this still means that overall the Party is contesting just over 54 per cent of the available seats, versus 49 per cent in 2017.
The overall figures also contain very wide regional variation. According to figures seen by ConservativeHome, the Conservatives a fielding a full slate in just six of the 22 local authorities; they are contesting fewer than 20 per cent of available seats in another six.
Local sources say that it is often simply difficult to find sufficient candidates when every seat is being contested at once. But there are also more obvious challenges. In Flintshire, where the Tories are fighting only 20 per cent of available seats, they think it would have been very different without the scandals surrounding Rob Roberts, the MP for Delyn, and the hairs-breadth miss of Alyn and Deeside in 2019.
Scottish Tories back trans conversion therapy ban
Douglas Ross and Boris Johnson have enjoyed something of a rapprochement in recent weeks. Having previously sent a letter to Sir Graham Brady, the Scottish Tory leader now believes the Prime Minister should remain in post even in the event that he is fined over ‘partygate’.
But that doesn’t mean the party in Scotland isn’t looking for opportunities to put some clear blue water between the two, and this week they announced that they will not follow Johnson’s u-turn on conversion therapy in trans cases.
The Scotsman reports the party’s gender reform spokesperson as saying:
“As our manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliament election made clear, we are in favour of a ban on the abhorrent practice of conversion therapy.
“We continue to support a ban on conversion therapy, including trans conversion therapy, and we will vote for that ban if the legislation comes through the Scottish Parliament.”
The Government has backed off the ban in trans cases because of concerns that it would hinder professionals from properly probing cases where children claim to have gender dysphoria but may not.