Tuesday, May 23, 2006

London desalination plant

Today sees the start of a public inquiry on a water desalination plant for London. This was originally proposed by Thames Water and approval was given by Newham council. However London's Mayor, Ken Livingstone, with Green Party support, overturned the decision on the grounds that it would cause an increase in C02 emissions. Now, Thames Water are appealing the decision, arguing that the plant is necessary to supply London and the south east.

Ken Livingstone, and the Green Party come to that, disapprove because they feel we should be cutting back on water usage, cutting back on power consumption and generally leaving less of a 'footprint'. Yes, it would be good to improve fuel efficiency - but only because it means we can continue to use the power we need. Yes we need to improve London's water infrastructure, but that doesn't solve the water problem.

Human progress depends on increasing energy consumption and on a ready supply of clean water. We can get both of these through the use of new technologies. We shouldn't be stopping progress in its tracks. Going backwards won't solve global warming and the other environmental problems we face.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Going nuclear

Predictably Tony Blair has come out strongly in favour of nuclear energy. Forget the energy review from 3 years ago (it got the answer wrong, so the government has convened a second one in the hope that they get the nuclear answer right...). Forget the £70 billion decommissioning cost of the existing nuclear power stations. Forget also that long term storage of waste hasn't been solved...

The sudden note of urgency doesn't make much sense, even with the Russians, Venezualans, Iranians and others flexing their energy muscles. Nuclear doesn't drive cars or provide gas for domestic heating or cooking. Neither does the global warming argument stack up.

The best answers to energy use and carbon emissions are micro-generation, renewables and increasing energy efficiency. Why are these not attractive to governments, particularly to centralising governments like Tony Blair's? Because they are decentralised, small scale and don't provide the government with the testosterone rush that huge centrally controlled projects provide. Like unreconstructed Stalinists, centralising governments of all persuasions are fatally attracted to 'prestigious' monuments - such as huge dams and nuclear power stations.

Whatever the reasoning, the move towards nuclear will be a disastrous mistake.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A small step in the right direction

The decision by the Nigerian senate to throw out a bill to change the constitution allowing the sitting president to seek a third term is a good one. The more that can be done to fight against African 'big man' politics the better. It's a curse that afflicts the continent and holds it back. Gangsterism, nepotism, bureaucratic overload, all these are linked to the cult of the African 'big man'. Of course there's still a danger that the decision gets reversed, or that the army will setp in, but for now it sends the message that 'presidents for life' are not welcome.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Animal research: extremists are not the problem

Those of us who support vivisection need to realise that the real problem is not a minority of extremists. The problem is that we live in a society that refuses to recognise the moral good of research on animals.

Excellent article from Spiked Online, commenting on Tony Blair's opportunism on the medical research argument.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Lame ducks and animal experiments

Sad to hear that Tony Blair has seen fit to sign the People's Petition in favour of medical research on animals. Now more than ever I'm in favour of experiments on lame ducks as a matter of priority.

Personally, I'm sure that there are plenty of animal liberationists who are more than pleased with Blair's intervention. I would rather he kept his mouth shut or, better still, came out as a closet supporter of the Animal Liberation Front. I can see it now, fighting to save bunnies in labs while bombing the hell out of Iraq...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Academic freedom of speech...

Not, not Frank Ellis again. This time it's someone who's upset vegetarians with his humour. Is this part of the government's 'respect' agenda?

Repeat after me: we have freedom of speech so long as we don't use it...

Animal 'Liberationists' caged...

When I read about the jailing of some of the animal 'liberationists' involved in the horrendous campaign against the guinea pig farm owned by the Hall family, my honest reaction is simple. Good. Let the bastards rot in jail. Not PC or very liberal I know, but there you are.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Good review of the extremely interesting 'Freakonomics' over at LondonBookReview.com. If you haven't read it yet, it's a book worth recommending, as this review makes abundantly clear.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Brian Haw and civil liberties

Brian Haw has been demonstrating against the Iraq war since 2 June 2001. His one-man stand in Parliament Square is has been incredible, and a pain in the arse to the government and police since the day he started. He has fought off arrest and legal challenges and has managed to remain in place, a visible and constant reminder of the government's deeply unpopular policy. Having beaten off the last lot of legal challenges, the Home Office has won on appeal and it looks like he may be forced to leave.

His case highlights not just the war in Iraq, but also the steady and constant erosion of civil liberties.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Respect and the BNP

Predictably there's been lots of comment on the relative success of the BNP - particularly in Barking and Dagenham, where Margaret Hodge did such a fine job in upping their support - but there's been less said about the success of Respect. Some of the Left will be cheered by the successes Respect acheived in places like Tower Hamlets.

However, those of us opposed to racism and multiculturalism there's little reason to celebrate. Respect have succeeded by become the Islamic party by proxy. By and large they did best in those seats with large Muslim populations. In effect we are seeing a further polarisation of tribal politics, with the white working class heading in the direction of the BNP, and the Muslim community flocking to Respect. It's multiculturalism writ large - politics defined by identity.

How to get people to vote BNP

Tell firemen in Barking that they can't fly the St George's cross during the world cup because it might offend ethnic minorities. Have any ethnic minorities complained? No. Has anyone other than the self-appointed guardians of multi-culturalism (i.e. the middle class liberal establishment), complained? No.

As a non-white Briton do I feel aggrieved when I see the St George's flag? No. Do any of my family or friends - of all ethnic groups - feel put out by the sight of the England flag? No.

I can't help but wonder how many of those firemen went out and voted for the 11 BNP councillors in Barking and Dagenham.

If I was a conspiracy theorist I'd be convinced that the Labour party and it's natural allies in local government are deliberately driving people to support fascism.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Manifesto Club

I'm sure conspiracy theorists in some parts of the green/left movement will soon be attacking the recently announced Manifesto Club as a cover for ex-RCPers, in much the same way as they attack spiked-online. However taking it on face value it looks like an interesting idea, and certainly worth keeping an eye on.

Council Elections - May 4th

For many of us the most interesting thing about todays council elections in England and Wales will not be how Labour's share of the vote holds up. It won't even be about Cameron's impact on the Tory vote. No, the most interesting thing will be how well the BNP do. Given the massive amounts of media coverage that the BNP have achieved - and let's face it the party could never have imagined that they would get such good coverage - it will be interesting to see if they actually make a break-through. Nick Griffin has done everything to paint the BNP as a moderate nationalist organisation, he's been very successful in presenting himself as the acceptable face of fascism. And with the liberal establishment lined up to oppose him he's the natural recipient of the protest vote.

At the same time, it will be interesting to see how George Galloway's Respect does. They've not had the same publicity as the BNP, but that's because nobody really imagines that they are anything but a one-trick pony. The same cannot be said of the Independent Working Class Association (IWCA), who represent the best that the left have got to offer. The IWCA and groups like the Hackney Independent deserve to prosper, just as the BNP deserves to be ignored.