Last week the Green party held what it called a “briefing” at Holyrood to demand the closure of the Hunterston nuclear power plant in north Ayrshire. Absent from the briefing were both the plant’s owners EDF Energy – whose offer to speak at the meeting was ignored by the Greens – and the trade union that represents workers at the plant, the GMB. In response the Greens told me: “There simply was not a need for them to attend. This was a briefing, not a debate.” Yes, that confused me too. Hunterston has experienced a number of well-publicised issues, including the closure of two of its reactors. EDF Energy confirmed this month that its Hunterston B facility has 370 cracks in its graphite core. The firm said the cracks had “no impact on the safe operation of our reactors” and added it has submitted a report to the Office for Nuclear Regulation “seeking approval for return to service of the reactor 4” and was “preparing to submit the safety case for reactor 3”. Before the briefing, GMB Scotland organiser Gary Cook wrote to Green MSP Ross Greer, who organised the event, to express his disappointment that neither his union or the workforce at the plant had been asked to attend. Greer failed to reply. Trade unions of course play an important role in the safety of the UK’s nuclear industry. The Greens on the other hand represent a familiar strand of a self-indulgent political elite. The nuclear industry in Scotland employs almost 4,000 people, the majority of whom earn a lot less than Ross Greer. The Green Party has no credible proposals to replace the jobs it seeks to consign to the dustbin of history. The much talked-about transition towards a low-carbon economy is in reality a one-way ticket to the dole queue for thousands of workers and their families, or to unskilled, insecure, less well-paid jobs in the gig economy. Sadly, the Greens are less interested in listening to ordinary people than in imposing their narrow agenda on them. But why should the party listen to anyone when it never has to win a parliamentary seat on its own? Small wonder the Greens give the GMB the blues.
Times 13th Jan 2019 read more »