Sunday, June 16, 2024
HomeElection WatchSome awkward questions for the candidate on your doorstep

Some awkward questions for the candidate on your doorstep


MADE your mind up yet? Waiting till the last minute? There are one or two things to consider before voting, and this could be a useful list to have with you when your candidate knocks on the door. It shows how everything is linked to something else, which the political parties seem to have overlooked.

Voters are struggling with the cost of living. ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ was the advice given to Bill Clinton on his run for the White House. It still is. A major strain on the economy is the NHS which in the year 2022/23 was costing £497,000,000 every day.

Immigration must make it much more difficult for the NHS. Net migration for the year ending June 2023 was 672,000. UK population grew by 2.5million in the 20 years from 1980 to 2000. In the next 20 years it swelled by 8.2million. England now has 1,135 people per square mile, France 306 and Oregon (a US state about the same size as the UK) 43.

Houses are necessary for all those people and we’re not building them fast enough. If lots of people want something desperately and there’s not enough to go round, it’s hardly surprising that prices will rise. Hardly surprising to us ordinary folks, anyway.

Houses need land. A curious fact is that only 10.5 per cent of English land is built-up. But more is wanted for woodlands, solar farms, wind farms, rewilding, open spaces, commerce, industry, a million more houses and farming.

Farmers think they should be helped to grow more food instead of depending so much on imports. ‘Just under half of the actual food on plates is produced in the UK,’ according to a government website, which goes on to say that farmers can be given ‘grants and other funding to increase productivity, manage your land to benefit the environment and support your agricultural business’. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme they can be paid to provide food for seed-eating birds and to put back hedges which they dug out 30 years ago in order to grow more and make their fields easily accessible for the larger machinery. It’s part of rewilding.

Rewilding is necessary, apparently. ‘Nature,’ says the Wildlife Trust, ‘is our best ally against climate change by way of more trees, peatlands and saltmarshes . . . we need 30 per cent of our land and sea to be protected to help with emission control and the road to Net Zero.’

Net Zero plans by the political parties have been costed at around £1.2trillion and rely on wind turbines and solar panels. The UK has agreed to take action as agreed at the annual UN Conferences of the Parties (COPs – see below). The Tories’ zero emissions target is 2050, Labour is going for a bold (and ridiculous) 2030 and the Lib Dems and SNP by 2045. None of them seems to have the slightest idea that when the wind isn’t blowing (high pressure systems, quite common), and the sun isn’t shining (at night and for much of our winter) most of the nation would be blacked out, because by 2030 only one nuclear station would be working (Sizewell B). Peak demand during January this year got up to about 45 gigawatts (GW). Sizewell B produces a steady 1.2 GW.

COPs are the Conferences of the Parties run by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The first was in Berlin, 1995. The latest was COP28 in Dubai, the next is COP29 in Baku, Azerbaijan. At every one it has been agreed that emissions must come down. Emissions have risen through all those 28 years, partly because nations such as China still run hundreds of coal-fired power stations because they are the quickest to build and provide constant power.         

China is manufacturing for the world, which is why the UK government could boast that we have reduced our emissions by 28.7 megatons in 2022/3. We have let them take over. But their emissions grew by 565 megatons in that same period. China’s increase last year was 20 times greater than the UK’s reduction. They are busy turning out electric cars in manufacturing plants using energy from coal.

Electric cars: cheap Chinese vehicles ‘are set to flood the UK market in what could be a major disruption for mainstream manufacturers.’ They will need a large increase in energy availability, especially in the early evening when everybody comes home.

Energy plans for the UK, as mentioned above, are hugely based on fickle wind and occasional sun. Not one of the political parties has realised that nuclear is the only renewable to give us constant power. The more protests there are about oil the less likely it is that power will always be available in your car charging socket.

Protest groups do not deal in reality. Do away with oil, they say, because there is a climate emergency. They don’t want to face the next logical step: if we do away with oil there will be an economic emergency with drastically greater effects on voters, who may not want to wait till the next election to take to the streets.

Here we are back to the voters. Made your mind up yet?

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Ivor Williams
Ivor Williams
Ivor Williams is a freelance writer and has been a fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society since 1984.

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