Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The anti-nuclear lobby's trump card?

I saw a bit of the Conservative conference earlier, and in particular a surprisingly thoughtful session in which Sir James Dyson set out the case for a return to a Britain that actually makes things, and Kenneth Baker (who to be honest I'd almost forgotten existed) set out an interesting, but probably thoroughly flawed case for a return to the technical schools that were an original part of Rab Butler's tripartite system of secondary education. I say it was 'thoughtful' partly because, highly unusually, neither man bothered with the conventional conference speech trick of inserting obvious cues for applause, and as a result there was indeed almost no applause. In spite of the slightly sycophantic subsequent cries of "I absolutely agree with James Dyson" (and to be fair he has apparently nailed his colours firmly to the Tory mast), Dyson was from beginning to end trying to get his own personal message across, and said a number of things a Conservative audience could - and perhaps ought - to have been quite uncomfortable with. There was, for instance, a little jibe about the British nuclear deterrent actually being American, and also something about the rot first setting in for Britain in 1904 - hardly sounds like an indictment of Labour rule only.

But what really caught my attention was that one of the very few rounds of applause that either man received came in response to Kenneth Baker's cry of "why should a new generation of British nuclear power plants be built by French engineers?". Could the anti-nuclear lobby (in England and Wales, I mean) just have located their get-out-of-jail-free card, in the unlikely guise of Tory Euroscepticism? Probably not, but then any chink of light is better than nothing.

'Joke of the Day' (well, I was only watching for half-an-hour) - David Willetts revealed that there will be a surge of university applications next year, as the result of a mini baby-boom in 1992. "Now we know how people celebrated our election victory that year," was the punchline. Hmmm. Leaving aside the poignant question of whether there was actually anything to celebrate, wasn't the 1992 election held on April 9th? The man they call "Two Brains" can't possibly have slipped up on his mental arithmetic, so I can only assume there were an awful lot of premature births in 1992...

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