Daily Archives: 11 January 2008

Emily Thornberry caught abusing Commons stationery

Oh dear. It would appear that Omar‘s boss has been ticked off again.

Last autumn, Emily Thornberry sent out what emerges came to 10,400 unsolicited letters to constituents using Commons stationary. Following a flurry of complaints, the Parliamentary Standards Officer Sir Philip Mawer has written to confirm that the cost of this stationary will now have to be paid back:

“It is clear to me that Ms Thornberry should not have used pre-paid envelopes at all for this exercise (since her letter was unsolicited) but should have covered the cost of the stationery and envelopes and the postage required directly, either from her Communications Allowance or out of her own pocket.”

“She has indicated that she will reimburse the cost of the pre-paid envelopes she used and I have asked her to do this.”

This whole adventure is estimated to have cost her around £4,250.

Of course, the “unwise” Ms Thornberry has form. Still, could be worse. At least she didn’t back Peter Hain in the deputy leadership contest!

UPDATE: Following my latest Swinsongate story, Young Labour have airbrushed their news story out of existence. This is at least better than retrospectively turning it into a different story entirely.

Swinsongate Goes National…

Front page of Young Labour websiteThree weeks on from the original Swinsongate and Young Labour are still claiming the veracity of the story on the front page of their national website.

Of course, this puts Omar Salem in the uncomfortable position of having one version of the press release on the national website and another, contradictory, version on the London website.

Jo Swinson news story on Young Labour websiteJust to recap: Jo Swinson a) has never been the party’s youth affairs spokesperson and b) has never been LDYS’s Chair. To top it all, she’s been promoted, not sacked, and so has Jenny Willott (who is now the martyr in the London Young Labour version).

None of this exactly suggests that Young Labour is a vibrant, go-getting organisation these days, does it?

Will the nuclear boom harm global warming?

So the government is to give the green light to nuclear. No surprises there then.

Part of me would like to be an optimist, denounce the green lobby for being apocalyptic, line up with Jim Lovelock and David King and comfort myself that nuclear is a better alternative to coal and gas. I certainly am fairly dismissive about the “danger” argument (although moving a hundredfold more uranium and nuclear waste around the world, which appears to be where we’re headed, does strike me as a significant security threat).

The problem is, I’m simply not convinced by the economics of it all.

A thought has struck me this week: if these plants are really to be built without a penny of government subsidy, with the industry even paying for the clean up costs, it seems to be based on a model that the cost of gas and oil will remain high. John Hutton seems to confirm this:

Analysis of future gas and carbon prices showed nuclear was “affordable and provides one of the cheapest electricity options available to reduce our carbon emissions”.

If that’s the case then it suggests that things like oil shale are likely to remain extremely commercial indeed. Indeed, it suggests an economy in which coal becomes affordable as well (we’re already seeing this happen). In other words it appears to be based on a model where a killing will be made exploiting the most dirty sources of energy imaginable, many of which will counteract the carbon savings by going nuclear. And they won’t take until around 2020 to come on stream.

On the plus side, it also makes numerous renewable sources more viable. But the government is still resisting opening the door for micro-generation through a German-style import tariff, so progress on that will not be driven by thee and me as it is in other countries. And the government also seems reluctant to invest in R&D comparative to even the US which not only will make development take longer but denies us opportunities in terms of jobs and enterprise.

Overall, it is hard to shake the impression that we are pursuing this goal due to a chronic lack of imagination more than anything else. While I normally am the first to defend scientists, I do wish we heard a little less of them in this debate and a little more from the economists.

Leyton By-election: 14 February

The Leyton by-election has been called for 14 February. It has been suggested to me that many of us who have been blogging about the Miranda Grell affair should be putting our boots where our mouths/keyboards are and help Winnie Smith get elected. I entirely agree.

Details can be found over at the Flock Together website. So far, just two of us are registered on the site for more information about the by-election. My challenge is to get that number up to five as quickly as possible. Anyone with me?

If it is successful, we might want to consider trying to organise a few special Liberal Drinks in order to make it a bit of a social event. Any other ideas about getting people there?

UPDATE: Four registered, one to go!