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Sizewell C will “destroy the most important part of the county’s Heritage Coast.”

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Stop Sizewell C!

This was reported on June the 30th.

UK regulator receives application for new Sizewell nuclear reactors

Britain’s nuclear regulator said on Tuesday it had received an application for a licence to build two nuclear reactors at Sizewell in Suffolk county, north of London, from EDF Energy subsidiary NNB Generation Company.

Yesterday the East Anglian Daily Times (EADT) published this article by Paul Geater.

Will the Suffolk coast fall victim to coronavirus as government splashes the cash?

 

I’ve never disguised the fact that I feel that the proposed Sizewell C power station would be a disaster for East Suffolk and would effectively destroy the most important part of the county’s Heritage Coast.

Those who have meet Paul Geater, the main political journalist on the regional paper and the Ipswich Star, will know that he must have good reason before expressing himself so strongly.

One of the things that spurred him is, “It’s a part of the world that is very important to me – I was born at Eastbridge and lived within five miles of Sizewell for the first 27 years of my life.”

The article continues,

Until now I’ve always been optimistic that the proposals for this plant, which would be built on what is – effectively – part of the Minsmere Nature Reserve, would be scrapped because the economics just don’t make sense.

However, I’m now beginning to fear that the Suffolk Coast – with all the jobs it provides in tourism, leisure, and wildlife management – will be fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic as the government looks for projects to throw money at in the hope of creating jobs to get Britain out of the 21st century’s Great Depression.

I’ve always felt that the environmental arguments don’t really cut any ice with EDF and the other groups promoting Sizewell C. Yes their promoters will smile and nod earnestly when confronted by genuine concerns from organisations like the RSPB and National Trust as well as local residents – but when push comes to shove they don’t seem prepared to make any real compromises or do anything to limit the damage they would cause.

For many people this will be a crucial point.

They still seem hell-bent on destroying the Eastbridge marshes, an integral part of the Minsmere ecosystem, to create their new campus while the station is being built. Villages would be ruined by traffic because there is no proposal to bring in material by sea as they did when Sizewell B was built.

And that ignores the fact that nuclear-generated electricity is much more expensive than that from the sun or wind.

The well-known local figure calls to reject this latest move, which many consider to be on the point of being slipped through while attention is diverted elsewhere.

…by rejecting it, there would be a real boost to the local economy. Jobs in the tourist and leisure sectors would be ensured for years or decades ahead. Villages would be protected and the Suffolk coast (hardly the unemployment blackspot it was when Sizewell B was built in the 1980s) would be able to evolve and retain its wonderful character.

Local people recognise that. I know that many who welcomed Sizewell B have been appalled at the plans for Sizewell C and the way it is being planned with no thought to the local environment.

That is the least you can say.

Those affected have been screaming about the destruction to be wrought by new roads, vast car parks, and the rest, for some time.

The local councils recognise that. Both Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal were broadly supportive of Sizewell B. That isn’t what you hear from the planners and councillors at either the county or East Suffolk Council now!

Geater underlines the loss to the local tourism and leisure sectors.

But he finishes saying that “money isn’t everything.”

It certainly is not.

The areas affected are both environmentally highly significant – the status of Minsmere hardly needs underlining – and very dear to many people’s hearts.

The local campaign Together Against Sizewell C notes the plans will,

– devastate the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which provides a rich and varied mosaic of habitats that are a haven for an amazing variety of wildlife including iconic species such as bittern, marsh harrier and otter,

– split the Sizewell Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest in half with a new permanent elevated road,
– be constructed on the boundary with RSPB Minsmere, with 24/7 light, noise and air pollution being a huge threat to the internationally important nature reserve as well as the wider environment,
– result in the loss of acres of valuable farmland,
– threaten homes, land and businesses with compulsory purchase,
– see road building and alterations for 25 miles around the site, including 7 new roundabouts within an 8-mile radius of Sizewell,
– add hundreds of HGV journeys to and from the Sizewell site every day, causing unacceptable levels of CO2 and NOX emissions,
– harm the flourishing and sustainable tourism industry of East Suffolk affecting businesses around the much visited towns of Aldeburgh and Southwold and many popular villages as well as RSPB Minsmere and the National Trust’s Dunwich Heath,
– see up to 2 million litres of mains water consumed each day of nuclear power station operation, in addition to the huge volumes used during construction, in one of the driest parts of the country,
– see tons of fish and other marine life sucked into the cooling pipes along with an estimated 2.5 billion gallons of sea water per day, see article re Hinkley Point C(same design as SZC): https://www.burnham-on-sea.com/news/concern-over-hinkley-point-c/
– require nuclear waste to be stored indefinitely on our crumbling, sinking coast as sea levels rise,
– create a huge upfront carbon footprint during construction and from the mining, milling and fabrication of the uranium fuel together with an unknown carbon footprint at the back end of operation – see why nuclear is not the answer to climate change

This Blogger knows the area well.

I’ve been walking around there since mid-teens. In my twenties my parents had retired to nearby Firston (one of the places affected by car-park plans), and were active in Leiston Labour Party as Chair and Secretary for some years in the 1980s. An uncle (by marriage) grew up in a hamlet by a local village, Theberton (nearly bordering Eastbridge).

The Eastbridge Eels Foot Inn, by the marshes, is one of the best pubs in Suffolk. The walks around the area, some of which I know like the back of my hand, are outstanding. The reserve called Sizewell Belts, is of special interest, and is free to visit (Minsmere is a RSPB reserve, although you can walk alongside it, including  on the coastline).

On one walk, in the direction of  Weselton I saw my first Adders, one another, my first Mistletoe, and enormous Red Deer. Alas I have never spotted the Otters,who have been encouraged, (and helped by some re-introduction)  since the 1980s.

The Leiston Communist Writer and activist Lee Chadwick (1909 – 2003)  lived in a house on Leiston Common, not far from the Reactors, and in the heart of the sites that will be touched by the new development.

One of her best books, In Search of Heathland (1982), begins with a chapter titled, “Our Vanishing Heathland”.

She wrote,

Leiston and Sizewell commons today lie within the Suffolk Coastal Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the 34 miles f the Suffolk Heritage Coast. Notwithstanding this, the building of a second and possibly a third nuclear power station at Sizewell is under discussion and at the time of  writing seems likely to prove the focus for another form of popular struggle concerning the use of one-time open land.” (Page 66)

Lee, who participated in the 1980s campaigns – as did my parents –  would surely back Together Against Sizewell C (TASC).

Unfortunately we hear from the organisers that UNITE, which has a strong Branch at Sizewell, is not so inclined. TASC says that the UNITE led organising committee of the annual Burston Rally, a rural labour movement event that claims to support Green causes, “won’t even allow us (us being TASC) to have a stall at the Burston rally.”

Paul Geater writes that, “The fear is that while locally there is a great deal of disquiet, the further you move away from the Suffolk coast, the attitude changes.”

Let’s hope he is wrong on that point>

Back TASC!

To: Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

STOP SIZEWELL C HUGE NEW NUCLEAR DEVELOPMENT IN SUFFOLK A.O.N.B.

More information on the TASC site:

Together Against Sizewell C.

TASC has been actively campaigning, since 2013, to stop EDF’s plans to build two EPR nuclear reactors on Suffolk’s fragile Heritage Coast. Sizewell C and all its supporting infrastructure will devastate untold acres of the wildlife-rich Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB and its SSSI, as well as irreparably damaging RSPB Minsmere. The area, a 30 mile radius around the site, will change from rural tranquillity to brutal industrialisation.

 

Here is a tweet from their Twitter Feed.

Here is more news:

Written by Andrew Coates

July 3, 2020 at 4:12 pm

Morning Star Warms of Labour “Thermidor” and Attacks ‘Neoliberal” Keir Starmer’s “Bat Squeaks”.

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Image result for communist party of britain

Communists Advising on Labour Strategy: “Starmer’s base is, “metropolitan stratum that derives from socially liberal and economically unadventurous middle-class values”.

The Morning Star, wholly independent of the Communist Party of Britain and owned by the Co-op gives prominent space to the views of one Nick Wright, responsible for the Communist Party of Britain’s media work, (and a former member of Straight Left)  on Labour Party “contradictions”.

Make no mistake — the competition is between the neoliberal wing and the class conscious wing of the party, writes NICK WRIGHT

Two poles of understanding seem to be emerging. On one hand we have a liberal pole of which the best exemplar is Starmer. This is gaining an impressive number of constituency nominations in meetings which, by some accounts seem older and reinforced by those who departed the scene after Jeremy Corbyn renewed his leadership and now see their Thermidor.

“Thermidor”, a word that has strayed from Trotskyist supporters of  Red Flag to the Morning Star (” Starmer represents the victory of the Thermidorian reaction”)

The word was used by Trotsky to refer to the way Stalin establish his power to rein in the Russian Revolution. It quickly fell out of use when it was pointed out that the ‘Thermidor’ which put an end to the Terror in the French Revolution, was not only inappropriate for a rule that vastly expanded the terror in the USSR, it  referred to the way one fraction of radical bourgeoisie and its allies, during the bourgeois revolution was replaced by another, bourgeois,fraction. (1)

WHat on earth this has to do with the Labour Party leadership election is even less clear.

Is Wright suggesting that Corbyn led a bourgeois revolution, or a new Soviet Revolution  and that its gravedigger, Starmer, is in the wings?

One the other hand we have a more explicitly socialist pole given clearest expression by Rebecca Long Bailey.

What is important here are the bat-squeaks. These are emitted at such a high frequency that to hear them requires devoted attention. Comrade Starmer has doubled down on his pledges to respect the Corbyn heritage and presents a package of policies modelled in all surface appearances on the most distinctive elements in the 2017 and 2019 manifestos.

Cde Wright battens onto his favourite candidate, continuing the permanent revolution,

These, by contrast,  are the politics we need,

 ….a more thoroughgoing critique of capitalism, encapsulated in classically class-conscious language and predicated on an assumption that fighting for these policies is an existential challenge to the main features of contemporary British capitalism……

Rebecca Long Bailey has made a good job of clothing this class perspective in the kind of thought-out detail that can convince the electorate. Her command of the Green New Deal, which she authored, must be a central feature of Labour’s pitch whoever comes out on top in the leadership contest.

The Green New Deal has not been a surefire winner for European left parties.

Benoît Hamon scored  6.36% of the vote in the French Presidential election, as the Parti Socialiste candidate,  after making this, dubbed “ecological transition”, a central part of his platform.

He won a 3,27% and no seats in the 2019  European election after his splinter group, Génération.s ran a list in co-operation with DieM25 and others,   which centred on the issues, called the “federalist European Green New Deal”.

The Podemos breakway Más País, led by  Íñigo Errejón has also given priority to the “La transición ecológica”.

After repeated failure (in the  2019 Spanish General Eleciton they got 2.40% of the vote  3 seats in the Spanish Parliament)  they have now retreated back to their Madrid bases, or “put in a draw” as the Spanish press puts it, “Errejón guarda Más País en un cajón“).

But nothing douses Wright’s ethusiasm for Long-Bailey.

What a contrast, he laments, with Keir Starmer,

Starmer’s particular appeal (as was Thornberry’s) to a spectrum of opinion that wants to move on from, away from, or even reverse Corbyn’s positions is clothed in the cultural and linguistic signifiers of a metropolitan stratum that derives from socially liberal and economically unadventurous middle-class values.

As they say down at the Slaughtered Lamb, “wot bleeding linguistic signifiers are these? How do they, deal with the Brexit “contradiction between working-class priorities and middle-class values”? More like Starmer embodies “the class interests of the dominant section of Britain’s capitalist class underpinned the Remain campaign and the People’s Vote device.”

In a master stroke Wright show’s the issues at stake, “if this leadership contest results in a more-clearly articulated distinction between the liberal pole in Labour politics and the class-politics pole so much the better.”

On Lisa Nanday he has these kind words,

But the logic of her challenge has compelled her to re-energise several strands of traditionally reactionary politics in British Labour. The result is a cacophony of conflicting messages which are acquiring coherence only by her now more-precisely articulated reactionary ideas.

This Blog will not deal with his further reflections as surely the news turns that, hope against hope, a window opens for Labour to “emulate Corbyn at his best.”

Rebecca long-Bailey is said to be gladdened at this response to her heartfelt appeal.

Labour can look forward to Corbyn’s winning advice for a long time to come!

Meanwhile in East Anglia:

The signatories include Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere, the leader of the Labour opposition at Suffolk County Council Sarah Adams and the Labour group leaders on both East and West Suffolk councils Peter Byatt and Diane Hind.

 

Here

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(1) On this point, and why Trotskyists questioned the term see: Chapter 1. Michel Lequenne. Le Trotskisme, une histoire sans fard (2018 edition)

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 21, 2020 at 1:20 pm

The Village in Revolt. The Story of the Longest Strike in History. Shaun Jeffery. Review – the Burston School Strike.

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Image result for The Village in Revolt. The Story of the Longest Strike in History. Shaun Jeffery.

“…hard to recommend this thoroughly researched book on our labour movement more highly.”

The Village in Revolt. The Story of the Longest Strike in History. Shaun Jeffery. Higdon Press.2018.

On the first Sunday of September every year trade unionists, members of the Labour Party and other left-wing organisations, rally on Burston Village Green. Standing on the side is the Burston Strike School, now a Trust-run memorial. In the past years figures such as Audrey Wise, Tony Benn, John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn have spoken to the crowd. The march around the flat village lanes, a “candlestick” is both a present-day labour gathering, and to celebrate what the historian of the Farm Workers’ Union, Reg Groves called, a “microcosm of the rural war” (Sharpen the Sickle! 1948).

On the 13th of May 1917 there was a great labour movement gathering. A “Great Eastern Railway special charter train from London Liverpool Street” writes Shaun Jeffery in his Introduction. It had brought around a thousand people to Burston. As they paraded with two bands, amongst union banners from the National Agricultural Labourers’ Union, and National Union of Railwaymen, Labour political figures and Sylvia Pankhurst, joined villagers and the children who attended the school. The opening of the Burston Strike School drew people from London, Norwich and across the country.

Replacing a temporary structure used since the walk-out began in 1914 it bore an “engraved tablet” writes Shaun Jeffery, “recorded for perpetuity just why they had all come to be there.” “Mr T. Higdon and Mrs A.K. Higdon were unjustly dismissed from the Council School of this village on the 31st day of March 1914. This building, was erected by public subscription to protests against the action to provide a free school, to be a centre of rural democracy and a memorial to the villagers’ fight for Freedom.”

Village in Revolt tells the story of the Higdons, Tom and Annie, and the Burston school strike, including their adversary, the Reverend Charles Tucker Eland. Shaun Jeffery charts the fortunes of the ‘National’, the agricultural labourers’ union, (NALU) to which “Tom’s own life was to be eternally tied” against the backdrop of the rise of militant union action in the years running up to 1914. The story takes us to socialism, “For decades” Jeffery’s observes, “Socialists in Norwich had been making various attempts to gain support in the surrounding villages”. By 1913 the Independent Labour Party, by then part of the Labour Party in Parliament, would draw up a “Rural Programme” and MP George Roberts would attempt to get a wages board for agriculture.

Tom and Annie lives, and their career as schoolteachers, were bound up with protests against rural squalor and exploitation. Before Burston they had disputes with the education authorities over “illegal employment of boys by the local farmers during term time”, that is, a clash with the local “squireachy” of parson and landowners foreshadowed the conflicts after their 1911 appointment in Burston.

The reader will perhaps sometimes feel that the cause of the friction and “little altercation” between the Higdons and their – powerful – enemies was not always one-sided. Rebutting the idea that they did not accept outside guidance, they showed “openness to informed advice”. Yet “Any accusation that the Higdons did not suffer fools in position of power who served themselves…would certainly be a charge harder to refute.” Nincompoops amongst their adversaries abounded. That one of the first charges against them in Burston was “non-attendance at church” followed by the same Reverend Eland, the rector, complaining that Annie was “Lighting fires without permission” casts darkness on their adversary’s behaviour. It ended in claims that the Head Teacher, Tom had been “discourteous” to the Managers, and that Mrs Higdon had beaten two Barnardo girls with a cane.

The Children’s Strike.

The details of the dispute are the work of the book. The Higdons were sacked, April the 1st 1914 came, and the children paraded with banners and cards with the words, “We want our teachers Back”. “Neither Violet Potter, nor any of the other senior scholars involved in the strike, could remember who exactly came up with the idea of taking the action that they had embarked upon”.

These opening episodes in the dispute take us from the Norfolk fields to wider conflicts. School strikes were ‘in the air’ across the country and, Jeffery’s suggest can be seen as a way in which “pupils and parents sought to assert community control over provided education” – perhaps a lesson for today when anti-community Academy schools exist. This dimension may help to explain why the wider labour movement gave backing, from the newly founded NUR (1913), to the more directly concerned Agricultural workers. Nor does The Village in Revolt neglect the most obvious of backgrounds, the Great War. “Tom Higdon was no militarist warmonger, but like many Labour leaders, such as his friend George Edwards, he had come to the conclusion that there was no other alternative but to enter the war.”

After the Armistice ambitious plans for the Strike School and national reforms in its wake did not happen. Tom Higdon was disappointed that a “great upheaval did not take place”. Yet the First Trade Union School in England was honoured as “living monument to the struggle against rural tyranny and for democracy”. In the post-war years, “Supporters that the Higdons hadn’t fallen out with would still visit and address large audiences in the green in front of the school”. Despite hard work for the cause of the agricultural workers Tom never rose to prominence in the labour movement. The Rally was revived in the early 1980s and continues to draw large crowds each year.

Both as an absorbing narrative and history The Village in Revolt is an unqualified success. It is hard to recommend this thoroughly researched book on our labour movement more highly.

More information: THE VILLAGE IN REVOLT – NEW BURSTON BOOK

Written by Andrew Coates

August 27, 2019 at 11:12 am