Letters - July 19, 2019

What are your views on the two prospective Tory leaders and Prime Ministers?
What are your views on the two prospective Tory leaders and Prime Ministers?

Stark lessons from Tory leadership race

Three things are clear from the Tory leadership contest.

First, the leading contenders want to give their rich friends tax breaks instead of seeking solutions to the growing social problems they have helped create. By prioritising unfair tax giveaways over meeting need, they prove Theresa May right in one thing: they really are the ‘nasty party’.

Second, austerity always was and still is a con trick. Apparently there is no shortage of money for pet Tory projects and they easily found £1bn to bribe Northern Irish MPs into supporting the May government.

The leadership candidates’ expensive and uncosted attempts to buy members’ votes has destroyed any remaining vestige of their party’s reputation for economic competence.

Third, the Tories no longer believe in the United Kingdom. If they did, they would not be pursuing Brexit at the cost of driving Scotland and Northern Ireland out of the Union.

This looks increasingly likely if there is the kind of hard Brexit acceptable to any future Tory leader. The leadership candidates’ promises are irresponsible but they clearly appeal to Tory party members.

None of them can be trusted to act in the national interest.

Michael Hutchinson

via email


Cuadrilla should pack up and leave

In a well-rehearsed sequence of arguments with which readers will by now be familiar, Cuadrilla have announced that they will try and frack, again. They shouldn’t.

When Cuadrilla was fracking last year, there were 57 earthquakes in two months, and they had to stop five times because bigger earthquakes were triggered than the rules allow. As night follows day, the industry throws their hands up and complain that the rules are too strict, and if things were only fair, the government would change the system so that they can trigger bigger earthquakes. Bigger earthquakes don’t sound fair to me.

This is the same industry that’s been lauding the UK’s so-called gold-standard fracking regulations. It seems strange that if the measures in place really were that strangling, that they may have objected earlier, rather than agree to work within them.

It’s abundantly clear, now that they’ve started, they’ve realised they can’t operate as the rules, known as the traffic light system, stand. Instead of having the good grace, maybe even the business sense, to pull out they want to change the rules and weaken the system to accommodate them.

The government has said that it has no plans to review or weaken the earthquake rules. And the people of Lancashire have no plans to put up with more earthquakes.

Frack Free Lancashire and the amazing Nanas are representative of the county in not wanting fracking – just in case anyone forgets that Sajid Javid overturned the council’s rejection of the fracking application in 2015.

Cuadrilla have had over two and half years of operations at Preston New Road. All they’ve managed in time is one well fracked and 57 earthquakes. It’s time to pack up and go. They really can’t say they didn’t have their chance.

It’s interesting that their chief executive has been using the line about Preston New Road being probably the most monitored site in the world. He didn’t of course mention that Cuadrilla’s monitoring at the site missed results for key chemicals, much to the anger of the Environment Agency.

For anyone else living near the site, the fact that monitoring exists, and that conditions are in place, the response is: good! In fact, we’d expect nothing less that high monitoring of the process. But the biggest reason we oppose fracking is simple and I don’t think anyone can state it more clearly than this: “You can be in favour of fixing the climate. Or you can be in favour of exploiting shale gas. But you can’t be in favour of both at the same time.” That’s from John Ashton, who used to be Special Representative for Climate Change for three Foreign Secretaries.

We are in favour of fixing the climate, ergo, we can’t be in favour of exploiting shale. It simply needs to be left in the ground. We need jobs which harness the UK’s renewable energy sources and we need a liveable future. That won’t come about by the old industries, drilling, fracking and exploiting away like there’s no tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, I want one, doesn’t Lancashire deserve one too?

Cuadrilla surely see the writing on the wall for their industry as the world moves on from exploiting coal, oil and gas and responds to the urgency of climate breakdown. It’s no wonder that they are desperately trying to make themselves relevant, but there’s a new dawn that’s spelling an end to yesterday’s dirty and damaging extractive industries. There is one important bottom line and it’s not a private company’s balance sheet, it’s this: we are in a climate emergency and the response to that must mean no more digging or drilling for oil, coal and gas.

Jamie Peters

Friends of the Earth