David Hookes (Scientists for Global Responsibility) went canvassing in Copeland. Here is his report to Merseyside Momentum members:
Canvassing in Copeland was very revealing- the housing estate I visited was utterly decrepit- it should have been demolished and rebuilt years ago. A number of residents mentioned that the recent MP who had resigned had taken a very well paid job at Sellafield from which he had originated. So he had neglected the constituency waiting for a better job back at his old employer (a factor not mentioned by BBC hysterical anti-Corbyn reporting).
Some of the anti-Corbyn propaganda had influenced a few voters however but when asked about what they did not like about him they were not very forthcoming.
Clearly a Labour leader who is not an enthusiast for nuclear power will have problems in this constituency. I think Corbyn should have confronted the issue head-on and produced the facts:
- about childhood leukaemia near Sellafield,
- the high levels of Caesium 137 in the Irish sea,
- the as yet unquantified cost of nuclear energy
- and the very dangerous health and safety conditions inside the plant.
He should have said that Sellafield will have to be kept open for several decades to clear up the mess they have created. He would build a wind turbine and/or a wave energy converter plant in place of the proposed new nuclear plant at Moorside. Cumbria is ideally placed to harvest energy from tidal, wave, and wind energy that is abundant off its coasts.
Being honest about his personal opposition to nuclear power would have gained him political credibility and respect even if it lost him a few votes this time round, but sadly he took some bad advice and supported the new nuclear power station.
Marianne Birkby, Radiation Free Lakeland, also urged Corbyn to set aside the ‘siren voices’ – a small but vocal minority – that are working hard to convince him that outright opposition to Sellafield and Moorside would be a vote-loser in the forthcoming by-election.
She said that his firm and outspoken opposition to the project would galvanise and inspire nuclear opponents, and give them a compelling reason to vote Labour in the Copeland by-election.