Ed Davey: Non-nuclear energy approach is "negligent" and "risky"

Ed Davey - photo by Paul WalterOn Monday, I summarised the appearances of Ed Davey at last weekend’s Social Liberal Forum conference in London. Here, I outline some of the views expressed and initiatives described by Ed on the day, including during a bloggers’ interview:

Using less energy

Fuel poverty is a serious issue. Energy inefficient building stock is a key cause.

The Green deal, Ed said, had not originally gone as well as it had been hoped. In Phase 1, there were just 250,000 assessments. Phase 2 is going better, and is on track to improve two million homes. Continue reading

Our Climate Change bulldog. #slfconf

Ed Davey Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul Walter
WARNING: Contains strong hagiographic content, which some readers may find disturbing.

On Saturday, while much of the country was enjoying the sunshine, I spent two hours studying and listening to The Right Honourable Edward Davey MP FRSA.

In the wonderful surroundings of the new headquarters of Amnesty International, Ed addressed the Social Liberal Forum conference on “Energy and climate change – the balance between state and market”. He was then interviewed by four bloggers: Jonathan Calder, Matthew Hulbert, Caron Lindsay and myself.

My feelings during all this were similar to when Steve Webb addressed a local party supper club. I was thinking “Hey, this guy is doing fantastic, long-term stuff. Why the heck haven’t I heard about it before?”.

Ed has the features of a bulldog – a big barrel chest, a thick-set neck and determined, prominent jawline. He certainly has the determination of a bull terrier, shown in the way he pursues his objectives. There, the canine similarities end. Ed has a brilliant mind, and dazzles with a stunning recall of impressive facts, figures and arguments. In the interview, he turned a positively cherubic countenance to his questioners as he listened intently to the questions. I can imagine him going down well with civil servants in his department. He’s an extremely skilful Secretary of State.

Overall, Ed gave an exceptionally compelling narrative on the remarkable job being done by the government to fight climate change. I know this article could be accused of sounding like “Pravda” (and by all means balance it by reading Quentin Letts’ ludicrous piece on him), but I was genuinely very impressed by Ed and the work he is doing at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. However, as usual, I am a sucker for punishment, so I look forward to your comments.

Here is a couple of the key points which came up during the talk and interview, and then a load more will follow in a “part two” article later (which will include Ed’s thoughts on the thorny topic of nuclear power):

Investment in carbon reduction

Ed has written about this here and was brandishing the government’s Energy Investment Report.

The key line which stood out, for me, is that the Department of Energy and Climate Change is putting in more investment than the rest of the government put together. There has been a trebling of renewables powering the electricity grid.

The balance between state and market

The key point Ed made was that there is a need for a finely balanced approach. The binary, one/zero, black/white debate between government intervention and total non-intervention is pointless. There are three main areas, and each demands markedly different approaches: 1) Decarbonisation 2) Energy security and 3) Energy prices. The questions we should be asking are: Which type of intervention is suitable in each situation? Where and when? Is fostering competition the right approach? Or creating new markets? Or actual regulation, for example: emissions performance standards for coal power stations?

The bottom line, Ed said, is that the government must intervene to achieve our energy and climate goals.

The sun shone today. An obvious day to be shut away listening about policy #slfconf

slfconfI had a great day at my first Social Liberal Forum conference today.

On my way, I was drenched by torrential rain in Queens road, Newbury, and then coming back I was rained on in the same road. In between that, it was dry and sunny. It was the sort of day that takes some thought as to what to wear and carry on a journey, and no amount of planning prepares for all eventualities.

The conference was in London EC2 at the Amnesty International HQ. This is a most impressive building which made a superb conference venue.

It was great to see many old friends and enjoy a positive Smörgåsbord of policy discussion and an impressive list of guest speakers.

I back Jack

imageI am backing Linda Jack for Liberal Democrat party President. I have known Linda for years, mainly through the Liberal Democrat blogosphere.

Linda has an exceptionally conscience-based sense of Liberalism. She has a wealth of experience working for the disadvantaged, of campaigning and of work in employment and the armed forces. From this, she articulates a passionate and fearless set of liberal views.

After the jiggery-pokery of coalition, we need Linda as President to reset our political compass on a true Liberal Democrat course.

Apparently I have an unusually large file size

“Best method for audio library HDD migration = rsync” #OSX #opinions / SML.20130130.IP3Apologies for a slight temporary glitchette on this site earlier this evening. Fortunately, as usual, GoDaddy, this time through their man Pete, were able to sort out the problem promptly, with great skill, politeness and humour. Our Pete showed me how to do a bit of a self-help relief jobbie on my “overhead table” file in future, to prevent the problem recurring.

Apparently, with over 6,300 posts on here since May 2006, I have a file size which is well above average for a WordPress self-hosted user. (And bear in mind that GoDaddy are BIG. They manage over 55 million domain names). In other words, although our Pete didn’t put it this way, I am verbose.

Well, at least I have lived up to my blog title in both the ways it was intended. My burblings here are not only (hopefully, mostly) Liberal in the political sense, they are also liberal in the volumetric sense.

Photo by See-ming Lee

Gove's follies

Michael Gove at Policy Exchange delivering his keynote speech 'The Importance of Teaching'I’m feeling quite delighted tonight for my brother and other teachers, following the news that Michael Gove has been humiliatingly demoted. He won’t even be a full voting member of cabinet any more, just an attendee on the sidelines. And he takes a £36,000 pay cut. So his pay cut is half as much again (+) as the national average wage!

His public fight with Mrs May and the trouble-making of his ex-aide Mr Cummings must have been the final nails in his coffin.

Paradoxically, given the ire Michael Gove has provoked, I hear from a friend, who has worked with him, that he is apparently the nicest, most politest man you could possibly meet.

Photo by Policy Exchange

PM sacks David Laws by tweet, then covers his tracks

As part of his reshuffle tweetage, at 13:24 today, David Cameron tweeted as follows:

One slight snag. At that stage David Laws was Schools Minister. He’s a Liberal Democrat and David Cameron would have to get Nick Clegg to move Laws, unless Cameron wanted two schools ministers.

At 16:41 the Government’s website was updated with all the reshuffle appointments, with the exception of the Minister of State for Schools which was still listed as David Laws, rather than Nick Gibb who Cameron appointed to that position via Tweet at 13:24:


Note also that there is no Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Education and Childcare, a position vacated by Liz Truss who moved to be Secretary of State for the Environment etc.

Then the plot thickens.

By 5pm, the Prime Ministerial Twitter account, with Number Ten no doubt realizing that “too many twits might make a twat”, was changed (and not even PMs can modify tweets. You have to delete the original and then tweet again), so that the original tweet from 13:24 about Nick Gibb’s appointment as Minister for Schools was deleted and replaced by a later tweet simply saying that Nick Gibb “is returning to Government as Minister of State @educationgovuk”. You can see it below. There was nothing about the position of Schools Minister in it. This was combined with other tweets announcing the appointment to the PuS Education role and one about Nic Boles being split between DfE and one other department.


Finally, by 17:37 the government website had been further updated to include Nick Gibb as a Minister of State in the Department for Education. See below. However, unlike the other ministers listed on the website, there is no note of what areas he is responsible for. No doubt they will work that out in the morning. It’s been a long day. Trebles and a crack of Gove’s whip all round!

Please be careful about where you put down items in the supermarket

You know the situation. You’re in the supermarket. You pick up something you’re after. Say, some Innocent smooth orange juice at £3.25, and then you wonder on.

Then, you chance upon the special offer display at the end of an aisle. There, you see Copella orange juice and apple juice on special offer at £1.50. You pick one up. And then you want to get rid of the Innocent Smooth Orange Juice. But you can’t be arsed to walk all the way back to the original shelf from which you took it. So you simply place it down with the Copella juices.

No problem.

For you.

But spare a thought for the poor unsuspecting numpty (me) who comes by the special offer display just after you.

The ticket at the front of the display says “Special offer – £1.50”. Great, I think. Innocent Smooth Orange Juice for only £1.50. I’ll have some of that.

So I bought it.

Then I got home and looked at the receipt. Oh, they’ve charged me £3.25 instead of £1.50. So I then trek all the way back to the shop, emboldened by my nearest and dearest. I’m ready to challenge the Customer Service desk person. But then I look at the shelf and realise what happened.

Ho hum.

I intend to fully enjoy that Innocent Smooth Orange Juice. As you can see from the photo above, I have already greedily necked a healthy swig or twain from it. It goes down beautifully on a hot day such, as today has been!

And my trip back to the shop wasn’t wasted. My nearest and dearest got me to get some Taco bits. The tacoes were (eventually) delicious!

The finances behind successful songs

Gold records on the wall.The Richest Songs in the World is an excellent programme from BBC4, available on iPlayer. Introduced by the excellent Stuart Maconie, it a must-see for anyone vaguely interested in music.

As well as explaining the finances of songs, the show reveals the, at times, surprising top ten richest songs in pop music and their fascinating stories.

I didn’t know that “Yesterday” started life as “Scrambled Eggs” and is thought to have played a part in the eventual break-up of the Beatles, because it was the only song Paul McCartney wrote on his own, although it was credited, as per normal, to Lennon McCartney.

I was most enchanted by the story of “Stand by me”. It has earnt $28 million. $14 million of that has gone to the publishers. And, if I have done my maths right, $7 million went to Leiber and Stoller, two of the writers, and $7 million went to Ben E King, the main writer. Not bad for one song, eh?

Ben E King, bless him, has ploughed some of his earnings from the song into the Stand by me Foundation to help educate underprivileged children.