Thursday, 26 June 2014

Spineless anonymity

I sent the letter below to the Guardian following a front page story last weekend that really annoyed me, replete with many anonymous comments purporting to be form senior Labour figures, including from the shadow Cabinet, dripping political poison on their leader, Ed Miliband.


I wanted to remind the Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger of his own editors’s pledge to readers he would not anonymise sources. (Some Guardian readers have long memories) He has declined to publish my criticisms. So much for editor’s promises!

When the current Guardian editor took over the post, he wrote a personal message to readers ("No more ghostly voices," July 15, 2000) that he  would implement a new reporting policy, naming political sources for stories, and not let reporters hide  behind the anonymity of unidentified faceless people.

But in your chief political correspondent's front page story on Saturday ("Labour election anxiety grows," 21 June), he relied upon anonymous  Labour "frontbenchers" and  "former ministers". Why have you dumped the very commendable policy of transparency in reportage you introduced?

The anonymous frontbencher who arrogantly asserted "Ed cannot stay on if he loses [ next year's General Election]" should have the courage of their convictions and go public on their remarks. They may also consider that as part of a front bench that should work as a team, such remarks are disruptive of  a concerted  efforts to remove this  incompetent and cruel  Coalition government, and if Labour does not win, they too should resign as part of a failed political campaign.

But hiding  behind anonymity reflects a spineless, self-interested non team player. Ed Miliband should invite them to leave his front bench immediately, as a disloyal force.

 Here is editor Alan Rusbridger’s empty pledge  

No more ghostly voices

Spin-doctors: Anonymous briefings are being abused, so Alan Rusbridger introduces a Guardian policy to give our readers a fairer deal


·         The Guardian, Saturday 15 July 2000 00.51 BST

If you concentrate hard enough tonight you may glimpse a man called Godric Smith on television. No, I had never heard of him either until recently. He is, in the nicest possible way, an anonymous looking man: balding, early forties in a self-effacing two-piece suit. What do we know about this Godric Smith? We know that, despite reading classics at Oxford, he supports struggling Cambridge United. We know he is married with two children and lives in north London. And that since 1998 he has been the prime minister's deputy press spokesman. Do I crave to know more about Godric Smith? With all respect to Mr Smith, I cannot say that I do. In an ideal world he would remain a relatively anonymous figure and be the giver of dispassionate, factual information on behalf of the prime minister. It would be nice if he would speak on the record and, preferably, on camera. Otherwise, it would be a relief to know nothing about him.

Mr Smith has a small, non-speaking role in Michael Cockerell's film about Mr Smith's boss, Alastair Campbell, which is being shown on BBC2 this evening. The two men could not be more different. Not even his worst enemy would call Mr Campbell shy, self-effacing or balding. Unlike Mr Smith, Mr Campbell is not a career civil servant. Whereas Mr Smith is anonymous, Mr Campbell is only supposed to be anonymous. He is the subject of at least one full-length book and a television profile. The only thing the two men have in common is a shared passion for Nationwide League football teams.

How, one wonders, could these two men conceivably perform the same role? One is a self-confessed propagandist, the other a career Whitehall information officer. One is a bruiser, a spinner and, if necessary, an assassin. The other is supposedly apolitical. The service which employs Mr Smith requires him to be "objective and explanatory, not tendentious or polemical ... or liable to misrepresentation as being party political".

The difference between the two men might matter less if we, the press, had not connived with them in pretending they are one and the same person. Both have for a long time sheltered behind the comfortable semi-anonymity of being "a Downing Street spokesman", or an "official source", or "a source close to the prime minister". After Michael Cockerell's programme it is difficult to see how this coyness and circumlocution can possibly continue.

Indeed, after tonight's programme, it is difficult to see why anyone would want the present arrangements to persist. The interaction between Mr Campbell (even on his best behaviour) and Her Majesty's Lobby appears close to what psychotherapists term "an abusive relationship" - one in which the part ners feel trapped in a downward spiral of passive-aggressive behaviour.

A recent bestselling American self-help book on the subject identified helpful ways of identifying the symptoms: "Does your partner seem irritated or angry at you several times a week? Does he deny being angry when he clearly is? Do you frequently feel perplexed and frustrated by his responses, as though you were each speaking a different language?"

Both partners in this increasingly loveless relationship - Mr Campbell and the Lobby - would answer "yes" to all of the above. Yet, as any self-help devotee will tell you, the destructive thing about these abusive relationships is that - though it makes them miserable - neither party can escape.

And, true enough, Mr Cockerell's film ended with forlorn Lobby journalists complaining bitterly that Mr Smith's kindly, caring, objective briefings were no fun. They wanted to get back to the daily ritual of mutual abuse.

There is a serious point behind all this, which is that the word "spin" is to this government what "sleaze" was to the last. Whether it is the press or the government who is chiefly to blame is in a sense beside the point. Something has to be done to untie the knot before Westminster politics and press become terminally polluted by mutual cynicism and disrespect.

It appears that this thought has already dawned on Number 10. The decision to pull Mr Campbell out of day-to-day close combat with the Lobby was Mr Blair's. This week's televised press conference was a White House- inspired device to speak directly to the public without the filter of the Lobby.

But the sterile nature of the present relationship is also appreciated by the more thoughtful members of the press corps. Elinor Goodman, the political editor of Channel 4, gave a speech this week in which she said: "I think it is arguable that political journalists have been a corrosive force over the past 10 years. My own view is that the symbiotic relationship between politicians and the media has helped create an age of cynicism in which it's extremely difficult to have a rational debate."

The Guardian was one of three papers to leave the Lobby in 1986 in protest at the way in which systematic unattributable briefings were being misused. That generation of Lobby correspondents was not sympathetic: the Lobby voted 67 to 55 to keep all briefings off the record.

It is ironic that such movement as there has been since to put the briefings on the record has largely come from government. Mr Campbell himself has tiptoed some way to greater openness, with edited versions of the daily briefing on the Downing Street website.

But even he has stepped back from going the whole way. When the Guardian published the first verbatim transcript of a Lobby briefing in March, he dropped us a quiet note saying that he had not intended that all Lobby briefings should now be fully on the record and attributable. At the same time the cost of the Strategic Communications Unit has risen from £77,633 in 1997/8 to £839,440 in the current year.

It is not clear that much would be gained from again boycotting these semi-open Lobby briefings. But in future all Guardian journalists attending them will, as a matter of policy, identify who the briefer is. It is no longer right that readers should be in doubt whether this is Alastair spin or Godric briefing.

More difficult is the whole question of attribution. In politics - as in virtually every other walk of life - people will often speak more honestly if they are allowed to speak anonymously. The use of non-attributed quotes can thus assist the reader towards a truer understanding than if a journalist confined him/herself to quoting the bland banalities that often pass for on-the-record quotes.

One example: a recent article in the Guardian was the subject of a drily critical letter from Lord Wigoder. He drew attention to no fewer than 11 anonymous quotes attributed to such sources as "a Labour business adviser", "a senior Labour figure" and "one wealthy businessman."

I know - because I made inquiries - that virtually all these quotes came from people with direct knowledge of the relevant matter. As an editor, I was satisfied that this was an exceptionally well-informed and accurate piece of reporting. The Guardian reader was, I thought, well-served.

But journalism which is not believed has failed. If many readers felt they had insufficient clue as to whether the alleged "sources" spoke with authority and remained deeply sceptical about the provenance of the quotes, then it is difficult to make a case that the article did serve our readers well.

What, to take another recent example, are we to make of the recent front page splash in a mid-market tabloid: "Power crazed and bonkers" was the bold headline above a picture of Gordon Brown. The story was a brutal attack on the chancellor sourced to "a government colleague".

The article was by the paper's political editor - ironically, one of the journalists who led the Independent out of the Lobby 14 years ago. The attribution was so vague as to be meaningless to any reader. The Observer's famous earlier anonymous attack on Brown - "he has psychological flaws" - was at least sourced to "someone who has an exceedingly good claim to know the mind of the prime minister".

Even this quote would not have got through the editorial process of the New York Times. Its style guide reads: "Anonymity must not become a cloak for attacks on people ... If pejorative remarks are worth reporting and cannot be specifically attributed they may be paraphrased or described after thorough discussion between writer and editor.

"The vivid language of direct quotation confers an unfair advantage on a speaker or writer who hides behind the newspaper, and turns of phrase are valueless to a reader who cannot assess the source."

These are good rules, though - as those who have worked in both countries admit - they are easier to apply in the monopoly environment of New York broadsheet journalism than in the ruthlessly competitive world of Fleet Street.

If applied here, the curtain would come down on whoever it is whose job it is to drip anonymous poison over the heads of Harriet Harman, Frank Field, Ken Follett, Lord Winston, Clare Short, Ken Livingstone, Stephen Byers, Mo Mowlam, Gordon Brown, David Clark or whomever the victim of the moment is deemed to be.

But it is not absolutely clear that the bringing down of this curtain would inevitably cause greater enlightenment amongst readers. Would the public interest have been served by denying readers the knowledge that the skids were under John Biffen or Francis Pym?

S hould the papers of the day have kept quiet about the increasing friction between Mrs Thatcher and Geoffrey Howe, simply because no one would go on the record about it? If part of the truth about the present government is that it is genuinely riven by personal bitterness and mistrust, how can it be truthful to ignore the fact?

One of the reasons that some journalists feel locked into their love-hate relationship with Mr Campbell is that they feel he truly knows and understands the day to day thinking of the prime minister. Some reporters are adamant that the interests of the reader are best served by being able to quote him, even if they are obliged to disguise the origin of the quote.

We do not claim great moral superiority in these matters on the Guardian. But I do feel that we could do better in trying to break with some of the worst customs that have become ingrained in political reporting over the past 10 or so years.

In addition to naming the spokesman at official lobbying briefings, we will adopt a stricter code on the use of anonymous pejorative quotes. And we will encourage reporters to be as specific as possible about the source of any anonymous quotation. "One MP", or "a government colleague" is so weak as to be meaningless. "Senior minister" is an advance. "Cabinet minister with direct knowledge of the negotiations" is better still. By now the reader can genuinely evaluate the worth of the remark.

We will codify these guidelines and publish them: doubtless we will break them from time to time. But we will do our best to make a start on the road to more valuable and evaluate-able reporting. It would be good if you - the readers - had some input into the process.

You already use the independent readers' editor and letters columns to make your views known. In that respect, I believe the Guardian is already the most open and honest paper in Britain. But it would be interesting and helpful to hear the general views of readers on how we can best convey the true flavour of British politics as it is lived, breathed and briefed about.

Alan Rusbridger is editor of the Guardian.


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

What Blair knew about Iraq's destruction of its WMDs‏

In a letter in today's Western Mail newspaper - " Commons support for war was ill-gotten " - correspondent David Hullah asserted:
"An extensive search by a team of United Nations experts failed to find any evidence that these weapons  [of  mass destruction] ever existed and came to the conclusion that Saddam Hussein had not, in fact, possessed this capability."
This is inaccurate. There are extraordinary documented facts, the timeline of which is essential to grasp.
Gen. Hussein Kamal, the former director of Iraq's Military Industrialization Corporation, in charge of Iraq's weapons programme, defected to Jordan on the night of 7 August 1995, together with his brother Col. Saddam Kamal.
Both were sons in law of the then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Hussein Kamal took crates of documents revealing past weapons programmes, and provided these to UNSCOM, the United Nations’ inspection team looking for WMDs in Iraq.
Iraq responded by revealing a major store of documents that showed that Iraq had begun an unsuccessful crash programme to develop a nuclear bomb (on 20 August 1995). Hussein and Saddam Kamal surprisingly agreed to return to Iraq, where they were assassinated by the thug  and Saddam henchman  known as ‘Chemical Ali’ on 23 February 1996).
Before their fateful return to Iraq, they were interviewed in Amman on 22 August 1995, 15 days after Kamel left Iraq. His interviewers were: Rolf Ekeus, the former executive chairman of Unscom (from 1991 to 1997); Professor Maurizio Zifferero, deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and head of the inspections team in Iraq; plus Nikita Smidovich, a Russian diplomat who led UNSCOM's ballistic missile team and former Deputy Director for Operations of UNSCOM.
During the interview, Major Izz al-Din al-Majid (transliterated as Major Ezzeddin) joined the discussion. Izz al-Din was Saddam Hussein's cousin, and defected together with the Kamel brothers. The full transcript of the interview may be read at:
The key output was the documented revelation that : "all weapons - biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed"
Tony Blair in a misleading statement to the House of Commons on 25 February 2003 said: "It was only four years later after the defection of Saddam's son-in-law to Jordan, that the offensive biological weapons and the full extent of the nuclear programme were discovered."  (
Llew Smith, the anti-war former Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent , for whom I then worked, asked the Prime Minister about  the information provided by Hussein Kamal on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and if Mr Blair  if he would  place in the House of Commons  Library the text of the Kamal interview.
Mr Blair answered “Following his defection, Hussein Kamal was interviewed by UNSCOM and by a number of other agencies. Details concerning the interviews were made available to us on a confidential basis. The UK was not provided with transcripts of the interviews.” (Hansard, 26 March 2003: Column 235W)
But it  was known to Blair and his security advisors that eight years earlier Saddam’s son-in-law Hussain Kamal had fessed-up in an interview with the UN’s international weapons inspectors and intelligence agents to the destruction of Iraq’s chemical and biological WMDs, and the nascent nuclear weapons programme too.
The question apologists for Tony Blair’s need to ask is: why did Mr Blair so blatantly disregarded this information when pressing for war, except for the obvious reason it  undermined his stated reason to support an invasion?

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Strange Bed-fellows: Iran & US

Last week The Guardian newspaper  carried a leader on the prospects of Iran and the US collaborating on peace restoration in the middle east. They declined to publish this response I sent them. It does not surprise me, but does disappoint.
Your second leader (“ Iran and America: strange bedfellows,” 18 June ) opened opining “If anybody a year ago had said the United States and Iran might today be cooperating in dealing with a major international crisis, they would have been regarded as deranged.”
In fact, along with Dr Gordon Thompson, executive director of  the Institute for Resource and Security Studies in Cambridge, Massachusetts,  where I am also a senior research associate, last August  I offerd a joint article to Guardian Comment is Free making the that Iran should be recognized as a key player in resolving the multiple security problems of the middle east region
Our article was rejected, but was finally published last September by the Asia Times (, The Japan Times ( and The Moscow Times (, having been rejected by all UK and US media outlets to which it was offered. Perhaps we were deemed deranged.
In summary, we argued that as Iran  had taken a longstanding  outright opposition to chemical weapons (CW), based on its dreadful experience of Iraq using chemical weapons against its forces in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, Iran had a special desire to rid the regionof CW
Iran was robust in its statements at the mulitilateral  review meeting of the Chemical Weapons Convention, ( CWC) in April  2013 . After the collective initiative involving the US, Russia and other, supported by  and Iran last autumn, the Syrian government immediately accepted their proposal and  began the process of acceding to the CWC.
We argued that the framework for destroying chemical weapons in Syria could pave the way for better control of these weapons across the entire Middle East, but conceded the problems to be addressed in a workable agreement were daunting.
Nestling within this daunting challenge is one great opportunity: progress on the control of weapons of mass destruction across the Middle East and globally. Notably, establishing global control of Syria's chemical weapons could improve the climate for confirmation of Iran's non-nuclear status and for progress toward the goal of a Middle East free of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
Our proposals of dealing with Syria’s CW weapons without military intervention were dismissed as starry–eyed, as was our suggestion bringing Iran into the diplomatic fold as a positive regional actor.
Maybe this time such proposals will get a better hearing in the Guardian.

Monday, 23 June 2014

The China Syndrome

Last week David Cameron met his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang again, in London, following his own visit to China last autumn. On their agenda was Chinese interest in investing in the UK nuclear industry via two state-owned Chinese nuclear companies and the Chinese State investment bank.

 The key passage in the agreement reads: "The UK Government welcomes investment and participation from Chinese companies in the Hinkley Point C project and progressive involvement more generally in the UK's new build nuclear energy programme. This could include leading the development of other nuclear power station site(s) in the UK and the potential deployment of Chinese reactor technology in the UK, subject to meeting the stringent requirements of the UK's independent nuclear regulators."

 Before he went to China, in Prime Minister’s question time on 30 October last year, David Cameron kept up his consistent position on the energy security merits of the Hinkley Point C nuclear deal, telling a Labour MP:

 in terms of energy security .. he backed a Government who in 13 years never built a single nuclear power station. Oh, they talked about it—boy, did they talk about it—but they never actually got it done. In terms of Chinese and French investment, I think we should welcome foreign investment into our country, building these important utilities so that we can use our firepower for the schools, the hospitals, the roads and the railways we need.”

 But Will Hutton, formerly a stockbroker economics journalist and Observer editor, now Principal of Hertford College, Oxford, was excoriating in his appraisal of the deal done with Chinese companies to support Hinkley C. In an Observer column titled “George Osborne in China – wide-eyed, innocent and deeply ignorant”- published on 20 October last year  - he argued that Britain must be an open trading nation, welcoming inward investment just as it seeks to invest in others. But prostituting one's security and economic interests to a country whose values, practices and interests, he went on “are wholly at odds with one's own is not openness but recklessness.”

He went on to argue that the most eye-catching deal - on nuclear power, with the agreement that the Chinese nuclear industry will be able to build and own nuclear power stations in Britain-  is like  gift to the Chinese Communist party, “offering its state-owned nuclear power companies price and profit-margin guarantees that privatisation and liberalisation, wholly unrealistically in such a long-term business, were supposed to have left behind for ever.” (

 The doyenne of the environmental press, Geoffrey Lean, who has covered nuclear issues for forty years -  reported in some more detail in his Daily Telegraph column, saying

 How’s this for a turn-up for the books? A Conservative Chancellor, promoter of free markets and defender of national sovereignty, is boasting of “allowing” (a euphemism, it seems, for “begging”) a totalitarian Communist country to build nuclear power stations in Britain.

 So, much of Britain’s highly sensitive nuclear industry – which sprang from the atomic bomb programme – is effectively to be owned by two foreign powers, one the country’s oldest traditional enemy, the other a bitter Cold War opponent. Few other nations, and certainly not China, would dream of permitting anything of the kind. Doesn’t Mr Osborne see that this could be a bit radioactive, shall we say?

 How should we view the Chinese as long-term future both investors in, and constructors of, new nuclear power plants in the UK? I will leave it up to other more qualified experts to  technically appraise China’s nuclear technology competence and expertise.

Here is what one top Chinese official, Wang Yiren, vice-chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority, said a year ago in remarks at the International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Energy in the 21st Century, held in St Petersburg. “The fear and panic associated with nuclear energy after the Fukushima disaster seem to have dissipated. Countries are now taking a more objective and rational approach toward nuclear energy… Over the past four years, nuclear energy development across the world has experienced many twists and turns. But the situation has greatly changed."


Some might say in respect of Fukushima at least, that is a somewhat premature evaluation.

We know the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and DECC ministers all deem China excellent  partners to develop new nuclear in  the UK.

But not all departments have such sanguine assessments of China’s political governance. Here is part of what the Foreign Office annual human rights report says of China, in May 2013.

“Journalists, bloggers and intellectuals continue to be harassed or detained for exercising their right to free speech. Many high-profile activists, including Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, are serving long prison sentences for speaking out about political freedom and human rights.”

But it also does state:

 Large-scale public protests continued in 2012, although reliable estimates of the number of such “mass incidents” are hard to obtain. They frequently centred on local issues, such as environmental issues.”

 “The use of unlawful and arbitrary measures to target human rights defenders continued during 2012. These included enforced disappearance, house arrest, restrictions on freedom of movement, communication and association, extrajudicial detention (including “re-education through labour” (RTL), “black jails” and involuntary psychiatric committal) and harassment of family members. Human rights defenders also continued to be subjected to criminal charges and procedurally flawed trials, often involving the poorly defined category of offences encompassing “endangering state security”.”

In March, the National People’s Congress passed the first major revision for 15 years to China’s Criminal Procedure Law…Broadly speaking, access to justice remains limited in China, and the rule of law is weak. There is no presumption of innocence. Although the constitution guarantees the independence of the courts, in practice the law is subordinate to the interests of the party and social stability.”

 “In 2012, China almost certainly continued to execute the highest number of people in the world in absolute terms. There are still 55 capital offences on the statute books, including many non-violent crimes…”

 “Chinese law prohibits torture, physical abuse and the insulting of prisoners’ dignity. However, there were widespread reports in 2012 of abuse, mistreatment and torture. Human rights defenders were particularly at risk. Reports detailed the use of methods of abuse and torture, including sleep deprivation, the use of stress positions, beatings and electric shocks.”

 Despite their growth in number, both domestic and foreign NGOs continue to face extensive legislative, operational and policy barriers. NGOs involved in advocacy, legal aid or politically sensitive work frequently face particular difficulties and are regularly subjected to official harassment, interference and forced cancellation of their activities. There were reports of the suppression of labour NGOs in Shenzhen throughout the latter half of 2012.”

 The demolition of traditional Uighur neighbourhoods in cities such as Kashgar, the confiscation of Uighurs’ farmland for development projects and continuing resentment over the harsh treatment of Uighurs during previous outbreaks of ethnic unrest all contributed to continuing ethnic tensions in the region.”


 On 20 June, Left Labour MP Paul Flynn, whose Newport West constituency is threatened by radioactive fallout from a serious accident at Hinkley Point across the Bristol Channel in north Somerset,  tabled an early day motion (Number 155) highlighting the deal, concluding “in light of appalling human rights violations, that accepting money from the Chinese State Investment Bank to invest in UK new nuclear is accepting money tainted with blood; and calls on the Government to cancel all such arrangements”  (
The latest edition ion of the FCO's annual Human rights and Democracy global report, quietly released in April, is as damning this year as last on China's human rights abuses. Instead of cheerleading for more  Sino-British trade deals, as  he did last week, Business secretary Dr Cable should take some time out to read this report.

 "China and the UK stand united in our plans for more collaborative working that will help to achieve long lasting energy security in our own countries," observed Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey, Dr Cable's  Lib Dem Cabinet colleague, after the signing of the Sino-British nuclear deal.

 It is unclear to me how giving a hugely preferential trade and investment deal to Chinese State–owned economic partners in the UK nuclear energy industry enhances the UK’s energy security, or can possibly be ethically justified with such a poor record towards civil society adopted by China.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Labour needs to do some critical thinking on energy policy

Earlier this week Labour’s shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said in a Guardian comment column that  Labour will take on Ukip by calling them out on their policies (“We’ll not pose with pints,” 31 May). My response has not been published by the Guardian, so here it is:

To date Ukip have very few announced policies, so that will be hard. But there is one area where Ukip is clear: on energy. Two months ago, during the big debate with the ill-fated deputy pm, Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage said Ukip favoured getting on with fracking-  like in the United States - and building new nuclear power plants.

But the shale gas revolution in America has peaked, and costs are rising rapidly to extract remaining reserves. On 27 February the authoritative Bloomberg business news service reported independent shale gas producers “will spend $1.50 drilling this year for every dollar they get back.”

And in the EU, Exxon announced in June 2012 it was quitting shale gas drilling in Poland, one of the EU’s great hopes for shale reserves. Talisman Energy of Canada have scaled back their Polish shale investments after “disappointing” early attempts at extraction, the New York Times reported on April 24 last year.

Mr Farage claimed to want to support jobs in Britain, but in supporting new nuclear, he is actually supporting jobs in Socialist France! And the export of billions in profits to French State-owned EDF: an odd way to support British jobs by freeing up the private markets for energy.

What is British about the planned new nuclear  plant at Hinkley Point?  It may well create over 10,000 jobs—not at Hinkley Point, but in France, where the forged steel reactor pressure vessel, the detailed nuclear engineering, and the new nuclear fuel will  be manufactured. It is being co-funded by the Chinese State Investment Bank

It is an extraordinary deal. For Britain, it is “the rip-off of the century”, as dissenting Labour MP Paul Flynn  called it in Parliament. We have agreed to buy energy—this is hard to believe—at £92 per megawatt-hour, which is twice the going rate at present, and that is the minimum rate. We have indexed linked that price and guaranteed it for 35 years. .”

Hinkley Point is  modelled on a French reactor in Finland. The leading Finnish newspaper, Helsingen Sanomat, reported recently that at € 8.5 billion this failed reactor Olkiluoto 3 is now more expensive than any skyscraper. The most expensive single commercial building is known to have a casino hotel in Singapore Marina Bay Sands , which cost in today's money of € 5.2 billion . The price of the Olkiluoto3 would have been able to three new One World Trade Center skyscrapers build in New York City.

Yet these are the pro-nuclear and pro-fracking energy policies of both Ukip and the Labour Party, strongly promoted by Labour’s shadow energy secretary, Caroline Flint..

Mr Umunna and Ms Flint  needs to do some fresh political thinking.