I had promised myself that I’d stay out of the GDF debate, having already made my views clear, in the build up to Wednesday’s vote (which I’m not involved in, for those who feel I should be impartial.)
However, as Cumbrian Local Authorities gear up to cast their vote something has been brought to my attention that I feel needs to be made public.
I have in my possession an email, sent in error, to several of my fellow councillors, which exposes the anti-nuclear campaign that has dominated many local newspapers for exactly what it is – a smear campaign designed to frighten and intimidate councillors, to bully them to do what those against a GDF want.
The email was inadvertently sent to councillors involved in the votes by a campaigner who forgot to remove the email trail sent to him. In it ‘Harry’ states:
“My key thought, as a non-lawyer (but as a marketing and comms guy): the Cumbria Councillors have probably been told that a ‘yes’ vote is perfectly fine & safe and legal. I would like us to open any message to them with the threat that they might be personally liable for irrational or reckless decisions, particularly ones which do not put care of their constituency at their heart”
“Now, our legal team may say that is unlikely ….. but the point is, to scare the crap out of them personally when they go to vote…… We must think of this as a communications campaign, with an audience of 10, from whom we want a very specific response…….we must get to them.”
It should come as no surprise to me that the anti-nuclear brigade should seek to tell lies in order to personally threaten and intimidate the councillors – because they’ve been telling lies to people all over the country for months, trying to whip up a scare storm to suit their own agenda.
But the fact that they have such a blatant and flagrant disregard for what is common and decent appalls me.
The other thing the email makes clear is the names of some of the people involved in the “say no” campaign. You have seen some of their names quoted as “concerned residents” in the press. They include two London based PR agencies, a London based merchant banker and a London based barrister.
This is an issue for the West Cumbrian community to decide on, not Londoners who have holiday homes and no idea how the nuclear industry works.
And as a proud Cumbrian I am personally insulted that these people think they can come here and manipulate what has been an open and transparent three year process on managing radioactive waste safely. MRWS was a process which, while it has had its weaknesses and has had some legitimate criticism, was accessible and encouraged public participation.
Whatever the arguments and the rights and wrongs of moving to stage four, and there are valid concerns on both sides of the debate, such behaviour as is demonstrated in this email is not acceptable, and I hope that those reading this, in both the for and against camps, will be equally outraged. Can you imagine the furore if a similar email from Sellafield workers existed?
I will be sending a link to this blog to various Cumbrian media – some of whom have their own very clear and undeniable links to members of the ‘no’ campaign (for example, the email also names a well known local hotel and restaurant which, according to the email has offered its meeting room “free of charge again” for anti-GDF meetings. The hotel is owned by the chairman of CN Group, Lord Inglewood.)
Their impartiality will be demonstrated if they use the intimidation story. You can be sure they’d use it if it was a pro-GDF group leaning on councillors. In fact a News and Star columnist did make that accusation, without any evidence (or at least without any that was demonstrated).