Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Greenpeace protesters delay Blair's speech

At time of writing (9.45am), 2 Greenpeace protestors are disrupting the CBI conference, at which Blair was supposed to be setting out (at 9.15am) his agenda on future energy, by hooking into the roof, wandering round and dropping "Nuclear: wrong answer" leaflets.

Now the initial confusion has cleared a little, some details are emerging, and demands being made. Looks like Greenpeace want to give a 10 minute speech before Blair gives his, and then they'll bring the protestors down. Sir Digby Jones has refused to acquiese, and seems to be moving Blair's talk to an adjoining room - how easy it is to get into this room from the roof (where the protestors are) I have no idea... It also turns out that the protestors set up some kind of fake company and got in as valid delegates. Questions over how the climbing gear

The hype is building. The phrase "Social inclusive side of wealth creation" has been brought into play by Sir Digby, who is currently explaining the situation. This "inclusive" aspect of the debate is one that's being plugged repeatedly by the conference organisers, as a stage for embarassing Greenpeace by claiming that they are disrupting the open debate that this conference was engendering.

This issue of "free speech" over the matter at hand is a particularly interesting direction of spin. While the CBI are maintaining that the conference was "inclusive" and open to all, and the aims pertinent to "citizens", it would be of course folly to take such statements at face value - my sense of scepticism is tingling like Spidey in town on a Friday night. The BBC reporter is right now pointing out that it would be businesses investing in nuclear power, not the public. The claims of "debate" are somewhat hampered by the ongoing doubt over the government's insistence that nuclear policy has yet to be decided. My impression of the extent of the debate that we've already had, and how much it has actually fed into policy, is perhaps tarnished by listening to various lecturers over the last few months point out the various shortcomings in existing nuclear technology and methodology, and the attitude we as a country take towards such things. Indeed, Greenpeace's main point is that we've had the Energy Whitepaper discussion and, as the BBC reporter confirms, the outcome wasn't particularly pro-nuclear.

The irony to be realised is that Nuclear power plants will entail even greater security processes in place - security processes that, as people are currently pointing out live on TV, can be circumvented given a thoughtful and resourceful person.

Blair's appeared. The new location is packed. "Free speech wins," say John Sunderland, the CBI President. This idea of "open" discussion and debate may turn out to be one that the CBI wishes it never brought up.

Here's Greenpeace's press release for today.

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