Swansea, Milton Keynes and beyond: A tour update
Last Friday I visited the proposed site of the Tidal Barrage in Swansea. This exciting scheme - the first of a whole programme of tidal barrages to produce green energy across Britain - would completely rejuvenate and regenerate Swansea port. It would bring thousands of direct jobs to the city, which desperately needs them. It would create whole new supply chains across the U.K., manufacturing widgets and gadgets to make it work. And the programme would eventually generate enough energy for the whole of Wales, at no more cost than the new nuclear power station at Hinckley. It is that rare thing in politics - an obviously good idea that isn’t even expensive.
And yet this Government has stalled and stalled and stalled on making a decision. The frustration in the local community is palpable, you will struggle to find anyone not excited about the barrage and desperate to get started in Swansea. So why no ‘yes’ from Theresa May? In part it is the basic uselessness that holds this Government back on so many fronts. The PM personally believes it to be a good idea. It fits both with her Industrial Strategy and her promise to reunite the Union and create work for those who have been left behind. But she can’t force good ideas through a cabinet of Thatcherite demagogues and free-market zombies. So it stalls.
In part, though, this is also about Brexit. Brexit has clogged the whole machinery of Government. It devours everything else. That is one of the reasons I resigned as Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission - it was clear to me that I was at risk of becoming a fig-leaf for dithering and distraction. Myopically obsessed with achieving the cake-and-eat-it impossible in Europe, this Government is inert and inactive at home. Brexit will also cut Wales off from vital EU funding - for this scheme and for so much else that matters to people there. I urge you, if you live in Wales, to sign up to the fantastic Wales for Europe (https://walesforeurope.org/) whose team I met with yesterday and who are passionately making the case. Whilst in Wales I also held public conversations in Swansea and in the Valleys - alongside local MPs Geraint Davies and Ann Clwyd and with Swansea’s Leader Rob Stewart. Time and again we heard from local voters that if we succeed in getting a People’s Vote on the final deal then the campaign has to be very different from last time. We need a big, positive offer for people on Europe - one that promises change rather than simply the status quo. People out there have been hurting for a long time thanks to austerity, to cuts and to the lack of investment in good jobs. These are decisions taken here, in the UK. But at the referendum it was Brussels that took the blame. We need to tell people that change will come but that the change they need is not quitting the EU or scapegoating foreigners - it is change we can deliver for ourselves. In Milton Keynes on Wednesday and then in Oxford on Thursday, I heard a similar message from young people who are desperately worried about their futures. Overwhelmingly, at both youth-focussed discussions, school kids and students alike complained that their futures were being dictated to them and that their opportunities and identities were being stripped from them. It will be the young who win the People’s Vote for Remain. Pease do sign up to the People’s Vote campaign if you agree with me that we need to give young people a say in their futures: https://www.peoples-vote.uk
If you or someone you know would like to spend a few months working directly on the campaign to persuade the Labour Party to support a People’s Vote, why not apply to work at Remain Labour who have a brilliant opportunity going, here: And please do visit my website https://www.andrewadonistour.org for information on where I’m going next. This week I’ll be in the West of England, Sheffield and Yorkshire. I have more events and discussions coming up and would love to meet you on my journey around the U.K. In the meantime, keep writing to your MPs and your councillors, keep making the case for Europe to your friends and your neighbours. Don’t lose faith because, if there is one thing that I have really learned on my tour so far it is that there is a whole movement of people out there - young and old - who agree with us that this fight is not over yet and that we must fight on.