THERE IS one very obvious flaw with Labour’s plan to ban fracking ‘if’ it wins the next election.
With the party having next to no chance in 2020 at present, the extraction of shale gas may already be taking place on an industrial-scale in North Yorkshire by the time Jeremy Corbyn’s party is entrusted with power again.
This is simply a diversion tactic to mask the fallout from Mr Corbyn’s re-election. Don Valley MP Caroline Flint, a former Shadow Energy Secretary of note, said Labour simply can’t oppose policies without putting forward alternatives while Kate Hoey, another moderate voice of reason, questioned the lack of consultation.
Even those trade unions who do support Mr Corbyn were sceptical – they want Labour, supposedly the party of workers, to be doing far more to champion manufacturing and influence the Brexit debate.
And that is the problem facing Mr Corbyn and John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor. They can promise the world, including a new commitment to introduce a living wage so everyone “will earn enough to live on”, but nearly half of Labour voters, according to one poll, don’t believe the party can win a nationwide election under these two men as fresh claims are made on a daily basis about misogyny and anti-Semitism.
Not only does the Labour leadership appear to be in denial about its unpopularity as promises to wipe the slate clean with backbenchers appear to amount to very little, but Mr McDonnell had little to say on how he would bankroll his money-no-object policy agenda or come up with an alternative energy policy that meets Britain’s needs.
Indeed this conference is so dysfunctional that Labour is achieving the impossible – and making ex-leader Ed Miliband politician of the year in comparison. It comes back to that word ‘if’ again – what if Mr Miliband had been beaten in the 2010 leadership contest by his older brother David?
Road to nowhere
MOTORISTS from this region will not be surprised to learn that West Yorkshire’s motorways rank amongst the most congested in Britain – with the M606 from Bradford to the M62 the slowest of all according to tracking data with journey times around Leeds on the M621 only marginally quicker. What it shows is that these roads were simply not designed to carry the current volume of traffic, hence new safety concerns from the AA about the conversion of hard shoulders into additional lanes with occasional laybys for broken down vehicles.
Though CCTV technology can play a key role in monitoring traffic flows, and speeding up the response to accidents, the plain fact of the matter is that Highways England is running out of options. Unless it can find a more effective way to control the traffic at busy junctions where motorways merge, perhaps with a greater use of traffic lights on slip roads, it either has to consider widening roads still further if the land (and money) is available or come up with other schemes which might prevent this region grinding to a complete halt.
A road tunnel under the Pennines could certainly buy planners some time, though the proposed scheme is still very much in its infancy, while there’s growing pressure for a high-speed railway between Leeds and Manchester to take precedence over HS2. Now they have access to this up-to-the-minute data, the region’s political and business leaders need to decide how best to use it – and fast. Transport has to be one policy where local authorities settle their devolution differences and work together for the greater good of the whole of Yorkshire and beyond – or the North will remain stuck in the slow lane when it comes to attracting future inward investment.
The golfing great
TO DESCRIBE Arnold Palmer as one of the world’s greatest ever golfers does a disservice to this all-American hero. His swashbuckling style not only changed the way in which the game is played as his so-called Arnie’s Army lined the fairways to cheer this most charismatic of players, but his buccaneering approach led to golf becoming the global sport that it is today.
As that noted amateur golfer Barack Obama tweeted, Palmer was “as extraordinary on the links as he was generous to others”. Without his presence at The Open in the 1960s when international players shunned Britain’s flagship event, and then his rivalry with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, golf – and major events like this weekend’s biennial Ryder Cup battle between Europe and America – would be all the poorer.
It’s a sporting legacy like no other.