Nigel Adams: King Coal isn’t dead

Selby & Ainsty MP Nigel Adams talks to Paul Nizinskyj about falling unemployment, Nigel Farage’s real motives and why coal should make a comeback.

Sunday InterviewThere are an abundance of myths about Britain’s coal industry, most of which have about as much credibility as the Iroquois myth that North America grew out of the back of a giant turtle.

One of the most persistent is that most of Britain’s mines were closed by the Conservatives and, specifically, Margaret Thatcher. But facts are stubborn things, as John Adams once said, and the hard figures show Harold Wilson closed 290 pits in his eight years as prime ministers to Margaret Thatcher’s 160 in 11 and a half.

Another is that Conservatives have some sort of a grudge against coal and, as I used to hear back when I lived in Barnsley, the common man doing well out of it. The cold, hard, evidence we have against this is Selby & Ainsty MP Nigel Adams – a man very much interested in coal and its survival. “Northern constituencies like mine have seen some difficult times over the last decade or so,” he says.

“They’ve seen all the coal mines closed, ironically under the last Labour government, with more than 2,000 people losing their jobs in the pits. This week I’ve been having meetings with the National Union of Mineworkers over the future of Kellingley Colliery because UK Coal have announced they were going to close what was left of the mining industry within 18 months. I don’t suppose there are many Conservative MPs who have had cordial and constructive meetings with the NUM.”

But it isn’t just about the jobs, he says. It’s also about the country having a balanced energy supply that doesn’t repeat the mistakes of the past or serve the bizarre obsessions of certain custard-coloured government ministers. “There’s an abundance of the stuff in the ground, it’s a relatively cheap material and it isn’t subsidised. About 40 per cent of electricity currently produced in this country is dependent on coal, too, so it’s absolutely imperative that the lifespan of coal mines is prolonged as long as possible.

“It also makes economic sense because you can’t have all your eggs in one basket. But, as far as renewables go, biomass has great potential for job creation and there were over 2,000 jobs created at the Drax power station in my constituency when it converted from coal to biomass, many of which were apprentices. Unfortunately Ed Davey, the Lib Dem Secretary of State for Energy, appears to be obsessed with offshore and onshore wind energy, which create no jobs, and has failed to back the bid made by the other power station in my constituency, Eggborough, to convert to biomass. A large amount of my time is therefore spent on their behalf trying to get the government to see sense.”

Indeed, the development at Drax has been a factor in unemployment falling in Selby & Ainsty by more than a third since 2010, with youth unemployment being slashed by an incredible 40 per cent. But a crucial factor, Adams says, is the government’s handling of the economy, which David Cameron yesterday announced made Britain the ‘comeback country of world history.’ “It just goes to show that a tax-cutting, pro-business agenda can bring the results needed to get out of a very severe downfall,” Adams says. “It’s a great time for businesses and small businesses especially to be employing new people and it’s happening across the country – it’s not just a London recovery.”

But it’s a recovery that is, as ever, threatened by the spectre of a Labour prime minister returning to Number 10. With the recovery well under way and a genuine optimism beginning to return to the country, the party could normally be able to enter the general election confidant its achievements, amplified by the sweat of hard campaigning, would speak for themselves when it comes to the ballot box. But, while Weirdo Ed and Flatline Ed might fail at presenting themselves as a credible alternative, Adams says there is a very real possibility of UKIP handing them they keys to Downing Street – and scuppering any chance of the country leaving the EU – by splitting the right wing vote in marginal seats.

“Nigel Farage has a deep hatred of the Conservative Party and there must be a reason for that,” he says. “He knows full well the only party that can deliver what he says he wants, ie a referendum on leaving the EU, is the Conservative Party. But he’s doing his damnedest to make sure that’s not going to happen. He seems quite happy to help a socialist party led by Ed Miliband get into power by the back door. The worst-case scenario is UKIP take enough votes in marginal seats to deprive the Conservative Party of those seats, we don’t get a referendum and end up with a socialist government with Red Ed at Number 10 and I don’t think Nigel Farage is bothered. After all, if there was a referendum and people wanted to leave EU, UKIP would be irrelevant – and Nigel Farage doesn’t want that.”

Comments are closed.