The man bidding to lead the UK’s largest trade union has said the UK should get “more, not less” of its energy from nuclear power.
Gerard Coyne, who is challenging Len McCluskey in a bid to become the general secretary of Unite, described himself as “unashamedly pro-nuclear”, adding that if he wins the leadership contest the union will be “fully committed” to the industry.
He challenged Labour over the party’s “abject failure” to support the UK’s nuclear industry, accusing leader Jeremy Corbyn of putting “outdated ideology“ ahead of the interests of the nation.
Mr Corbyn’s anti-nuclear stance contributed to the party being “humiliated“ in the recent Copeland by-election in Cumbria, Mr Coyne said, where the Tories seized the seat in a dramatic win from Labour.
He was speaking during a campaign trip to Scotland where he visited the Hunterston B Nuclear Power Station on the Firth of Clyde in North Ayrshire.
Mr Coyne said: “The nuclear industry is essential to our post-industrial society. It’s good for jobs and it’s good for our energy needs.
“There should be no ifs or buts about it, Labour should be fully behind the nuclear industry. Sadly what we have had so far from Jeremy Corbyn and (shadow chancellor) John McDonnell on this is nothing short of abject failure.
“Jeremy and John are both anti-nuclear at heart and their attempts to nuance a position are ridiculous. They put their out-dated ideology ahead of the interests of the nation during the Copeland by-election and were humiliated.
“And Len McCluskey, their puppet-master, must carry the can for standing by and doing nothing. When I am leader of Unite, our great union will be fully committed to the nuclear sector. I am unashamedly pro-nuclear.
“One-sixth of Britain’s electricity comes from nuclear. But that figure is not good enough. Nuclear provides clean and sustainable power and we should be lobbying the Government – in Westminster and in Holyrood – for more, not less.”
Unite’s 1.4 million members – including 139,000 in Scotland – are due to choose their general secretary in a vote taking place between March 27 and April 19.