Hain's £68bn White Elephant

Peter Hain's grip on reality has never been too firm. A red mist descends, he goes into attack mode, his mouth disengages from his brain ... and he comes out with things that make him look ever more ridiculous.

He must have had a particularly bad weekend, for today he came out with the announcement that the "cuts imposed by the Tories" on three projects amounted to £16,900 for every man, woman and child in Wales. He came to this conclusion by adding together the supposed value of three projects: £34.4bn for the Lavernock-Brean barrage, £14bn for the St Tathan defence academy and £2.3bn for Ynys Môn as an Energy Island.

     ‘Scrapping projects has cost each of us £17,000’

Sure enough, this adds up to £50.7bn, which divided by 3 million is £16,900. Let's ignore the fact that Labour could have implemented all these projects when they were in power in Westminster if they wanted to; others have picked up on that one. Let's ignore the fact that were not fighting another election on what politicians in Westminster do or don't do; this election is about electing AMs who will not be able to do a thing about the level of block grant the Welsh Government gets from Westminster. Let's ignore the fact that if this barrage could be built by private finance, as he claims, it cannot at the same time be a cut from Westminster.

To me, the more obvious question is to ask why he considers the barrage to be an entirely Welsh scheme? Surely it would be half English? It doesn't look as if his grasp of figures has improved since he left the young Liberals, who seem to make a point of ensuring that their activists are unable to do simple maths.

Yet maybe, just maybe, Peter Hain might have more financial acumen than we give him credit for. Perhaps he's saying that the Welsh half of the barrage will cost £34.4bn, making the total cost something more like £68.8bn. It will certainly be up at that level if we start talking about putting transport links on top of it.

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Anonymous said...

Orange mist, no?

Unknown said...

Every time Peter Hain opens his mouth, he harms the Labour vote in Wales!

And his obsession with the barrage is ill informed - and as you point out - innumerate.

When he was SoS there was a plan to build a tidal impoundments (or tidal lagoon), which was fully privately funded, produes energy for 22 hours a day - rather than the 11 ours of the barrage - and would cause none of the environmental problems that a barrage would casue. A number of other sites in the Severn Estuary had also been identified as suitable.

Andrew Davies and the Welsh office would not even discuss the proposal with the copany - even though they had been clearly informed that no public money was required, they said it was too expensive!

I understand that a revised scheme is being revived, and has several parliamentary champions, but I have yet to see anything about it in the press! Let's hope that common sense and good science prevails over the 'Grand Project' mentality this time.

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