Admit you were wrong, Cook says

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Indy Politics
ROBIN COOK called on Michael Heseltine to demonstrate courage and humility; admit he was wrong over his original announcement on the pit closures and promise a real review of energy strategy, writes Stephen Goodwin.

The plight of the mining industry had touched the heart of the nation, the Labour trade and industry spokesman said. Opening the debate, he declared: 'We will mobilise the deep public anger until Mr Heseltine admits he was wrong; until he admits that the British economy needs the British coal industry; and until he removes the axe he has poised over these 31 pits.'

Mr Cook said that far from the debate proving 'a parliamentary ritual', it was the first occasion in the history of supply days that most of the Opposition's motion had been conceded by the Government in the 48 hours since it was tabled.

Somehow Mr Heseltine in his two-hour statement on Monday had not announced a review, but on Tuesday the Prime Minister had said it was always the intention of the President of the Board of Trade that there should be one.

'The Great Communicator was unable to express himself lucidly in the frenetic atmosphere of the House,' Mr Cook mocked. Then Lord Wakeham, Leader of the Lords, made plain it was going to be wide-ranging review. 'My only regret is that when we tabled this motion we didn't call for a general election now in the hope they might offer that as well.'

Questioning who was actually responsible for energy policy, Mr Cook said: 'What shifted ministers was a nation united in anger at the destruction proposed for Britain's mining communities - an anger that transcended party political differences.'

He said there were still two flaws in the promised review - it was only a review of 21 pits of the 31 in the closure programme and would be carried out by Mr Heseltine's Department of Trade and Industry.

'How seriously can we take the proposition that having made this immense blunder, the president is just the man to make a success of reviewing it?

'We are now in a situation in which we are left with an energy strategy that makes no sense to the consumer because it results in higher prices; no sense to the economy because it results in higher unemployment and deeper recession; and no sense to national security because it writes off access to our coal reserves.'