The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) pays tribute to Paul Flynn MP, who has sadly died today after a long battle with illness.
The MP for Newport West since 1987, after 15 years as a councillor, was a strong advocate and supporter of the NFLA, speaking at a number of our meetings over the past three decades. He was a politician of great integrity, as the tributes from MPs of all political parties today emphasise.
Paul Flynn was a consistent opponent of both nuclear power and nuclear weapons throughout his political career. He was an indefatigable peace campaigner and a real pleasure to work with.
He was a strong supporter of the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and consistently challenged the need for Trident replacement in Westminster debates. He was a principal speaker at the annual Hiroshima and Nagasaki commemorative services at Tredegar Park for over 30 years. For example, he said:
“I cannot think of any conceivable use that nuclear weapons could have, apart from the prestige they give us. They also undermine our position in international talks. How dare we tell Iran not to develop nuclear weapons, when we are going ahead with updating ours?” (1)
On nuclear power, Paul Flynn shared the NFLA’s concerns over new nuclear build, the problems associated with radioactive waste and nuclear safety, and the safer, cleaner and cheaper renewable energy alternatives that now exist. As a Gwent County Councillor he was a core part of the local campaign to oppose building a nuclear power station in Portskewett, south Wales in 1979, which was cancelled shortly after the ‘Three Mile Island’ nuclear accident in the United States. He was also the Press Secretary to the Welsh Anti-Nuclear Alliance, playing a prominent part in getting all 22 local authorities in Wales to sign up to the aspirational ‘Nuclear Free Wales Declaration’ in 1982.
He has also been a consistent opponent of the Hinkley Point C new nuclear project, just across the Bristol Channel from his constituency in Newport. On that project he commented:
“The nuclear industry has never paid its way; it has always been an economic basket case. Why are we so committed to future nuclear power technology when we know that it will fix another financial albatross around taxpayers’ necks?” (2)
Paul spoke at a number of NFLA Welsh Forum and Annual Policy Seminars, and made a fulsome tribute at the memorial service to our renowned former Welsh Forum Co-Chair, Councillor Ray Davies, at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff, remembered well by all those who attended it.
Paul would be greatly concerned about the negative turn in the nuclear weapons debate with the United States and Russia suspending the INF Treaty; and he would be continuing to advocate for renewable energy in the UK, particularly after the recent decisions by Toshiba and Hitachi to halt new nuclear projects at Sellafield Moorside and Wylfa.
NFLA passes on our deepest sympathy to his family and to his many friends in the peace movement.
NFLA Welsh Forum Chair Cllr Ernie Galsworthy said:
“Paul Flynn was one of the great Welsh politicians of the past thirty years. He stood up for many causes that at times were not seen as particularly fashionable, such as opposition to both nuclear power and nuclear weapons. He was right on both issues. We agreed with him on the need to divert energy policy away from nuclear power to safer, cleaner and cheaper renewables as well as to move on from the irrationality of possessing nuclear weapons – as he called them a ‘virility symbol of national pride’ which is quite irrelevant these days. I pass on my deepest sympathy to his family. We need more independent minded and principled politicians like him and he will be sadly missed.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) Paul Flynn’s blog, 16th October 2005
(2) Wales Online – ‘Six reasons why Paul Flynn’s decision to stand down is a huge loss to politics, Parliament and Wales’, 26th October 2018