If a weekʼs a long time in politics, 20 years is an eternity. Back in May 1986, SNP candidates across Scotland were pounding the countryʼs pavements and knocking on the nationʼs doors in a bid to win seats at that yearʼs Regional Council elections. Still relishing my first electoral success – Iʼd won a seat on Angus District Council in a by-election a few weeks earlier - I was out and about in Tayside helping the SNP increase its representation on the Region three-fold.
As many of you will recall, campaigning in the first few days of May was marred in parts of the country by torrential downpours. Rain that we now know carried radioactive fall-out from the ill-fated Chernobyl nuclear reactor to Scotlandʼs upland farms. Twenty years on in Scotland, Wales and Cumbria, thousands of sheep still show signs of radioactive contamination which can be traced back to the 1986 catastrophe.
My Plaid Cymru colleague, Jill Evans MEP, was part a recent European Parliament delegation to Chernobyl. Their fact-finding visit coincided with the publication of an EP report which chillingly predicts that between thirty to sixty thousand additional cancer deaths will occur as a result of the explosion.
Estimates say that around 40% of Europeʼs landmass was in some way affected by the explosion at the nuclear power station and the Commission is coming under increasing pressure to launch a full and independent enquiry into the impact the 1986 disaster continues to exert on our continent.
The scale of devastation caused by the Chernobyl disaster is overwhelming. Who can predict that another Chernobyl could happen? No-one yet has found a solution to problems of nuclear waste which is both dangerous and costly to store. Therefore, while UK politicians continue to argue for new nuclear power stations to be built, the SNP is absolutely right to resist. Join Europeʼs protest by signing the petition at www.million-against-nuclear.net.
On a brighter note, the European Free Alliance celebrated its 25th birthday on 11 May. Founded in 1981, EFA MEPs continue to fight for the right of all nations to cultural, economic and political self-determination. Our Catalan colleagues will have cause to celebrate 2006 as the "year of the cat" when their hard fought campaign to have .CAT recognised on the worldwide web was reached its successful conclusion. punt.CAT went live on 1 January of this year. Could it be dot.SCOT next?