On the ‘deep state’ hypothesis – Phil Johnstone and Andy Stirling react to critique

Phil and Andy no textRecently Jessica Jewell from the POLET network offered a critical response to the hypothesis explained in a previous blog post by Andy Stirling and me about the links between civil and military nuclear power in the UK. Our hypothesis is that it is strong UK government commitments to maintaining specific military nuclear capabilities that are interacting with many other complex aspects to sway decisions in favour of nuclear power. But unlike a focus on the historical associations between civil and military related nuclear activity in relation to the transfer of ‘fissile materials’, what is unique about our hypothesis is that civil/military connections are envisaged to play out at the level of innovation and industrial systems in terms of technologies and skills surrounding nuclear propulsion capabilities for submarines.

As part of developing this hypothesis, we have discussed various literatures related to understandings of ‘the deep state’, drawing attention to less visible power structures which may impinge upon ‘conventional’ energy policy decision making. In her blog Jessica argued that the deal with China somehow ‘disproved’ our hypothesis (because the UK government would not risk China gaining access to sensitive submarine-related nuclear activity), while also making the claim (that has been frequently encountered) that to even pose the question regarding the linkages between submarine-related nuclear activity and civilian nuclear power somehow represents a ‘conspiracy theory’. We were grateful for this intervention; however, we felt that it mischaracterized key parts of our argument, and thus we responded to Jessica’s comments on the POLET Network blog. We hope these dialogues can continue….To read our response click here.





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