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Iain Dale

Iain Dale's Friday Diary: The climate change industry must stop trying to silence its critics

Follow Iain on Twitter. Iain also blogs at www.iaindale.com. Iain Dale presents LBC 97.3 Drivetime programme 4-8pm every weekday.

Iain Dale GraphicThe biggest talking point at Westminster this week has been a certain MP’s lack of hair. No, I’m not talking about Nadine Dorries, I’m talking about the infamously moustachioed Tory MP for Broadland, Keith Simpson. For the first time in forty years he has shaved off his resplendent facial hair and now looks positively naked, albeit ten years younger. “There must be a reshuffle in the air,” commented one Westminster wag. The truth, however, is disappointingly prosaic. “I was shaving and whipped a quarter of it off by mistake, so the rest had to follow,” he told me. So what did his long-suffering wife Pepi make of it? “It took an hour for her to even notice, despite me giving her a snog,” says Simpson cuttingly. Known for his military analogies, I think it is safe to say that the atmosphere in the Simpson household is as cold as the ice inside a German panzer on the Russian front in December 1941.

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This week sees the publication of Harry Mount’s Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson, which, I have to say, bears a strong resemblance to my own collection of Boris witticisms, the Bigger Book of Boris. Still, everybody’s welcome to the Boris party. Sadly Boris’s publishers made a bit of an error with the launch party, and scheduled it for the night of Boris’s twentieth wedding anniversary. Boris, keen to avoid a marital dressing down, decided to forego the delights of the launch party and presumably took Marina to a swanky restaurant. During the speeches the representative from Bloomsbury Publishing pointed out the irony that the author of a book extolling the virtues of Boris Johnson was a cousin of David Cameron. At which point Harry Mount shouted “distant”.  However distant it is, though Harry, you can’t escape that easily!

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So what’s this I hear about Conservative Grassroots? Apparently there are two of them and they are at daggers drawn. One is run by the chairman of Wycombe Conservatives Bob Woollard, and I almost hesitate to mention that the other one  is run by Mr Ben Harris-Quinney. Why am I hesitant? Well last time I had the temerity to pass judgement on his leadership of (what used to be) a prominent Conservative organisation, the Bow Group, he threatened to sue for libel. Tragically for him, I hadn’t actually written anything libellous. Anyway, the chairman of the original Conservative Grassroots is less than gruntled with the operations of what we might call its ‘provisional wing’. Peace talks have been held but to no avail. The two organisations have virtually identical logos, but different personnel, different websites and different Twitter feeds.  Come on boys, sort it out.

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The media loves to portray the Tories as being divided on Europe. That’s sooooooo 1990s, darling. If anything, the Tories are more united on the subject than they ever have been, albeit in the Eurosceptic direction. It seems it is now Labour’s turn to experience European splits. On Tuesday evening a new pressure group was launched – Labour for a Referendum. There are about thirty Labour MPs who have no issue in describing themselves as Eurosceptic and proud of it. However, they’ll need to do better if they are to make an impact.  A mere three dozen supporters turned up to the launch bash at Transport House, half of which ended up in the nearby Firecracker Karaoke bar. Dan Hodges got things underway by leading a rendition of Things Can Only Get Better.  His messages to Ed Miliband are usually less subliminal. Back at the launch, former Europe Minister Keith Vaz was in resplendent form. “When Tony Blair rang me up to offer me Europe Minister I said "But Prime Minister I know nothing about Europe". He replied "Perfect. I'm in charge of European policy, you have to sell it to the public." And what a good job he did. Ahem.

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Tweet of the week from @BadgerMeinhof: “Some of the people commenting at The Telegraph seem to have mistaken The Gay Marriage Bill for The Compulsory Bumming of Everyone Bill.

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I know how the temperature rises on this site whenever I mention gay marriage. So here we go again. The size of the majority in favour of same sex marriage in the House of Lords was a surprise to most people. But the fact is, it could have been even bigger. Having refused to pilot the Bill through the Lords, Sayeeda Warsi couldn’t actually bring herself to vote in favour of her own government’s bill. She abstained. OK, it was a free vote, and perhaps she had found a subsequent engagement, but as the Minister for Faith and Communities you’d have expected her to be present. I find abstaining on these issues a total cop-out. Either you’re in favour or you’re agin. One or the other. There’s no middle way. I can respect people who vote against, but to abstain is to wimp out. And one thing Sayeeda Warsi isn’t, is a wimp. I find it perplexing.

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On Monday evening on my LBC show we discussed Ed Davey’s outrageous idea that newspapers and broadcasters should refrain from giving a platform to climate change sceptics. How very ‘liberal’ of him. Still, at least he didn’t use the word ‘denier’. One should be thankful for small mercies, I suppose.

I remember at 18 Doughty Street (late of this parish) back in 2007 I phoned Greenpeace to invite them to take part in a panel discussion on climate change. They refused on the basis that the argument was won and there was nothing to debate. It’s attitudes like this that make me very suspicious of this climate change industry, which is supported by people whose fanaticism borders on the religious.

The very same people who warned the world in the 1980s about the coming nuclear apocalypse are now warning about the end of the planet. In the 1980s we had politicians who were able to expose these zealots for what they were. We now have cabinet ministers who go along with them and give them money. And have the cheek to tell people on radio stations that they shouldn’t be providing platforms for climate change sceptics. If any of Davey’s staff were listening, they might have been rather worried to discover than with one exception, every caller expressed some degree of scepticism about global warming. I’d say that proves that the argument is far from won and that people like Ed Davey need to up their game. He’d probably say they were all brainwashed by a climate change sceptical media, of course.

Talking of brainwashing, here’s a text we received from Justin. Justin is a geography teacher. This is what he had to say.

“Until two years ago I used to teach both sides of the climate change debate and invite students to discuss the issue and reach their own conclusions based on the evidence available, I have now been stopped from doing this – apparently it confuses the students. I am now only allowed to teach the “climate change is real” evidence. So therefore I have moved to teaching students WHAT to think, rather than to THINK for themselves using the evidence available.”

How chilling is that? Now, I have no evidence that what Justin says is true, but it certainly has the ring of truth about it. Can anyone enlighten us? Is this really the case? Who gave the orders? I feel a little cause coming on….

And for the avoidance of doubt I don’t deny the existence of climate change or global warming. Nor do I deny that part of it is due to man-made influences. But I do deny that the debate is over about the actual extent of man’s influence. Climate change has happened since time immemorial. That, it is safe to assume, is something surely everyone can agree on.

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Word on the street is that Channel 4’s ‘Dispatches’ is planning a major expose of yet another Tory sex scandal. It’s like it’s the 1990s all over again. A love affair in Downing Street. A Tory MP alleged to be in a lesbian threesome, and now this. Excellent. What was that song again? Let’s party like it’s 1999?

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Reshuffle fever is beginning to mount. It’s always difficult for columnists like me writing about reshuffles. There’s that temptation to tip your mates to be promoted, followed by the hideous thought that you also have to tip people for the sack. I well remember a few years ago I tipped Theresa May for demotion for a reason I can’t now remember. Anyway, it was the night of the Spectator party, and sure enough, as soon as she walked through the door she made a beeline for me. I squirmed my way through the next few minutes as I explained it was just something I had heard from ‘sources’. ‘We must have lunch,’ she said. ‘We should be on the same side’. And with that, she was off. Well, I’m certainly not tipping her for demotion in any reshuffle this summer, she will be relieved to hear. As for other tips, I’ll titivate you with those over the coming weeks. It’s wonderful way to make lots of new friends. And enemies.

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