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Bob wants Benny to break law

Bob Ward, the PR guy from the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics has responded to Lord Turnbull's article in the FT with a letter to the editor that is standard fare for afficionados of the Ward oeuvre.

Turnbull's article called, you may remember, for an overhaul of climate science. Ward's response has two main thrusts:

  • he thinks the graph in GWPF's logo is wrong
  • he wants GWPF to reveal its funding sources.

I'm frankly amazed that the FT would publish a letter criticising a logo - I can't believe their readers are impressed by this kind of thing. The second point, however, is worth a closer look. Here's what Bob said:

The public and policymakers need robust and reliable information about climate change. They also expect openness and transparency from researchers in order to have confidence in their integrity and to be sure that they are not being influenced by vested interests. Yet Lord Turnbull does not mention this, and does not explain why the foundation refuses to reveal its sources of funding.

This has actually been explained to Bob before. He knows that GWPF vets donors to ensure that they have no connections with energy companies. But more significantly, he also knows that a charity cannot just reveal the identities of its donors without their permission. This would be a breach of the Data Protection Act.

What we see here is an employee of LSE - a civil servant paid for with our taxes - knowingly calling for someone to break the law in the pages of a national newspaper.

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Reader Comments (43)

What we see here is an employee of LSE - a civil servant - knowingly calling for someone to break the law in the pages of a national newspaper.

If he is a civil servant, then I hope my taxes are not paying for his time spent on letters, especially in these times of cuts. Maybe an FOI request is required.

Sep 29, 2010 at 8:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterChris

Good Morning Bish.

Is the following correct? Shouldn't it be FT not GWPF"

"I'm frankly amazed that the GWPF would publish a letter criticising a logo"

As you say typical Bob Ward fare, been quiet of late, wonder how many were penned to get this one out?

Sep 29, 2010 at 8:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

Green Sand

More coffee required. Fixed now. Thanks.

Sep 29, 2010 at 8:28 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

I note that Roger Pielke jr will be debating Benny Peiser of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in London on November 16th. Bob will no doubt have something to say about poor Roger's hat. I can feel another FT letter coming. I for one intend to get a ticket......right, off to court to punish the proper baddies :o)!

Sep 29, 2010 at 8:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterH

LSE employees are not civil servants.

[BH adds: OK, I see the distinction now. Paid for by the state <> civil servant. You are right.]

Sep 29, 2010 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

LSE employees are not civil servants. Indeed, but they are nevertheless paid by the state ie out of taxation.

Sep 29, 2010 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Bob Ward's letters smack more and more of desperation. Note that the LSE is actually the London School of Economics and Political Science. I think that title says it all.

I cannot understand what "Political Science" really is. Wikipedia says "Political science is a social science with the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behavior." Sounds rather like BS to me and I can't for the life of me see where the "science" bit comes in. Perhaps someone can enlighten me.

I note that the Grantham Research Institute's mission is to generate world-class, policy-relevant research on climate change and the environment for academics, policy-makers, businesses, non-governmental organizations, the media and the public. With Lord Stern as its chairman, I can't see it doing anything of use to anyone.

Sep 29, 2010 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

BH wrote:

■he thinks the graph in GWPF's logo is wrong

I could be mistaken, but I believe that graph is technically part of their banner, not their logo. But that aside ...

Bob Ward must be getting really desperate! Apart from not addressing any of the content of Turnbull's op ed and, as you noted, clamouring for disclosure of funding sources (as if, regardless of legality, it has any relevance to the price of tea in China), he built one heck of diversionary strawman with his whine about the "graph" in the banner. Not only does he not identify where on the site this graph can be found, but also assuming it is the banner graph about which he's whining ...

"[...]Yet the graph omits all temperatures prior to 2001 [...]"

... he neglected to mention that the caption directly above the graph reads: "21st Century Global Mean Temperature".

It would certainly be interesting to hear Ward's explanation as to why "all temperatures prior to 2001" should be included in a graph of the 21st century! He devoted 104 (of 292) words to building this baseless diversion. One wonders how many more it would take him to "defend" it.

When will they ever learn, eh?!

Sep 29, 2010 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

Phillip Bratby-

Didn't Karl Popper have a bit to say about social and political sciences in "Conjectures and Refutations"?

I read this decades ago when at school. I really need to dig out a copy again.

Sep 29, 2010 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered Commenterandyscrase

Anyone who saw the infamous Bob Ward interview knews that he is simply an attack dog. It is interesting to reflect on the state of mind of Stern and Hoskins in employing him as their PR man, as they have clearly chosen to go down the path of confrontation and intimidation, rather than gentle persuasion as is more normal in PRs.

Sep 29, 2010 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Its not that he wants to break the law, but something more deceitful, he is trying to create doubt about the funding and trying yo say that the research has been corrupted by big oil.


Sep 29, 2010 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

But surely it would be helpful - and remove doubt about the funding - and not a breach of the law to characterise donors in a way that did not reveal their identities ?

[BH adds: This has been done.]

Sep 29, 2010 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterEarly riser

Bob Ward is being dumb in attacking Lord Turnbull who is probably one of the most connected and behind-the-scenes influential people there is. Soon there will come a time when the debate quietens down and Lord Stern decides to make peace of a sort with Turnbull and Lawson. Ward will by then be so associated with the Mr Angry style of PR that he will be outmoded.
He has made the fundamental mistake of PR (seems he's never had any training in PR - just a failed PHD and a failed journalist) in becoming the story himself and in becoming identified with extremism.
In the end he doesn't matter. Whatever he does, the public are becoming more sceptical by the day. The PR battle he is engaged in isn't working.

Sep 29, 2010 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered Commentergaryh

Bob undermines his argument with a nice typo:

"Yet the graph omits all temperatures prior to 2001, thus hiding the fact that none of the 10 warmest years since records began in the 19th century have all occurred in the last decade." [my emphasis]

Sep 29, 2010 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDR

Doh, I missed the GWPF job ad, that could have been fun. Not sure I'd count as 'young' though these days. But poor'ol Bob. His record is well and truly stuck, but no doubt feeling pressure from his sponsor to keep the green cash rolling in.

Sep 29, 2010 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Philip, "Political Science" translates as "Job for Life".

Sep 29, 2010 at 12:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

Phillip Bratby - I cannot understand what "Political Science" really is. (...) Sounds rather like BS to me and I can't for the life of me see where the "science" bit comes in. Perhaps someone can enlighten me.

If a subject has the word "science" in its title, this is a reliable indication that whatever the subject may be, it is not science. No need to seek further enlightenment.

Sep 29, 2010 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

I wouldn't give Bob Ward the time of day. But going off on a slight tangent, what justification is there for the GWPF or any other 'think tank' to be able to register as, and enjoy the tax advantages of, a charity? I've always regarded this as objectionable, not least in the context of the (now politicised) Charities Commission expending so much effort making life difficult for private schools.

Sep 29, 2010 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

James Hansen has just broken the law as posted by Anthony Watts.

What I find most worrying about these doom & gloom merchants is their enthusiasm for the hair shirt lifestyle which they urge us towards. Do they actually practice what they preach or do they see themselves as 'more equal' than the rest of us?

Sep 29, 2010 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

re: Bob's logo complaint, it is clear that true believers turn off reading comprehension along with critical thinking skills as part of the faith maintenance effort.

Sep 29, 2010 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

You're all being beastly to Bob, perfectly beastly.

In the battle for hearts and minds over climate catastrophism, Bob is one of the unsung heroes of the sceptic cause. The more we see of him, the better.

Sep 29, 2010 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Cosmic is right. We need more of Bobby. With enemies like him, you suddenly have a lot of friends.

Why they keep him on is beyond me. He is destructive.

Sep 29, 2010 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

garyh :

"just a failed PHD and a failed journalist"

So, he is being paid to project his personal frustrations.
I want a job like that!

Sep 29, 2010 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

So this "charity" is taking funds from entities--lets call them that--that are ashamed to admit they're paying the bills? How credibility enhancing.

Sep 29, 2010 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterbigcitylib

Who knows what their reasons are? Perhaps they just don't want to be on the receiving end of one of Ward's, ahem, critiques.

Sep 29, 2010 at 3:11 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Ward is a pygmy version of James Carville without the intellect.

Sep 29, 2010 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJabba the Cat

Writing those kinds of letters is almost certainly part of his job description.

Similar to, say, some ambassadors, who see as part of their duty to write to newspapers whenever something negative is said about their home country.

In both cases, their personal views are less important than the official views they're professionally supposed to defend.

So, who knows - it may well be that Ward himself knows that to even mention the logo in the letter to the FT is pretty lame. But, he needs something to put into his weekly or monthly report, if he wants to keep his bosses happy and justify his own existence.

Sep 29, 2010 at 3:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter B

bcl, when Al Gore was asked the source of his $300,000,000 ad campaign a couple of years ago he said it was from 'internet and anonymous' donors. Even Andy Revkin blanched at that one.

Sep 29, 2010 at 4:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Bishop, a mild word of criticism. Ward is a prat. Don't be dragged down to his level by complaining that he is inducing law-breaking, bit childish imho? Sorry .....

Sep 29, 2010 at 4:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoddy Campbell

Ward is a prat but lets remember he is the fastest typist in the world with a wpm of over 200 hundred , or so the Guardian would like to pretend , so cut the guy some slack.

Sep 29, 2010 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

020 wrods pre Grauniad mintue.

Sep 29, 2010 at 5:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim


Dunno. It would be a breach of the DPA, wouldn't it?

Sep 29, 2010 at 5:15 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

"a letter criticising a logo"

I think there were a few about the London Olympic one...
(I had to have its connection with 2010 explained to me.)

Sep 29, 2010 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Lets be honest, Ward is doing what he is paid to do. He can obviously see the tide is turning against CAGW and when combined with the impending government cuts he can see where its all going to end up.

They say the best form of defense it attack, so thats what he's doing. Of course he doesn't realise he's doing his cause and employers no good at all and making himself look foolish in the process. I did a bit of publicity and PR type work many moons ago in a different life and the best advice my boss gave me at the time was that silence is sometimes the best policy and to pick your fights carefully. A scattergun approach is never the right one, and all Ward seems to do is react to everything shooting from the hip without first engaging his brain or contemplating the consequences. PR people want people to listen when then speak, so constant shouting will only turn people away from his message.

Sep 29, 2010 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered Commentermactheknife

Perhaps Bob will be making a play for the IPCC chairmanship? He seems to have the necessary qualifications and connections.

Sep 29, 2010 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Bob Ward is the man on a mission, the man in a suitcase.
His finely honed anti-Midas touch leaves enemies bemused and,........err,............ underwhelmed?

Sep 29, 2010 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris S

The GWPF do not mind employing Mr Turnbull who has interests in energy .
Lord Andrew Turnbull
Since retiring from the Civil Service in 2005, Lord Andrew Turnbull has joined Booz & Company as a Senior Advisor. … He entered the House of Lords in December 2005 and is a non-executive Director of Prudential PLC, The British Land Company PLC and Frontier Economics Ltd, and is Chairman of BH Global Ltd.
Frontier's energy work relates to electricity, gas and oil and covers production, networks, storage, trading and retail. Frontier is recognised as one of the leading energy market, modelling and regulatory experts in Western Europe and Australia and the Pacific and has worked widely on the detailed quantitative and qualitative aspects of environmental policies

His directorship of BH Global. Is interesting (especially if I could understand this document looks most unsavoury to the uninitiated!)

Page 79 of the document
Investment Profile by Sector (percentage of capital allocation) energy = 6%

Sep 30, 2010 at 1:57 AM | Unregistered Commenterthefordprefect

that last link did not work so try this:
BH Global Limited prosprectus

Sep 30, 2010 at 5:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterthefordprefect

Once you accept that Bob Ward is a PR spin tactician then his stance is not hard to understand. Bob Ward's tactic is to try to marginalise scepticism as a fringe activity. He assumes, and I think he is correct to some extent, that to be seen adopting a sceptical view can risk making it very easy to spin it into a position actually wanting to harm the environment somehow, even if the sceptic has very good credentials on environmental care, it is a hard, time consuming position to defend because the opposition will be badly informed and dismissive of the sceptics argument backed by a very supportive media. On the opposite side it is very easy to mouth environmental plattitudes, supporting catastrophic predictions, enabling severe taxes and carbon markets, and be a person totally knowledgeless about the practicalities of technology or the real state of the world, and actually ineffectual in even living a "green" lifestyle, and yet they still find no challenge, only kudos in professing their ill thought out pieties.

I suspect this is why that even if Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have similar disclosure terms to the GWPF, you will find their members more willing to boast about their membership than the contributers to the GWPF would.
And so this opens the door to the tactic Bob Ward is using here to implant the idea that there "just can't" be any existence of grass roots scepticism, and so implying that the GWPF must be largely supported by some single larger hidden hand. The suggestion is enough to do the job.

Sep 30, 2010 at 8:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve2

What is wrong with the letters GWPF inside two intersecting circles?
The top of a web page is called a "masthead" not a "logo".
Just saying.

Sep 30, 2010 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

The only criticism to the masthead is that the year 2000 should be included in "21st Century Global Mean Temperature"
Just saying.

Sep 30, 2010 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

No, Bob does not want to really see the sources of funding, he achieves his objective better merely by casting doubt. I wonder how he deals with the big oil funding of the CRU?

Sep 30, 2010 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

Bob Ward is a f***wit, I know there are many great and truer descriptive and even more colourful profanities, in this wonderful language which we are fortunate to share.
But, Bob brings out the lesser, more vituperative side of my mostly tranquil nature.

Sep 30, 2010 at 9:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan

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