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« Wednesday open thread | Main | Welsh shale »

Lords of topsy-turvy land

Shale? It's killin the ozone layer, innit?The House of Lords is also talking shale gas this morning. The Economic Affairs Committee is discussing the economic impacts  and, like their colleagues in the lower house, decided that the right people to speak to are a group of people who oppose economic development on principle (they took evidence from the experts a couple of weeks ago).

I have no objection to their lordships listening to Swampy et al, but the point has to be made again and again: where is the voice of the taxpayer and the consumer, the voice of those campaigning for economic development and jobs? What is it that members of both houses of Parliament have against ordinary people?

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Reader Comments (52)

"What is it that members of both houses of Parliament have against ordinary people?"

Democracy is broken.

Oct 22, 2013 at 12:04 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

If only there were a body of people picked to represent us...

A problem in many decision making circles when it comes to government policy is that politicians forget their job of representing the public. They appear to think their job is to herd other representatives from NGOs, industry, etc to come to a decision.

Oct 22, 2013 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

It's because THEY know best, are not interested in the common people,and will go to great lengths to hide their incompetence and lies, because they know any back-pedalling will be public, and it will cost them the election. Bluster and blinkered obfuscation, they believe, will win over the electorate - then they'll be off the hook for a while. Naively, they think we are so gullible, we don't know what's going on. They will learn.

Oct 22, 2013 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterOld Goat

'Ordinary people'..?

Are you mad..?

We come WAAAAAY down the pecking order - because, of course, we are too dim to have anything relevant to say on such sophisticated subjects as energy, climate, and the like....

I mean - I'm only a retired chartered engineer - what would I know that lawyers, English Literature academics and economists don't..?

Oct 22, 2013 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

With so much money to be made from the subsidies on renewables and the fact so many people in both houses are financially linked to these companies, is there any doubt that they do not want to hear anything positive about shale.

Oct 22, 2013 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

Perhaps we need this-

Oct 22, 2013 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom Mills

Who are 'ordinary people' exactly?

Oct 22, 2013 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

In the US citizens are expected to pay their taxes on demand, carry health insurance and ID for insurance, driving and day to day finance, but illegal immigrants are OK with no license, no ID, and are not required to prove citizenship to vote. In fact for a citizen to protest this is evidence that the citizen is a racist bigot. Our government is completely obsessed with how to make the lives of illegals better and reward them, while requiring the rest of us to be silent and respectful of their great work.
It would seem that the US is sadly not alone in its disregard of law abiding citizens.

Oct 22, 2013 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Environmentallists and the aristocracy are natural bedfellows. For greenies it's better for the environment for a small number of very wealthy people to lock up all the goodies for themselves. No matter how rich or wastefull, one billionaire will use a lot less than thousands of average Brits added together.

Oct 22, 2013 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

"What is it that members of both houses of Parliament have against ordinary people?"

Ordinary people have ' sussed ' them out . We don't like them and we certainly don't respect them .

Lobby groups are paid to fawn all over them , and they are too stupid to realise it .

Oct 22, 2013 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill Sikes' Dog

"decided that the right people to speak to are a group of people who oppose economic development on principle"

Bish, I'd be surprised if you've only just noticed the part "organised civil society", (NGOs and fakes charities) have come to play in government. Cast your mind back to the part played by Bryony Worthington in framing the disastrous CCA. Furthermore, these groups are well organised and have skilfully wormed their way into the processes forming legislation at an EU level and levels above the EU (the UNECE for example), the EU being largely a local dealer for legislation formed by transnational bodies.

In the UK at least, the answer must be to get away from parliamentary democracy - electing one of two near identical teams of managers once every five years, and leaving most of the process of government completely untouched by the electoral process - and have a system of direct democracy, which would do something to interfere with the actions of these cozy clubs.

At an EU level we could deal with it by leaving the EU.

At a transnational level, we'd be left with focussing attention on a slow moving and rather tedious process which has far reaching effects.

Oct 22, 2013 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

I reject the notion of "ordinary people", what exactly does that entail. The fact that you are an MP, Peer, MSP or even a councillor does not make you "extra ordinary" does it. This term come from the same stable as "common people" or even "working class", when neither term refers to ability or intelligence. The fact that the peers in themselves are largely the products of privilege or nepotism hardly makes them merit any particular merit at all in essence. It is the very same excuse that qualifies the very existence of the House of Lords as a specialist chamber, it may be true in some cases but not in the majority.

Oct 22, 2013 at 2:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterTrefor Jones

These elites seem to feel that infantilising of both schoolchildren and adults is essential for their 'causes du jour'. I think they are right about that. Keeping sensible, well-informed adults at arms-length is but a small part of their efforts, which I dearly hope will be futile. In the meantime, they will listen to and seek reinforcement from people who will in turn seek the same from them. After all, they can surely see that their preferred futures depend on it.

Oct 22, 2013 at 2:54 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

"The Committee will ask the witnesses for their views on the development of shale gas in the UK, what the possible physical and environmental risks of shale gas and oil extraction are for the UK and what impact increased use of shale gas and oil might have on the UK meeting its existing emissions targets.

The Committee will the then take evidence from Professor Richard Muller, Professor of Physics at the University of California. He will be asked for his views on the prospects for shale gas and oil extraction in the UK. "

All four 'witnesses' are utterly unqualified to answer the questions unemotionally. I bet they all watched, and believed the anti-fracking 'documentaries' and now they are allowed the highest platform to 'inform' our peers.


Oct 22, 2013 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterHenry Galt

Sherlock1 on Oct 22, 2013 at 12:53 PM

"I mean - I'm only a retired chartered engineer - what would I know that lawyers, English Literature academics and economists don't..?"

So am I !!

You forgot pop stars (Bob Geldorf) and retired pop stars (Brian Cox) !!!

Oct 22, 2013 at 2:56 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Why is it that, even in times of grave emergency, we have the dark humour to appoint a Liberal in charge of our energy supply?

'It is not unimportant to remember that whilst we certainly had two mild winters we have had two very cold summers. On three occasions only this summer, since the beginning of April, has the temperature reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Whilst one likes to have a mild winter, which is very helpful indeed, if we do not have a fairly normal summer the effect upon stock-building, which is very important in the summer, is serious. The effect upon the consumption of electricity if there is a sudden cold spell in the middle of the summer is amazing. I remember that on 13th June last year the temperature was exactly the same as on 13th December last year. That does affect the stock position very much indeed, and the effect of it is appreciable over the winter. The Committee will not expect me to give the present figures of these distributed stocks, but I can assure them it has never reached the level estimated by hon. Members of this House who produced a pamphlet not very long ago, which said there was nothing at all. That would imply a rather dangerous accuracy of calculation on the part of my officials, which we could ill afford.' Major Gwilym Lloyd George, the Minister of Fuel and Power. ( A Liberal, son of former Prime Minister David Lloyd George.) Hansard HC Deb 13 July 1944 vol 401 cc1910-46

Oct 22, 2013 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

What we have at present in Parliament is a kleptocracy.

Oct 22, 2013 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Larry Bell, an American academic, and skeptic has an interview with a scientist who offers a fairly devestating insight on how irresponsible governments are regarding non-scientific movements like the climate obsession of today:

Oct 22, 2013 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

The only people who have any standing with the present incumbents of parliament are those who shout the loudest, are appointed by certain “pet” organisations, or appear regularly on the TV – if they are all three, their word becomes sacrosanct!

“Ordinary” people are becoming merely objects of derision, to be pointed at and laughed at as the all(self)-important “leaders” cruise past in their motorcades. Ex-PM Brown’s captured comments are a good indication of that!

As for the upper house, the real irony is that hereditary peers seemed to have a better connection with ordinary people than appointed “life” peers, and based their decisions on their own understanding of real life, not their political affiliation. Most of the present life peers are political appointees, many of whom proved their worthlessness in the lower house, and have been “promoted” out of harm’s way (harm, that is, for the Party).

Oct 22, 2013 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

The poor ordinary people, the 'cake eaters' never to be included within the coterie of the The-Ministry-of-We-Know-Best.

Oct 22, 2013 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterManfred

Do what we did in Australia.Vote the Bastards out.Vote UKIP.

Oct 22, 2013 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterclive


That's also what happened in 2010 in America thanks to the Tea Party...who is despised whole heartedly by the left.


Oct 22, 2013 at 9:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

ZDB's comment at 8:13 should be retained for posterity and not struck out. Unlike ZDB, I subscribe to democracy and free speech: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"

Shame its not reciprocated. So begins oppression and censorship. The statement "where is the voice of the taxpayer and the consumer, the voice of those campaigning for economic development and jobs?" is about real, ordinary people. It should be about those people that our elected representatives are supposed to represent. No matter who says those words and your opinion of them, their validity stands regardless.

Oct 22, 2013 at 9:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

Experts? We have been doing this in Texas for over fifty years. There are NO occasions of the accidental contamination of groundwater high volume gracing operations. What experts do they imagine they consulted? Of course to do this properly one would want to hire experienced service companies for the project. By the way; the U.S.A. now produces more petroleum than Saudi Arabia. Just sayin'....

Oct 22, 2013 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterOdins Acolyte

The creep has crept, and having crept has crapped...again!

Oct 22, 2013 at 10:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterPM Walsh

Parliament is little more than a pantomime for the plebs.

(And a not very good one at that.... anyone else notice all the empty seats there when they're talking about anything but their expenses!!)

cosmic at Oct 22, 2013 at 2:36 PM certainly has the gist of it but rather than the NGOs etc having
"skilfully wormed their way into the processes forming legislation at an EU level and levels above the EU (the UNECE for example)" they have been actively encouraged and funded to do so by the EU/UN.

"Propaganda by Proxy: How the EU funds green lobby groups"

Re:Oct 22, 2013 at 5:19 PM | Radical Rodent

"As for the upper house, the real irony is that hereditary peers seemed to have a better connection with ordinary people than appointed “life” peers, and based their decisions on their own understanding of real life, not their political affiliation."

My thoughts too, the hereditaries had more sense of responsibility both to the country and to their own sense of family honour and of course much more independence. Which is no doubt why Blair was so keen to get rid of them and replace them with political appointees.

Oct 22, 2013 at 10:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

Ole, thanks for the tip on the Greenpeace article in the Independent. The comments are indeed a treat (although according to some, most of the negative commenters are paid shills of the Koch brothers (!) and other sinister interests). My favourite:

donald baker
• 2 days ago

Bang them up for 20 years in a freezing Gulag.

21 4


Share ›

julianzzz donald baker
• 2 days ago

Nobody deserves to be forced to live in a council flat in Hull.

Oct 22, 2013 at 11:09 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Couple of years back here on BH there was discussion of a greenshirt called Bryony Worthington bragging to a bunch of fellow-travellers how she and a team of clever green lawyers had outwitted the treasury and drafted the Climate Change Bill in three months flat. No need for discussion or reflection or any of that old fashioned nonsense.

That woman has been ennobled. Her confession is on YouTube. Democracy schmocracy - these people know best.

Oct 22, 2013 at 11:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Apologies moderator, that last post by myself should have been on the Welsh thread, any chance of moving it?

[Done. TM 7.40am 23.10.2013]

Oct 22, 2013 at 11:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterGarethman

Sherlock1. Since the late 60s, th percentage of th UK population undertaking practical work has declined, by this I mean, craftsmen, technicians, engineers, farmers , military personnel, sailors, those employed in factories or construction etc, etc. The large increase in those undertaking post 16 education has increased but largely in the arts. Consequently, far more people can exist in an environment where their emotions are allowed to dominate unaffected by reality. As Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, described environmentalism as "Emotionalism and sensationalism". To make matters worse those entering politics has changed : the percentages of of arts graduates with little work experience has increased and the numbers of people with practical work experience has decreased. Charities and other NGOs used to be run by people with practical experience-retired colonels. Nowadays charities are run by people who have similar backgrounds to most impractical politicians. Plato had is basically right when he said " The punishment for not getting involved in politics is to be ruled by inferior people "- I would replace inferior with impractical.

What has happened is that since the 60s much of the labour, LDs and some of the Tories,many of the charities, much of the public sector, education establishment has become dominated by impractical, self righteous, middle class left wing art graduates who believe they are good people and whose actions therefore must be good. Those people who undertake practical work rarely conduct themselves in a self righteous manner as they accept they can be proved wrong if supported by the evidence. Consequently, those people who are self -righteous and consider themselves as good when confronted by people who disagree with, irrespective of the facts, immediately consider them as bad people. Noble cause corruption means that the self righteous can denigrate and stigmatize those they disagree with.

Oct 22, 2013 at 11:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Does anyone here really believe swampy is running Britain or the world ?

Oct 23, 2013 at 12:28 AM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

Oops, my post above was meant for (and posted in) Unthreaded. I have reposted it there. I see that someone else has had the same problem around the same time. A software glitch, maybe?

Oct 23, 2013 at 1:04 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Can we have a quick definition of racism, from the people who think that UKIP is racist, just so that we know what sort of mental age we are dealing with here. Just for the record, I love mixing with French, Germans, Spanish, Italians, etc., and have great friends in all those countries. I just have a fundamental belief that a bureaucratic, unaccountable, fundamentally fascist organisation (fascism = state control of the individual), which creates bonkers laws out of thin air, and is so corrupt that they have trouble getting their accounts signed off, has no role running a kiddies birthday party, let alone steamrollering their bankrupt ideology over hundreds of millions of people all over Europe. If you think that makes me racist, then I am proud to be racist, and if you think not, then tell me what political party I have to vote for in order to save the people of Europe from the forces of 1984.

Oct 23, 2013 at 1:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterMax Roberts

Here in Australia, the Commonwealthl governement has just launched an audit commission into its spending as part of the process of bringing the budget back into surplus after the disastrous years of Labor mismanagement. The terms of reference include the following:

"The Commission should also be guided in its work by the principles that:
– government should have respect for taxpayers in the care with which it spends every dollar of revenue;
– government should do for people what they cannot do, or cannot do efficiently, for themselves, but no more; and
– government should live within its means."

Not much chance of Call Me Dave implementing something similar. He is, after all, the clown who gave succour to Julia Gillard by sending her a letter supporting the carbon tax, ignoring that she had promised the electorate that there would not be a carbon tax under a government she led and that the tax was clearly against the wishes of the majority of the Australian people (thereby demostrating that greenism is more important to him than democracy). Will he be sending a letter to Tony Abbott chastising him for scrapping the carbon tax? The UK electorate needs to make it clear that taxing carbon dioxide is electoral poison (here it has ended a number of political careers), if it doesn't then it has only itself to blame if it is saddled with more and more green lunacy.

Oct 23, 2013 at 1:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterDocBud

Lots of agendas at work... Richard North highlights how it is the Geneva-Brussels axis, despite domestic posturing, which may control exploitation of UK's shale potential.
"With the Geneva-Brussels nexus gearing up to make the regulation as rigorous as possible, with the deliberate intention of blocking development, the optimists completely fail to recognise that neither the industry nor the UK government has any control over pivotal aspects of regulation which will play a major part in determining whether the industry is viable."

Oct 23, 2013 at 1:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterRon

I rather liked the old House of Lords. Aristocrats thought in generations.

To a modern politician the "long view" is after the next election.

Oct 23, 2013 at 3:05 AM | Unregistered Commenterentropic man

Having watched the linked experts coverage you can go to the committee page and see the NGO and professor Muller from there. As you would expect the two NGO guys aided by a so called chief scientist talked shale gas down. However I would recommend that everyone watch the professors evidence.

All concerned seemed to be common sense realists apart from unfortunately Lord May who just happens to be on the Climate Change Committee.

Oct 23, 2013 at 4:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterDaveK

Entropic Man
There is some sense in what you say.

Oct 23, 2013 at 7:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I love the idea of an irrelevant population who are all bat**** crazy. It explains why I often think am I the only one?

Oct 23, 2013 at 7:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

The great majority of “ordinary people” are not seriously engaged with anything important – witness the general lack of engagement in politics, complacency w.r.t the plight of the aged, ignorance of even the most basic science, acceptance (apart from ineffectual grumbling) of the continued erosion of freedoms, acceptance of, even enthusiasm for BS such as “global warming” and “green energy”.

Their utter immersion in their cellphones/’pads at all times, especially in public, to the exclusion of anything approaching “conversation” with their companions, who are in any case similarly absorbed, just reinforces the case.

The reason why swampy and company get to be heard is because they can bother to be heard. Why should the lords (note the small l) go out of their way to invite those who are not interested in what affects them?

Oct 23, 2013 at 8:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn de Ber

Aristocrats thought in generations.

I've heard this put as a reason why hereditary monarchy is a superior system to democracy. Essentially, a monarch wants to bequeath to the next generation a kingdom in the best possible shape. A prime minister wants to fill his and his supporters' pockets now at the expense of the other side, and to bequeath to the next generation the bill.

I think it has some merits as an argument, but like CO2 forcing, the advantages of monarchy are not well supported by actual observational data, and there is in particular a troublesome mediaeval period that drives a coach and horses through it as a model.

This suggests there may be other, more significant, factors at work in the long-term state of a nation.

Michael Mann is 94.

Oct 23, 2013 at 9:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

I think 60s Hippies and 70s Punks are running the country, don't know for sure if that includes swampy but probably includes fellow travellers.

Oct 23, 2013 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

This is just pointless play acting. The EU has decided it is going to be the one making the rules on shale

What can we do? Evidently nothing

Oct 23, 2013 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Page

Whatever happened to Swampy?

Oct 23, 2013 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Re: Oct 23, 2013 at 10:42 AM | John Page

Oh, I don't think it's simply the EU .....

"But, as we saw yesterday, with the news on the Aarhus Convention, international environmental activism in Europe does not stop with the EU. Another major player is the United Nations Economic Commission Europe. Cast as a United Nations Agency, it is of course – as the title implies – a regional treaty body, covering the wider Europe, with its headquarters in Geneva.

That notwithstanding, UNECE does have a global impact, often paving the way for implementation measures which are adopted globally, lining up with the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Together with the EU, these form an international nexus, a policy and legislative powerhouse which is determining the agenda on environmental matters – which includes energy – long before anything gets near the British government or Westminster, with MPs and even ministers at the end of a long queue. "

... all part of that 'global governance' that our politicians are so willing to embrace and to heck with the well-being of the British people. Simply careerists with no sense of nationhood.

Oct 23, 2013 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

A least there are some Tory MPs who want a change back to cheaper fossil fuels and an end to EU interference

"People will die this winter because of the environmentalist obsession with the end of the world, writes Jacob Rees-Mogg. "

This is a very good exposition of the "environmentalism" that governs energy policy.

Oct 23, 2013 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Peter

Re: Oct 23, 2013 at 11:46 AM | John Peter

"A least there are some Tory MPs who want a change back to cheaper fossil fuels and an end to EU interference"

But unfortunately they have little bearing on what direction the party takes - that lies with the party leader, and interesting to note that all three of our inept and unpopular main party leaders have all had meteoric rises within their respective parties to take the leadership.

Meteroric rises also the case I believe in Australia with Gillard and in the US with Obama. One can only surmise they have very powerful friends!!

Parliamentary 'democracy' in the UK is simply a game of musical chairs with, as Cosmic said above
"electing one of two near identical teams of managers once every five years, and leaving most of the process of government completely untouched by the electoral process"

Oct 23, 2013 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

Apropos the subject in general but with the specific point about the lunacy of 'low carbon electricity' - just before my dentist filled my mouth with cotton wool and before the injection took full effect, I was sounding forth on wind turbines. His nurse ventured the comment: 'Oh, I thought they were good..' - to which I replied: 'No, they are useless, and their output bears no relation to electricity demand..'
After that my dentist stuck his elbows in my mouth to shut me up....
My point is - most people have swallowed (sorry, no pun intended) the official line..

Oct 23, 2013 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

Whatever happened to Swampy?

Oct 23, 2013 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

I read in a newspaper recently that Swampy lives on a commune in Wales somewhere with his partner and children. He had given up direct action wrt to fighting for environmental protection but still supports the actions of those who do.

I think the article was in the Times around the time of the Balcombe dispute.

Oct 23, 2013 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterSwamp


"Meteoric rises"

Odd phrase, isn't it? Òne thing that chacterises meteors is that they never, ever do that. Burn, yes; crash, sometimes; rise, nope.

Oct 23, 2013 at 11:31 PM | Registered Commenterflaxdoctor

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