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Lilley's reply to Anderson

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed Professor Kevin Anderson's rather strange article in which he claimed, somewhat improbably, that Peter Lilley had maligned him. Lilley has now passed on his response to Anderson, which I am reproducing here with his permission.

Dear Professor Anderson,

Thank you for drawing my attention to your response to my Spectator article on shale gas.   I apologise for the delay in replying.

I am sorry if you were offended to be called the ayatollah of the green movement.   Far from being intended as an insult, it referred to your extreme frankness.  

I had no idea you were so sensitive, still less so paranoid and egotistical, as to imagine my article is entirely about you and critical of you.   In fact you are the Rosencrantz of my article, not the Hamlet.   My sole reference to you, rather late in the article, is: “Professor Kevin Anderson, former head of the Tyndall Centre and ayatollah of the green movement, frankly states that ‘from a climate-change perspective this stuff simply has to stay in the ground’.”   I commend your frankness in admitting that the reason for leaving the stuff in the ground is what I earlier describe as the “legitimate argument that the world should phase out fossil fuels to minimise global warming”.   Your frankness stands in marked contrast to those green lobbyists whom I criticise for resorting to spurious arguments to discourage shale drilling.

Despite that you decide to treat every criticism I make of the green lobbyists as a personal attack on you.  You write: “I especially take exception to [Peter Lilley] attributing views to me that I do not hold.”   You then list nine criticisms I made of green lobbyists not one of which I attributed to you.   The only green lobbyists I mentioned were Friends of the Earth, WWF, CCC and DECC.  I hate to puncture your inflated egotism but you only get a single mention, quoted above, quite late in my article.  Still, if the cap fits, wear it.   Your egotism resurfaces when you assume that the briefing for the PM from which Cuadrilla was excluded was the same as the rather less important hearing of the Select Committee which Cuadrilla did attend, as did you and I, but not the PM.   The PM has his own briefings quite distinct from the Select Committee.   Nonetheless, if you wanted to use my reference to you as a green ayatollah as an excuse to dissociate yourself from the spurious arguments of the green lobbyists, I would not complain.  

However, you then really demean yourself when you continue: “The level of repeated dishonesty is sufficiently blatant as to raise serious questions about his [Peter Lilley’s] motives for the piece or at least enquire whether he may have some personal financial interest in shale gas development?”   To accuse someone of “repeated dishonesty” is as serious as it is unpleasant.  But since you do not and cannot quote a single, let alone repeated, dishonest phrase in my article I suggest you withdraw the libel and apologise. 

You also libelously impugn my motives without a scrap of evidence.   Sadly it has become standard practice for climate alarmists to accuse their opponents of being in the pay of ‘Big Oil’ while overlooking the financial interests of those who draw their salaries from ‘Big Green’.   Alas, I have no financial interest in shale gas development  – except as a taxpayer keen to see a new source of revenue which is why I argue that “tax breaks for shale proposed in the budget look unnecessary: why give concessions to Big Oil as well as Big Green?”  This is unlikely to endear me to the petroleum industry my sole interest in which – apart from a decade or two as an energy analyst – is in the conventional sector in Central Asia.  Another apology is due.

In thirty years in parliament I have never accused my opponents of lying however mistaken and misguided I may have thought them to be; and, I am pleased to say that they in turn have never accused me of dishonesty.   But I have observed that those who do accuse their critics of dishonesty are invariably those who are most economical with the truth.

Best regards


Peter Lilley


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Reader Comments (59)

May 25, 2013 at 9:37 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

"When and where, and why not yet, will the alarmists find someone of more substance and character to push their woeful case? Is it perhaps something to do with the case itself, and the kind of personality for whom scaremongering is attractive?"

John, you assume that the alarmists have someone of more substance and character. Who might that be, Al Gore?

May 25, 2013 at 9:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRayG

replaced (revenue neutral) with a no-loopholes carbon tax worldwide (might require war with China)

A couple of billion dead? No problem!

CO2 caused temperature rise of half a degree? Calamity!

May 26, 2013 at 12:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

Neil asks if I will be responding to the letters in the Times. Yes, my own letter should be there on Monday.

May 26, 2013 at 6:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterMatt Ridley

Pure poetry, Mr. Lilley.

May 26, 2013 at 7:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterGummerMustGo

Nice to see such a handsome apology from Lilley for the unintended slight. Hilarious.

May 26, 2013 at 7:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul_K


May 26, 2013 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

From my limited knowledge of climate, I believe it is incredibly complex and requires very careful analysis to perceive any sort of pattern, still less verification of any scientific hypothesis. Yet the same highly-qualified scientists, who need to treat the data with the delicacy of a crime scene investigator, seem unable to draw conclusions from clearly worded statements, and "see" statements that are not printed. I find that a paradox worthy of investigation.

May 26, 2013 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicBeancounter

Peter Lilly is reasonably well qualified to answer these Calamatologists: he studied physics and economics in Clare College, Cambridge. He started his career as an energy analyst in the City.

May 26, 2013 at 8:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimbo

@Matt Ridley

A very restrained but effective riposte, far more restrained than mine would have been , particularly to Mr Ward !!

May 27, 2013 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil

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