By Roger Helmer MEP, UKIP's Energy Spokesman and Head of UKIP Delegation in the European Parliament
•Yesterday I had the pleasure and privilege of appearing for UKIP in the BBC’s special Daily Politics debate on Climate and Energy, chaired by Andrew Neil. I was delighted to find myself pitched against Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change. In addition there were Labour’s Shadow Caroline Flint, Tory Energy Minister Matt Hancock and the Green’s Andrew Cooper, who is their PPC for Huddersfield.
As it happens, I had recently been in Huddersfield supporting our own UKIP PPC Rob Butler. Andrew Cooper knew I had visited the town, but (he said) had been unable to attend our public meeting.
The climate debate (I thought) went relatively well. I felt I got rather less airtime than the old party candidates, but that was largely because they were arguing the detail of policies which we oppose totally, so in a sense we didn’t have a dog in those fights. Nonetheless I managed to get in some of our key points – which of course were roundly attacked and dismissed by the rest of the panel.
I must commend Andrew Neil in the Chair, who helped to redress the balance. For example, I mentioned that there had been no Global Warming for eighteen years. This was immediately pooh-poohed by the rest of the panel, and especially by Ed Davey. But the Chairman came straight back and asserted (rightly) that there had been an eighteen year hiatus in warming – and I noticed that Ed Davey was less eager to pooh-pooh Andrew Neil. Davey insisted that the computer models of climate change had anticipated such an hiatus – a point which even arch-Warmist Roger Harrabin (the BBC’s top Environment Correspondent, who was sitting in) dismissed.
Later the debate turned to last year’s Somerset floods, with the rest of the panel earnestly claiming this as evidence for climate change. I came in and pointed out that commentators at the time (and especially people who knew the area and had worked on flood management for decades) insisted that the floods were a direct and perverse result of misconceived green policies, and the consequent lack of dredging. Again, the rest of the panel reacted with horror and derision at this heretical view.
Regrettably, I hadn’t brought the killer evidence with me. Andrew Neil, however, had. He read out the reported words of (Labour) Baroness Young, a previous chief of the Environment Agency. She reportedly said “Instant wild-life – just add water! I’d like to see a limpet mine put on every pumping station”.
We’ve known about draining marshes and flood plains for hundreds of years. It was in 1630 that the Fourth Earl of Bedford undertook the drainage of the Bedford levels. Yet in the 21st Century a Labour Government chose to give control of the Environment Agency to someone as gloriously ignorant and naïve in these matters as Baroness Young.
The key point I made was that current energy and climate policy fails in its own terms. We raise energy prices, and drive energy-intensive industries out of the UK and the EU. They go to jurisdictions with lower environmental standards, where they emit more CO2 than if we’d left them alone to start with. Ed Davey’s policies undermine the competitiveness of industry, while at the same time arguably increasing global emissions. Yet Davey maintains his doctrinaire stance, totally failing to engage with the crisis he is creating, his mind closed to other points of view.
Caroline Flint was remarkable for her determination to hog the airtime and persistently to speak – or shout – over the other speakers. After the event I discussed it separately with four people who had seen the show, and they each, spontaneously and independently, commented on how awful and irritating she had been. Matt Hancock and Andrew Cooper had been relatively courteous and measured by comparison.