Farewell, Knights of Delingpole – and thank you, trolls

A few years ago a friend who wishes to remain nameless suggested that it was about time I started writing a blog.

“Why would I want to do that?” I said.

“Because it’s the future and you’d be good at it,” he said.

So I gave it a go and I’ve been here ever since. But not for any longer I’m afraid. Today is the sad day when I must bid you all farewell. I have been appointed Chief Sustainability Consultant at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, working directly to one of my all-time-heroes Ed Davey, with a juicy, taxpayer-funded salary, a ring-fenced pension and a bio-fuel-powered Aston-Martin just like the Prince of Wales’s.

No, not really, about the second bit. Just the first bit: I’m off to pasture…

(to read more, click here)

Benefits Street is unrepresentative. Really?

Benefits Street, Channel 4′s hit, fly on the wall documentary about a Birmingham street full of welfare claimants, is a gross distortion of reality.

We know this because a group of charity heads has written to the Telegraph to say so. They claim to speak for more than 100 charities and community groups, all of which are “calling on Channel 4, as a public service broadcaster, to review how this damaging and grossly unbalanced programme came to be shown.”

Apparently the series focuses on “an unrepresentative minority”, “reinforcing harmful stereotypes where the most extreme examples are presented as the norm.”

Gosh. I wonder how they know. For example, when I checked the annual accounts of one of the concerned charities, I couldn’t help noticing that its top paid employee – presumably the chief executive who signed the letter – get…

(read more here)

How the Blair government paid for the subversion of our state broadcaster

So now we know yet another reason why the BBC is so biased in its reporting on climate change: because in 2006 the Labour government effectively paid it to be so. It was a £67,000 grant from the Department for International Development (DFID) which paid for the notorious, secret high-level seminar at which the BBC was persuaded to abandon all pretence at neutrality on the global warming issue. I expect the BBC’s environmental analyst Roger Harrabin just can’t wait to get his teeth into this major scandal.

Oh no, wait, I forgot: Harrabin was the seminar’s organiser. (Don’t worry, Rog. I promise not to remind anyone. We Oxbridge English Literature graduates must stick together, eh?)

Anyway, I notice one or two feathers have been ruffled by the Mail On Sunday’s suggestion that…

(read more here)

Yes **** Sherlock

Here are the two best things about Sherlock.

1. The word clouds. Sherlock is, as far as I know, the first TV series to have done this and it works very well: it’s a quick, clever, post-modern way – the visual equivalent of the voice overs on Peep Show – to reveal Sherlock’s intricate thought processes and it’s often funny too.

2. Sherlock’s overcoat. It’s by Belstaff, in case you hadn’t noticed. I certainly did. In last night’s episode, they actually showed the label. Now I happen to like Belstaff – a classic English brand (it’s what Lawrence of Arabia wore when he had his fatal motorcycle accident) cannily bought by the Italians and turned into a global luxury phenomenon a la Burberry. But I do think such naked…

(to read more, click here)

Just how bad was this year's Christmas Doctor Who?

Yes, I know it was a few days ago now but I’m still recovering from the trauma. My kids are too. They found the mawkishness so excruciating they had to hide behind the sofa. Just why was this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special so painfully bad?

The easy answer is to blame Steven Moffat. He, after all, is the series producer and he did bash out this particular episode. But I personally think the rot goes much deeper than that. Moffat, remember, is perfectly capable of writing a properly scary, weird, well-crafted Doctor Who episode: viz, the Weeping Angels, one of the greatest ever. But he is operating within a culture of grotesque decadence and complacency. Like some…

(to read more, click here)

Passive smoking – another of the Nanny State's big lies

Passive smoking doesn’t give you lung cancer. So says a new report publicised by the American Cancer Institute which will come as no surprise whatsoever to anyone with a shred of integrity who has looked into the origins of the great “environmental tobacco smoke” meme.

It was, after all, a decade ago that the British Medical Journal, published the results of a massive, long-term survey into the effects of second-hand tobacco smoke. Between 1959 and 1989 two American researchers named James Enstrom and Geoffrey Kabat surveyed no few than 118,094 Californians. Fierce anti-smoking campaigners themselves, they began the research because they wanted to prove once and for all what a pernicious, socially damaging habit smoking was. Their research was initiated by the American Cancer Society and supported by the anti-smoking Tobacco Related Disease…

(to read more, click here)

The scary genius that was Lou Reed

Lou Reed, who is reported by Rolling Stone to have died aged 71, was the most terrifying rock star I have ever interviewed. Partly it was his look that was so unsettling: all those amphetamines in his rock n roll years had taken their toll. His sunken cheeks, intense staring eyes and perpetually macerating jaw gave him the look of a malevolent praying mantis in a poodle fright wig. Partly it was because he took especial delight in giving the journalists who came to see him as hard a time as possible – especially if, as I was, they were young, nervous and clearly out of their depth.

Before the interview I’d asked Tony Parsons to give me a steer on what I should be asking him. Parsons said the key thing was the…

(to read more, click here)

Unless the Conservatives come clean about the energy mess they created, they will never deserve our vote

Just how stupid does Lynton Crosby think we are?

Very, very, VERY stupid, I’m guessing. And perhaps he’s right. As part of his ongoing campaign to make the Conservatives more electable, he’s inviting us to experience the biggest outbreak of collective amnesia since Odysseus and his crew visited the Land of the Lotus Eaters. He wants us to forget the huskies. And the melting glaciers. And Dave’s announcement – from Greenpeace’s HQ, no less – that he was going to lead “the greenest government ever”. And to tell ourselves that all these unpopular wind and solar farms, all these rocketing energy prices have nothing whatsoever to do with husky-hugging Dave, leader of the greenest government ever, but with someone else entirely.  No semblance of compliance monthly  at all.

Richard North smells a rat here.

I do too. Lots of rats,…

(to read more, click here)

Free the Greenpeace 30! (And spare us any more whingeing from Damon Albarn, Jude Law and that bloke out of the Clash)

Like most caring, nurturing souls who believe in a cleaner, better, happier world I’m keen for the 30 Greenpeace activists currently being held on piracy charges by the Russians to be released from prison as soon as possible. If you saw last Thursday’s coverage of the issue on BBC Newsnight, you might understand why.

It featured an interview with Paul Simonon, formerly guitarist with the Clash, about his experiences in 2011 when – after getting involved in a similar Arctic rig protest with Greenpeace – he found himself arrested by the Norwegians. The way Emily Maitlis’s brow furrowed sympathetically during the interview, you’d think he’d been banged up for a year in the punishment block of Black Beach prison in Equatorial Guinea, not held…

(to read more, click here)

Journalist, Author and Broadcaster