Monday, September 18, 2017

Letter to MP: why we are a bit angry sometimes

I have had a bit of an issue with my MP ever since I challenged him at a hustings in May for asserting that fracking would be under normal planning controls. Here is my latest letter to him:

John Penrose MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA

Thank you for your letter of 5th September. I too hope that we can resolve this misunderstanding.

When you said at the hustings meeting in May that fracking would be under normal local democratic controls, I leapt to my feet and declared that this was not true. I cannot recollect my exact words, and it may be that I did say that it was a lie. I very much doubt that I called you a liar, and it is impossible for either protagonist in an emotionally charged interchange like this to have a precise recollection. Maybe we should ask the Chair of the meeting to give his recollection.

It is probably difficult for you to understand the anger that is building up in this country within the hearts and minds of those of us who do not share the neo-liberal world view. Every day we read about cuts to our public services, cuts directed against the poorest and most vulnerable, cuts against agencies designed to protect the environment, cuts against renewable energy technologies, cuts against precious institutions and values that we hold to be British. All this is carried out in a milieu where three out of four newspaper articles are written with a right-wing political bias, sometimes with a quite unpleasantly extreme right-wing bias. The BBC, which should belong to the license fee payer and not to the Government, has been infiltrated by right wing apparatchiks, two of whom have moved from the right-wing Murdoch news empire. Climate change deniers seem to be in the driving seat in this Government and in the BBC. A very marginal victory for Leave on the basis of lies on a bus and two very questionable interventions, one involving Saudi money coming via the DUP and one involving Cambridge Analytica have placed the UK's economic future very much in doubt as Brexiteers misinterpret their marginal victory as a mandate for a hard Brexit. We have a deeply flawed electoral system that permits its own rules to be bent, and produces grotesquely disproportional results. You will no doubt be minded to question all of these points: but I am asking you just to try to look at things from the point of view of someone who wants a future for the whole of humanity that is safe, healthy and secure, rather than a future based on the welfare of large multinational corporations and the top 1% of the economic pyramid and the Devil take the hindmost.
These are just a sample of the kind of concerns that are creating a latent anger that is bound to be triggered with some last straw effect. In our case it was your statement that fracking would be subject to normal democratic controls. As I pointed out in my last letter, exploratory drilling for fracking is backed by abnormal measures to force it through: CPOs against landowners who refuse to allow drilling rigs on their land; pro-fracking commissars to be placed in local authorities: nationalisation of the planning process; economic inducements for communities in the vicinity of fracking operations, whereas no such inducements have been applied for communities in the vicinity of wind turbines, and where onshore turbines have indeed been banned. When Lancashire decided against permitting fracking it was overruled by State decree.
For all of these reasons, your statement about “normal democratic controls” was not true. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and allow that you did not consciously know it not to be true when you made your statement, in which case you were not lying, only under a misapprehension, and to that extent I will withdraw the word “lie”, but I stand by my protestation that your statement was not true.
Yours sincerely

Richard Lawson

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