Rod Liddle: The Coalition Wind Blows Both Ways But It’s Just Hot Air

  • Date: 04/11/12
  • Rod Liddle, The Sunday Times

What’s happening with on-shore wind farms, then? I broke out the champagne last week after the energy minister John Hayes seemed to announce that the government had at last given up on these hideous and uneconomic structures.

I have never met anyone who approves of wind farms, and yet the BBC, in those spare moments when it is not sheltering pederasts from the public gaze, insists that the country loves them, according to the polls.

Most of those polls turn out to be somewhat qualified affairs.

The latest asked people if they would prefer to have an elegant, brushed-steel turbine, perhaps designed by Jasper Conran, on a hill some distance from their home, or a gas-fracking plant in their back garden. As politicians always say — even if they don’t mean it — never trust the polls.

People like wind energy until it imposes ugliness upon them, and then they become infuriated. Trouble is, if you publicly express your doubts about wind power, you are immediately fingered as a climate-change-denying, polar-bear-strangling Neanderthal in the pay of the oil companies. It is far easier to tell everyone that you love the wind, the baleful breath of Boreas; how wonderful that it might solve all our energy needs.

But whatever, when I heard Hayes, I thought that was it for the turbines. However, the Liberal Democrat secretary of state, Ed Davey, immediately slapped down his underling and insisted that wind power was here to stay — while his aides pointed out snippily that their man outranked Hayes, so he was right.

Which is correct; by the most bizarre quirk of electoral fate this country has ever seen, Davey has indeed been ennobled with highish office — as odd and disturbing a spectacle as a pig in a tutu performing at the Royal Opera House. Davey having a job of importance is just one of so many joys afforded us as a consequence of the coalition.

And yet there was no acknowledgment from Hayes that he had spoken out of turn, or that he had made up government policy on the hoof; indeed both statements — “no more wind turbines!” and “lots more wind turbines!” — existed simultaneously and unchallenged in the public domain like one of those weird, subatomic particles quantum physicists insist do exist — the ones that are two apparently contradictory things at once.

And, of course, when you examine the wind farm stuff in detail you discover that both politicians were in effect saying exactly the same thing. For Hayes: no more wind turbines after those already commissioned or in the pipeline to be commissioned. For Ed “Babe” Davey: lots more wind turbines — all those commissioned or in the pipeline to be commissioned. A huge and bad-tempered argument between two people saying, in effect, precisely the same thing.

Pages of newsprint were devoted to debating the severity of this split between the two coalition partners, when there is no split at all. Confected rage, then….

This is the way the coalition works: everyone wins. No more wind turbines, lots of wind turbines. No more cash for Brussels, lots more cash for Brussels. Both things said simultaneously and meaning nothing.

The Sunday Times, 4 November 2012