Yesterday the Guardian’s Paul Lewis, based on an “investigation” carried out by Greenpeace, put to anti-windfarm campaigner James Delingpole the following conspiracy theory:
- That Heaton-Harris and you were coordinating a secret plot also involving the Energy Minister, John Hayes.
- You attended a secret meeting with Heaton-Harris and Hayes to discuss the plan.
- Hayes’ comments published in the Daily Mail and Telegraph on October 31, 2012, which were initially intended as a speech to the RenewableUK wind conference, were carefully timed to coincide with you withdrawing your candidacy from the by-election and subsequent endorsement of the Conservative position on wind farms.
Last night it ran on the front page the headline:
- Minister “Linked” to Corby plan
On Twitter last night Guido got into a spat with Ian Katz, the deputy editor of the Guardian:
Only one problem with the conspiracy theory is that it was – apart from Chris Heaton-Harris bragging about his links to Delingpole – demonstrably untrue. He and Heaton-Harris MP are both anti-windfarm campaigners, they are allies and they regularly talk to each other. No big deal, Delingpole is after all his constituent. However a plot involving the Energy Minister John Hayes would be worth a front page. Anyone following the issue would be aware that there is a policy shift going on and enthusiasm for the expensively subsidised windmills is much diminished in austerity governments all over the world. That shift was clearly signalled by the appointment of Hayes during the last reshuffle.
The idea that Hayes was in on a secret plot centred on Delingpole’s Corby campaign is demonstrably nonsense. Delingpole told the Speccie he was going to run in Corby on August 8, 2012, Hayes was only appointed as Energy Minister on September 4, 2012. The supposed plotters could not possibly know that would happen.
Delingpole told Guido when Hayes made the no-more-windfarms speech that he was pleased to be off the hook of running a time-consuming campaign destined to be unsuccessful at the ballot box – “I needed an excuse”. A pretty good excuse given the policy change was a complete victory as this blog reported on the day:
Even in the video recorded by Greenpeace, Heaton-Harris confirms “it was just fortuitous timing”, yet Greenpeace was still allowed to spin on the Guardian’s front page that there was a conspiracy in Corby “linked” to the Energy Minister. Readers might think it was a Guardian story, it wasn’t, it was put together by Greenpeace as a package for the cash-strapped, loss making Guardian – out-sourced like the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s Newsnight paedo story. John Sauven, Greenpeace’s executive director, says it was “their investigation”. If you outsource investigative journalism to a political campaign, this is what happens. Conspiracy theories replace evidence…
- There was no coordinated plot involving Hayes.
- There was no meeting of all three.
- The speech and Delingpole’s withdrawal from the Corby campaign were not “carefully timed to coincide”.
The Guardian has grudgingly changed the headline online this morning to “Energy minister denies collusion”. The wind has been taken out of the story…