Tory Ex-Minister is Working for Oligarch Named as Corrupt by Russian Opposition Leader

Former Tory MP and tree-hugging Energy & Climate Change minister Greg Barker has had a difficult start to 2018. As we previously reported in November, Russophile Lord Barker of Battle’s primary role as chairman of En+ Group was to add a veneer of respectability to reassure the City as the Russian energy and aluminium producer listed on the London Stock Exchange. Once the LSE accepted the listing, Barker must have thought his main struggles were over…

Slightly concerning then that Barker’s boss, Oleg Deripaska, is now under the cosh on several fronts. At the end of January Deripaska was named on the US Treasury list of oligarchs linked to the Russian government. Deripaska owns over 70% of En+ and is also the subject of a letter to the SFO from the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, calling for an anti-corruption investigation into his affairs after he was filmed on a yacht with Sergei Prikhodko, Russia’s deputy PM. The yacht trip only added to the intrigue around Deripaska’s links to Manafort and the Trump campaign, especially with new allegations of more meetings on the US elections surfacing…

This is likely not M’lud Barker’s biggest headache. Both MI6 and officials in Washington are angry that the float went ahead, as most of the funds raised went straight to the state-owned Russian bank VTB, which is under both EU and US sanctions. Having secured a bridgehead on the LSE, En+ is rumoured to be gearing up to raise another $1 billion from investors. While happy for its oligarchs to raise money in London, Russia seems less pleased about the presence of ex-KGB officials in Salisbury. Barker, a close pal of ex-PM David Cameron, must be wondering how to salvage this one…

Early Repairs to 500 UK Wind Turbines Will Cost Half a Billion

500 UK offshore wind turbines need vital repairs earlier than expected in an enormous renewable energy blunder which could cost more than £500 million. The turbines, operated by Ørsted and supplied by Siemens, need repairs to the leading edge of blades that eroded after only a few years at sea. At one wind farm off Duddon Sands, Cumbria, all 108 wind turbines have erosion problems, requiring removal and reconditioning. Repair entails the application of a rubber coating, meaning blades must be brought ashore. Costs including repair boat chartering and allowing for lost generation and income are estimated as around £1 million per turbine. Siemens have put aside half a billion quid to guarantee its commitments…

The Global Warming Policy Forum said:

“There is a lot more at stake here than the allocation of a painful repair bill. If this is a type failure… then it is a very expensively learned lesson. But if the need for these repairs is, as Siemens is apparently contending, just every day wear and tear, then this… will be strong evidence confirming long-held suspicions that developers and owners have greatly underestimated the normal cost of wind farm Operation and Maintenance (O&M).”

Let’s hope the taxpayer is counted out…

Piers Corbyn: “BBC Are Globalist Soros Nazi EU 4th Reich Fake News Filth”

Alternative take on the weather from Jezza’s brother…

Greenpeace Still Making Fake Wind Claims

Eco-warriors at Greenpeace are still claiming wind energy prices have fallen by 50% despite promising the Advertising Standards Authority they would no longer do so. The pressure group was involved in a major green lobby ad campaign promoting wind power fronted by actors Peter Capaldi and Emma Thompson. Posters – including one which went up in Westminster tube station – claimed: “The price paid for electricity from offshore wind farms has fallen by 50% over the last five years.” Wrong – in most cases the prices paid for electricity from the UK’s offshore wind fleet have not fallen at all…

Following an upheld complaint, Greenpeace told the Advertising Standards Authority last month it would no longer make the claim. But a video featuring Emma Thompson holding a giant “50% off” sign next to an offshore wind farm is still being shown on the Greenpeace Facebook page. Thompson claims the non-existent price drop is: “it’s better than the Harrods sale”. The caption reads: “Wow – the cost of offshore wind has HALVED in the last two years!”

A spokesman for the Global Warming Policy Forum, which made the successful complaint, said:

“The ads are deliberately misleading MPs and the wider public into thinking that existing wind farms have been cutting their prices. In fact, the allegedly lower prices are only related to auction bids in so-called Contracts for Difference which apply to tentative future wind projects that will not start generating until 2021/2022 and may in fact never be built — or never generate at these low prices. As a recent study has shown, the capital costs of new offshore wind do not appear to be falling and may even be rising as they move into deeper waters.”

When will Greenpeace keep its promise to the regulator?

Caroline Lucas Tries to Weaken Animal Sentience Law

Caroline Lucas must be the only person still claiming the government is not recognising animal sentience following the exposure of last month’s fake news. She is once again attempting to have the EU protocol on animal sentience moved into UK law after Brexit. As Guido has noted previously, the EU protocol is weaker than what is being proposed by Michael Gove. The Brussels legislation only recognises animal sentience in EU-related policy in six areas – agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development and space policies. The new Defra bill applies to all domestic policy with no exemptions, not simply repatriated EU policy, in all areas, not merely the six covered by the EU. By any fair reading, the new bill goes significantly further than current EU standards – it means ministers must always have regard to animal welfare. What Caroline Lucas is proposing would be dramatically less ambitious and worse for animal welfare than the government’s policy. As she scrabbles to respond to Gove’s green agenda, Lucas is actually proposing to make things worse…

Chris Williamson Sacked from Labour Front Bench

Top Corbynista Chris Williamson has been sacked from the Labour frontbench. He was Shadow Fire Minister. Williamson claims he resigned because he wants to campaign more freely on issues that matter to him. Sources close to Corbyn insist Williamson’s return to the backbenches was a mutual decision, which isn’t quite the same as saying he wasn’t sacked…

UPDATE: Statements from Labour and Chris Williamson:

Chris Williamson said:

“I will be standing down from my role with immediate effect so that I can return to the backbenches, where I will be campaigning on a broader range of issues. I will continue to loyally support the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn from the backbenches and hope to be a voice for the party’s members.”

Jeremy Corbyn said:

“I am grateful for Chris’ work on the frontbench, particularly on fire safety following the appalling Grenfell Tower Fire. I know that on the backbenches, Chris will be a strong campaigner on a range of crucial issues as well as serving his constituents with dedication.”

This week Williamson reiterated his support for doubling council tax on some properties – though that is a long-held view which Williamson has previouly expressed in public. All is not well in the world of the top Corbynistas…

BBC Reined In Over False Climate Claims

Last year the BBC travel doc Russia With Simon Reeve made the rather worrying claim that reindeer populations across Northern Russia are “in steep decline because of climate change”. In fact, most populations of Eurasian Reindeer are now increasing in number or are stable…

After a complaint from Lord Lawson, the BBC has issued a correction – which pointedly stops short of an apology:

“This programme suggested that many reindeer populations are in steep decline because of climate change. It would have been more accurate to say that many reindeer populations are threatened by it.”

The Global Warming Policy Forum said:

“Even the assertion that they are “threatened” is highly questionable given their growing populations. Sadly, this kind of speculative claim is entirely predictable because any prediction of future climate disaster is impossible to verify, yet likely to be believed by a great many people.”

All in all, climate alarmists have tried and failed in their attempt to make the reindeer the new polar bearWhat would Rudolph say?

Celebs Admit They Got It Wrong on Animal Sentience

It’s taken a while, but Guido is pleased to report that Ben Fogle, Sue Perkins, Debroah Meaden and Rachel Riley have all either retracted, deleted or apologised for their tweets, or clarified that they now support the government’s entirely sensible position on animal sentience. Tough 24 hours for celebs on Twitter. Still, at least they’re not Olly Murs… 

Indy Retracts Animal Sentience Story

The Independent has retracted its story claiming that “the Tories have rejected all scientists and voted that animals don’t feel pain” and admitted that it circulated false information to potentially millions of people. In a clarification published last night, the Indy says its report “was not right”:

“Put simply, what happened is this: MPs did not vote that animals are not sentient creatures…

Campaigners – and some news coverage – initially said that the Government had voted against recognising sentience. The Independent was among publishers that reported the story in that way. But it became clear that this claim was not right, even though it had been interpreted by some campaigners in that way. (The Independent updated its coverage to ensure it was accurate).”

The original Indy story was shared thousands of times and was a key factor in half a million people signing a petition repeating the claim. Stories about the Tories and animal sentience were viewed by 2 million people this week. Doubt the Indy’s retraction will be seen by a tenth of that.

Ben Fogle Sorry For Sharing Animal Sentience Fake News Story

Fair play to Ben Fogle, who tells Guido “I am happy to apologise and add clarity” after he tweeted the viral fake news story on animal sentience to his 336,000 followers. Sue Perkins, Rachel Riley, Caroline Lucas and the RSPCA have been less willing to admit they were wrong…

Viral Animal Sentience Fake News Story Seen By 2 Million People

This week a number of stories claiming the Tories had voted that animals are not sentient beings went mega-viral. An article on the Independent website – shared thousands of times on social media – reported “The Tories have rejected all scientists and voted that animals don’t feel pain”. The Evening Standard claimed they “just voted that animals cannot feel pain or emotions”. The Indy, which has truly become one of the most downmarket trash clickbait websites around, even named and shamed the Tory MPs “who voted legislation on animals feeling pain and emotion”. These attacks were tweeted out by celebrities like Ben Fogle and Sue Perkins, politicians including Caroline Lucas and failed LibDem MP Sarah Olney, and petitions were signed by hundreds of thousands of unwitting animal lovers. The stats are huge:

  • Analysis shows 2 million people have seen articles and tweets about the Tories voting against animal sentience
  • 155,157 signed a petition repeating the claim
  • 263,476 signed another petition on 38 Degrees
  • 43,081 signed a third petition on ThePetitionSite
  • Nearly 30,000 have signed smaller petitions (that’s almost 500,000 overall)
  • Sue Perkins shared it with her 1 million followers
  • Rachel Riley shared it with her 510,000 followers
  • Ben Fogle shared it with his 336,000 followers
  • Caroline Lucas shared it with her 276,000 followers
  • The RSPCA tweeted it out to their 248,000 followers

Just one problem. It is fake news…

During last Wednesday’s debate, Tory MPs repeatedly explained that the government already recognised animal sentience and that the amendment was flawed. Read it here in Hansard – Tory MP after Tory MP stood up and agreed that animals are sentient. No MPs argued against animal sentience. It is just not true to say, as the Indy did, that “The Tories have rejected all scientists and voted that animals don’t feel pain”. Anyone who has seen the Environment Secretary with his Bichon Frise Snowy, or indeed the hedgehog above, knows these viral articles are fake news. This made up story, circulated by the Tories’ opponents for solely cynical reasons, is cutting through to animal lovers who think they can trust things they believe on the Independent website. This morning Michael Gove categorically committed the government to animal sentience once and for all. He couldn’t be clearer:

“This government will ensure that any necessary changes required to UK law are made in a rigorous and comprehensive way to ensure animal sentience is recognised after we leave the EU.”

Will that go as viral as the fake news BS that hoodwinked thousands in the last week?

From Husky Hugging to Coal Mining

Greg Barker, now m’Lord Barker of Battle, Cameron’s husky hugging companion and former swivel-eyed Energy & Climate Change minister, has found a use for his experience gained in Government. Long a fan of Russian billionaires, Barker is the newly-appointed chairman of EN+, a Russian energy and aluminium conglomerate controlled by oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Barker’s first job is to bring a veneer of respectability to the energy company as it floats on the LSE. He’ll have his work cut out…

EN+’s owner is certainly close to the Kremlin: wikileaked US diplomatic cables described Deripaska as one of “the two or three oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis”, while the US still refuses to give him a visa due to his links to organised crimeDeripaska’s dealings with Manafort won’t help his cause…

More troubling are EN+’s ties to VTB Bank, the Russian lender that has been sanctioned by the US and EU since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014. As the Spectator pointed out:

EN+ says it intends to use the ‘primary proceeds’ of the share offering ‘to repay a portion of its debt’ – which is owed largely to Russian banks such as VTB (also an EN+ shareholder) that helped bail out Deripaska’s businesses with Kremlin support after the 2008 crash, and are currently subject to US and EU sanctions. So London investors’ money will be flowing back into Putin’s other-wise ostracised banking system. 

With sanctions still in place on VTB and Russia, Barker has to convince investors that this deal does not violate sanctions. He’ll have an even harder time explaining to Cameron why he’s working around sanctions his own government helped put in place…

Aside from all that, take a moment to reflect on the sheer cynicism of a husky hugging Climate Change hyping minister becoming Chairman of a coal-mining to aluminum smelting conglomerate. One Tory grandee told Guido that Barker “must be short of cash.” 

Give Us a Brake: Tom’s ‘Red Diesel’ Hot Air

Last month LibDem Tom Brake tabled an Early Day Motion on air pollution. It specifically called on government to end subsidies for ‘red diesel’ (red-dyed, lower VAT diesel that is meant for use in agricultural machinery rather than cars):

“That this House notes the Government’s plans to tackle Britain’s air pollution crisis and improve air quality…further notes that reduced duty red diesel for certain uses costs HM Treasury £2.4 billion annually; believes that subsidising red diesel also inhibits the Government’s plans to support the take-up of cleaner technologies and tackle air pollution effectively…”

In Brake’s Carshalton and Wallington constituency there are proposals to build a giant rubbish incinerator. Brake’s website proudly trumpets his support for the incinerator in a lengthy defence of the project. There’s just one thing: the proposed incinerator will burn 2,000 tonnes of red diesel per year (in order for the internal temperature to reach the necessary levels). A co-conspirator writes: “If Mr Brake is so keen on cutting the use of red diesel and air pollution, why has he supported the Viridor Incinerator?”. Guido has written previously about murkiness with Brake and Viridor. His Carshalton constituency is a real rotten borough, this is the tip of the iceberg…

UK Green Lobby Funded by ‘Anti-Immigrant Multi-Millionaire’

A reclusive American multi-millionaire who has backed anti-immigrant and population control campaigns has funded green charities in Britain through a charitable foundation. Fred Stanback, heir to the Stanback headache powder fortune, is said to have backed household name charities including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. The NGOs have directly lobbied UK ministers and bankrolled parliamentary candidates…

Stanback’s support for controversial anti-immigrant and population control causes has been well documented in the US media. Population control advocates are closely linked to wealthy American environmentalists; they believe that environmental problems stem from there being too many people on the planet. Stanback has:

  • Donated $500,000 to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group whose leaders are said to have ties to white supremacists and eugenicists;
  • Purchased $5,000 worth of copies of the novel The Camp of the Saints from the American Immigration Control Foundation to distribute. The book is widely acknowledged as a racist work and has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “racist fantasy”;
  • Funded a Duke University internship programme which placed interns at anti-immigration organisations, until a public outcry forced Duke University to remove these organisations from the approved list after the affiliations came to light in 2013;
  • Raised concerns that “Catholic interests” were the primary motivation behind the Wall Street Journal’s opposition to immigration control.

Stanback is said to channel his donations to green groups through the Foundation for the Carolinas (FFTC), a non-profit community foundation. According to US IRS filings, the FFTC has given:

  • $6,000,000 to Friends of the Earth;
  • $3,000,000 to Greenpeace;
  • $2,000,000 to the Dogwood Alliance (a US organisation that worked with Friends of the Earth on a major campaign to shut down biomass plants and other related energy businesses in the U.K).

The report concludes:

“The financial connections between these organisations and major funders like Fred Stanback strongly suggest that these environmental NGOs willingly received funding from the same source that funds population control and anti-immigrant groups on a large scale, and apparently without anyone in the environmental world publicly questioning the moral or financial integrity of using the money.”

Stay tuned this week for more in Guido’s Green NGO Sockpuppets series…

Sheerman’s Shameless Smart Meter Shilling

Last month Guido told how Labour MP Barry Sheerman has become the first serving MP to register as a lobbyist. Sheerman’s activities, conducted through his firm Policy Connect, caused industry groups to write letters of complaint to Parliament’s Standards Commissioner over the perceived conflict of interest. How can you properly serve your constituents and simultaneously be a registered lobbyist?

Yesterday the Huddersfield MP tweeted a picture of himself alongside the quote:

“Smart meters are a great way of using technology to help save money and make an environmental impact. It is great to hear so many homes in Huddersfield embracing smart meters and I would like to encourage more people to learn about the benefits of this technology.”

It must be a coincidence that Sheerman’s Policy Connect has put out a report on energy policy which, you guessed it, promotes smart meters. Contributors to the research included British Gas, EDF and Agility ECO: all firms in the smart meter business. Sheerman advising his constituents to use products directly linked to his lobbying activities…

Green NGOs Spend Taxpayers’ Millions Lobbying Government

Green NGOs are spending millions lobbying against the interests of British taxpayers, analysis by the Taxpayers’ Alliance has found. Taxpayers’ cash received by charities including Friends of the Earth and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is being splurged on partisan political activities such as supporting parliamentary candidates and lobbying ministers. The cash has been used to block projects which experts say would bring down energy costs for consumers. 

The RSPB received £27.5 million in grants from UK taxpayers in 2015 and 2016. Its sister organisation Birdlife International received the third highest amount of European Commission taxpayer funding of any green group, being granted €3.8 million. Likewise, Friends of the Earth received the second highest amount of any such group, being handed €7.6 million. In conjunction with Greenpeace (which does not receive EC funding), these charities have acted more like pressure groups by:

  • Orchestrating a massive media campaign to fight a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point;
  • Launching law suits to obstruct the construction of new power stations;
  • Lobbying the UK government to prevent expansion of infrastructure;
  • Lobbying successfully to prevent exploration for shale gas taking place in Wiltshire;
  • Publishing misleading advertising to influence consumer and public opinion, and spread falsehoods about shale gas exploration.

Friends of the Earth also spent more than £100,000 backing a pro-Green crop of parliamentary candidates. The Electoral Commission intervened and fined Friends of the Earth for failing to register properly as a donor. The amount spent was way over the limit imposed on candidates themselves in the final stages of the election campaign…

Meanwhile, the Pesticide Action Network, which has received more than €710,000 from the European Commission over the past decade, is currently campaigning to ban glyphosate (a weed killer). The pressure group claims glyphosate is a “potentially cancer-inducing chemical”, despite Europe’s own chemicals regulator, the European Chemicals Agency, finding

“The available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria… to classify glyphosate for specific target organ toxicity, or as a carcinogen, as a mutagen or for reproductive toxicity.”

A ban would cost taxpayers £228 million a year. A probe carried out by the Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Energy and Environmental Legal Institute found that, overall:

  • A total of €86.5 million has been given to a range of environmental groups by the European Commission over the past 10 years;
  • 34 groups have been given more than €1 million.

This enormous pile of taxpayers cash is being ploughed into lobbying activities which directly prevent UK taxpayers from benefiting from cheaper energy and new infrastructure. Taxpayers’ Alliance Chief Executive John O’Connell said:

“It’s bad enough that politicians are piling costs onto consumers with their hare-brained energy schemes, but the fact that taxpayers are paying pressure groups to campaign against their interests adds insult to injury.

“There are plenty of reasons for the government to stop this gravy train in its tracks as it is, but the fact that some of these groups have run dishonest campaigns and fallen foul of electoral commission rules must surely be a final nail in the coffin for this taxpayer funded lobbying.”

Stay tuned this week for more in Guido’s Green NGO Sockpuppets series…

SMR Mini-Nuclear Plants Could Produce Cheap Energy

This morning Policy Exchange hosted an event about small modular reactors (SMRs) – the technology is derived from nuclear-powered submarine systems. A consortium led by Rolls Royce is pushing the idea of using new nuclear technology scaled down to a fraction of the size of older plant designs. The mini-plants would be made in factories to be re-assembled on site much more quickly and cheaply than large-scale projects like HinkleyRolls-Royce reckons the global export market could be worth as much as £400 billion for the made-in-Britain technology.

The report claims that the mini-plants would produce power at £60/MWh, which is far more competitive than the £92/MWh strike price guaranteed to Hinkley by George Osborne. It is clear that as old power stations are decommissioned Britain is going to need to replace them – wind is too intermittent to make up for the loss of capacity – nuclear is going to have to be part of the energy supply mix. Hinkley type technology is just too expensive.

Download the report Small Modular Reactors.

Greenpeace’s Wind Spin

Greenpeace, the Green Party and Caroline Lucas are celebrating a 50% drop in the price of offshore wind power with tweets galore using the graphic above. It sounds like great news for electricity bill payers that the price of wind power has dropped 50%. It is not quite as good as it sounds.

The government’s guaranteed price to wind power producers has dropped 50% in 2 years. The price to the consumer will still be set in the energy market place. A welcome saving to taxpayers it may be, it is not a 50% drop in the price to the consumer. Shale gas would likely be even cheaper if the Greens got out of the way and let the industry get on with fracking it. The Green Party and their allies are the cause of higher energy prices.

Caroline Lucas is making out that that somehow the even more heavily subsidised nuclear industry could be ditched in favour of renewables. In reality given that wind power produces less than 5% of the UK’s energy needs and the output is basically zero for 64% of the time this is not very likely.  She’s spinning more than the wind turbines.

Greens Live in Most Expensive Homes

Green and Liberal Democrat constituencies are the most expensive areas to live in the UK, with Tory seats in third place, according to research linking house prices to party support.

The research commissioned by Bridging Loan Hub reveals that, when analysing the average house price in all 650 UK constituencies, at £394,577, the sole Green constituency (Brighton Pavilion) pips the Lib Dems, with an average value of £368,517. Despite their reputation as the party of the rich, Conservative seats are only the third most expensive in Britain, averaging £330,585 per home.

Conservative seats also have the greatest range in house prices. The difference between the most and least expensive Tory constituencies is £2,082,689 and Labour follow closely behind with a £2,014,780 difference. Seats held by Jeremy Corbyn’s party have £265,762 homes on average, with constituencies ranging from £90,058 to £2,104,838. Sinn Féin strongholds in Northern Ireland have the cheapest homes nationally, averaging just £133,820 per property across their seven seats with the lowest average price for any single constituency: £88,178 in West Tyrone.

This will come as no surprise to people who have been out canvassing in Tory-LibDem swing seats like Richmond…

Natalie’s Making Blackberry Moonshine

Usually it is those of us of a more libertarian bent who rail against regulations that prevent individuals with enterprise creating goods and services which do no harm to others. Growing your own cannabis, picking psilocybin mushrooms for traditional religious festivals or brewing your own moonshine for personal consumption is celebrated by most of us with free market leanings.[…] Read the rest


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Quote of the Day

Charles Moore on the aid charity’s sex scandal…

“Oxfam was the Harvey Weinstein of aid – arrogant, bullying, conspicuous in its faults, yet utterly immune until the balance of fear mysteriously changed overnight.”


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