Demonstrating that there are other settings to which Lyndon Johnson’s famous observation (“Did y’ever think ... that making a speech on ee-conomics is a lot like pissing down your leg? It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else”) are highly relevant, James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole has launched another assault on anyone disagreeing with him after reading part of a novel.
Neither fair nor balanced
To little surprise, Del Boy has been working his way through Ayn Rand’s last work of fiction Atlas Shrugged, and has concluded that part of it is effectively a parable telling us why we are wrong not to wholeheartedly accept the extraction of shale gas by fracking. That Rand’s vision is as flawed as Del’s selection of citations does not enter. It’s a libertarian creed, and that is all there is to it.
Rand’s contention, which is, more or less, that the creative people within the economy could go on strike, which would bring everything to a halt, is bunk. The idea that economic creativity is down to a group that can be simply defined ignores reality, which is that all those who participate in the economy bring something to the table. But it tells much about Rand’s elitist mindset.
And small wonder Delingpole identifies with Ayn Rand: like her, he cannot accept any dissent. There is no room for argument in Del Boy’s world. He has decided that there must be fracking, and anyone who finds otherwise is duly and roundly abused: “liars ... green zealots ... poisonous ... corporate liar ... greenie activist ... useful idiot ... gullible prat”. Not much chance of intellectual engagement there, then.
In any case, Delingpole’s assertion that fracking is somehow being prevented from going ahead is also bunk. The Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the Seventeenth Baronet, has given the industry generous tax breaks. Reserves of shale gas have apparently been identified. The technology for its exploitation and extraction is well established. So what’s his problem?
Sure, there are protesters at the Balcombe site in West Sussex where Cuadrilla has been drilling, but that drilling is for oil. If the Bowland Shale has such enormous potential reserves, why isn’t the company – and many others – working its way across the North-West from the site near Blackpool where they did their exploratory fracking some time ago?
There are those opposed to fracking, but Delingpole’s almost paranoid frothing about them is hopelessly exaggerated. If there were such rich pickings to be had – sufficient to drive down the gas price, as he suggests – then fracking would have already started. It hasn’t. That could be because, while the idea feels hot to him, it doesn’t to anyone else, as LBJ so memorably observed.
But good to see Del is reading Ayn Rand – so the rest of us don’t have to.