The not so talented Viscount Ridley, at it again

Viscount Ridley was writing in The Times yesterday, Viscount Ridley has form (here, here).

It is a splenetic piece of writing which accuses just about everyone except grouse moor managers of being in it for the money.  Environmentalists talk up climate change so that their mates can make money from green energy apparently, thinks the coal-mine owning Viscount Ridley. According to The Times, clean air is a vested interest too!

It’s a very sloppy and quite unpleasant piece of writing.  It was directed towards the new Defra secretary, Michael Gove and seems to be Ridley’s version of his brother-in-law’s (Owen Paterson’s) outburst about the green blob when Paterson was booted out of the job.  This ad hominem attack on environmentalists is rather shocking – but those seem to be the times we are living in, or at least in which  The Times is living.

Here’s a little quiz about the not so talented Viscount Ridley’s writing about grouse moors: a) which of these things has Viscount Ridley written and b) which is true?

  1. there are lots of Hen Harriers nesting on grouse moors
  2. there are no Hen Harriers in Wales
  3. there is a grouse moor in the north of England dripping with breeding waders


a) all of them

b) not 1, not 2 and who knows about 3 because Ridley wouldn’t disclose either the location of the estate or the data, if any exist, on which this claim was made


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  1. Miles says:

    the sub-editor missed a trick - the headline should have been "Gove needs to watch out for the green blobby."

    It's no coincidence that the phrase "the blob" which Gove applied to the Education establishment during his several years of trying to dismantle it, emanated from an American Neoconservative thinktank called the American Enterprise Institute. Gove is a big fan of the AEI as I described in yesterday's blog

    Paterson then converted it into The Green Blob, presumably after a night of heavy drinking with his Bruv-in-law Viscount "Northern Rock" Ridley.

  2. Paul V Irving says:

    As usual nasty utter unremitting driven, lies and distortions, perhaps Ridley and Baynes of SLE think this shite up together. The trouble is there will be folk out there in positions of relative power who want to and will believe this rubbish and worse still be influenced by it. Perhaps somebody should challenge "The Times" for printing lies but then that would be nothing new in the UKs right wing press.

    • Bob W says:

      "Right-wing" is a bit strong - the Times was pro Remain after all. I subscribe on-line and would put the Times half-way between the Guardian and the Telegraph - I don't skim the latter anymore now that most of it's not free. The Times has some opinionated columnists but I don't think that's a bad thing - I don't want to see everything through politically correct Guardian eyes.

      The good thing is that the Ridley rubbish attracted a lot of adverse comments from people who knew exactly where he is coming from.

  3. John Cantelo says:

    Gove proved himself the most obdurate, dogma-driven and, by common consent amongst those who actually did the job, the worst Education Secretary in living memory. That Ridley appears happy to casually dismiss the consensus not just of the "experts" but also of the practitioners in the field suggests that he suffers from the same malaise. To call this article sloppy is almost to damn with faint praise since malicious and deliberately misleading would be closer to the mark. I'm surprised, though, that he omitted the RSPB from his roll-call pressure groups for Gove to be wary of but not at all surprised that he left out what is arguably the least well-informed lobby group despite it being the best connected and most influential one amongst Conservative MPs, the CA.

  4. nimby says:

    The press don't do themselves any favours if they publish unsubstantiated material? Given that there appears to be a contingent from the mainstream media publishing dubious and on occasions erroneous twaddle isn't it time that we pushed for accuracy of statements and where claims are made the source cited? Otherwise they run the risk of being dubbed fiction writers, and their contributors unreliable or worse? We have libel laws, how about accuracy ones where corrections are required to be front page large print not font size 8 inside back page footer type of thing?

    Recent events have shown that the mainstream media can fail in their endeavour to manage matters to their own political advantage, so is a clean up of press reporting due?

    Do people actually believe what they read in the mainstream press?

  5. Les Wallace says:

    Funnily enough the other day I made a comment about Ridley on a post from a pro coal, fracking and logging Tasmanian guy who sent me a friend request on facebook a couple of years back out of the blue. Ridley had written an article about wind power never being able to deliver much energy without it covering vast swathes of the country. looked liked made up pish to me. I have never made any secret of the fact that I do not like the way Climate Change has been pushed to the fore of environmentalism, some of the claims made for it and the way many issues have been appropriated as symptoms of it. However, that in no way makes me blind of the far, far worse pseudo science and blatant propaganda emanating from people with fossil fuel interests.

    I left a comment that I wouldn't treat anything Ridley said with less than a bucket of salt. He's obviously churning out what ever a certain market requires business as usual energy suppliers or grouse shooters. I mentioned Ridley's non existent report into the waders supposedly living on grouse moors as the example of why he's not to be trusted. I actually watched the Westminter 'debate' on the proposed ban into driven grouse shooting last night which was an incredibly painful exercise and towards the end one of the pro punters got up and in a voice dripping with righteous indignation quoted Ridley's 'report' as to why wildlife needed grouse shooting - wonder if any of the pro punters could actually tell the difference between a lapwing and golden plover?

    I know Ridley wrote the 'Red Queen' which I've never read and also did another book that essentially said don't worry everything will turn out alright of its own accord, and that he does have a science background. Is there any way a scientific body could publicly make an announcement into the unreliability of his pronouncements, quoting a non existent report seems to be totally unacceptable behaviour which does not meet the requirements of basic human decency far less reasonable standards in use of legitimate science. He's an embarrassment as a scientist and I wouldn't call him much of a human being either.

  6. Adam says:

    GWCT: "We agree with Matt Ridley."

    • John Cantelo says:

      My understanding is that the New Forest as a whole (and the relevant habitats in particular) is not and never has been heavily keepered so foxes & crows there have never been subjected to severe control. Yet the Curlew population there has declined at a similar rate to that observed nationwide. If my understanding is correct, then this suggests to me that factors other than just predation by foxes and crows are likely to be at work.

  7. Lyn Ebbs says:

    Deregulate the banks - we get a financial crash; trash health and safety - 79 are killed as a tower block goes up in flames. With thalidomide, we had the tragedy first then introduced medicines regulations. I fail to understand why people who want regulations are seen as having vested interests rather than just sensible!

    • Jonathan Wallace says:

      Yes - Corbyn was constantly attacked during the election campaign as a threat to the safety and security of the people of this country because of his views on nuclear weapons and on how to deal with terrorism but the threat to our safety, security and well-being posed by those who would cut regulatory restraint on business to a bare minimum was barely challenged.

  8. Rob says:

    Fake News

  9. Roderick leslie says:

    Well, his financial acumen is well known - now we know he has no political sense whatsoever as well. Michael Gove must be spitting tacks. Just as he gets started on the near impossible task of convincing voters the Conservatives aren't a disaster for the environment, along come Matt and tells the real truth about the nasty party's real beliefs. Bang goes another wadge of floating voters - whilst Matt and his friends who'd never vote other than true blue continue blithely, unaware that their de-regulation, trash the state and nature beliefs just went up in smoke.

  10. Alan says:

    Truly dreadful article even for him. Just don't understand him. I accept that he genuinely believes himself not to be parti pris - even if the rest of us do. I accept that he sees flawed thinking, moral hazard and so on when he looks in a certain direction -but how would that not be so, and why does he seem incapable of looking in any other direction? I accept that he wants to succeed on his own terms as a jounalist/commentator - but when did he last have anything new to say?

    I also don't understand why the Times continues to employ him. He's obviously capable of stirring up the restless trolls who inhabit the paper's online comments section; but really he's the dullest and most predictable of their commentators. I doubt many people bother to read his articles. I fear that the paper sees him as somehow authoritative because of his status and background. And he sort of is, that's the 'Establishment' for you. If only they knew what bollocks he writes.

  11. Joe W says:

    I'm wondering if perhaps Matt Ridley was feeling a bit below par whilst penning his latest anti-environmental diatribe, as rather unusually, towards end of his typically dreary polemic is a sentence that is actually quite sensible:

    'Mr Gove should demand that environmental policies are judged by their results, not by their intentions'.

    Surely I think we can all agree that this principle should be applied to the UK's post-Brexit farming strategy, particularly future agri-environment support and regulation?

    • Jonathan Wallace says:

      'Mr Gove should demand that environmental policies are judged by their results, not by their intentions'.

      Which would be a good thing if it truly meant the actual results of the policies rather than biased assertions about what is happening without supporting evidence. The problem is getting people to agree on what the facts actually are. In relation to grouse moors the shooting lobby strenuously pushes as 'fact' the benefits of keepered moorland for wildlife in general and the scarcity of illegal persecution of raptors ("look how few successful prosecutions there are!"). On our side of the fence we see those claims are false and point to a stack of evidence that shows they are untrue but we should keep in mind that in modern politics (perhaps it was ever thus) politicians choose the 'facts' that suit their agenda and Mr Gove is ideologically disposed to accept the 'truth' of Ridley's message. The only answer to this is to endeavour to make sure that the government, MPs, MSPs and all those with a potential influence on government policy towards the environment are continually challenged when their utterances, policies and actions are at odds with what is really happening in our countryside.

  12. Phil Espin says:

    Not sure why anyone takes Ridley seriously. He's proved he couldn't run a whelk stall. We'll be seeing environmental propaganda from Fred Goodwin next. At least Ian Botham was good at something!


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