The Conservative vote is down at 28% in England from 39% at GE 2010, offering Labour an outright majority for May next year, currently on 34%. With 120 Conservative MPs in formerly safe seats facing active opposition groups against fracking/shale gas drilling inside their Constituencies, it seemed like something had to give in the Conservative camp. Paterson’s open bulling of the fracking industry seems increasingly like a political suicide note, given that he’s facing major and growing opposition to the proposed drill sites in his own Constituency, Shropshire North.
Now he’s making ‘big’ Murdoch-backed speeches on how the Conservatives should sign Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty after the GE 2015, clearly peering at the camera with the look of destiny in his eye. Theresa May was always likely to find a way to hit back at him, as she too is clearly interested in what will happen after Cameron, and wants to lead. Here we have one of her ‘aides’ (amongst other senior aides) speaking out against the risks of fracking. Theresa May might be bothered about the environmental consequences. Let’s hope so, but of one thing you can be certain, unlike ‘suicide’ Paterson, she’s worried as hell about the political consequences. Even the appeal of leaving the EU, normally music to eurosceptic right wing ears, is being pushed down the agenda as people battle to save their homes and health from gas drilling.
Tory backbenchers are well up with the likely loss of their seats caused directly by the ‘dash for gas’. The Green Party is surging on the back of it. Labour are making sympathetic noises to anti-frackers while not actually outright opposing the drills. Only ‘suicide’ Paterson is charging the anti-fracking guns with his light brigade of Richard North and James Delingpole backing him up in the media, not to mention his brother-in-law Matt Ridley, oh and of course Lord Ashcroft who’s funding this strange example of political self-harm.
Interestingly Theresa May’s aide is focusing her rebellion on the the fracking threat to water. Ah! They’re getting it at last. That after all is what fracking is all about – destroying water reserves all over the world, so water will be the next new system of suppression once the century long oil game comes to an end.
TAP’s comment on Telegraph piece – It’s all a bit mealy-mouthed but you can sense the fear in their voices, realising that Cameron’s sending them to the political slaughterhouse, cheered on by Old Suicide. Offering more money won’t help anyone. This is about life and death, health and ill health. When will Tory MPs get it that not everything has a price tag? They are currently charging over a cliff, but why should we the people they are meant to be representing be sent to oblivion as well?
Cameron and Paterson are simply lying about the threat posed by gas drilling, and their lies are starting to catch up with them. If Farage wants to win, he need only open up on this weak point in his enemies’ armoury. If UKIP went anti-fracking, Conservative seats would start tumbling to them like ninepins. To do that he’s got to send Roger Helmer his energy spokesman packing. Helmer’s also sold out Paterson-style to the corporate agenda. Farage should try putting Suzanne Evans (Paterson’s near neighbour UKIP PPC for Shrewsbury and Atcham) onto Energy. She has some inkling how destructive an issue fracking is becoming for the Tories, and could handle the change of tack in a professional way.
In England, where nearly all the marginal seats are located, UKIP are on 22% against Conservatives on 28%. UKIP could close the gap with this one single issue taken on board. Stop fracking in Britain, Nigel Farage, like in France, Germany and China, and Tories are toast. Tempting surely? Especially as this would help fix the UKIP problem with women, who are far more environmentally concerned than men. You could then bolt on the Article 50 approach as an extra, dropping talk of referendums, and go for a majority with Conservative being the so-called ‘wasted vote’ for a change . We could then have a really fine Christmas, as the Peoples Army marches on to victory. Paterson could go hunting with Delingpole on Boxing Day and start planning their respective retirements.
(Yes I have noticed the dates of The Telegraph article. Opposition to fracking has only grown bigger since then, along with Theresa May’s ambition. See next link.)
Senior ministerial aide hits out at consequences of fracking
Senior ministerial aides are among the growing number of Conservative backbenchers publicly warning about the consequences of gas fracking, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
George Hollingbery, a parliamentary private secretary to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has warned that he will be “manning the barricades” if there is any danger posed to water supplies by shale gas exploration.
Mr Hollingbery, the MP for Meon Valley in Hampshire, warned that gasfracking could be “disastrous” in his county because of the area’s fragile water supply.
He is the first senior Tory to openly attack the process of fracking, which David Cameron this month backed in the strongest possible terms.
Fracking, which involves fracturing rocks deep underground with water and chemicals to extract natural gas, has dramatically cut energy bills in the USA.
Ministers are hoping that it could do the same in the UK. However, the process has led to violent protests in West Sussex.
Ben Wallace, the MP for Lancaster and Wyre and an aide to Ken Clarke, the Minister Without Portfolio, has also hit out at the “risible” deals being offered to counties that allow fracking.
Mr Wallace, suggested that opposition to fracking will grow and could “delay” shale gas exploitation unless councils are given a far greater proportion of revenue by drilling companies.
Currently the Government has an agreement with industry that 1 per cent of any revenue generated will go to the local community where drilling took place. Of that one per cent, just one-third will go to county council coffers.
Although Mr Wallace supports the principle of fracking, he has written to the Prime Minister warning that the Government risks losing support for the process unless it “incentivises” local communities.
“I was pleased… when the Government accepted the principle that localities affected would benefit and a percentage of revenue would go to counties,” Mr Wallace said in his letter.
He added: “The industry agreed figure of 1/3 of 1 per cent of revenue to counties is risible and risks delaying shale gas exploitation. It is also tiny compared to what the industry has to pay in the US and elsewhere.”
Mr Hollingbery’s outspoken comments were made to his local newspaper in June.
“Any threat to the water supply here would be utterly disastrous – every single person and business relies on that water,” he said.
“I don’t pretend to be an expert, but we do know of examples in the United States where there has been an impact on the water supply from fracking.”
He added: “I’m not suggesting there is any threat to the chalk acquifers of Hampshire, but – if there was – I would certainly be manning the barricades.”
Mr Hollingbery told The Telegraph: “There is lots to learn and I want to know more before I make any decision on this. I am very, very concerned about water quality in Hampshire and water quality generally.”
He added: “I’m raising concerns because there are concerns that need to be met – there’s no question about that. But I’m not an expert and I do want to know a great deal more before I plump either way…if there ever is any application in our area which of course isn’t certain.”
A number of backbenchers have in recent months made known their concerns about fracking.
Eric Ollerenshaw, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, has warned of a “north-south divide” over fracking.
“We do not want – as it looks at the moment – that the north gets the dirty end, and the south sucks up all the energy,” he said.
And Anne McIntosh, who chairs the Commons environment select committee, has also spoken of the “lack of knowledge of the process of fracking and the impact on the environment”.
She warned that the process could have an impact on house prices.
The Prime Minister earlier this month insisted that people across the country must accept fracking.
He said that fracking could result in cheaper energy bills for millions, tens of thousands of jobs and windfalls for communities.
He also pledged that fracking would not damage Britain’s countryside and would only result in a “very minor change to the landscape”.
It comes as a top Government adviser on the process called for all companies to monitor gas emissions at all potential fracking sites in order to allay the fears of local communities.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Professor Robert Mair, who last year chaired a panel on whether fracking should go ahead, said that “shale gas companies must play their part in building public confidence”.
“Such baseline monitoring is vital since methane can be present in groundwater naturally. Collecting this valuable data will be the only way of keeping close track of the environmental impacts of fracking in situ,” he said.