‘Ban on fracking after 99 per cent reject technique,’ screamed the headline in the Scottish edition of Metro last week. The ban, or technically extension of the moratorium, came as no surprise to anyone who follows Scottish politics. The SNP is quite uninterested in economics, adopts every fashionable progressive cause and needs the votes of the six Scottish Green MSPs to give itself a reliable majority in Holyrood.
What did surprise, though, was the claim that 99 per cent rejected fracking. It turned out that this Soviet-style figure came from a Scottish government consultation. But how did they do it? A brief internet search, a couple of clicks to get to the relevant page of the report on the consultation, and I had the answer.
Of the 60,535 responses, 34.4 per cent were generated by Friends of the Earth Scotland. Of these, more than 16,000 were generated online from FoE portals and a further 4,582 were by postcards issued by FoE. A further 50.9 per cent of responses came from three petitions: 38 Degrees (21,000 responses), Scotland Against Fracking (4,000) and Change.org (5,000). Greenpeace generated 2,555 responses and the Scottish Greens a modest 836.
In short, the activist Left organised the vast majority of responses, drowning out more rational voices. I dare say there are reasons to oppose fracking, although I, and you probably also, view the benefits as vastly outweighing any environmental impact.
However, all this is irrelevant, for even if the responses had been 50/50, the Scottish energy minister, somebody called Paul Wheelhouse apparently, would not have taken thirty seconds to consider the issue as the result has been predetermined for political reasons.
What is the relevance of this to people in the rest of the UK? Well, we are only a poor Tory showing in the next general election away from a government at least as grotesque as the SNP one in Holyrood. Imagine the shopping list of a Corbyn government.
For almost any notion that took the fancy of Corbyn, John McDonnell and Len McCluskey they could engineer a consultation that produced apparent overwhelming support, regardless of what the public thought. The beauty of this from the hard Left’s point of view is that they don’t even need to lie or bully the public into agreeing with them; they simply organise their supporters to generate very many responses.
There is no easy answer to this type of demagogic politics. The Conservative Woman and other non-socialist websites will have to alert us to each consultation and include links for us to click through and respond to them. Each of us will have to do our part pushing back against the Leftist tide and denying them the power of bogus but powerful statistics. We must also alert people to the skewing of consultations by the activist Left.
If they can do it for fracking, frankly they can do it for anything. You have been warned!