NOTE: As there are a lot of important links embedded in the original article we have referenced these in the text and given all the links at the end.
The LM network referred to, as well as denying climate change, is fervently pro-GM and is also involved in Lord Taverne's Sense About Science pressure group, not to mention several other pro-GM lobby groups. Thomas Deichmann is the editor of LM's sister paper Novo and also operates as a biotech apologist. For more on all of these see the links below. For more on the LM network see http://www.lobbywatch.org/p1temp.asp?pid=39&page=1
The Critical Community
Bella Caledonia, January 3 2008
In the wake of the most recent failure of will in Bali, its interesting to see who's co-ordinating disinformation on the environment here in the Grand Old Ukania.
I was on the radio with a 'climate change sceptic' the other day. We were discussing my local food experiment which seeks to cut carbon emissions by reducing food miles. Stuart Waiton is a Sociology lecturer at Abertay University, and, as it turned out, rather predictably, a writer for the LM Network's house paper, Spiked. His tirade was routine and could have been scripted. Our project was 'nimbyist, parochial and pathetic'. In Stuart's world everyone is healthy and living longer and you can buy a chicken for 2 pounds, so why worry? 'What's the problem?' he pleaded.
The radio researchers had taken the concept of eating from locally sourced food to Baldragon School in Dundee. The children had rejected the idea out of hand the very concept of sourcing food from near where you lived was thought bizarre and impossible. Instead they defined themselves as 'Asda' or 'Tesco' kids. They were thoroughly brandwashed into a diet of processed industrial food. No big surprises there.
Turkey Twizzlers all round?
Listeners flooded the station with emails and texts of shock at the children's obvious divorce from the land that surrounds Dundee, home to salmon, beef and rich agricultural land.What should have shocked more was the idea that a sociology lecturer a profession that's given us C Wright Mills and David Miliband should conclude his diatribe with the idea that knowing where your food might come from and how it's produced is a BAD thing.
Increasingly society is divided between 'the critical community' as described by Anthony Frewin in Lobster and the unblinking quiescence of mass culture, and Stuart's 2 pound chicken.
Waiton's LM Network of course has an agenda. Whether it's Claire Fox - or is it Foster - or Brendan O' Neill or the ridiculous Battle of Ideas, where there's very little of either - the upfront message is 'question everything' but the real message: don't question a thing.
As a group they pose as being of the left, whilst being funded and operating as a mouthpiece for the far right and big business. What makes them particularly insidious, though, is their gift for combining a disciplined Leninist style of organisation and complete lack of independence of thought, with a proclaimed taste for the rhetoric of open minds and free speech.
This encourages the media and many of those who should know better to treat them as providing merely some contrarian salt to add zest to any debate. Hence, this year's Battle of Ideas got itself sponsored by the ESRC - the premier social science funding body in the UK. In the past, the NERC, which funds the environmental sciences, has sponsored Brendan O Neill's Spiked to organise its online debates on environmental issues. The net result has been that the NERC got debates deftly slanted to the LMers' virulent anti-environmentalist agenda while the ESRC ended up with the war crimes apologist Thomas Deichmann sitting on its platform.
Deichmann and the LMers' record of trying to airbrush away the atrocities of the Serb and Hutu militias, is a reminder that these are not just harmless cranks or freewheeling eccentrics but something much more sinister. And as the desperate outcomes of the Bali talks unravel before us, we need to understand that the 'climate change sceptics' are playing for high stakes in a war to the death with the critical community.