Home > Environment, Oz Politics > Yet more Monckton

Yet more Monckton

July 18th, 2011

The House of Lords has taken ‘unprecedented’ action to stop Lord Monckton claiming that he is a member (his closest approach was receiving zero votes in an election among hereditary peers). That’s typically the opening lie in a Monckton presentation that misrepresents everything from the United Nations to the laws of arithmetic. It’s hard to imagine how many cease and desist letters would be required to stop all the falsehoods, or what would be left of his presentation if they were removed[1].

But, as I said previously, the real point here relates to the Australian political right, who have embraced Monckton with universal (if sometimes feigned) enthusiasm. And not just Monckton, but a long string of conpsiracy theorists, charlatans and cranks, who keep on repeating the same lies despite being repeatedly refuted (Ian Plimer on volcanoes can stand in for a multitude of examples).

As I said previously, it’s hard to tell who is most blameworthy here. Is it the’crazy uncles’ represented by people like Nick Minchin and encompassing the majority of conservative supporters, who actually believe this stuff, the weathervanes like Tony Abbott who will happily say 2+2 = 4,5 or 73 according to what their listeners want to hear, or supposedly serious conservatives/liberals who know it’s nonsense but keep their mouths shut.

In the short term, and aided by some spectacular own goals on the Labor side, this intellectual catastrophe hasn’t had any political costs for the right. But that won’t be true forever. And for any intelligent person of conservative inclinations, the knowledge that political activity on their preferred side requires (at a minimum) tacit acquiescence in this kind of thing must be pretty appalling.

fn1. Indeed, bearing in mind Mary McCarthy’s famous remark about Lillian Hellman, it’s hard to imagine that even prepositions and conjunctions would remain.

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  1. Freelander
    July 18th, 2011 at 22:26 | #1

    As I conjectured under “What can you say?”, I suspect that Moncton may have some excuse for his outrageous claims and behaviour. I suspect most of his followers, however, have no such excuse.

    In relation to Labor, own goals, their ineptitude, moral bankruptcy and all, I think that if they can hold on for a full term before the next election, then Abbott will self destruct. Many had expected Abbott to self destruct before now. Although all the Murdoch media, and others ignored it, Abbott’s antics in encouraging Reith to challenge Stockdale, with Minchin then trying to reverse the handiwork, and finally, Abbott being too clever by half in casting Stockdale’s winning vote and then letting Stockdale and via Julie Bishop, Reith know what he had done, has to have been an horrendous own goal. With plenty of time ’till full term, I cannot see him going the distance without another major and hopeful fatal mishap. Abbott will not be able to keep himself on leash for that long.

  2. sam
    July 18th, 2011 at 22:29 | #2

    The most recent
    Background Briefing was eye opening. It showed a very ominous atmosphere of barely suppressed physical intimidation against the female ABC reporter.

  3. stockingrate
    July 18th, 2011 at 22:35 | #3

    News Limited in Australia bears some blame. People masquerading as journalists as per their News Of The World colleagues. Here acting the equivalent of the local spivs helping the English snake oil salesman fleece the locals.

  4. Brad
    July 19th, 2011 at 07:42 | #4

    I think we should encourage people to cease calling this man Lord Monckton and refer to him as Christopher or Mr. Monckton. The title “Lord” is irrelevant to our society but it still carries an air of authority about it.

  5. bruced
    July 19th, 2011 at 11:17 | #5

    Where has all this been said before
    “Success is the important thing. Propaganda is not a matter for average minds, but rather a matter for practitioners. It is not supposed to be lovely or theoretically correct. I do not care if I give wonderful, aesthetically elegant speeches, or speak so that women cry. The point of a political speech is to persuade people of what we think right. I speak differently in the provinces than I do in Berlin, and when I speak in Bayreuth, I say different things than I say in the Pharus Hall. That is a matter of practice, not of theory. We do not want to be a movement of a few straw brains, but rather a movement that can conquer the broad masses. Propaganda should be popular, not intellectually pleasing. It is not the task of propaganda to discover intellectual truths.

    Speech by Joseph Goebbels on 9 January 1928
    Tony Abbott, Lord Monckton, Bob Carter, Ian Plimer, etc, etc, all proponents of the Big Lie
    The sad thing is the Australian population does not recognize when its being fed BS propaganda

  6. adamite
    July 19th, 2011 at 14:00 | #6

    Interesting listening to Monckton’s comments at the press club on the dangers of accepting scientific ‘consensus’ on climate change. Despite his attempts to impress the audience with his scientific credentials (including a brief reference to the philosophy of science) his simplistic comments on the ‘nature’ of science reveal little awareness of the standard critiques of positivist approaches to scientific research or of the paradigmatic nature of scientific understanding.

  7. derrida derider
    July 19th, 2011 at 14:23 | #7

    No Brad, the title “Lord” doesn’t carry an air of authority – quite the opposite. Monckton is not a lord but I think we should all encourage him to keep claiming he is. It makes it easier, not harder, to show he is utterly delusional.

    We can portray him as “upper class twit of the year”, or if we wish to be kind (I don’t) just refer to him as “an English eccentric”. Both will help reduce his credibility to the extremely low level that his other claims ought to set it at.

  8. Freelander
    July 19th, 2011 at 14:32 | #8

    Apparently because he invented a puzzle, that means he is a climate scientist. I had hoped that his opponent would have replied that having, himself, not invented a puzzle, he could make no such claim.

    It shows how pathetic journalists and a variety of others, who you would think would know better, really are, that they provide a venue for a charlatan like that. Another claim he made was when asked about whether he is a member of the house of lords was to say read my passport, which said something like honorable blah blah. And then he said “see I am a member of the house of lords it says so”. The journalist didn’t even say “no it doesn’t”. “It doesn’t say anywhere in your passport that you are a member of the house of lords.” Instead, Monckton’s stupid statement was met with thunderous applause, as was all of his rather tepid performance. At least some clowns, when they are talking nonsense, can be entertaining! Overall, Monckton’s opponent did a good job, but the clapping suggested the audience was partisan and somewhat septic friendly.

    I think given his carry on, particularly his continuing to claim that he is a member of the house of lords, that they should simply take his title away from him. I am always amazed how many people, even in the former colonies, and particularly in those rebel colonies that broke away from the ‘great’ empire, are impressed by a hereditary title.

  9. Freelander
    July 19th, 2011 at 14:33 | #9

    @derrida derider

    Monckton is a ‘Lord’. But he is not and has never been a member of the House of Lords.

  10. Chris Warren
    July 19th, 2011 at 15:30 | #10

    @Freelander

    There is a difference between having a hereditary title, being a peer, and being a Lord.

    The House of Lord’s would seem qualified to make this judgement. They have requested Monkton to cease and desist from describing himself as a Lord.

    It seems therefore that Monckton is not a Lord, and his use of this term is consistent with everything else that comes out of his mouth.

  11. Ken Fabos
    July 19th, 2011 at 16:07 | #11

    How much of public opinion is malleable enough that propaganda as a commercial commodity (advertising, PR, tankthink) can make governments happen for the highest bidder? Some shock-jocks certainly have previous form for “cash for comment” and big media has made and broken governments. How much public opinion might a resource rent tax worth buy the coal industry? Given the monetary value to be lost by a rising carbon price I expect big coal has very deep pockets, and I expect we ain’t seen nothing yet. They are the big new customers for this commodified public opinion – a cashed up coal and a gas industry in the middle of an unprecedented boom but facing longer term restriction and regulation. Gillard getting an interim carbon price up has shaken them I think and they are making it their business to force out this government whatever it costs. I suspect a kind of natural congruence of interests seems to develop between the biggest buyers of commodified public opinion and the big media players themselves; what we are seeing in the campaign against the carbon tax is the impact of these big new buyers of commodified opinion.

  12. rog
    July 19th, 2011 at 16:49 | #12

    @sam
    In the interview Monckton was asked about his claims that Garnaut was a fascist. Monckton denies having ever made the claim (he said that Garnaut held a “fascist point of view”) but accepts that he apologised for making the comment and did so unreservedly.

    He is playing cat and mouse with the listeners mind.

  13. sam
    July 19th, 2011 at 17:28 | #13

    @rog
    Everything about that program was bad. I thought the scariest was when Monckton was riling up the crowd about how bad/fascistic/propagandistic/antidemocratic the ABC was for questioning his claims. I only heard the audio track but it was quite clear that at that point several people began jostling Wendy Carlisle, who was standing at the front of the crowd with her microphone and ABC insignia. It wasn’t clear whether Monckton (who seemed to be have control over the mob) knew about, or was interested in stopping what sounded like a situation about to escalate.

    It was certainly wrong of Monckton to say Garnaut holds a “fascist point of view.” By contrast, I have no problem making the Nazi comparison here. The atmosphere of that scene was directly reminiscent of a Nuremberg rally, with physical threats, Orwellian truth inversion, and eliminationist rhetoric.

  14. sam
    July 19th, 2011 at 17:35 | #14

    Further to that last, I just can’t imagine Janet Albrechtson being physically intimidated at a pro-carbon tax rally. Call me biased, but I just don’t see it happening.

  15. Nick
    July 19th, 2011 at 18:23 | #15

    Monckton proclaims himself,in his bio at the faux-institute the SPPI, ‘widely recognised as an expert’ on the quantification of climate sensitivity.

    That single audacious lie, easily found by anyone doing some background, should be a red flag to any journalist covering the man’s story. Yet it goes unmentioned so far.

  16. Freelander
    July 19th, 2011 at 18:50 | #16

    @Chris Warren

    They haven’t asked him to cease describing himself as a Lord. They have asked him to stop describing himself as a member of the House of Lords, which all hereditary peers once apon a time were entitled to be members of. But that was before his time (or at least before he inherited the title). He has never been a member under the new arrangements. Just check it out.

  17. TokyoTom
    July 19th, 2011 at 20:17 | #17

    John, the ironies are multi-layered; elites via large corporations are manipulating small people who are wary of big government, in order to protect their profits. Such large corporations are themselves the product of governments (no laws granting shareholders limited liability, no corporations), which are already hooked on revenues from coal and oil and gas exploitation. Yet, it’s clear post-2008, post-BP and post-TEPCO that Western citizens everywhere have good reason to distrust their governments; thus the Monckton-style anti-big-government propaganda falls on very fertile ground.

    Might Greens consider for “small is beautiful” changes that would free communities and markets, and less centralized government meddling and more responsible businesses?

    Towards a productive libertarian approach on climate, energy and environmental issues – TT’s Lost in Tokyo http://bit.ly/ab3xJB

    Me on (the lack of) power markets: TT’s Lost in Tokyo http://bit.ly/pCVft0

    Regards,

    Tom

  18. Donald Oats
    July 19th, 2011 at 20:40 | #18

    Okay, I’ll be blunt. What can be done about people who concientiously and deceptively manipulate others in public for profit, and who do so on an ongoing basis (to the point that they have a nice little earner, as Terry might have put it)? Mr M does fly close to the wind, at best. At worst, well I won’t say it, I’ll just think it. I missed the latest propaganda insemination by Mr M, but I doubt it was much different to any of the previous ones I’ve seen.

    PS: Irony: watching a bunch of Liverpool Plains farmers campaigning – complete with triangular signs – against mining on and under their ground (7:30 show on ABC Tuesday 19th July). Unfortunately, the journalist didn’t ask them what they thought about the Carbon Tax, just after the farmers’ rep gave a spiel about food bowls and food security, the long run, etc.

  19. rog
    July 19th, 2011 at 23:08 | #19

    @Nick
    You have to understand that the phrase “widely understood” is more a physical than quantative description eg, if two persons were to stand at either side of the mouth of the Amazon whilst comprehending a single concept or fact they could be said to be in wide understanding. Or in an understanding that is wide. This may well be the only thing that they know or understand so the phrase “widely understood” lacks quality.

  20. Freelander
    July 19th, 2011 at 23:14 | #20

    Our jails are just not big enough to hold them all. Those lying and deceptively manipulating now seem to be such a large part of the population. The behaviour seems a requisite for so many jobs nowadays, from the lowliest manager to the CEO, sales at all levels, all levels of finance, politics, public service, the police force, defence forces, the clergy.

    How could you possible do anything about them all? The farmers who drags their little tykes along to Canberra to try to have a bludge and a whine about a problem of their own creation, confected outrage all around; the Tony Abbott no lie left untold national tour; protecting our borders, as if we were under threat from a few boat people in leaky boats. Lies, lies, lies, and everyone must have their own expert to coach them on telling lies and being deceptive, now with the fittingly deceptive title of ‘spin doctor’.

    Even when any of them is forced to resign, no shame, no apology, no admission of wrong doing, not a skerrick of straight talking. Posturing, posing, not even seeming to expect or care at all if they are believed. All just performance art, with the media only interested in and awarding points for style but never a point for content.

  21. TerjeP
    July 19th, 2011 at 23:44 | #21

    I can’t find a primary source but Lord Monckton is widely quoted on the Internets (and Wikipedia) as having said the following on this matter:-

    “The House of Lords Act 1999 debarred all but 92 of the 650 Hereditary Peers, including my father, from sitting or voting, and purported to – but did not – remove membership of the Upper House. Letters Patent granting peerages, and consequently membership, are the personal gift of the Monarch. Only a specific law can annul a grant. The 1999 Act was a general law. The then Government, realizing this defect, took three maladroit steps: it wrote asking expelled Peers to return their Letters Patent (though that does not annul them); in 2009 it withdrew the passes admitting expelled Peers to the House (and implying they were members); and it told the enquiry clerks to deny they were members: but a written Parliamentary Answer by the Lord President of the Council admits that general legislation cannot annul Letters Patent, so I am The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley (as my passport shows), a member of the Upper House but without the right to sit or vote, and I have never pretended otherwise.”

    Clearly Lord Monckton believes he has the right and possibly the duty to declare his status as a member of the House of Lords. Whether it is a faleshood is open to some rather technical constitutional debate. None of which is likely to bear much useful fruit.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Monckton,_3rd_Viscount_Monckton_of_Brenchley#Political_career

  22. July 20th, 2011 at 00:41 | #22

    “a written Parliamentary Answer by the Lord President of the Council admits that general legislation cannot annul Letters Patent,”

    Just like his in cites of science, the Parliamentary Answer says the opposite of what Monckton implies — it says that the 1999 Act was one that alters the effect of Letters Patent.

    As the letter from the House of Lords points out, Monckton’s claim has been tested in court by Baron Mereworth, who lost and had to pay court costs.

  23. Chris Warren
    July 20th, 2011 at 09:55 | #23

    @Freelander

    All has been checked-out. There is zero basis for Monckton’s usage of Lord. His passport does not mention this.

    In a democracy, and in the UK, parliament is sovereign. It has determined the issue wrt the term Lord. It seems that all the frisson being generated is based on other forms of peerage.

    Hereditary peers are peers in terms of the Letters Patent, not their own accumulation of additional nomenclatures.

    The House of Lords appears to have legally restricted the term Lord to specifically those with a right to sit and vote in the Chamber. This view has more authority than any alternative.

  24. sHx
    July 20th, 2011 at 10:09 | #24

    “As I said previously, it’s hard to tell who is most blameworthy here. Is it the’crazy uncles’ represented by people like Nick Minchin and encompassing the majority of conservative supporters, who actually believe this stuff, the weathervanes like Tony Abbott who will happily say 2+2 = 4,5 or 73 according to what their listeners want to hear, or supposedly serious conservatives/liberals who know it’s nonsense but keep their mouths shut.”

    You have said a lot previously but not much of it has proven to be accurate.

    During the 2009 ETS debate, you were hailing Kevin Rudd as some kind of political juggernaut that knocked down one Lib leader after another.

    The glee was evident in your blog as the Libs were split between Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott, and, let’s face it, Tony Abbott was so unpopular that even the drover’s dog could beat him, if he were to be elected to as the leader .

    Replacing ‘delusionists’ with ‘crazy uncles’ doesn’t make you a better political analyst.

    But you are correct about at least one thing: some of us lefties keep our mouths shut because if we do open it we might just blurt out what a fr@kking toxic policy this Carbon Tax is.

  25. TerjeP
    July 20th, 2011 at 11:23 | #25

    In a democracy, and in the UK, parliament is sovereign. It has determined the issue wrt the term Lord. It seems that all the frisson being generated is based on other forms of peerage.

    In healthy democracies the parliament is below the constitution. Can the UK parliament demote the Queen?

  26. rog
    July 20th, 2011 at 11:29 | #26

    The government and the monarch are locked together; the power of the sovereign is by leave of the government.

  27. Chris Warren
    July 20th, 2011 at 12:48 | #27

    @TerjeP

    The UK has no constitution.

    The UK parliament can do anything it determines according to its rules, subject to popular outrage.

    An outrage population can displace a parliament or a monarch.

  28. Sam
    July 20th, 2011 at 12:54 | #28

    @TerjeP
    “Can the UK parliament demote the Queen?”
    Actually yes. Britain has no formally written constitution, and parliamentary sovereignty is the bedrock of the law. Parliament has in fact been steadily stripping monarchs of their powers since Charles the second. For recent legal precedent see “Manuel v Attorney General 1982.” If you’re looking for a rigorous system of checks and balances like in the US, you won’t find it in Britain. In fact, the US model was established in response to the perceived British deficiencies.

  29. Doug
    July 20th, 2011 at 16:20 | #29

    JQ’s point about the longer term consequences of the trashing of reasoned debate is important. A nasty stink has been created that will make reasoned use of the results of scientific analysis and expert advice more difficult for any government in the future.

  30. gerard
    July 20th, 2011 at 20:20 | #30

    I was reading Murdoch’s news.com.au, and on the right hand side of the screen, in the “Most Read” box, was the following link:

    “Australia is regarded as a sovereign risk”

    I clicked it, thinking that it had something to do with Australia’s sovereign risk.

  31. Freelander
    July 20th, 2011 at 21:55 | #31

    @Chris Warren

    If he has no right to expect himself to be referred to as a Lord, then that would be another issue that he would be being criticized about. He is the third Viscount of whatever, which makes him an hereditary peer, and peers are customarily referred to as Lords, as in “House of Lords”. Historically, the hereditary peers did sit and were members of the “House of Lords”, but this is no longer the case as of right. Some still do sit and are members, by election. I don’t think that there is any British legislation that has, or was intended to, take away the custom of referring to a peer as a Lord. However, legislation did remove from hereditary peers, membership of, and the privilege to sit in, the House of Lords as an automatic right of their inherited peerage. Anyway, I will leave you to check this out and will not comment further on this.

    More generally, following on from JQ and Doug’s comments, reasoned debate is important and valuable, but has never been fashionable. Sadly, over the last thirty years or so, reasoned debate has become even less fashionable, even in circles where it was, once fashionable. Included among where it had been fashionable were some influential right wing circles. But those days seemed to disappear with Nixon.

    On the denial theme, I just read a review of a book by Francis Fukuyama in the Australian Literary Review, July 6th. The review written by Geoffrey Blainey quickly morphs off topic onto the issue of Global Warming. Blainey skirts around teasing and threatening to come out of the closet as a climate change denier (without fully doing so), with the usual trite climate is always changing “there is a long history of global warmings”, mention of the Club of Rome, and then, even seems to suggest that there would not be a ‘debate’ (with the implication that we would all agree there is no global warming) if the Cold War hadn’t ended, and, implied in some of his further comments, that free market triumphalism hadn’t resulted and the looney left had therefore no need of another hobby horse. (I suppose his thesis was somewhat toned down as the ALR is, after all, not QuadRant). I really hope that someone like Tim Lambert puts the boot into this further example of the emeritus afflicting disease that JQ referred to. Best to stomp on the afflicted as quickly as possible, least the affliction spreads.

  32. July 20th, 2011 at 22:44 | #32

    I post my support for Sam’s views of “Background Briefing” at:

    http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/2011/07/bbg_20110717.mp3

    Outstanding work by ABC radio in outing the fraud Monckton and disclosing the role of the truely deceptive and evil Galileo Movement and their prince Allan Jones. They are all there in the background – Bolt, Nova, Singer, et etc.

    By the way lefties – including John on occasion – be careful of attacking the ABC for its conservative political biases. There remains value in this institution and a substantial commitment to telling the truth.

  33. Emma
    July 21st, 2011 at 09:30 | #33

    Club Troppo ( or at least one of its denizens) seems to have fallen victim to the charms of the fraudulent Monckton, this morning. Sad, really.

  34. Chris Warren
    July 21st, 2011 at 10:26 | #34

    @Freelander

    This is the problem. You say;

    peers are customarily referred to as Lords, as in “House of Lords”.

    This is precisely the point the House of Lords, the UK Parliament, and the UK Passport Office reject.

    Anyone can claim a title as a courtesy, but not as a recognised formality. You can find examples in the writings of Dickens and Shakespeare.

    See for example: UK Passport Standards

    Bunyip Monkton’s passport does NOT say “Lord”.

    So all authoritative sources completely contradict your position.

  35. Tim Macknay
    July 21st, 2011 at 11:09 | #35

    Club Troppo ( or at least one of its denizens) seems to have fallen victim to the charms of the fraudulent Monckton

    The post is by Rafe Champion who, although otherwise a quite interesting chap, is a Libertarian and has fallen into the usual Libertarian follies of reflexive anti-environmentalism and climate change denial.

  36. Freelander
    July 21st, 2011 at 11:14 | #36

    Rafe’s claim in the Troppo that “the increase in CO2 … will tend to green the planet and increase our production of food” has been demonstrated, by research, to be false. First, this assumes that the area available for growing food will not be decreased by the impacts of climate change (unfortunately, it will). But, more importantly, CO2 will reduce the production of (safely edible) food other things being equal.

    Research which looked at the impact of raising CO2 levels on plants found that the additional energy production that the greater availability of CO2 provided, tended to make plants less edible because plants tended to use the extra energy to enhance their defenses against being eaten, by insects and others, for example, by becoming more toxic or stringier and woody.

    A good example, already providing problems is cassava, the staple for 500 million of the poorest. Because CO2 has risen, and the cassava plant has been able to strengthen its defenses, cyanide poisoning is becoming a growing problem.

    A better claim might be that CO2 will cure world hunger. (And maybe overpopulation as well, as eating becomes increasingly fatal.)

  37. silkworm
    July 22nd, 2011 at 01:07 | #37

    Not only will Monckton have to stop referring to himself as a member of the House of Lords, he will also have to change his logo, which is a direct ripoff of the House of Lords and which forms part of his deception. One has to wonder what effect this exposure of Monckton’s identity fraud will have on the already climate deluded. However, it has already had a large effect on the press gallery.

  38. frankis
    July 23rd, 2011 at 11:32 | #38

    @TerjeP
    Terrific to find you still working away on these issues Terje. You offer a reference which has Monckton calling himself, inter alia

    … a member of the Upper House but without the right to sit or vote, and I have never pretended otherwise.

    Here is a list of “Members of the House of Lords” from the UK parliament’s own website: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/lords/

    Terje could you point me to Monckton’s name on that list of 827 members? – no, I can’t see it either.

    Can you find for me a learned reference Terje that would explain how one is able to “bring fraternal greetings from the Mother of Parliaments to the Congress” when one is not a member of the “Mother of Parliaments”, neither sitting nor voting in it?

    I BRING fraternal greetings from the Mother of Parliaments to the Congress of your “athletic democracy”. I pray that God’s blessing may rest upon your counsels.

    As a Prime Ministerial policy advisor to Margaret Thatcher, inter alia I modeled the economic interactions of taxes and benefits on low-income households, and investigated scientific frauds. I have written and lectured on climate sensitivity. I
    advise institutions on climate change.

    The right response to the non-problem of “global warming” is to have the courage to do nothing. There has been global cooling for seven years.

    Terje you will find the source of that quote particularly to your liking because, of the 70k hits on Google, I chose for your delectation this one: heartland.org/full/24952/The_Right_Honorable_Christopher_Walter_Monckton_Third_Viscount_Monckton_Of_Brenchley_Before_The_Energy_Commerce_Committee_Of_The_House_Of_Representatives.html
    (you’ll need to add the http://www. yourself sorry – I’m not willing to add a web link directly to them).

    Championing frauds, fools and liars is great fun of course but what other useful work have you been up to Terje?

  39. Malthusista
    July 23rd, 2011 at 22:02 | #39

    @sam

    Wendy Carlisle did a fantastic hob standing up to Moncktton and his supporters. The response of listeners in support of BackGround Briefing (354 comments) was fantastic.

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