An open letter to Lord Howell, George Osbourne father in law and member of the Lords

An open letter to Lord Howell about the fracking in the NE controversy








Dear Lord Howell or Mr. Howell or  George Osborne’s father-in-law or my dear Lord or my sweet Lord or Mr. Lord or sod this Lord business, what year is it? 1296?

Fracking hell!

We’re All In It Together was the mantra wasn’t it? The idea that we were all in the shit together was a big lie wasn’t it?  Time and time again your party’s mantra has been exposed for, at best, being a joke and the worst being a conceit. Your latest utterance about fracking is yet another example of this- push the dirty business as far away as possible.

The phrase sounded silly as soon as it was passed from the shadowy spin doctors and PR goons to the lips of senior Tories. Few believed this guff, this attempt to make the Tories look like a one nation party  reaching out to those far away parts of the UK- those long lost regions of the empire, the so called provinces.

The phrase, once  uttered has become a comedy catch phrase in these sick and dark times

Laird Howells, with your quip about “fracking” for shale gas being  limited to the North East of England because it has “large and uninhabited and desolate areas” says a lot more than you intended. You have given us a clue to what the Tories really think of the UK, this idea of a two tier of the UK- the idea that the grubby stuff like tracking should be shoved in the faraway corners of the empire. Just where is this desolate North East you speak of Laird?

Laird Howells, with your latest quip about fracking in the North East, you have  underlined just how facile this ‘we’re all in it together’ term was.  In modern Britain Mr. Howells there seems to be one rule for one and one rule for another, rich landlords can crank up the rents and the tenants are on their knees trying to pay them, the bankers and the super rich are quite happy to avoid the tax and the poor are getting squeezed tight and the north east is a big empty space far enough away from the South East of England and those country estates for doing the dirty energy business.

Laird, as a former Energy Secretary, you have triggered a storm when you intervened in a Lords debate to argue that fracking should not initially be considered for the whole of the United Kingdom when you said.

“In beautiful rural areas there are worries not just about drilling and fracking, which I think are exaggerated, but about trucks, deliveries, roads and disturbance, which are quite justified,” you told peers.

“However, there are large, uninhabited and desolate areas, certainly in parts of the North-east, where there is plenty of room for fracking.”

To be fair you have eventually qualified your comments with an apology: “I apologise for any offence caused. I certainly did not intend to suggest that the North-east is desolate… there are parts of the country that are less densely inhabited than others. That includes parts of the North-east, but also other areas in the South.”

People have this idea, this media cliche, that the House of Lords is a bit of touch. Full of doddering old fools dribbling down their cardigans and, of course, this is quite possibly very untrue but comments like this don’t help.

There is a suspicion that all the measly and dirty stuff is always pushed as far away from London as possible. A quick look at the map of the nuclear power stations is an interesting example of this and this idea that the controversial fracking that sits very high on the agenda of the shifty looking power companies seems to be taking place in ‘faraway towns’.

Blackpool has been struggling with it for  a few years now, with the locals not being listened to as ever- they don’t seem to be very happy about earthquakes and fire coming out of the ground like some kind of biblical storm and are a bit suspicious of the promises of a boom time coming to town- of course this does not concern you Laird Howell, as it’s way of your radar, as Blackpool, despite being  fine town, is not one of your local  ‘beautiful rural areas ‘

Laird, don’t worry- your beautiful rural areas will remain untouched by the grubby realities of modern life but they won’t complain about the profits will they- my sweet laird, when will you people wake up?


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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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