George Monbiot excels in giving a number of beatings to the former chairman of the now-nationalised Northern Rock bank, and his cornutopian ideological blatherings.
Brass neck doesn’t begin to describe it. Matt Ridley used to make his living partly by writing state-bashing columns in the Daily Telegraph. The government, he complained, is “a self-seeking flea on the backs of the more productive people of this world … governments do not run countries, they parasitise them.”(1) Taxes, bail-outs, regulations, subsidies, intervention of any kind, he argued, are an unwarranted restraint on market freedom.
Then he became chairman of Northern Rock, where he was able to put his free market principles into practice. Under his chairmanship, the bank pursued what the Treasury select committee later described as a “high-risk, reckless business strategy”(2). It was able to do so because the government agency which oversees the banks “systematically failed in its regulatory duty”(3).
On 16th August 2007, Dr Ridley rang an agent of the detested state to explore the possibility of a bail-out. The self-seeking fleas agreed to his request, and in September the government opened a support facility for the floundering bank. The taxpayer eventually bailed out Northern Rock to the tune of £27bn.
There’s a minor stab at Bjorn Lomborg, which I whole-heartedly support. Lomborg is a man who applied shoddy statistical methods to environmental problems, and spectacularly failed to understand how the natural world actually works – but this also gave ample ammunition to companies who wished to deny environmental issues mattered at all.
He maintains that “Enron funded climate alarmism”(15). The reference he gives demonstrates nothing of the sort, nor can I find evidence for this claim elsewhere(16). He says that “no significant error has come to light” in Bjorn Lomborg’s book The Sceptical Environmentalist(17). In fact it contains so many significant errors that an entire book – The Lomborg Deception by Howard Friel – was required to document them(18).