Guest post by The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
Dear Anthony, – I’ve enjoyed your series on disinvitation of those who doubt “global warming” by true-believers in the New Religion.
Your readers may enjoy the following well-documented account. – Christopher
Yet another “global warming” disinvitation to add to the season’s merriment. Some months ago Roger Helmer, a Conservative Member of the European Duma who has dared to question whether “global warming” is a global crisis, was invited to lunch with the Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, together with leading members of the university’s Environmental Sciences faculty.
The Vice-Chancellor invited Mr. Helmer to bring anyone else who might be interested, and replied that he would be accompanied by James Delingpole, a distinguished columnist with Britain’s national conservative newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, and Lord Monckton, deputy leader and climate-change spokesman for Britain’s second-largest party in European elections, the United Kingdom Independence Party.
A couple of months went by. Then, two days before the lunch was due to take place, the Vice-Chancellor’s office got in touch with Mr. Helmer by email, announcing that Mr. Delingpole and Lord Monckton had been disinvited:
“I am writing in response to recent correspondence/your call about Mr Helmer’s visit to UEA next Friday 29th. The Vice-Chancellor is looking forward to meeting Mr Helmer as planned. However, I am afraid that there has been a misunderstanding in terms of the proposed accompanying guests. It is not normal practice for the Vice-Chancellor to meet MPs and MEPs accompanied by journalists or party political activists, and to avoid setting a new precedent I am afraid that the invitation to meet with the VC cannot be extended to Lord Monckton and Mr Delingpole on this occasion. I am conscious that your office gave our office the names of Mr Helmer’s proposed companions last month but unfortunately they only came to light yesterday.
“If Lord Monckton or Mr Delingpole have particular journalistic enquiries, the University’s Press Office would of course be very happy to receive them.”
Mr. Helmer was not pleased either with the cheesy pretext for the disinvitation or the very late date. The day before the planned visit, he wrote:
“Thank you for your e-mail regarding my visit to UEA tomorrow, but I have to say that I am rather taken aback at this abrupt change of tack. I supplied the names of my colleagues whom I proposed to bring with me some weeks ago (as you rightly point out), and it is rather an embarrassment to have to turn them off at this very late stage. You will be aware that we are dealing here with people who are prominent in their respective fields, and will certainly have dense diary commitments.
“I am disappointed also because while I have a good level of general familiarity with the various issues which we hope to discuss, these colleagues certainly have much more detailed knowledge than I, particularly on the science (Lord Monckton) and on the history and content of the leaked e-mails (James Delingpole). I feel that our meeting will therefore be less useful than it might have been.
“However, we must make the best of it. I propose instead to invite a parliamentary colleague to accompany me (I await his confirmation). This is Stuart Agnew MEP, who represents the Eastern Region and is therefore one of the MEPs covering Norwich and Norfolk. I trust that Mr. Agnew will be acceptable to the Vice Chancellor: if not, please let me know as soon as possible.”
Lord Monckton recommended that Mr. Helmer might take a rather tougher line. Mr. Helmer agreed, and wrote to the Vice-Chancellor’s office again:
“Following my e-mail earlier this morning, I have now been in communication with Lord Monckton, and I feel I have to ask you and the Vice-Chancellor to reconsider your decision.
“You describe Lord Monckton as a “political activist”. Not only is he Deputy Leader of a party which came second (ahead of Labour) in the 2009 Euro-Elections. He is also a former science adviser to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and acknowledged around the world as an authority on the science of climate change and an expert on climate sensitivity. It is rather depressing that the University is not prepared to talk to him.
“I now learn that Lord Monckton has — at very great inconvenience — arranged to return to the UK early from a banking conference in China, and to delay a forthcoming business trip to New York, at a cost of many thousands of pounds, precisely so that he can attend. I find it particularly embarrassing, therefore, to uninvite him at this late stage — you have placed me in a very difficult position. Moreover there is every possibility that this snub by the University to a public figure would become public.
“In these circumstances I should like to appeal to you, and to the Vice Chancellor, to reconsider your decision. At the same time, I am assured that James Delingpole would be happy to follow Chatam House rules if you wish, and would have an important contribution to make to our discussions.
“Please reconsider this issue in the light of these comments, and let me have your advice as soon as possible.”
Faced with Mr. Helmer’s determination, the Vice-Chancellor caved in:
“Again may I offer our apologies for altering arrangements at this late stage and thank you for our willingness to suggest another accompanying colleague. The Vice-Chancellor would be very happy to meet you with your fellow MEP Stuart Agnew as you suggest. This would be a meeting over lunch with the Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research Prof Trevor Davies and colleagues from Environmental Sciences, Profs Julian Andrews and Peter Liss, between 12:30-1.30pm in the Vice-Chancellor’s office.
“I am sorry to learn in your second email of the inconvenience caused to Lord Monckton’s travel schedule. In view of the late alteration to his plans, the Vice-Chancellor has agreed to see Lord Monckton along with some of the same UEA colleagues in a separate meeting, immediately after you and Mr Agnew leave us at 1.30pm. We will make sure lunch is still available.
“I trust that these arrangements will be acceptable to you and colleagues and once again apologise for the inconvenience caused.”
The moral of the tale: don’t accept disinvitation. It’s rude and unnecessary. Stand your ground and put the academic bullies in their place.