Today’s LibertyGibbert thread comes to you from Sydney, Australia’s largest city, where this evening I had the great pleasure of listening to James Delingpole, climate warrior and God-Emperor of the blogosphere, speaking live to a packed house.
James is clearly enjoying his tour of Australia; when he said on his blog the other day, that he was planning to take Tony Abbott’s job (James interviewed him yesterday), I thought he was half-joking. Having now heard him speak, I’d estimate he was about one-sixteenth joking. If that.
He has spoken thus far in Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne, and tonight’s audience in the Sydney Masonic Centre (moved from a smaller venue after it sold out within twenty-four hours—I understand the Sydney Opera House was already booked out) was, he said, the largest yet. I would guess there were about three hundred people all up. Among the faces present were a who’s who of Australia’s conservative academia and press. Clearly, James’ reputation has preceded him.
James in person has a spare, ascetic, almost (dare I say it) Gandhi-like presence (an effect offset somewhat by the business suit he wore instead of a loincloth). His voice, animated and well amplified, resonated through the amphitheatre. Disdaining notes, he spoke extemporaneously for about half an hour; the Royal Society, the ABC and Fairfax media, Mark Lynas, George Monbiot, Julia Gillard, David Cameron, the UN, Maurice Strong and Agenda 21—James took aim at them all. And devastatingly so, too; he had the audience alternately roaring with laughter, booing as at a bad pantomime villain, or silenced into rapt attention. His recounting of the ingrown-toenail analogy (reprised from his opinion piece in this morning’s Sydney Daily Telegraph) drove the point home with unarguable finality. And for his Australian audience, he gave an uncensored version of his familiar parable of “dog shit yoghurt”, which brought the house down.
Afterwards, he called for questions from the audience. And while clearly preaching overwhelmingly to the converted, there were a few of the usual suspects wanting to get in their dig. One of the sillier questions came from a man who seemed to fancy himself the house pedant, who wanted to know what evidence James was relying on in his claim that the Coalition’s direct action policy on Climate Change would be detrimental to the economy, albeit less so than Labor’s Carbon Tax. A rather tedious banana-peel of a question, really. Restated, he was essentially asking James, what observational evidence do you have on which to judge a policy that has not yet been implemented? A question, in other words, that contradicts itself. While James himself swept this rather persistent individual aside, noting simply that a tax on carbon dioxide, however disguised, cannot be in any way beneficial to a free market and the efficient production of goods and services, the next questioner, a bright young economist, pointed out that the modelling thus far used to support such measures is founded on some rather extraordinary assumptions, such as an OECD-wide acceptance of emissions trading in the next few years.
Then there was the heckler in the gallery, whose appearance and tone suggested he had been lubricating his vocal chords beforehand in the Crown Hotel in Elizabeth Street just round the corner. Yer a bloody disgrace! was about the most considered remark he was capable of summoning, and (following James’ advice, quoted from Daniel Hannan, of always delivering your very best speech) proceeded to repeat it, over and over, until he was persuaded to subside.
I even got to meet James afterwards for a few words, and assured him his presentation had been a raging success, the hecklers being merely the icing on the cake. He signed my copy of his latest work Killing The Earth To Save It which no doubt, once he becomes Prime Minister of Australia, will be worth a small fortune.
And so, having willingly thrown myself under it and survived, the God-Emperor’s juggernaut rolls on. Next stop as I understand it, is Queensland, newly liberated from socialism in the greatest electoral landslide seen in that state for a century. I don’t doubt that he will receive as resounding a reception up there as he has here in Sydney tonight (I actually noticed on the IPA’s website that a new Queensland date has been added, in Noosa).
If he can be dragged away from the beach, that is. British readers, don’t expect him back home any time soon.