Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Monckton, Margaret and a bit of truth

Lord Monckton claims to have been science advisor to Margaret Thatcher.  That's doubtful.

In 1979, when Margaret Thatcher won her first election, there was a science advisor in place, John Ashworth, former professor of biology at the University of Essex. 

Sir John Ashworth

According to an interview in the Daily Gazette, a local newspaper in Essex (I believe), where Professor, now Sir John Ashworth, still lives, this exchange happened:

"I had published a report on climate change when I was chief scientist for the Cabinet and, at that time, climate change was regarded as one of the nuttier notions," he laughed.
"People thought I was mad and when I went to Mrs Thatcher with the report she looked at me and said are you seriously telling me my Government should be worrying about the weather?' I knew, if I didn't talk fast, I wouldn't have had a job!"

Ashworth left his post in the summer of 1981 to become vice chancellor at the University of Salford.  So the exchange had to have happened in the two years during which he worked for Margaret Thatcher.

The relevance for Monckton - well, Margaret Thatcher, science trained herself, wasn't stupid about science or about politics.  She realised when the time came that votes were there in the weather, and she went after them.  And she learned about it well before Monckton joined the Downing Street team in 1982.

A personal note.  I met Sir John on a few occasions during his time as chief scientist.  I had lunch with him once, and he was at two parties hosted by his eldest daughter that I attended.  In the summer of 1979, Harriet, the eldest daughter was my girlfriend.  So I can vouch that Sir John Ashworth is a man of integrity, humility and honesty.  Just about as perfectly opposite to Lord Monckton as possible.

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