Why isn’t the left working with rural campaigners?


1:08 pm - April 17th 2009

by Rowenna Davis    


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This week I interviewed Georgina Downs, a campaigner from West Sussex who is almost single-handedly leading the campaign against pesticides in the UK. Suffering from ill health brought on by what she believes was inadvertent pesticide exposure from local farms as a child, she has been fighting to strengthen pesticide regulation through the courts for the last eight years.

Her story is a natural leftist battle. It’s about the exploitation of power – government officials and agro-chemical industries are blocking adequate regulatory methods despite robust research showing the damage that pesticides can do to human health.

And it’s about justice. Last November the High Court delivered a landmark victory on Georgina’s case, ruling that the government had failed to comply with a European directive designed to protect rural residents from exposure to toxins. The government has appealed that judgement, and Georgina is now fighting another round with support only from her Dad (who does the “postie runs”) and her Mum who does the photocopying. Her inbox is full of stories from other rural dwellers suffering health problems suspected to be brought on by pesticide exposure, but the court battle leaves precious little time for her to connect with them all.

Why does she not have more support from the left?

The left has always suffered from an urban bias. But we cannot let rural fights like these go unsupported. This point is about more than just anti-pesticide and environmental campaigns, important as they are – it’s about connecting with rural causes and communities more generally. Rural poverty and isolation for example, are huge issues in this country and should be natural territory for the left – but we hardly ever mention it. For their sake and ours, leftist organisations need to start connecting with communities in the countryside. It’s time to build a rural-urban alliance.

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About the author
This is a guest article. Rowenna Davis is a freelance journalist and a regular contributor to the Guardian.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Environment ,Equality

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Reader comments


I think there’s a problem though – leftist organisations by and large don’t exist in the countryside to any significant degree.

In order to connect with campaigns and communities in rural areas properly you’re basically talking about people moving, or day tripping, to these areas when, arguably they can be more effective in the areas they actually live in at the moment.

Don’t get me wrong – in theory I agree with what you’re saying – but in practice, tasks like unionising low paid rural workers are only going to happen from within those work places (hopefully with support from the union) not from the organised left unless it already happens to exist in those places.

What’s wrong with videoconferencing, email and social networking?

3. Shatterface

The reason that the left ignore rural issues is that to many, ‘rural issues’ still brings to mind fox hunting. The pro- and ant- lobbies where too obssessed with that one trivial issue to the expense of their common ground.

Large numbers of the rural working class support fox hunting , fish and shoot . A Major source of conflict is between the relatively affluent middle classes who move to the country and those who live there and work in the rural economy. Complaints from the middle classes who complain about the smell from dairy farms and the noise from the church bells are too common. Many people have a traditional view of life. The question is whether progressive urban middle classes prepared to change their views to fit in with those who live and work in the countryside who have a more traditional view of life?

I said something almost exactly like this back during the US presidential elections, drawing a parallel between the rural deficits suffered by the Left in UK and US cases:

Town versus country in the US and beyond

I am not sure you need to de-compose all those class division to support issues like this.

Didn’t have you down as a Maoist Row!

Think most are afraid of those paper tigers of capitalism, i.e. large farm holders.

Quote, emphasis mine:

…Suffering from ill health brought on by what she believes was inadvertent pesticide exposure

and

despite robust research showing the damage that pesticides can do to human health.

…despite the linked research not being remotely ‘robust’ with mostly non-scientific public sector sources saying, “may cause” or “could cause” or “might” and my favourites, “we don’t know enough about the hazards” or “we haven’t got the evidence about what hazards might be”

And

Her story is a natural leftist battle.

Yes it is – trying to get everyone else to change what they’re doing by bringing the state down heavily, justified by emotion and belief rather than reason and fact? Very much a ‘leftist battle’.

justified by emotion and belief rather than reason and fact?

And where’s your evidence to show the opposite Charlotte, since you seem to be quite convinced there’s no evidence to support her case?

Why isn’t the govt following EU regulations on protecting people from these pesticides? Would that be based on bogus research too?

From the Guardian article:

In his ruling, Mr Justice Collins highlighted that the 1986 Control of Pesticides Regulations states that beekeepers must be given 48 hours notice if pesticides harmful to bees are to be used. The judge said: “It is difficult to see why residents should be in a worse position.”

The case centred on the way the government assesses the risk posed by pesticides. The current method is based on occasional, short-term exposure to a “bystander” and assumes that individuals would be exposed to an individual pesticide during a single pass.

Seems to be a problem with the way Defra monitors exposure to public health. Green campaigners should be on the case, Jim?
(though I do agree with your point about not having local orgs)

I don’t need to prove the opposite case though.

Charlotte – but you did imply her case was not supported by reason or fact. But you have no, erm, reason or fact to make that assertion either.

You just instinctively don’t like it when regulation stops companies from doing things they might want to in pursuit of profit.

What is Charlotte Gore’s odd obsession with Liberal Conspiracy about? She rants about how stupid the left is, then spends all her time in the comments sections of left blogs preaching about how awful the evil state is and how much better we would be if we all agreed with her. Yawn.

Good article raising sensible question, though not really any answers (Also Dave S @5, sorry I missed that article of yours back then. Must have been away or something.)

A few observations from a Labour councillor (and one who identifies himself as being on the left) for a rural ward:

1) In order to build some kind of left base in rural areas, it’s not that necessary, initially, to seek out ‘rural issues’ as such. Most people living in rural areas just have ‘issues’, not necessarily connected to their rurality. Where they are connected to the rurality, they are not usually landuse/agricultlure./environment issues, but issues to do with service provision – distance to schools/schools closing, poorly kept roads/drains/streetlights etc etc., lack of ICT and public transport infrastructure relative to urban areas etc, and of course this does fit with the isolation/deprivation study stuff that you identify.

I think this is the place to start with building a left presence, whether that be through local campaigning per se or campaiging to become a councillor in order to start building a wider campaigning presence. Just as an indication of what can be done, this broad approach led me to increase the Labour vote by 600% over a five year period in my ward (and to win it in 2007), and this establishes some legitimacy for the future.

Within this, it’s important to recognise that even the most ‘agricultural’ bits of the rural area ie. the farms have non-farm issues, if indeed they are farms at all in the traditional sense. I have around 100 properties in my ward called ‘farm’ but only around 40-50% (depending on your criteria) are actually involved in what most people would describe as agricultural activity. Early on, and against the advice of campaigners worried about the poor ‘cost-benefit’ in spending times visiting farms, I adopted a ‘no-no go place’ rule, and found that farmers (I am a townie by birth) are actually real people. Nowadays I do take up some more specific ‘rural issues’ e.g hedgerows, ragwort control, but it took a while.

2) That is, as the article suggests, only the start of the left-building process, and I do not deny that involvement and campaiging around rural worker rights is harder to get to, not least because none of my fellow councillors (all of whom are from the deprived ‘new town’ in the same district) have really come to terms with the fact the there might be rural issues for Labour/the left to deal with. That is another battle. But, as noted, starting with where people live and are at is, I hope, the first step.

3) The sheer physical difficulty of getting to everyone can be daunting. It takes roughly six times as many person hours to do a ward-wide newsletter delivery in my ward as it does in an urban ward of the same number of properties. I do it (with helpers nowadays) but for a wider approach to raising the left profile the question of finie resources does count. Therien lies the beauty of the internet, wich on this blog i do’nt think I need to say more about, though I would say it still doesn’t replace, at least at first, the value of the regular slog on the bike up the 1/2 farm track to deliver one newsletter.

So the left can get out there. I’t’s not that different really, and we should have confidence that it can be done. My area is far for from the only example.

Don’t talk to me about bees – we have a whole bee division that is constantly leaping into action on all bee related issues.

I also did a long interview with a paper once over GM crops where I mentioned bees in passing. The only quote they used was essentially Jim J opposing GM crops said “think of the bees” (I paraphrase but it was almost that bad) – pah! I can’t believe they didn’t use the bit where I said we should bring down capitalism.

I should say by the way I do agree with the article and have done various campaigning work in rural areas (jam factory unionisation, nuclear power and anti-fascist work mainly) but its difficult enough to get the left to focus on their own communities let alone ones elsewhere.

although there are specific rural issues I suspect most of the issues that are relevant to working class people in the countryside are very similar to those in the towns – its just harder to organise there.

What is Charlotte Gore’s odd obsession with Liberal Conspiracy about?

It raises her traffic and profile.

Two words: New. Media.

There is now no excuse for not connecting to rural communities and getting their voices heard (echoing Paul and Delboy here). The left just has to be a bit more pro active about going out there and finding them. We can’t just wait for people liviong in rural areas who have traditionally felt isolated by the left (for good reason) to come to us. Blogs like Liberal Conspiracy should actually seek out rural campaigners and invite them to contribute to spaces like this. Sunny?

YEah, thanks Rowenna – I clearly don’t have enough work to do already!

Paul – great contribution. If you’d like to raise the profile of some rural issues on LC, happy to accept posts.

Jim Jay – hehe,.

19. david brough

I recall at the time of the Countryside Alliance protests thinking that the majority of those marching had basically left-wing concerns such as the need for proper infrastructure in rural areas rather than (now discredited) free market shite or whatever irrelevant culture war issues were used to blind them to their real interests. They moaned about Blair, who was indeed a fucking knob, but didn’t realise that their lot was just as bad under Thatcher and they will always lose under the right-wing governments we have had since 1979.

Those objecting to the closure of rural post offices and small schools and so on are in my view natural allies to the left. I have never understood why rural people identify themselves with ruling-class scum whose interests diverge from theirs.

Because in reality, “libertarians”, while they have acquired an interest in making sure banker scum get every penny they can out of the taxpayer, have never cared whether rural communities live or die. The sooner the rural working class realise this, and form a united front with urbanites, the better.

then spends all her time in the comments sections of left blogs

Well this simply isn’t true. I post perhaps 2 or 3 comments every month to Liberal Conspiracy at most. Believe it or not posting comments here does not generate noticable amounts of traffic, so hardly a nefarious self-promotion strategy. I comment here because usually I don’t see my opinion reflected anywhere else and want to contribute… *shrug*

Sunny @12:

Charlotte – but you did imply her case was not supported by reason or fact. But you have no, erm, reason or fact to make that assertion either.

There is a difference though. It’s all about the burden of proof. Georgina Downs wants something to happen, she wants to change the status quo, and in order for this to happen she has to present evidence and a rational argument as to why her proposal would improve matters. That is normally the basis on which we expect law and policy to be made.

Second to that, it should be possible for any reasonably intelligent person to evaluate the quality of her evidence. We do not need to understand the issues perfectly in order to be able to critique the proposal; otherwise we would only ever allow decisions to be made by experts and would be able to abolish democracy immediately. So, Georgina – as the person wanting the rest of us to do something – has a greater burden of proof on her than Charlotte, who merely wants to question the merits of doing something.

Seriously, if every time we tried to debunk some piece of Tory mythologising about immigration or family politics they were able to say “ha, you cannot accuse us of presenting a poorly-evidenced case unless you do your own research and present your own findings in a properly-argued manner!” then we’d never get anywhere. Sometimes it’s just right to insist on high standards of evidence and argument for their own sake, and you can do it even if you know nothing about the subject yourself. The whole point of arguments like Georgina’s is that they need to be good enough to convince a reasonably intelligent lay-person.

That said, I’m broadly sympathetic to the notion that, as individuals, we have the right to insist on an unpolluted (within reasonable bounds) environment. Simply believing that you might be harmed by something isn’t enough, but if there’s so much as a shred of credible evidence that pesticides cause harm to people then the spraying of pesticides in areas where they will affect humans should be a crime, and compensation should be sought. Since crimes are a serious business, it’s incumbent on society to make damn sure that we get it right, and the sceptics and sticklers for detail who insist on rigorous argument have an important role to play in that.

Rob: There is a difference though. It’s all about the burden of proof. Georgina Downs wants something to happen, she wants to change the status quo, and in order for this to happen she has to present evidence and a rational argument as to why her proposal would improve matters. That is normally the basis on which we expect law and policy to be made.

which is what she’s doing. I haven’t had time to go through the evidence but I’m assuming she did collect it otherwise Defra wouldn’t be on the back foot.

My point is that people like Charlotte only come here to confirm their prejudice that lefties act only on the basis of emotion rather than fact and reason. Except – she’s challenging something without any fact or reason, confirming my own belief that libertarians have a broken-record position on the state and on lefties which is driven simply by emotion than an evaluation of facts.

It reminds me of the oft-ridiculed line by the new chair of the Republicans – ‘the govt has never ever created a single job’.

Just to add to that, over the past 6 months we’ve basically seen the entire western financial system go insolvent. It’s only been propped up thanks to govt guarantee. And has the libertarian or liberal economic position changed?
Oh no, they’re still trotting out textbook answers (charlotte is a good example) without accepting how the world is changing around them. So my point is – if Charlotte wants to challenge Georgina Downs, or the left, on this position, then she’s welcome to produce the evidence.

23. Shatterface

Rob’s right (22) about the burden of proof.

We suffered a ten year hoax over the ‘link’ between the MMR vaccine and autism because those who put the crackpot theory forward insisted that the burden of proof was on those in favour of the vaccine rather than the paranoids and conspiracy theorists. Many parents agreed and as a result diseases which should now be distant memories have returned with often tragic consequences.

Gut feelings and anecdotal evidence are not enough.

… Except, Sunny, I actually went and read the linked to evidence before posting my comment to establish the ‘facts’.

Sunny @ 23
Please clarify the statement where you said:
“I haven’t had time to go through the evidence but I’m assuming she did collect it otherwise Defra wouldn’t be on the back foot.

My point is that people like Charlotte only come here to confirm their prejudice that lefties act only on the basis of emotion rather than fact and reason. Except – she’s challenging something without any fact or reason, confirming my own belief that libertarians have a broken-record position on the state and on lefties which is driven simply by emotion than an evaluation of facts.”

Can I draw your attention to the particularly offensive phrase ‘people like’ as something you have criticised racists for using.

Can I also draw your attention to your own admission that you based your opinion on an assumption, and then attacked your critic as someone who does not use any fact or reason.

Can I finally draw your attention to your claim that this “confirms your belief”.

Now, can you tell us, are you being deliberately and perversely hypocritical? Are you conscious of your own prejudices?

… Except, Sunny, I actually went and read the linked to evidence before posting my comment to establish the ‘facts’.

And what did you find that wasn’t true Charlotte?

thomas – ‘people like’ = libertarians.

Having just read a number of completely factually inaccurate comments about me and my case I feel I have to respond. The evidence that won me my High Court case has not as yet been published and so is not yet in the public domain. Therefore I really do not think any one should be commenting or speculating on the evidence involved in my case if they have not seen it!!

The Judgment is long and was ruled in my favour for the simple fact that, according to the Judge, the evidence and “cogent arguments” I produced in a 149 page Witness Statement were “scientifically justified” and that I produced “solid evidence” that residents have suffered harm to their health. I repeat this evidence has not yet been published and so Charlotte you have not seen it and have no right to post such inaccurate comments as to say that my case is justified by mere “emotion and belief rather than reason and fact”. This could not be further from the truth as in relation to the pesticides issue the only one who has worked to the highest professional standard and been meticulous with accuracy and attention to detail is me, as that is certainly not the case when it comes to the Government, or the chemical industry!

All I have done in my campaign and legal case is continue to present accurate facts and evidence correctly that a) led to a Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution agreeing with my case that the UK Government’s policy is inadequate to protect public health, particularly residents, and b) a High Court Judge ruling that the UK Government’s policy is failing to protect public health, particularly residents and is not complying with EU law regarding the protection of human health.

The industry and its apologists are the ones who continue to issue incorrect information, use propaganda based on emotion and scaremongering techniques to try and protect ultimately the industries profits. That is not what pesticide policy and legislation is supposed to be based on. The primary purpose of pesticides policy and legislation is supposed to be the protection of public health. This means that there is not supposed to be a ‘balancing’ approach in relation to harm (or the risk of harm) to human health with the supposed benefits of pesticides, such as cost or economic benefits for farmers and the chemical industry. Therefore in a legal framework such as this, a balancing of interests is not permitted and public health protection must be paramount.

Based on the existing scientific and medical evidence regarding the adverse health impacts that exposure to pesticides can cause, the European Commission itself has previously clearly acknowledged that “Long term exposure to pesticides can lead to serious disturbances to the immune system, sexual disorders, cancers, sterility, birth defects, damage to the nervous system and genetic damage.”

Therefore Charlotte this does not say “may cause” or “could cause” or “might” it quite clearly says “can lead to” various chronic health impacts.

I would sincerely request that there are no further comments on the actual evidence involved in my case considering it is not yet in the public domain. (Obviously it will be in due course, but as correctly pointed out by Rowenna the Government has appealed against the Judgment and so the legal case now continues to the Court of Appeal).

Thanks and kindest regards,

Georgina Downs FRSA.
UK Pesticides Campaign.
http://www.pesticidescampaign.co.uk

28. david brough

You’re wasting your time on Charlotte, convinced as she is that she knows best and it’s only our inferiority that stops us being enlightened bloggertarians like her.

This will, however, hopefully convince passers-by who they’re more likely to take seriously.

The evidence I’ve seen was the evidence linked to in the original post that wasn’t compelling.

If you’re saying there’s more evidence out there, then great – looking forward to seeing it.

Sunny,
thanks for taking the time to respond in such depth and detail. FYI I don’t describe myself as a libertarian by any means.
Keep trying to take pot shots and keep trying to alienate potential members of any coalition. You’ll get there in the end.

Sunny, you’re assuming (again) I’ve looked at the evidence (which turns out not to be the full evidence anyway) and then ‘disputed it’ for political reasons, whereas if you’d actually read the evidence yourself instead of flying off half-cocked at the first sign of disagreement, you’d see there’s nothing to dispute – it’s all supposition, opinion and suggestion.

I don’t need to disprove the ‘evidence’ linked to in the original post. The point is that it’s not evidence. You’re just assuming (again) it is.

Turns out, in fact, that the real evidence hasn’t been published… which supports what I’m saying, funnily enough.

Charlotte – nice try, but your original point was.

Yes it is – trying to get everyone else to change what they’re doing by bringing the state down heavily, justified by emotion and belief rather than reason and fact? Very much a ‘leftist battle’.

Which isn’t true. So perhaps you should save yourself further embarrassment and not try misrepresenting ‘the left’.

Georgina – thanks for taking the time and writing your post.

All I have done in my campaign and legal case is continue to present accurate facts and evidence correctly that a) led to a Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution agreeing with my case that the UK Government’s policy is inadequate to protect public health, particularly residents, and b) a High Court Judge ruling that the UK Government’s policy is failing to protect public health, particularly residents and is not complying with EU law regarding the protection of human health.

This bit particularly perhaps Charlotte should read again before presuming environmentalists only do stuff based on emotion than fact.

Sunny – I think you are banging your head against the brick wall of Charlotte Gore and her bizarre strand of libertarianism. You see, when you believe the market is the best way to allocate absolutely everything, then it makes no sense to care about the environment. Leave it all to the market, with some crappy laws to protect those who already have property.

Sunny; LC posts an article which makes bold claims and refers to supporting evidence. Charlotte reads the evidence and points out that it does not support the claims made. You criticise her for this, demanding that she produce counter-evidence. Others arrive with personal attacks on her.

Thomas (26) clearly and succinctly spikes your arguments. You largely ignore him. Charlotte, meanwhile, responds to your comments and deals with them.

Georgina Downs then (helpfully) points out that much of her evidence is unpublished, hence Charlotte cannot have read it. Now, the point is scientific evidence is to publish it, so that it can be checked. Only with peer review and checking does scientific evidence acquire authority. But that aside, Charlotte acknowledges that further evidence would have to be reviewed to see if it supported Ms Downs’ position. That’s not enough for you; you still need to have a dig.

Someone here is being unreasonable, Sunny. But it doesn’t look like Charlotte from where I’m standing.

———————————————————————————————————————-

You just instinctively don’t like it when regulation stops companies from doing things they might want to in pursuit of profit.

Interesting comment of yours, Sunny.

Charlotte was, at the time, pointing out that the evidence did not support the hypothesis. So, in such circumstances, why should people not make a profit? Why should they not go out, do some work, and make a living?

Granted, if the evidence does support the hypothesis that their chosen way of making a living harms others, then regulation should step in to prevent them. But should that evidence not be published? Should we not all be able to see the decision-making process?

Another extraordinary few posts, namely Charlotte and Patently. I did not say that no evidence of mine has been published – anybody who properly looks at some of the contents on my website will know that there is more than enough evidence already in the public domain regarding the risks and acute and chronic adverse impacts of pesticides and hence why the clear recognition of the impacts by the European Commission, as referred to in my previous post. It is important to note that acute effects are recorded in the Government’s very own monitoring system every year, as well as in the manufacturers adverse incident reports. Some of the acute effects recorded include, rashes, itching, sore throats, burning eyes, nose, blistering, headaches, nausea, stomach pains, burnt vocal chords, asthma, amongst other symptoms and effects. Government officials and advisors have therefore been fully aware for years of the adverse effects that are being confirmed by its own monitoring system, but the Government has, as recognised by the Judge in my High Court case, been wrongly accepting such effects as not being serious which is contrary to EU and UK law.

Therefore what I actually said in my previous post, was that the evidence that won me my High Court case has not as yet been published and so is not yet in the public domain and then I referred quite clearly for those who read it properly, a 149 page Witness Statement. It is absolutely right that that document (along with my 4 other Witness Statements) have not yet been published, considering it is confidential legal documentation and should not be published before completion of the case.

Please can I request people read things properly (ie. my previous post), as I am extremely busy preparing for my Court of Appeal case and really could do without having to respond to posts by people who quite frankly do not have the faintest idea what they are talking about and are just twisting comments that are made to try and invent something to come back on. I resoundly won a landmark High Court action, the first of its kind ever taken. Do you honestly think I won that based on thin air, no I won it based on the evidence presented in the case and after a 4 day substantive High Court hearing in July last year. I reiterate what I said in my previous post, please refrain from talking about things you have not seen.

Georgina wrote: “anybody who properly looks at some of the contents on my website will know that there is more than enough evidence already in the public domain”

That may well be true. But the evidence linked to in this post was what Charlotte dutifully read, was it not? As such I think she has followed normal internet ettiquette and responded on the basis of what she found, and does not deserve anyone’s censure. Maybe Rowenna linked to the wrong thing, or at least an insufficient thing.

“I did not say that no evidence of mine has been published”

And nor did anybody else. Charlotte welcomed the fact that there was more evidence to come. Patently said: “Georgina Downs then (helpfully) points out that much of her evidence is unpublished”. Neither stated that there was no evidence.

You seem to be rather offended that people are questioning you. I’d tentatively suggest that it’s good to have robust challenge in a cause you care about (admittedly there have been some false starts here since we’ve just been told there is more evidence than is referenced here). If you’d rather there was no discussion for legal reasons, maybe this thread should be closed, since the point of a thread on a blog is to foster discussion?

I think that the fault lies more with the original post than anything else. Georgina’s case was used illustratively, almost in passing, with no in-depth explanation of the background, and was used to exhort us all to care more about rural issues. Which is fair enough, but some of us would like to be told more about what we’re inviting to care about. The fact that the court case (or the appeal, at least) is ongoing probably prevents some documents being released.

I dunno. I guess I have certain expectations about calls to action, that they should give some background and some details (which Georgina has now helpfully added). I really don’t think that it’s good for the debate if we start throwing insults at the first person to point out the lack of background detail.

There’s seems to be an amusing airbrushing of history going on – so let’s go back to the beginning.

Charlotte comes on to the thread and says this campaign is typical of the left that it’s driven by emotion rather than facts. I asked in comment #10 what evidence she had for the assertion she made.

To which she replied by saying: I don’t need to prove the opposite case though.

Which is a rather amusing retort. In other words I can go to any website and accuse them of chatting rubbish, and when people ask me what I’m basing it – then I just reply and say that the burden of proof is actually on them to actually prove they’re not chatting rubbish – even if some of the evidence was already out there.

Then, Charlotte seems to think that just because all the evidence was not posted, it’s somehow a vindication of her original point.

This style of debating I think usually died out when people left school. But clearly it’s one that libertarians such as Charlotte still hang on to.

If she has evidence that the campaign is based on emotion than facts – then Charlotte should present it and challenge what Georgina is saying. But she’s not actually doing that. the reason is that Charlotte only comes here to confirm her prejudice that lefties do everything based on emotion than facts – and is happy to keep stating that like a broken record without actually having to illustrate why.

Alix says:

As such I think she has followed normal internet ettiquette and responded on the basis of what she found, and does not deserve anyone’s censure.

She found what Alix? Where? What did Charlotte say that you’re referring to Alix?

Georgina – I wouldn’t bother wasting time if you have more important things to carry through. It’s what I call trolling. Best ignored.

“She found what Alix? Where? What did Charlotte say that you’re referring to Alix? ”

Eh? Maybe I’ve just totally misunderstood this. I gather from upthread that the piece of evidence referenced in Rowenna’s article was read by Charlotte and dissected by her as lacking robustness. Since it was the evidence adduced in the article, Charlotte (or anyone) has a perfect right to expect that it does prove what the writer claims it proves. In this case, Charlotte thought it did not. We now learn that actually there is more evidence that we can’t read yet. Is that not what happened?

Oh, and I thought Rob covered the burden of proof point @22?

Eh? Maybe I’ve just totally misunderstood this. I gather from upthread that the piece of evidence referenced in Rowenna’s article was read by Charlotte and dissected by her as lacking robustness.

But she doesn’t point out what is not robust about it. Perhaps you could tell me where the article falls down? Or perhaps Charlotte could herself?

Rob said at #22

So, Georgina – as the person wanting the rest of us to do something – has a greater burden of proof on her than Charlotte, who merely wants to question the merits of doing something.

Actually, Georgina is doing a lot, as the article points out. She’s the only leading the campaign. Rowenna is right in asking why we don’t support more cases like that, but makes a general point about the political left ignoring rural issues (environmentalists don’t, but I agree that the political left in general does).

So the article was about the broader issue anyway – it wasn’t a call to action by Georgina specifically to join her campaign. Although I think it should be supported. However, if others want to put cold water over the case because they think the evidence doesn’t stand up then they should at least point out why they came to that conclusion. Otherwise it’s just trolling.

rob: Which is fair enough, but some of us would like to be told more about what we’re inviting to care about.

I don’t see why every article / blog on here should cover every aspect of what you would like them to… because the broader point that Rowenna made to me was about how the left generally ignores rural issues. I agreed and said she should blog it and use GD’s case as a hook. Seems perfectly sensible to me.

It’s well known Charlotte hates greenies – so her derision doesn’t surprise me. But I’m amused to think that she doesn’t actually have to offer any proof for why she’s pouring scorn on someone else’s campaign without any basis – and that too while knowing little about what’s going on in this case.

“But she doesn’t point out what is not robust about it.”

Yes she does, she says this:

“…despite the linked research not being remotely ‘robust’ with mostly non-scientific public sector sources saying, “may cause” or “could cause” or “might” and my favourites, “we don’t know enough about the hazards” or “we haven’t got the evidence about what hazards might be””

Would you challenge that view of the document linked to?

Having looked at it, it seems perfectly possible to do so to me. I wonder why you didn’t do that in the first place, rather than continuously claiming she has “no basis” for her remarks. She does have a basis – she’s looked at the submission linked to in the article, and drawn certain conclusions about it. If you want to argue against her, the best thing to do would be surely to look at the submission yourself, and see if you can challenge her conclusions on it.

This tit-for-tat rattatatat between the Left (Sunny et al) and the Libertarians (Alix Mortimer and Charlotte Gore) is getting a bit tired. Surely if people don’t like the views taken by the authors here, they don’t need to spend all their time convincing those authors that environmentalism, government intervention, regulation etc are evil and bad ideas, and that the free market has all the answers instead?

I’m not a libertarian, Delboy. And frankly I think you owe me an apology for having implied that I backed the police in the G20 protests. I have explained twice that I wasn’t and gave you references to prove it.

As for people “not liking the views” of writers here, if people publish or link to evidence here or anywhere they should expect to have it picked over.

45. Horatio Hornblower

Alix, the casual passer-by could be excused for thinking you were a libertarian from the way you defend your pal Charlotte constantly. And aren’t we all casual passers by? Since you both deem it acceptable to follow one link and not bother to look more deeply at other evidence, you can hardly moan when you get tarred with Charlotte’s brush on flimsy evidence.

Horatio, I don’t know where you get this idea that I’m moaning from. I simply stated, as a matter of information, that I wasn’t a libertarian. I entirely accept that that wouldn’t have been clear. So I said: “I’m not a libertarian, Delboy.” Simple, non? I was complaining about this character’s condemnation of me on the G20 protest threads, but that’s a separate issue.

“Since you both deem it acceptable to follow one link and not bother to look more deeply at other evidence”

Eh? Has the whole internet culture morphed into unrecognisability while I was asleep? If you want people to believe your position on something is justified, you show them sufficient evidence to back up your claim – it’s a very basic blogging rule. You are not entitled to rely on the possibility that they might be interested enough, or have enough time, to go scouting around themselves for additional back-up on every single post they read. If the blogosphere didn’t stick to this rule none of us would ever get any time for an offline life.

I’d respond to Georgina (36)’s quite trenchant criticisms of me, but Alix (37) has already done so for me. Thanks, Alix.

Georgina; if we’re keeping you from preparing for your CofA hearing, then ignore us. You don’t need to persuade us; you just need to persuade three Appeal Court judges. From your perspective, they are the only ones that matter right now. And given the symptoms that you describe, and your assurance that the scientific evidence supports you, may I wish you all the best in that effort (and congratulate you on the High Court success). That point does seem to have been lost, what with Sunny’s attempt to shout Charlotte down for having the temerity to point out that the original article seemed heavy on emotion and light on evidence.

Oh, and on the subject of the interface between science and law, I can assure you that I do in fact have the faintest idea what I am talking about.


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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

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  4. Charlotte Gore

    Sunny H is taking a serious credibility battering lately, poor guy. See thomas at comment 26. “Pwnage” as the kids say. http://bit.ly/LkhU2





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