In the world of Channel 4 it’s probably called balance. Tonight, George Monbiot is given air time to expose the sham that is the New Labour government’s "commitment" to cutting carbon emissions. Later this week, Channel 4 is broadcasting the "Great Global Warming Swindle", in which alleged experts will claim that the world’s scientific community is lying about the causes of global warming. As we know from the "Big Brother" experience, Channel 4 is not averse to ratcheting up viewing figures by getting the contestants to mouth offensive, some would say racist, comments. But there is more to the "Great Global Warming Swindle" than meets the eye. Behind this programme is one Martin Durkin. In 1997, Durkin, then from the TV company Kugelblitz, made a three-hour series for Channel 4 called "Against Nature", which targeted environmentalists, presenting them as "the new enemy of science" and as comparable to the Nazis. Environmentalists were responsible, the series argued, for the deprivation and death of millions in the Third World. Channel 4 had to broadcast a prime-time apology after the Independent Television Commission ruled that interviews with contributing environmentalists had distorted or misrepresented their known views.
The "Great Global Warming Swindle" will undoubtedly follow the same, right-wing, pro-business line. As Monbiot noted at the time of the 1997 "Crimes Against Nature", the essential links were to a network then centred on the magazine LM, formerly known as "Living Marxism", which was published by the "Revolutionary Communist Party". As Monbiot explained at the time, the assistant producer Eve Kaye, was one of the principal co-ordinators of the RCP/LM. Though Durkin denies any link with LM, "Against Nature" precisely follows the organisation’s line. The series starred Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at Kent University and LM's most influential thinker, and John Gillott, LM's science correspondent. Monbiot says: "’Against Nature’ followed the agenda laid down by LM: that greens are not radicals, but doom-mongering imperialists; that global warming is nothing to worry about; that ‘sustainable development’ is a conspiracy against people; while germline gene therapy and human cloning will liberate humanity from nature." Durkin was then commissioned by Channel 4 to make yet another business-friendly programme, this time in defence of genetic modification for Channel 4's Equinox' series. "Modified Truth: The Rise and Fall of GM" was broadcast on March 20 2000. It presented GM food as perfectly safe and vital to feed the world’s starving people.
The LM group, notorious for denying and covering up atrocities during the civil war in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, are exceptionally well placed in establishment circles. Their reactionary views dressed up in pseudo left-wing clothes are simply adored by Channel 4 and others. Leading member Claire Fox, for example, is a regular on BBC’s "The Moral Maze". She is director of the so-called Institute of Ideas. Furedi regularly turns up in the columns of The Times. The organisation LobbyWatch notes: "Former RCP members control much of the formal infrastructure of public communication used by the science and medical establishment. They hold key positions in Sense About Science , the Science Media Centre, the Genetic Interest Group, the Progress Educational Trust, Genepool and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. They have used these positions to promote the interests of pharmaceutical and biotech companies and to dismiss the concerns of the public and non-governmental organisations." LobbyWatch points out that given most of the people who have taken these posts do not have a background in science, "colonisation of these bodies is unlikely to have happened by chance’." Enough said.
Paul Feldman, communications editor