POLITICS

George Monbiot Challenges Owen Paterson To A Duel

23/07/2014 13:50 BST | Updated 23/07/2014 13:59 BST
Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson leaves 10 Downing Sreet in central London after a cabinet meeting.

Guardian columnist George Monbiot has challenged the former environment secretary Owen Paterson to a duel. Sort of.

Paterson was sacked as environment secretary by David Cameron last week. Following his demotion to the backbenches he wrote a scathing column attacking environmentalists as the "Green Blob" that did not really understand the countryside.

Monbiot, said today he was "happy to join Blob Pride" and warned about the "development of a Tea Party faction" within the Conservative Party".

And he questioned how much Paterson actually knew about rural England. Laying down the gauntlet he said: "I challenge Mr Paterson to a kind of duel: to walk through the countryside together, with independent experts, and see who can correctly identify the greatest number of species across all classes: birds, insects, spiders, plants, fungi and the rest. Will he take up my challenge?"

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Paterson had criticised the "highly paid globe-trotters of the Green Blob who besieged me with their self-serving demands, many of which would have harmed the natural environment".

And he attacked "the mutually supportive network of environmental pressure groups, renewable energy companies and some public officials who keep each other well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and green tape. This tangled triangle of unelected busybodies claims to have the interests of the planet and the countryside at heart, but it is increasingly clear that it is focusing on the wrong issues and doing real harm while profiting handsomely".