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James Delingpole and the Difficulty with the Right

18/06/2013 10:40 BST | Updated 15/08/2013 10:12 BST

Where to start with James Delingpole? I think it would be wise to begin where most people do, and judge this book by its cover. He is an archetypal political nerd, with a face which looks like an imploding sock-puppet held together with a thin wire frame. He sounds like he is gargling his own bile, which - listening to what actually comes out of his mouth - he probably is.

The incessant crusade against the Green movement seems to unhealthily occupy his journalistic life, and in this constant refrain he shows the élan of a lonely and unpopular child who has acquired some of the attention he clearly craves by cosying up to the people who used to beat him up at school. (you big, burly men think Climate Change isn't real. So do I!)

His hatred of the Green movement is such that he appears to care more that Tim Yeo was chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee than the nature of the recently alleged crimes themselves. Among his 'likes', compiled on his website, he lists 'World War II' (the sure sign of a cretinous historical bore) and 'fox hunting' (hurray! The brutal slaughter of animals, the lefties won't like this!). His biography is an egoist's manifesto. Need I go on?

But it seems I must, for he is fast becoming the spokesman for the Climate Change 'sceptics', although disputing the majority of all the scientific opinion on the subject ever published is hardly worth such a valiant moniker. His zany brand of contrarianism isn't in the true spirit of opposition, as it merely conforms to what all of his readers already think. Instead of being some brave thinker, he is a parrot for the dullards, who try to reconcile their selfish Nimbyism and tax-based hissy fits with a brand of intellectual resistance.

I can't help but find similarities between Delingpole and Alex Jones, who recently enlivened an uneventful morning by going berserk on the Sunday Politics. Both have a conspiratorial hatred of government, both are obsessed with 'rights' over any sense of responsibility, and both treat overwhelming evidence to the contrary of their positions with contempt - and portray it as either a plot by green corporatists or the tyrannical establishment. I have a sneaking suspicion that Delingpole would like go further in his emulations of Jones, especially the wounded-bullock bellowing, but only if his feeble reedy tones didn't incur the laughter which would be their due if ever widely broadcast.

But the mimicry does not end in temperament. On the page (the only method of mass communication with which he has some - considerable - skill) he is a curious mixture of Richard Littlejohn and Jeremy Clarkson. The difference is that Clarkson freely admits that he rarely means what he writes, and Littlejohn has such a feeble grasp of modern Britain that even his pretence to be based in this country is starting to wear thin.

But the tired populism continues, and Delingpole is routinely swamped on his Telegraph blog with hundreds of sympathetic, and similarly slogan-based, comments - written by people up and down the country, who all seem to agree on everything. Much in the way that Daily Mail readers are really Sun readers with delusions of grandeur (see their brief love affair with Kelvin MacKenzie, for example), Internet Telegraph browsers are likely to be the worst of the Mail Online rabble who have clicked a link or two.

And these people, who (much like Delingpole) are unlikely to have scientific objections to the progress of environmentalism, will happily spout boring rubbish about 'stealth taxes', and the 'liberal metropolitan elite' (which once I saw amusingly misspelt as 'the liberal metrosexual elite'). His arguments are fallacious in that they argue from consequence, and do not confront the issue of Climate Change.

Delingpole agrees that the climate is changing, but does not accept any human culpability. This is not only an illogical position to hold, it also does not hang together pragmatically. Surely, if this change is not our fault, then we should be doing more to prevent its effects than rather than nothing - as he advocates.

There exists also a sliding scale between self-described libertarians, and some (myself included) appreciate the need for limited state action to benefit everyone - or when the market response is less nuanced than the governmental can be. In this, the notion of a social contract holds that it is the role of the executive to protect citizens from harm - be it through drugs or guns or an oncoming environmental catastrophe. Even those who advocate large-scale governmental cuts can support this, and there are a good number of pragmatic reasons to embrace the state in exceptional circumstances.

But the final straw has been his full-hearted endorsement of Ukip. Not so much that he did it (we have all known he was a closet 'kipper for a long time) but that he used a rather stupid choice of words to do so: 'Ukip is patriotic, fiscally conservative and socially libertarian' he proclaims. The latter just is not true, for a start, and the former is an anachronistic desire to derive pride from an accident of birth.

Even the middle statement of this corrupted trinity is open to debate. Whilst Ukip favour cuts to things small-staters do not like (echoing the more financially radical wing of the Conservatives), they also want to massively increase spending on defence, which would almost certainly create a deficit as great, if not greater, than the one the government is vainly trying to reduce.

There is no doubt that Mr. Delingpole has a great facility with the English language, and that he can be witty, erudite and persuasive. But the question is: for what does he use these gifts? And the answer is far from satisfactory. He manages to engineer powerful Right-wing rhetoric, but if all he creates with this skill is the persona of a talented, energetic blogger (and what a blogger he could be: his recent piece on Michael Gove's overdue reforms was entertaining and insightful - if a bit over-zealous), in the mould of an upmarket Melanie Philips, then that is not nearly good enough.