Sir Bernard Ingham, whom older readers (are there any other?) might remember as Margaret Thatcher’s press secretary, has had it up to here with those crazy anti-fracking protesters. In a column for the Yorkshire Post, the Independent reports, Sir Bernard fulminated: “It seems they want us all to live in their yurts, tepees and wigwams in a sort of glorious, save-the-planet pre-industrial squalor – regardless of our manifest objections. If that is not totalitarianism, I don’t know what is.”
Well if that is not empty, cynical, intellect-light, populist bullshit I don’t know what is. It is nice though for Sir Bernard to be able to return to the Yorkshire Post in his dotage (the picture accompanying the Independent story shows him to be much reduced since we last saw him in everything but his eyebrows). Then plain Bernard, he worked as a young man for the Post and later for the Guardian. He was, at the time, an NUJ activist and Labour Party member (his father was a Labour councillor). Indeed he only left the party when he joined the civil service, where he had the distinction – and perhaps also the difficulty – of being Tony Benn’s press secretary.
He is currently secretary to Supporters of Nuclear Energy (SONE) and vice-president of the anti wind energy group Country Guardian, two affiliations which I am sure accompany every newspaper opinion piece he writes. It is the case that many journalists who manifest exceptional skills in other areas, then and now, are promoted and cease to write, and this can be a great loss, as one can see from the shimmering prose of Sir Bernard’s 1991 memoir, Kill the Messenger.
Like a mighty oak, it took more than one axe to bring Mrs Thatcher down. In November 1990 they were cutting into this solid timber from all angles. The frenzy was fearsome to behold. Heaven preserve us from political axe-men in a state of panic. They would cut off their grandmas in their prime if they thought it would serve their interests. And so they cut off a grandma in her international prime by the stocking tops, to borrow one of Denis’s phrases, which Mrs Thatcher often used.
Rightly is he called the Yorkshire Flaubert.