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Bernard Ingham

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Sir Bernard Ingham

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

This article is part of a series on the
2005-2006 national debate on nuclear
power in the UK

For more articles on this topic,
see the NuclearSpin website

Sir Bernard Ingham is best known for his work as press secretary to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during her time in office. Ingham was a journalist who worked as press secretary for Margaret Thatcher. He joined the Civil Service in 1967, working for the Department of Energy from 1974. He went on to spend eleven years as Thatcher's Chief Press Secretary. From 1989-90 Ingham was also Head of the Government Information Service.[1]

Ingham grew up in Hebden and after leaving Hebden Grammar School joined the Hebden Bridge Times at the age of 16. "He subsequently worked for the Yorkshire Evening Post, the Yorkshire Post, latterly as Northern Industrial Correspondent, and The Guardian where he became a member of its Labour staff in London 1965. In 1967 he joined the Civil Service as Press and Public Relations Adviser to the Prices and Incomes Board, intending to return to journalism after two years ... he was Director of Information in the Departments of Employment and Energy, and Head, as Under Secretary, of the Department of Energy's first energy and conservation division before spending eleven years as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Chief Press Secretary in No 10 Downing Street. From 1989-90, he was also Head of the Government Information Service," a 2006 biographical note states. [2]

"In the course of his Civil Service career Sir Bernard was also press secretary to Barbara Caste, Robert Carr, Maurice Macmillan, Lord Carrington, Eric Varley and Tony Benn. He was knighted on Mrs Thatcher's resignation - and his retirement - in 1990," the biographical note states. He established his own PR company, Bernard Ingham Communications and was a non-executive director of McDonald's Restaurants, and Hill and Knowlton.[2]

Positions on nuclear and wind energy

After leaving the civil service in 1990, Sir Bernard became a paid consultant to British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. (BNFL) [1]. BNFL, The Independent reported, "asked him to make his advice available as a consultant." The company did not disclose how much it paid him. [3] According to Friends of the Earth, his employment with BNFL ran from 1991 until at least 1998 [2] (PDF). Renew, a publication of the UK Network for Alternative Technology and Technology Assessment, has characterized his work for BNFL as a "media advisor" [3].

Ingham was also a director of Hill and Knowlton, one of the largest public relations companies in Britain, from September 1991 to June 2002. The firm has very close links with the Government and worked for Nuclear Electric during the 1990s. In PR Week in the early nineties, Ingham was quoted as saying "for 25 years I have earned a crust trying to preserve nuclear power." [4]

No longer working for BNFL, he is now secretary of Supporters of Nuclear Energy (SONE), a pro-nuclear energy lobbying group with strong links to the British Nuclear Energy Society. [4] [5]. Its business address is the Westminster headquarters of the British Nuclear Energy Society, a body set up to promote nuclear power and linked to all the main figures in the nuclear industry, from BNFL to British Energy, the company which runs most of the country's nuclear power stations. [5] [6]

Like many pro-nuclear campaigners, Ingham is virulently anti-wind power. He has been vice-president of the anti-wind farm campaign Country Guardian since summer 1993. [6] His stance on nuclear versus wind power is clear: in 1993 he wrote a column in the Hebden Bridge Times entitled "Nuclear power is greener than windfarms." [7].

In what appears to be an unpublished letter to The Guardian newspaper, published on the campaigning website warmwell.com (which opposes wind energy [7]), Ingham has provided some details about how he got involved with Country Guardian:

Finally, to put another Monbiot exaggeration in perspective, I did not co-found Country Guardian. Joseph Lythgoe founded it alone. He came out of the blue to me and used me as a sounding board. I had no position with the nuclear industry when he first approached me. [8]

We don't know when Lythgoe first approached Ingham. However, if FoE's dates are correct, Ingham certainly did have a position with the nuclear industry when Country Guardian was founded in 1992 [9], as he had begun working for BNFL in 1991 [10] (PDF).

He is also a global warming skeptic. At a major meeting of anti-windfarm campaigners, on June 19, 2004 at Saddleworth Moor in Lancashire, he declared: 'I am a skeptic about global warming', 'wind will never compete with nuclear' and 'windpower is for the brainwashed or the braindead". He added that wind 'is not an answer to global warming' and 'nuclear is benign on two counts: pollution and land-use'. [8]

He also argues that energy conservation is no solution, because people are only motivated to save money on bills, rather than saving energy itself. He argues that all people do when they save money is simply buy more electrical goods which use more energy. 'Having been responsible for the [Save It] policy, I wouldn't rely on energy conservation to get me through'. 'My solution to this problem is a mix of energy supply: coal, nuclear, oil and gas' - he also says that most oil comes from unstable regimes and nuclear is the safest form of energy production. Ingham also repeats the often anti-environmental argument that puts forward the theory that groups 'want to return to a pre-industrial society'.[8]

On the Today programme on November 29, 2005, Ingham claimed that nuclear power is "the cheapest option" and "the cleanest of all methods of electricity generation", and dismissed windpower as "unreliable, intermittent, and therefore basically mucky". He also claimed that "nuclear doesn't want subsidies". [11] [12]

Clusters, what clusters?

In a 2002 speech, Ingham flatly denied the existence of childhood leukaemia clusters around nuclear power stations:

"Such as the leukaemia clusters around nuclear power stations which Zac Goldsmith, a wet-behind-the-ears 'Green' with more brass than sense or ethics, has invented without the slightest evidence." [13]

In fact, there is scientific consensus that such clusters do exist around some nuclear power stations, and are statistically significant. The most infamous example is the one at Seascale near the Sellafield plant. What is controversial is not the existence of these clusters, but their cause. For example, they may be due to the population mixing caused by an influx of migrant workers rather than radiation.[14] On the other hand, the Low Level Radiation Campaign argues that the clusters could indeed be due to radiation from the nuclear plants.[15]

Career

Roles

Commercial

Voluntary

Journalistic

Academic

  • Member of the advisory board of Queen Mary Public Policy Seminars [34] [35].
  • Member of the council of the University of Huddersfield [36].
  • Visiting professor in Middlesex University Business School [37].
  • Visiting fellow in the Politics Department at Newcastle upon Tyne University [38].
  • Honorary D Litt of the University of Buckingham [39].
  • Fellow of the CAM Foundation [40].

What Ingham says about the green movement

  • Zac Goldsmith: "a wet-behind-the-ears 'Green' with more brass than sense or ethics"[41]
  • "...the eco-junket called the Earth Summit in Johannesburg... the real purpose of the Earth Summit is to transfer your hard-earned cash to others who mostly have governments with even less of a clue how to conduct their affairs than we do. Otherwise, they wouldn't be in the appalling mess they are."[42]
  • "...the liars and cheats who infest the environmental movement..." [43]
  • "The political parties are stuffed with anti-nuke CND peaceniks, environmental nutters whose concern for the environment falls far short of their determination to kill capitalism and idealists who would impose their idea of the good life on the rest of us." [44]

Resources

References

  1. Biography on website of Celebrity Speakers Associates (CSA), October 28, 2003.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Sir Bernhard Ingham", Celebrity Speakers Associates (CSA), March 5, 2006. (This is archived in the Internet Archive.)
  3. Tom Wilkie, "Labour angered over Ingham consultancy", The Independent, unavailable online, December 30, 1991.
  4. PR Week, September 16, 1993.
  5. 'About SONE' on Supporters Of Nuclear Energy website, dated April 26, 2004.
  6. Chris Grimshaw, "It's official: no dark Machiavellian conspiracy for new nuclear power", Corporate Watch newsletter, issue 21, December 2004.
  7. Crispin Aubrey, "Beauty and the bog brush", The Guardian, unavailable online, November 5, 1993.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Comments made by Bernard Ingham at 'Your countryside, your choice - The Impact of Land-based Wind Energy Schemes on the British Countryside', a one-day conference organized by the Saddleworth Moors Action Group, June 19, 2004, further details at I-Greens.org website.

SourceWatch resources

External links

Articles, letters, media appearances, and speeches by Ingham

Articles