First he presented Play School, later he presented the maths entertainment series Think Of A Number. We liked Johnny. He was always smiling, always engaging. He was one of us. Then later, he went on to enjoy even greater credibility by being the dad of Radio 1 (now Radio 2) DJ Zoe Ball and therefore the father in law of DJ Norman Cook aka Fat Boy Slim.
So it saddens me greatly to read today how his career has been blighted as a result of smear campaigns over his climate change scepticism:
Bloggers have run campaigns stating Mr Ball ‘should not be allowed near children’.
And an imposter has even tried to cancel his booking at a training day for maths teachers in Northampton.
In a sinister twist, websites have also been set up in his name which contain pornographic images.
Mr Ball, a 72-year-old grandfather, believes his career has been destroyed and says his bookings have fallen by 90 per cent since the smear campaign began four years ago. Police are investigating his claims.
Something very similar, of course, has happened to another popular children’s TV presenter and science communicator of the same generation, botanist David Bellamy:
The sad fact is that since I said I didn’t believe human beings caused global warming I’ve not been allowed to make a TV programme.
My absence has been noticed, because wherever I go I meet people who say: “I grew up with you on the television, where are you now?”
It was in 1996 that I criticised wind farms while appearing on Blue Peter and I also had an article published in which I described global warming as poppycock.
But though this saddens me, it doesn’t at all surprise me for I’ve had a taste of this myself.
Last year, for example, a young man from the ferociously warmist British Antarctic Survey set up a website www.jamesdelingpole.co.uk (now defunct I believe) with a hyperlink which took the visitor straight to ecopropaganda central RealClimate. (My real website remains www.jamesdelingpole.com) More recently, someone has set up a fake Twitter account in the name of someone called James Dellngpole which spews the Twittersphere with the kind of lame, laboured jokes you’d expect from a committed eco-zealot. Then, of course, there’s the special tribute page created in my honour by the unfortunately-named organisation CACC (Campaign against Climate Change: hon president – G Monbiot; hon VP – Caroline Lucas MP), which issues a daily sceptic alert to direct activist trolls to posts such as this one.
Most flattering of all, I suppose, is The Carbon Brief – a spiffy new lavishly funded webpage designed to counter climate scepticism with the help of sneery little biogs of dangerous extremists such as Lord Monckton, Christopher Booker, Benny Peiser, Bjorn Lomborg and James Delingpole. Needless to say, it gives a free pass to such lovely, cuddly folk (check out the photo: scary) as Bob Ward and George Monbiot, who emerge as He-Man and Battle Cat to James Delingpole’s Skeletor. (Mind you I’ve always much preferred Skeletor, especially in the earlier episodes where he was properly scary: I think to be honest, He-Man is way too Tom of Finland and Battle Cat is a total wuss).
What’s particularly touching is the way the site shows such concern for my mental health: (H/T Barry Woods at Watts Up With That?)
Delingpole has written about the “imbecilic liberal-leftist philosophy of “multiculturalism”” in a column which described the BNP as “not nearly so dangerous as the liberal commentators who write meaningless ‘Thought For The Day’ drivel”. He has described his experience of suffering from manic depression in the Daily Mail.
All this is paid for by the lavishly funded European Climate Foundation. I’m sure the sponsors – see below – must be very proud of the work they are doing in helping promote open debate in the important field of climate science.
The Arcadia Fund
The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation
The ClimateWorks Foundation
The McCall MacBain Foundation
The Oak Foundation
The Sea Change Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation