Barry Gardiner's #TimeToAct2015 Photo Album

by | Mar 8, 2015

Yesterday saw the ‘Time To Act 2015’ protests in a number of cities throughout the world. The Huffington Post proudly announced ‘People’s Climate March In London Draws 5,000, Including Russell Brand And Naomi Klein‘.

Have you ever been to Central London on a Saturday afternoon? In a city of more than 8 million people, just 5,000 (0.0625% of the city’s population) is hardly a spectacle. To illustrate the point, here is one of London’s tourist attractions, the London Eye.

[image Wikipedia]

The Eye has 40 capsules, each with a capacity of 40 people, and takes half an hour to complete a trip (one revolution). The entire Time to Act march could be accommodated by the London Eye in little more than three revolutions in just over an hour and a half. As protests go, Time to Act was a demonstration of the lack of political movement behind climate action. It was a warm day. Yet people were more interested in London’s food, drink, shops, museums, galleries and big wheels than in ‘saving the planet’. It doesn’t even compare to the 1998 march by the Countryside Alliance to protest the banning of fox hunting, which drew 250,000. That’s right: more people seem to want to hunt foxes than save the planet from global warming.

One of the marchers was Labour MP for Brent North, and Ed Miliband’s Special Envoy for Climate Change & The Environment, Barry Gardiner, who some readers may remember threatened to sue me for calling him a liar on Twitter in 2012 after he repeated claims about subsidies for fossil energy he knew to be wrong. Gardiner’s tweets today were no less removed from reality:

Here is a selection from his Twitter timeline.

These glib tweets help to show that climate activists prefer to trade in image rather than reason and debate. But it was this image which particularly sticks in the throat.

The implication appears to be that climate change caused the condition that these children suffering — poverty — and that climate policies will rescue them, and children like them. The link between climate change and species is weak enough, but the link between climate change and poverty is weaker still. Who were these children? How had their lives been affected by climate change? How would climate policy make their lives better?

No answer from Gardiner, of course.

But the origins of the image were soon discovered by Vinny Burgoo

Gardiner had simply lifted the image from a stock photo library.

Corbis describe the image as follows.

Afghanistan – Daily Life – Brother and Sister in Kabul
Afghan girl holds her brother as they take a break from searching for items to recycle in Kabul.

So war, not climate change, in one of the poorest countries in the world explains the condition of the two young children.

It is heartbreaking to see such tiny children shoeless, filthy, and so utterly impoverished. And this makes Gardiner’s cynical exploitation of the image all the more revolting. It’s not merely that he wants to elicit an emotional response from you with it, he wants to make instrumental use of their image, regardless of how their condition arose and can be understood, for his own political ambitions. In other words, he has no sympathy for them whatsover, they are simply useful to him.

Imagine, if you can, that you became some victim of some event or other that left you in such a state: what clothes you had in tatters, covered in mud and dust, exhausted and utterly lost. Now imagine that somebody took a photograph of you, which was used to campaign for something that had nothing to do with the event that had left you in your most damaged, vulnerable, and helpless state. How would you feel? That’s how much sympathy Gardiner has for the children in the photograph.

Gardiner flicked through photo libraries and took images out of context, to use them in his self-serving political campaign. Is this mere, accident, thoughtless oversight, or does such casual disregard for careful argument say something deeper about politicians who seek to identify themselves by the climate issue?

If there really were an abundance of evidence that animals and poor people were vulnerable to climate change, it wouldn’t be necessary for Gardiner to search stock image libraries for content to underpin his glib sloganeering.


  1. Robin Guenier

    The Huffington Post article (originally posted at 16:10 yesterday but updated at 23:59) now claims there were “More than 15,000 protesters” at the march. (That would be 0.125% of London’s population.)

    But such claims are commonly inflated – so I’d be inclined to believe the smaller figure. For example, the official march website ( says this:

    The People’s Climate March last September was huge. With around 40,000 people marching in London, 400,000 in New York and many thousands more taking part across the world, together we made history.

    [My emphasis]

    But Jimmy Higgins (a climate march supporter and “experienced demo counter”) convincingly claims here that the true figure was “about 125,000”. His follow-up piece (LINK) is particularly interesting.

    As for Barry Gardiner, his behaviour is a disgrace. But sadly not a surprise.

    • Ben Pile

      Robin, your first link seems to be a quote, rather than a URL, please post it, and I’ll edit your comment.

      Even at 15,000, I am barely less underwhelmed by the scale of the protest. It is remarkable that a cross-party consensus on the issue that the protesters are demanding action on has been renewed, yet the green movement can barely move people onto the streets. It shows that politicians are as isolated as the organisations that tried to mobilise people.

      Environmental alarmism is the symptom of that disconnect — the failure of political leaders and movements to connect their causes of any kind to a wider public. Gardiner, unable to reach his constituents in any meaningful way, blackmails them instead: come with me on the march or the creature will die.

  2. Robin Guenier

    Apologies: here’s the link – (Also, if 15,000 is accurate (which I rather doubt), my percentage should have been 0.188%.)

    Here’s an interesting extract from Higgins’s first piece:

    But I think that whoever is pumping this number is doing the movement a real disservice. I have written before about why I think inflated demo counts are such a bad thing, including <a href=";this rather passionate short piece here at FotM. You may think that it’s harmless, a “little white lie,” but consider that this whole movement bases itself on the accuracy of numbers, numbers about global warming. It behooves us to be extra-careful about this.

  3. Robin Guenier

    Groan: now I’ve got that wrong. The extract should have read:

    But I think that whoever is pumping this number is doing the movement a real disservice. I have written before about why I think inflated demo counts are such a bad thing, including this rather passionate short piece here at FotM. You may think that it’s harmless, a “little white lie,” but consider that this whole movement bases itself on the accuracy of numbers, numbers about global warming. It behooves us to be extra-careful about this.

  4. Hilary Ostrov

    Ben, it may – or may not – be a comfort to know that the utter and despicable superficiality of the Gardiners in your part of the world has also infected and been inflicted on us colonials over here in Canada.

    To this day I cannot fathom Obama’s two elections as President of the US, our neighbour to the south. To my mind, based on what we know of his “work history”, I cannot think of anyone less qualified for the office he holds.

    Here in Canada we have our own mini-Obama-wannabe: Justin Trudeau, who aspires to be our next Prime Minister – and who has clearly taken far too many leaves from the “book of Obama”.

    Apart from his dimples and carefully coiffed hair, not unlike Obama, he has absolutely nothing in his work history to qualify him for the position he seeks. Also not unlike Obama, our MSM adore him and readily overlook his foibles, faux pas and photogenic phoniness.

    Junior is blatantly riding on the laurels earned by his far more perceptive and intellectually superior father, Pierre Elliiot Trudeau (1919–2000). With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that Trudeau pѐre certainly had his philosophical and parliamentary faults (which, at that point in my time. were not sufficient to preclude my voting for him!)

    But Trudeau pѐre was not afflicted with the vacuous, fact-free and sound-bite driven confabulations of the likes of his son – or of Gardiner.

    Will the political pendulum eventually swing back to voices of reason?! I wish I knew. However, I’m inclined to suspect that the damages incurred by our respective education systems strongly (and depressingly) suggest that it may take a few decades before voices of reason are again predominant in our respective parliaments.

  5. Newminster

    If we had spent as much money world-wide over the last 20 years on attempts to alleviate poverty, notably by the provision of clean water, proper waste disposal, and cheap and reliable energy, as we have to no good purpose on climate change, most of the problems of poverty would by now be well on the way to elimination.
    Whether Gardiner is ignorant or plain dishonest I couldn’t say. On the basis of the tweets you record above I can see no third option.

  6. geoffchambers

    @VinnyBurgoo “They are self-employed garbage-recyclers.”
    So they’re doing green jobs in a country we’ve liberated! A double warmy (or whatever it’s called) for Cameron.

  7. Stew Green

    Someone with more time than me, might search for who funds him and his election campaigns, probably something like GreenBlob solar/wind subsidy farming in there

    “His Daughter works for Globe” the taxpayer funded climate lobby group
    GLOBE International have spent £20,000+ over last few years sending him to climate conferences

    9 May 2009 – “Barry Gardiner, a former environment minister, made £198500 profit from a flat funded and refurbished at taxpayers’ expense.”

    “The shadow minister for environment, food, and rural affairs featured on yesterday’s front page of the Mail on Sunday pictured in a pair of tropical swimming shorts in Cancun as he attended a conference funded by Sigma Pharmaceutical.
    Mr Gardiner and his wife Caroline stayed at the luxury Moon Palace Resort during the £3,650 trip paid for by the pharmaceutical company.” Feb 2014

    October 2014 Trip to Athens paid by Piraeus Bank S.A. valued at £865 in total
    to participate in the “Cultural Landscapes in Natura 2000 Sites” conference.
    even more at

    2012 His constituency Broke law by taking donation from foreign biz
    “Brent North received the £2,500 donation from the Bank of Asia in May but has now volunteered to forfeit it after it found it did not comply with the law.” Brent North MP Barry Gardiner said he had “assumed” it was a “proper donor”.


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