There is money to be made in forecasting the weather: America’s biggest forecaster, Universal Weather and Aviation, made more than $155m last year. For airlines and shipping businesses, accurate forecasts can be a matter of life and death. More generally, individual consumers now have access to an awesome amount of meteorological data, and predictions of the weather have become almost tediously reliable.
Not much of this business has gone the way of Piers Corbyn, founder of Weather Action Ltd, a forecasting business which operates out of a scruffy suite of serviced offices on the Borough High St. Piers –if you thought the name familiar– is the elder brother of Jeremy, the former Labour leader recently voted best Prime Minister we never had; the only plausible explanation for which being that respondents to the survey thought they were voting for the person that it’s best we never had as Prime Minister.
Sometimes Weather Action gets the weather right, in the same way that pine cones sometimes get it right. But the only meteorological value of the company’s twopenny-halfpenny, jumbled website is as a scary, capital letter-strewn window into the tempests of a troubled mind.
Piers’ schtick is that hegemonic herd opinion amongst scientists about the climate has got it all wrong; that the planet is cooling not warming, and that ‘climate science’ is part of a huge plot –by mega-corporations, the banks, Bill Gates and other people whom he doesn’t quite come out and name as The Jews– to establish a sinister New World Order through the “UN-EU (4thReich) diktats of the Tax and control narrative of the Fake science of ManMade Climate change” [sic; sic; sic and sic]. Pigtailed doom-goblin Greta Thunburg is in on it too.
But Piers Corbyn’s contrarianism extends well past his (asserted) area of expertise in meteorology. Pushed to the front of his aesthetically, if not commercially, busy website is a dire warning: “#Covid19-Alarm,” Piers gibbers “has replaced #ClimateChange-Alarm as the main propaganda tool of the megaRich and Mega Corporations for their declared NewNormal / NewWorldOrder world plunder and control scheming to end democracy and destroy Rights” [sic; sic; oh I give up].
Last Saturday, Piers Corbyn and several hundred others gathered together in Trafalgar Square to vent their frustration at the lockdown. An impressive diversity of moon-mad opinion was represented at the ‘Unite for Freedom’ protest. David Icke –who believes that the Royal Family are lizards– was the headline speaker. Present too were anti-vaxxers, people promoting the Q-Anon conspiracy (don’t bother looking this one up unless you have an awful lot of spare time), inadequates waving banners very like the British Union of Fascists’ banner, and the anti-5G brigade, about which atrocity Piers’ website warns “5G (military weapon rays) destruction of trees, bees and other insects and making people and animals infertile to enable SMART METERS TO CONTROL YOU etc etc etc.”
Typically, it is one of our country’s strengths that several hundred nut jobs, conspiracy theorists and neo-Nazis can assemble together, give vent to their eccentric ideas and peacefully disperse. As Piers’ brother found out last December, the more the public hears from members of the Corbyn family, the less inclined they are to set much store by what they say. But peaceful protest, it appears, is now a serious criminal offence. That must be the case, because on Saturday Piers Corbyn was shoved into a Black Maria, held in the cells for ten hours, and sent on his way with a £10,000 fixed penalty notice. He is refusing to pay it, and quite right too.
Passed as a supposed emergency –and so avoiding even the derisory scrutiny usually afforded by Parliament towards statutory instruments– the Covid-19 regulations allow a policeman (or Police Community Support Officer) to dish out an instant £10,000 fine for ‘organising’ an event in breach of the lockdown. Fixed penalty notices were designed to be £60 fines for trivial offences like pissing in public. What is an emergency about a bank holiday weekend that anyone with a 2020 calendar could have anticipated isn’t immediately obvious; there have been months of Parliamentary time in which laws used to restrict the right to protest could have been debated.
Being around other people outside is fundamentally safe. The Government hasn’t chosen to forbid hundreds of people massing together on the same beach or park, and rather wishes they would get back to bustling past each other on Oxford Street, instead of leaving the place looking permanently like a scene from 28 Days Later.
The #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations –far, far larger; no more socially distanced– have come and gone and we haven’t yet read an article in the Daily Mail bubbling with suppressed glee at someone having died as a result. You may also be driven to wonder whether the Police would have demonstrated the same enthusiasm for slapping £10,000 fixed penalty notices on Star Wars actor John Boyega and the organisers of the #BLM demonstrations as they have for punishing a poor mad schmuck like Piers. Or if a PCSO attempting to serve a fixed penalty notice on Boyega would have emerged in one piece.
Many of us are lizard-sceptics, and tend towards the belief that a skewed attitude to risk, and terror at being blamed for a single avoidable death –not reptiles or SMART METERS– is what led politicians across the developed world to destroy their economies and put their electorates under house arrest. Still, Piers and the lizard people are entitled to their doolally points of view, and in any free country must have the liberty to express them. Piers Corbyn might be an even bigger fool than his brother, but his treatment –in a supposedly free, democratic society– is an outrage.
This article was originally posted in The Pembrokeshire Herald.