Questions remain over 'rent-a-crowd' wind farm protest
Cancelled rally may be latest example of US big business funding grassroots opposition groups
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Wednesday 30 January 2013
Of all the issues convulsing American politics, it is unlikely that the construction of wind farms in Great Britain is one that would bring New Yorkers onto the streets in protest.
Perhaps that is why someone connected with an idiosyncratic demonstration against the march of wind turbines in “Scotland and England”, which was due to take place today outside the British Consulate in New York, apparently felt it necessary to advertise for volunteers to attend in return for $20 (£13).
The protest was called off yesterday following the placing of the advert on Craigslist, which called for 100 rent-a-crowd participants to “stand next to or behind the... elected officials/celebrities that will be speaking at the rally”.
According to reports, the company behind the advert sent an email to its “extras” saying it had decided it was “not wise” to ask them to stand outside in “this miserable weather”. The weather forecast for New York today was for light rain and a balmy temperature of 16C (60F).
The Craigslist advert asking for volunteers was removed earlier this week, but according to reports its authors were surprisingly frank about the reasons for their particular form of crowd sourcing. “Our firm needs 100 volunteers to attend and participate in a rally in front of the British Consulate/Embassy... The event is being held in order to protest [against] wind turbines that are being built in Scotland and England,” it reportedly read.
The question remained today of just who was behind the rally and whether the attempt to recruit New Yorkers to vent their fury on carbon reduction some 3,200 miles away is the latest example of “astroturfing” – the practice by corporations or political parties of anonymously financing “grassroots” opposition groups.
The Independent revealed this week that a secretive American funding organisation, the Donors Trust, which funnels millions of dollars to climate-sceptic organisations, is being indirectly supported by Charles Koch, co-owner of a majority stake in the oil and gas conglomerate, Koch Industries. There is no suggestion that the Donors Trust was involved in the wind power protest.
Another prominent US entrepreneur, Donald Trump who has been a vociferous campaigner against windfarms in Britain after it emerged that one is to be built opposite his £750m golf resort in Aberdeenshire, also denied any knowledge of the rally.
In a statement, the New York-based Trump Organisation said: “There is tremendous animosity towards the Scottish Government’s plans to destroy its natural heritage with ugly wind turbines. Tourism will suffer and we are not surprised to hear about a protest like this – there are sure to be many more.”
The Foreign Office today declined to comment.
- 1 Autistic adults could take pure MDMA to 'reduce social anxiety'
- 2 Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
- 3 Before you complain about your GP, this is what you need to know about actually doing the job
- 4 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: not a Mexican demon being summoned — it's gravity
- 5 Paracetamol Challenge: Mother of girl killed by overdose pleads with teenagers not to take part
Iran launches anti-Isis cartoon competition 'to expose true nature of Islamic State'
'Don't blame all men for rape' campaign backfires spectacularly
Fifa corruption arrests: How Chuck Blazer rinsed money from the beautiful game
Fifa corruption live: Uefa to consider pulling teams from Fifa tournaments if Blatter stays
Ukip MP Douglas Carswell says he felt his safety was 'seriously at risk' after he was surrounded by anti-austerity protesters
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Recruitment and Sales People wanted f...
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A multi-skilled engineer with a...
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Engineers for field & bench ser...
£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity for a t...