We’ve just found two more things the frackers can’t buy – Courage and Dignity!

Run Rabbit Run

Run Kenny Run

Following on from our last post about the lack of morality and integrity displayed by Ken Wilkinson and his (so far) anonymous accomplice in trying to wreck Mike Hill’s career, we are genuinely surprised to be able to bring you two more examples of things the pro-frackers don’t appear to have, and certainly can’t procure  by flashing the cash – courage and dignity.

It seems that a debate was organised in Harrogate for 6th October with the subject being “This House Calls for an Immediate End to Fracking in the UK

This is how the event was described on Eventbrite

The proposing speaker for this event is John Plummer. John represents Frack Free Harrogate District, one of many similar groups across the region. He retired in 2005 after a career in education and has campaigned on climate change and environmental issues for a long time.  He is motivated by concerns for his grandchildren’s futures and by his longstanding enthusiasms for history and the great outdoors.

Opposing is Ken Wilkinson. Ken graduated in Engineering from Manchester University in 1974, and worked for Schlumberger Oilfield services as a field engineer for 2 years in the Far East. He then worked for Halliburton (wireline) for 10 years, becoming District Engineer, the most senior technical level, dealing with oil company clients, mainly in Libya and Kuwait. He had to understand how wells worked to do his job. He then became a Physics teacher for over 20 years, and retired 3 years ago. He is completely independent, both financially, and in his views. He is not an expert, but knows people who are!

The seconders are Lorraine Allanson and Ian Crane. Lorraine is a business woman, a former farmer who now owns a complex of accommodation serving the tourist and business markets. Lorraine founded ‘Friends of Ryedale Gas Exploration’ who are in support of the gas industry and to try and add balance to the debate on shale gas.

Ian R Crane spent 19 years in the international Oilfeld Services industry, living and working in Paris, Dubai and Houston, Texas. Having witnessed firsthand the impact of the Unconventional Gas Industry in the USA & Australia, Ian established his FRACKING AWARENESS CAMPAIGN immediately after the UK Government lifted the moratorium on Fracking in December 2012. Since Autumn 2013, Ian has produced over 90 episodes of FRACKING NIGHTMARE, all of which are freely available on YouTube. In Autumn 2014, Ian returned to the gasfields of Southern Queensland and in April 2015 released a documentary titled, ‘Voices from the Gasfields’ (also freely available on YouTube).

So far so uncontroversial – We have a local resident of Harrogate proposing the motion with well known (but now discredited) fracking supporter from Bristol, Ken Wilkinson opposing. Seconding were B&B owner and mouthpiece for the fracking PR industry, Lorraine Allanson and anti-fracker and conspiracy theorist Ian Crane. Now I don’t know who John Plummer is, but I’m sure he’s a perfectly reasonable chap – I have after all no reason to believe otherwise. As for the other 3 – well I was looking forward to watching the outcome. Ian isn’t to everyone’s taste – his theories about life in general seem “interesting” to many of us, but on fracking he is pretty sharp because he has experience in oil and gas. Lorraine and Ken are featherweights in comparison when it comes to arguing the case for and against fracking. It promised to be a challenging and highly entertaining evening, especially in the light of recent revelations about the lengths that Ken Wilkinson has gone to in trying (but failing abjectly) to ruin local engineer, Mike Hill’s, career.

But what is this? Lorraine and Ken have pulled out of the event. Were they simultaneously terribly ill I hear you ask? Why no! Here is what they wrote on the FORGE facebook page

On the 6th of October Ken Wilkinson and Lorraine Allanson were booked to address the Harrogate Debate group. Unfortunately they both decided to cancel. They have released this statement:

” We were initially booked to be involved in the debate at Harrogate and the organisers led us to believe it would be a genuine debate about fracking in front of their core supporters which we would have expected to have open minds.
Once Ian R Crane was brought in to oppose us we were disapointed (sic) and surprised that no one more credible could be found. The open selling of the tickets would also ensure that the audience would no longer be open minded.
We do not wish to share a stage with someone with such ‘perverse views’ about 9/11 out of respect for those who died.
We wanted a ‘real debate’, but all they could put up was a 9/11 denier who thought a secrect (sic) world government was manipulating North Yorks local council into the genocide of 90% of Yorkshires (sic) population. This sadly shows what extremists they really are and we are extremely disappointed with Friends of the Earth for being willing to share the stage with him.

So it seems that Ken and Lorraine are scared to attend a debate where a local resident is the proposer and Ian Crane is just the seconder. Let’s be clear here – The biggest arguments in a debate will be taken by the proposing speakers on either side, leaving smaller arguments for second speakers that cannot be as easily predicted. The job of the seconder is just to rebut the opposing argument and support the proposing speaker on his own side. I think if Ian Crane is prepared to share a stage with somebody vindictive enough to try to ruin somebody’ s career for no good reason (every one of Ken’s allegations about Mike Hill to the IET was dismissed without reservation), then Ken Wilkinson should really have had the grace to extend him the same courtesy. To be honest their claim to be backing out of the debate out of respect for those who died in 9/11 is the most disrespectful thing towards the victims of that atrocity that I have ever read. The idea that, after this week, Ken Wilkinson feels he has the right to claim any moral high ground is  frankly laughable.

They also seem to have got into a blue funk about the prospect of  facing an audience able to buy tickets on the open market. Yes really. We particularly like the claim “the open selling of the tickets would also ensure that the audience would no longer be open minded.” because it tells us so much about how their minds work. It is interesting to note that the event was sold out 3 weeks in advance.




Both Ken and Lorraine should be ashamed of themselves. But, do you know, I imagine they already are ashamed of themselves. They really have let themselves and the fracking industry down here.

Many of us have strong opinions on this issue, and many of us have had the courage to stand up in public and voice those opinions and are prepared to have them questioned. Over 100 people did just that at the public inquiry at Blackpool Football Club in February. Some of us have spoken at public meetings. None of the people I know have run away from a debate they have agreed to take part in days after the details were published, claiming it was somehow beneath them and disrespected the victims of a terrorist attack.

It seems to me that a far more likely explanation for this is that they worked out that it was very likely that Ken Wilkinson would be hugely embarrassed by having his part in his abortive attempt to ruin Mike Hill’s livelihood (by levelling spurious complaints against him with his professional body, the IET) brought up in the debate and in questions from the audience, and that he simply couldn’t face the humiliation that that would entail. Rather than backing out on his own, the terrible twosome cooked up the world’s least likely explanation for their failure to show up between them.

Ken is very brave when he send in anonymous complaints about individuals and groups. It seems he is less so when it comes to standing up and displaying the courage of his own convictions. As Goethe said “Der Feige droht nur, wo er sicher ist.” – “the coward only threatens when he is safe”.

To be honest we were surprised by Lorraine Allanson backing out as well – we genuinely thought that, being a Yorkshire lass, she was made of sterner stuff. However, I suppose it’s not hard to see why even she might be wary of taking to the stage to second somebody as flaky as Ken Wilkinson.

So, folks, whenever the pro-frackers tell you that they want to have a debate with you and discuss the issues, just remember that when they get the opportunity they simply don’t have the courage and that they will lose the last scrap of their dignity to make any excuses, even the most mealy mouthed and incredible ones,  for having run away.

[Post Script:

So did Ian Crane’s involvement and the idea that tickets would be openly available really come as a shock to Ken and Lorraine? Here is what Ian Crane wrote on the FORGE Facebook page on Sunday 18th September :

We have contacted the event organisers for their take on these two issues and will update if and when we get a response.]


[PPS – We have now heard that Ian Crane maintains that he has been on the Harrogate bill right from the outset having been first contacted some 6 weeks ago with a request to participate.  The wording of the motion was agreed about three weeks ago and the Harrogate Debating Society website first promoted  with the event about two weeks ago. On the first iteration of the Harrogate Debating Society event, Mr Crane maintains that he was mentioned by name but without the biography, which was added just before Mr Wilkinson and Ms Allanson gave backword.]

[PPS – (21:45 Sunday 18th) We have just received an email from the organisers in response to our query saying simply “Thanks for your email. The debate is back on. See you there. ”

We look forward to finding out more.]

[PPPS – (22:18 Sunday 18th) We have now had it confirmed by the organisers that Ken and Lorraine have now reversed their decision and the debate is back on as originally planned]

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