James Delingpole running as an anti-wind farm candidate in constituency with no wind farms

Corby might have five wind turbines in the future though.

James Delingpole, scourge of renewables everywhere, has announced his candidacy for the Corby by-election in this week's Spectator, writing, seemingly in all seriousness, that:

The stench from the wind industry and its many leech-like hangers-on is overpowering and it's a disgrace that so few people are speaking up for the thousands of victims affected by it. But I am. I hereby announce my intention to stand in the Corby by-election as the anti-wind farm candidate. Not in my back yard. And not in yours either!

Yes, Delingpole is seriously attempting to reclaim the phrase "NIMBY". Good luck to him with that; currently, Ladbrokes has the odds at 8/11 for him to lose his deposit, so he's got an uphill battle ahead of him.

But if he's running as a single-issue candidate, then surely he has latched on to a massive local issue, right? Richard Taylor, for example, famously won two straight terms as an independent candidate running against the closure of Kidderminster Hospital in his constituency of Wyre Forest. Delingpole presumably has realised that the scourge of wind farms in Corby is at least that bad.

Corby Borough Council tell me there are zero (0) wind farms in the borough of Corby, which holds three quarters of the population of the constituency. East Northants county council tell me that there are zero (0) wind farms in the electoral wards of East Northants which comprise the rest of the constituency. And an ordnance survey map of the constituency confirms there are zero (0) wind farms in the overall parliamentary constituency of Corby. There is one nearby – it's marked on the map as the little windmill to the easy of Burton Latimer – but that's actually in the neighbouring constituency of Kettering.

There is, however, one planning application for a wind farm in the rural part of Corby constituency, midway between Corby and Oundle, outside the village of Brigstock. Well, I say wind farm; it's more like a wind paddock, with five 125m turbines being proposed on land currently held by the Duke of Gloucester.

Dellingpole dismisses anyone who supports the development as "in the pay of Big Wind", so by that definition he presumably sees 100 per cent opposition; but the electoral commission works on different rules. We shall see how successful Delingpole is, but hopefully he hasn't quit his gig at the Telegraph too hastily.

Updated 8:10pm with confirmation from East Northants county council

Wind turbines. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty Images
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A simple U-Turn may not be enough to get the Conservatives out of their tax credit mess

The Tories are in a mess over cuts to tax credits. But a mere U-Turn may not be enough to fix the problem. 

A spectre is haunting the Conservative party - the spectre of tax credit cuts. £4.4bn worth of cuts to the in-work benefits - which act as a top-up for lower-paid workers - will come into force in April 2016, the start of the next tax year - meaning around three million families will be £1,000 worse off. For most dual-earner families affected, that will be the equivalent of a one partner going without pay for an entire month.

The politics are obviously fairly toxic: as one Conservative MP remarked to me before the election, "show me 1,000 people in my constituency who would happily take a £1,000 pay cut, then we'll cut welfare". Small wonder that Boris Johnson is already making loud noises about the coming cuts, making his opposition to them a central plank of his 

Tory nerves were already jittery enough when the cuts were passed through the Commons - George Osborne had to personally reassure Conservative MPs that the cuts wouldn't result in the nightmarish picture being painted by Labour and the trades unions. Now that Johnson - and the Sun - have joined in the chorus of complaints.

There are a variety of ways the government could reverse or soften the cuts. The first is a straightforward U-Turn: but that would be politically embarrassing for Osborne, so it's highly unlikely. They could push back the implementation date - as one Conservative remarked - "whole industries have arranged their operations around tax credits now - we should give the care and hospitality sectors more time to prepare". Or they could adjust the taper rates - the point in your income  at which you start losing tax credits, taking away less from families. But the real problem for the Conservatives is that a mere U-Turn won't be enough to get them out of the mire. 

Why? Well, to offset the loss, Osborne announced the creation of a "national living wage", to be introduced at the same time as the cuts - of £7.20 an hour, up 50p from the current minimum wage.  In doing so, he effectively disbanded the Low Pay Commission -  the independent body that has been responsible for setting the national minimum wage since it was introduced by Tony Blair's government in 1998.  The LPC's board is made up of academics, trade unionists and employers - and their remit is to set a minimum wage that provides both a reasonable floor for workers without costing too many jobs.

Osborne's "living wage" fails at both counts. It is some way short of a genuine living wage - it is 70p short of where the living wage is today, and will likely be further off the pace by April 2016. But, as both business-owners and trade unionists increasingly fear, it is too high to operate as a legal minimum. (Remember that the campaign for a real Living Wage itself doesn't believe that the living wage should be the legal wage.) Trade union organisers from Usdaw - the shopworkers' union - and the GMB - which has a sizable presence in the hospitality sector -  both fear that the consequence of the wage hike will be reductions in jobs and hours as employers struggle to meet the new cost. Large shops and hotel chains will simply take the hit to their profit margins or raise prices a little. But smaller hotels and shops will cut back on hours and jobs. That will hit particularly hard in places like Cornwall, Devon, and Britain's coastal areas - all of which are, at the moment, overwhelmingly represented by Conservative MPs. 

The problem for the Conservatives is this: it's easy to work out a way of reversing the cuts to tax credits. It's not easy to see how Osborne could find a non-embarrassing way out of his erzatz living wage, which fails both as a market-friendly minimum and as a genuine living wage. A mere U-Turn may not be enough.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.