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Wind farms prove no laughing matter for Lord Donoughue

Lord Donoughue, the Labour peer, says that he was banned from taking part in a Westminster charity revue because he had dared to joke about wind farms

It is a measure of how fraught the debate about wind farms has become that Lord Donoughue, a star turn at the annual Parliamentary Palace of Varieties, believes that he was not invited to perform at this month’s charity event because he had dared to joke about the much-vaunted new energy source.

“This is par for the course when it comes to wind farms and the degree of intolerance that their supporters have to people who hold opposing views,” says the Labour peer, who was a senior adviser to both Harold Wilson and James Callaghan. “One of the organisers told me that there were two powerful Conservative donors who had taken exception to a skit I had done at the event the previous year about wind farms.”

The former junior agriculture minister said he was disappointed not to have been invited as he believes passionately in the annual event, when parliamentarians turn entertainers for a night to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Speaking at a reception for the former Ulster Unionist MP David Burnside in the Lords, he added that he had never made any secret of his disdain for wind farms. During last year’s second reading debate on the Wind Turbines (Minimum Distance from Residential Premises) Bill, he had joked of them: “They need a new collective name. I think perhaps ‘wind blight’ could be used in the future. I considered putting down amendments suggesting 100 miles might be an appropriate distance between the wind blight and the houses.”

A spokesman for Macmillan Cancer Support, which organises the Palace of Varieties, said that she was not aware that Donoughue had been banned. “Macmillan’s Parliamentary Palace of Varieties is open to all MPs and peers – as long as they can hold a note as well as Sarah Teather or entertain a crowd like Baroness Knight, we’d love to see them on stage,” she insisted.