New UKIP Leader Neil Hamilton Thinks Climate Change is a 'Hoax'

New UKIP Leader Neil Hamilton Thinks Climate Change is a 'Hoax'
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Former Tory MP and prominent climate science denier Neil Hamilton has been appointed UKIP’s interim leader.

A member of the Welsh Parliament and its climate change, environment and rural affairs committee, Hamilton last year branded global warming “another age of fad and fancy” and claimed there was “no correlation” between carbon dioxide and global temperature rise.

Hamilton, 71, is the party’s seventh leader in four years after Freddy Vachha was suspended only three months into the role.

In a statement on Sunday, UKIP said it was investigating Vachha following “a complaint of bullying, harassment, verbal abuse and other conduct likely to bring the party into disrepute”.

Hamilton has been appointed by the party’s National Executive Committee and will act as Vachha’s temporary replacement while the investigation is underway. The ousted leader today described his suspension as a “coup” and is expected to fight the decision.

The investigation is the latest headache for a party that has struggled to find its feet – or a leader – since Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016.

Climate denial

Like the party’s founder, Nigel Farage, Hamilton has frequently dismissed concerns about climate change.

It’s quite clear from the history of the last 100 years alone, that there is no correlation that can be discerned between the amount of carbon dioxide, which is being emitted, and the temperature of the planet,” he said at the 2019 UKIP South East conference.

Hamilton dismissed warnings about a “climate emergency” as “spectacularly silly”, while addressing the Welsh Assembly in 2018 on the UN IPCC’s special report on the impacts of 1.5°C of global warming.

When interviewed on a BBC Radio 2 talk show last year, he dubbed the COP25 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Spain “a massive talkfest and propaganda exercise”.


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Hamilton regularly disputes the link between greenhouse gas emissions and industrial activity, tweeting to his 18,000 followers about what he calls a “#climatehoax”.

In a video posted on UKIP Wales Facebook account last May, he made a series of extraordinary claims after the government announced a climate emergency.

We’ve had many many predictions of imminent disaster from so-called scientists and other alarmists over the years, none of them has yet been proved right,” he said. “All these middle-class privileged virtue signallers are actually imposing huge burdens on ordinary people.”

Ending the clip, Hamilton urged viewers to “wake up and wise up – there is no climate change problem”.

In an analysis of his speech, Wales Online went through ten claims he had wrongly made, describing the video as “bizarre”.

Responding to questions from DeSmog, Hamilton said he believed climate change was mostly a “good thing”.

“I am not a climate change denier. Climate change is real and does matter. Mostly it’s a good thing – 10 percent more of the world can now grow crops and we don’t shiver so much in winter. Even if desirable, we can do little to stop climate change, as cosmic forces easily swamp man’s puny efforts,” he said.

He claimed government efforts to reduce emissions were having “almost no effect” and that it would be “better to spend the money adapting to the inevitable.”

Tobacco industry lobbying

The grandson of coal miners, Hamilton grew up in a mining family in the South Wales Valleys, joining the Conservative Party before working first as a teacher, and then training as a barrister.

After losing his bid for two election seats in 1974 and 1979, Hamilton was elected as a Tory MP for Tatton in 1983. He was strongly opposed to Britain abandoning dangerous leaded petrol, claiming the campaign to do so was one of “organised hysteria, fomented by a mendacious and sensational public relations team”.

Hamilton also accepted payments to lobby for the US tobacco industry and was later implicated in the “cash for questions” scandal in 1994, when he was alleged to have accepted money in brown envelopes from Harrods owner Mohamed-Al Fayed. He resigned from his position as Minister for Deregulation and Corporate Affairs in 1994 amid the scandal and lost his seat in the 1997 General Election, joining UKIP five years later.

In 2018, Hamilton provoked widespread criticism when he defended Enoch Powell, a former Conservative MP infamous for his 1968 anti-immigration “Rivers of Blood” speech. Speaking to BBC Radio Wales, Hamilton said that Powell had been “proved right by events” and that “he wasn’t a racist in the crude sense”.

Updated 17/09/2020 to include response from Neil Hamilton.

Photo credit: Rathfelder/Wikimedia/CC BYSA

New UKIP Leader Neil Hamilton Thinks Climate Change is a 'Hoax'
Phoebe is Senior Reporter at DeSmog. She previously trained as a news reporter across local titles in Essex and East London, with her work since appearing in the Independent, Evening Standard, The Sun Online, Deutsche Welle, and The Local and Prospect Magazine.

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