Freedom Association

Freedom Association

Background

The Freedom Association (TFA) is a UK-based campaign group founded in 1975 by former Conservative Party members William Sidney 1st Viscount De L’Isle, Ross McWhirter, Norris McWhirter, and John Gouriet. [1], [2]

The organisation describes its politics as “non-partisan, centre-right, [and] libertarian”, and states that it campaigns “in support of individual liberty and freedom of expression”. The group has also argued against the Climate Change Act and has held events to discuss ideas that oppose the scientific consensus on climate change. [1], [3], [4]

TFA’s council members have ties to 55 Tufton Street, home to a number of right-wing Eurosceptic think tanks in London, as well as both the Conservative Party and the UK Independence Party. [5]

The group’s patron is Conservative peer Lord Nigel Vinson. He is one of the few known donors to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the UK’s most prominent climate science denial group. [5]

Stance on Climate Change

TFA claims on its website that its quarterly journal, Freedom Today, has: [6]

… earned a reputation for fearlessly tackling issues other publications often ignore. For example, it led the way in questioning identity cards and consensus thinking on climate change and has helped change opinion on both.” [6]

Funding

According to Companies House, TFA received £43,776 in 2018 from membership fees, down from £55,403 the year before. [7]

In 2010 it was revealed by the Observer that TFA had received a donation from Swiss-banker Henry Angest through the company Flowidea, which has also donated to Liam Fox’s now defunct neoconservative think tank Atlantic Bridge. [8]

Key People

David Campbell Bannerman, former Conservative MEP for the East of England between 2009 and 2019 and former deputy leader of the UK Independence Party, is TFA’s Chairman. [5], [9], [10]

Lord Nigel Vinson is a Conservative peer and TFA’s patron. He is also one of the few known donors to climate science denial group the Global Warming Policy Foundation. [5]

Simon Richards has been TFA’s Chief Executive since 2014 and a member since 1976, a year after the organisation’s inception. He describes himself as a Thatcherite and was once the National Vice-Chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students. [5], [11]

Andrew Allison is TFA’s Head of Campaigns. He was previously the National Grassroots Coordinator at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, an organisation that campaigns for a low tax society and which is one of several right-wing lobby groups based at 55 Tufton Street in Westminster, London. [11]

Council Members

Its council members include a number of high-profile politicians who have rejected the scientific consensus on climate change or argued against action to reduce emissions: [5]

Actions

March 6, 2020

In a blog post for the organisation’s campaign Axe the TV Tax, TFA’s Head of Campaigns Andrew Allison criticised the BBC for “being out of touch with ordinary people” when it came to issues like Brexit and climate change. Allison went on to write: [12]

Lord (Nigel) Lawson can’t get a platform with the BBC when he casts doubt about the effects of man-made climate change. But the BBC can’t get enough of Greta Thunberg.” [12]

Former UK Chancellor Nigel Lawson is a Conservative Life Peer and founded the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the UK’s most prominent climate science denial group. He and the GWPF have consistently cast doubt on the threat of climate change and opposed climate action.

March 20, 2012

Roger Helmer published an article on TFA detailing, “why we must repeal the Climate Change Act”. With various references to fossil fuel funded academic Richard Lindzen, Helmer argued that there had been no “further warming trend for the past fifteen years”. [3]

He also wrote: [3]

The IPCC’s disaster scenario is quite literally speculative, and unsupported by the evidence. It exists in a virtual world of computer models which reflect the prejudices and the inputs of the climatologists who programmed them, and have about as much relevance to the real world as Grand Theft Auto.” [3]

October 1, 2007

TFA held a meeting titled “Let Cooler Heads Prevail,” in response to a report published by a group of environmental organisations, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, which criticised green policies by political parties in Parliament. [13]

The event was attended by a number of Conservative members including then MEP Roger Helmer and former Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith. [13]

In a speech about global warming, Helmer said: [13]

You either believe it or you don’t… And in my case, I don’t!… This whole issue has got completely out of hand. It has become a new religion. You have to believe it. If you do not believe it, you are a heretic. They would like to burn us at the stake – using recycled faggots!” [13]

In October of the following year, TFA held a similar event titled “Free Thinking on Climate Change” with speakers including Ruth Lea, now trustee at the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and former advisor to Margaret Thatcher Christopher Monckton. [4]

Related Organisations

Contact & Address

TFA lists the following contact information on its website: [14]

122 Winchcombe St
Cheltenham
Gloucestershire
GL52 2NW

Email: [email protected]

Social Media

Resources

  1. Welcome to The Freedom Association,” Freedom Association. Archived July 15, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/3qguD

  2. History,” Freedom Association. Archived July 15, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/tuNLY

  3. Roger Helmer. “Why we must repeal the Climate Change Act,” Freedom Association, March 20, 2012. Archived April 25, 2015, since been deleted. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/XJY55

  4. Andy Rowell. “The Climate Sceptics on the Fringe of the Tories,” Oil Change International, October 3, 2008. Archived July 15, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/ZE3QK

  5. Council and Management Committee,” Freedom Association. Archived July 15, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/7YAtc

  6. The journal of the Freedom Association,” Freedom Association. Archived July 15, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/4nC52

  7. Freedom Association Limited Unaudited Financial Statements for the Year Ended 31 December 2018 (PDF),” Companies House. Archived July 15, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  8. Jamie Doward. “Publicity-shy Conservative donor revealed as paymaster of anti-European activists,” Guardian, April 11, 2010. Archived July 15, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/qpZ8e

  9. David Campbell Bannerman,” Brexit Central. Archived July 15, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/Lhel6

  10. UKIP MEP Campbell Bannerman defects to Conservatives,” BBC News, May 24, 2011. Archived July 15, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/ZlDGG

  11. Meet the team,” Freedom Association. Archived July 16, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/g2SOO

  12. Andrew Allison. “Is the culture secretary ready to fight the BBC?Freedom Association, March 6, 2020. Archived July 16, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/FazSo

  13. Ros Taylor. “Tory climate change sceptics warm to their theme,” Guardian, October 2, 2007. Archived July 16, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/Ts6XK

  14. Contact,” Freedom Association. Archived July 16, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/5Gj1I

Other Resources

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