Spiked

Spiked

Background

Spiked is a UK-based online magazine and podcast series that aims to “change the world as well as report on it” and fight for “humanism, democracy and freedom”, according to its website. [1]

The magazine was founded in 2001 by members of Living Marxism, later LM, the 1990s media arm of the Revolutionary Communist Party that was forced to cease publication after losing a libel action brought by the production company ITN. LM falsely claimed that ITN had intentionally misrepresented a widely covered image from a Bosnian internment camp. [2], [3], [4]

Spiked says that its independent coverage of world news is “dedicated to raising the horizons of humanity by waging a culture war of words against misanthropy, priggishness, prejudice, luddism, illiberalism and irrationalism”. [5]

Spiked were active in campaigning to leave the European Union, and a number of their contributing writers were candidates for The Brexit Party at the 2019 general election. [6], [7], [8]

Spiked hosts a variety of anti-environmental and climate science denial stories with headlines like: “The myth of a climate crisis”; “Don’t panic – the end is not nigh” and “Let’s get fracking on with it”. [9], [10], [11]

A 2018 joint investigation by DeSmog UK and The Guardian’s George Monbiot revealed that Spiked had received $300,000 in funding between 2015 and 2018 from the Koch family, the billionaires behind the largest privately-owned energy company in the United States, Koch Industries. [12]

Stance on Climate Change

Since its inception, Spiked has provided a platform to writers who are opposed to action on climate change, including editor Brendan O’Neill, former editor Mick Hume, and Christopher Snowdon, a research fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs. [13], [14], [15], [16]

January 24, 2020

Regular Spiked columnist Tim Black said in an article[17]

The climate emergency is the elites’ response to the populist challenge. It represents the suspension of people’s democratic aspirations. The suspension of politics”.

April 22, 2019

In a Spiked article titled “The cult of Greta Thunberg”, O’Neill said: [18]

Refuse to panic, mock the blather about hellfire, and appreciate that mankind’s transformation of the planet has been a glorious thing that has expanded life expectancy, allowed billions to live in cities, and made it possible for even the less well-off to travel the globe. Sin against St Greta”. 

September 26, 2018

Ben Pile, the co-founder of Climate Resistance, a blog which questions the scientific evidence of climate change, and regular contributor to Spiked, wrote about “the myth of a climate crisis” in a Spiked article: [9]

Climate change may well be a problem, but the data sets consistently show that economic and technological development mitigate the worst problems that climate has always caused”.

Funding

An investigation by DeSmog UK and Guardian environmental columnist George Monbiot revealed that Spiked had received $300,000 from the Koch brothers between 2015 and 2018, including $150,000 in 2016 – the year that Donald Trump became president and the UK voted to leave the European Union. [19], [12]

The Koch family own Koch Industries, the second largest privately-owned company in the United States after agriculture giant Cargill. They have been described by Greenpeace as “the kingpin of climate science and clean energy opposition”. Greenpeace also reported that the Koch Foundation had contributed almost $25 million of funding to climate opposition groups between 1997 and 2008. [20], [21]

In response to questions about this funding asked by Monbiot, Spiked published an email conversation between Monbiot and the magazine under an articled entitled “The New McCarthyism is ruining public life”, where managing editor Viv Regan said: [22]

In the past three years the Toleration and Free Speech Programme at the Charles Koch Foundation has given Spiked US Inc $300,000 to produce public debates in the US about free speech, as part of its charitable activities”.

In her response, Regan linked to four filmed debates as part of a $170,000 free-speech oriented programme called the Unsafe Space Tour. She concluded by saying: [22]

We’re very proud of our work on free speech and tolerance, and we are proud to be part of the programme”.

In this same article, O’Neill said that their staff and contributors work for free, “and they do so for one reason and one reason only: because they really do believe in the values of freedom, democracy and choice that Spiked upholds and has been upholding for 17 years”. [22]

Spiked also crowdfunds its activities and has a donate page where they ask for a regular or one-off donation. [23]

Annual reports

Key People

Brendan O’Neill is the editor of Spiked and identifies as a “Marxist Libertarian”. He began his career in journalism at Living Marxism/LM and the Revolutionary Communist Party before moving to Spiked after LM closed. O’Neill also writes for The Big Issue, The Spectator and The Australian, among others. He is a speaker and former scholar for the Centre for Independent Studies, and the co-founder of the Manifesto Club, a group which according to its website is “at the forefront of challenging the hyper-regulation of public spaces”. O’Neill regularly criticizes the green movement. In a Guardian article, he wrote that environmentalism is “instinctively and relentlessly illiberal” and that “it is doing more to inculcate people with fear, self-loathing and a religious-style sense of meekness than any piece of anti-terror legislation ever could”. He concluded by saying: “If you believe in freedom, you must reject it”. [24], [25], [26], [27], [28], [29], [30], [31]

Mick Hume is a founder and former editor of Spiked. He was also the founding editor of RCP magazine Living Marxism and its relaunch magazine LM in 1988 and 1997 respectively. He is the author of the books “Trigger Warning: Is the Fear of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech?” in which he defends freedom of speech (including hate speech), and “There is No Such Thing As a Free Press” in response to the 2011/12 Leveson Inquiry. [32], [33], [34]

Claire Fox is a writer and politician, and was one of the founding members of Spiked, its predecessor Living Marxism, and the Revolutionary Communist Party. In the 2019 European elections, Fox stood to be and was successfully elected as an MEP for The Brexit Party, where she claimed in her winning speech that the party would “remake the world in a new form”. She is the director and founder of a libertarian think tank called the Institute of Ideas, which according to its website was established to “create a public space where ideas can be contested without constraint”. She has been criticized for her alleged defence of the IRA bombing of Warrington in 1993, and for her views on non-censorship of online child pornography and Jihadist videos. On a BBC Politics Live episode, she said “there is a presumption of a climate emergency, I don’t think there is”. [12], [4], [35], [36], [37], [38], [39]

Frank Furedi is a Spiked writer and emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent. He has appeared on Newsnight, BBC News and various other television shows. He was one of the founding members of the Revolutionary Communist Party and the “theoretician” behind the movement. He is the author of a number of books including “Politics of Fear”, “Authority: A Sociological History”, and “On Tolerance: A Defence of Moral Independence”. He has long been a critic of the scientific consensus on climate change and in a 2008 article titled “Let us challenge the politics of the Apocalypse” he said, “the IPCC’s report was represented as the final word on the future of humanity – and now, any doubt expressed on the issue of climate change is looked upon as an act of bad faith or denial”. [40], [41], [42]

Ben Pile is a regular contributor to Spiked and co-founder of the Climate Resistance blog, which claims to be “challenging the climate orthodoxy”. In 2012, Pile was revealed to be a paid researcher of UKIP MEP and climate science denier, Godfrey Bloom. In the same year, he produced and directed the anti-wind-power film Lost Horizons. [43], [44], [45]

Christopher Snowdon is a contributor to Spiked, as well as a number of other publications. He is the Head of Lifestyle Economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs. He is also a fellow of the Adam Smith Institute, which has published articles casting doubt on climate science. [16], [46]

Actions

March 30, 2021

An article in Spiked criticised a report by the Ministry of Defence aimed at reducing the armed forces’ carbon footprint. The article stated: “Whether the troops are bothered by their gas-guzzling tanks is… debatable. But there’s no doubt these reforms will bring little joy to those on the receiving end of Britain’s military misadventures,” adding: “Middle Eastern people whose homes are destroyed by British bombs won’t get much comfort from learning if the drone dropping them happens to be made of recycled carrier bags.” [71]

April 26, 2021

An article for Spiked written by columnist and author Austin Williams argued that efforts by Western nations to encourage decarbonisation and sustainable development in poorer countries represented a form of neocolonialism akin to the imposition of structural adjustment programmes. Williams argued that wealthy, Western countries sought to “dictate the terms of ecologically responsible development to Malawi or sub-Saharan Africa,” stating that Western environmental policies were a means of “encouraging developing countries to stay where they are, undisturbed by anything as alien as economic progress.” [72]

The article concluded: “As far as the Western world is concerned, if climate change is the issue that can bring even China to heel, imagine what it can do to impoverished countries with no power, no reserves, and just trees.”

March 19, 2021

Spiked published an interview with Martin L. Tupy, senior fellow at American libertarian think tank The Cato Institute, who discussed progress in living standards over the past 250 years with Spiked editorial assistant Paddy Hannam. [73]

Disputing the severity of climate change, Tupy said: “Global warming is real, but the world is not warming anywhere near as much as the worst-case scenarios suggest. I prefer to talk about the lukewarming of the planet,” later adding: “Innovation should enable us to get around the problem of CO2 emissions. We already have technology that can do that: nuclear.”

March 8, 2021

An article in Spiked by columnist and former Head of Press for the Brexit Party Liam Deacon criticised the campaign group Stop Funding Heat, arguing that it had coerced The Daily Express into removing articles that were unsupportive of decarbonisation. Deacon contended that this was emblematic of a wider “climate censorship” movement, writing: “Who is scrutinising these claims if once sceptical papers like The Express are now committed to ‘campaigning’ on the issue and rather than reporting on it?” [68]

Elsewhere in the article, Deacon wrote: “is it really true that suddenly abandoning fossil fuels, on which all modern civilisation has been built, can be achieved with no adverse economic effects?” He cited an article by researcher and commentator Ben Pile, which described the Paris Agreement as “a commitment to terminal decline.” [69]

February 25, 2021

An article in Spiked by columnist Tim Black commented on Bill Gates’ book: “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need.” 

Contrasting Gates’ vision of pragmatic solutions to climate change driven by technological innovation with the views of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, Black claimed that: “Despite many greens’ delusions of radicalism, Gates shows once again how ‘the battle against climate change’ is not only entirely compatible with 21st-century capitalism, but is also, at heart, a thoroughly elite, technocratic project.” He added that the book: “still represents the colonisation of politics by those who think they know what’s best for the rest of us.” [70]

February 22, 2021

An article in Spiked written by columnist and former German Parliamentary adviser Kya Shoar argued that politicians’ emphasis on adherence to scientific dogma could lead to a technocratic approach to policy making. [67]

It stated: “You may still believe that the need for science-based policy depends on the scale of the problem. Climate change, for instance, may pose a large enough problem to demand political action. But we must take into account the adverse effects of taking action,” adding: “for instance, it is entirely possible that an overzealous government could mandate restrictions on population size or on economic growth.” 

February 10, 2021

An article in Spiked by columnist and former Head of Press for the Brexit Party Liam Deacon criticised David Attenborough’s BBC series, “Our Perfect Planet,” arguing that it portrayed humanity as having a destructive influence on the environment. It stated: “Attenborough’s well-known support for reducing human-population size is perhaps one reason why he seems perfectly happy to accept huge population-reducing events as part of his ‘perfect’ planet. Others less Malthusian than Sir David might not be quite so callously accepting of nature’s ‘perfection.’” [66]

February 2, 2021

Researcher and commentator Ben Pile wrote an article for Spiked criticising the UK’s Climate Assembly, a group assembled from UK citizens to discuss the response to climate change. [63]

Pile characterised the Climate Assembly as an undemocratic institution created to artificially manufacture a mandate for allegedly unpopular environmental policies, writing: “It was XR who had demanded both Net Zero and a ‘citizens assembly’ to determine how it would be achieved. And the government, its departments and parliament duly agreed to Net Zero without a single vote cast. And here is where democracy was further abandoned.”

Elsewhere in the article, he wrote: “At every turn, activists, academics, politicians and lobbyists have been fully aware of the democratic deficit on climate policy. But they have sought to circumvent this in order to further their agenda.”

February 1, 2021

Fraser Myers, assistant editor of Spiked, participated in a debate on BBC programme The Big Questions entitled “Will COVID help us save the planet?” which discussed whether COVID-19 lockdown measures could form the basis for policies intended to counteract climate change. [62]

Myers implied that environmentalist policies would inevitably lead to reduced living standards, stating: “we’re living through a period of restraint and austerity. I don’t think there is going to be a lot of appetite for yet more restraint, and I think in fact it would be immoral to call for yet more restraint because we need to get the economy back on track, we need to get back to growth. Now more than ever we need to be expanding our potential and getting people back to living higher living standards.” 

Myers also stated: “we’ve learnt what it’s like to live a reduced and nothing life. We’re existing, not really living, so I don’t see that as a model for going forward.”

Characterising decarbonisation of the economy as an authoritarian, state-imposed initiative, Myers said: “A lot of these environmental issues…it’s one thing saying we should take our own choices to cut down on XYZ, but at the end of the day a lot of this stuff is going to be imposed on us, if that’s the route we decide to go down with net zero. What happens if you don’t want someone to come into your house and retrofit everything?” 

January 11, 2021

In an article for Spiked, PhD student Daniel Matthews-Ferrero advocated a “humanist” environmentalism, rejecting “Malthusian arguments about the finitude of resources.” Matthews-Ferrero argued that human impact on the climate could have positive effects, writing: [61]

So we may lose species that cause knock-on effects on food chains. We may lose permafrost and see lush vegetation turned to desert. Island nations may be submerged. Yet, the Sahara would slowly attract monsoon rains and green; places like the Boreal Forest would gradually become relatively more hospitable; Antarctica would begin to reveal itself; and so on.”

Elsewhere in the article, he wrote: 

Production, consumption and concomitant waste are therefore things at which we ought to marvel. They are signs of the extent to which we have humanised nature.”

December 31, 2020

In an article for Spiked, columnist Tim Black claimed environmentalism was “no longer the handmaiden of technocratic rule; it is now a weapon in the fight to restore technocratic rule. Hence the presentation of climate change is now so aggressive, so hyperbolic, so threatening. Because it is being used to fight populism, frighten citizens back into obeisance and roll back the democratic gains of recent years.” [59]

Black argued that the COVID-19 crisis was being treated as a “dress rehearsal,” for the climate emergency. He claimed COVID had been “conjured up as a by-product of baleful modernity, a symptom of our unsustainable lifestyles, a message from vengeful Gaia.”

December 14, 2020

In an article for Spiked, James Woudhoysen criticised the cost implications of the Climate Change Committee (CCC)’s advice to the Government on replacing gas boilers with heat pumps. Woudhoysen wrote: “The climate technocrats’ posturing over heat pumps will be expensive, impractical and invasive,” adding: “Green technocrats are indeed all about taking ‘power from the people.’” [60]

November 2, 2020

In an article for Spiked entitled, “Why the next financial crisis could be green”, James Woudhuysen criticised “Green finance” and businesses’ adoption of ESG guidelines, stating: “Green finance. Climate finance. Sustainable finance. These phrases no doubt fill most people with a kind of existential dread, but I fear we will all have to learn a lot more about green finance in the years to come.” The article also stated that, “the byzantine world of green finance is just the ticket for underwriting obscure, ‘build back greener’ state policies, which have become all the rage in the wake of COVID-19, despite repeated failures in the past, like Green New Deals, Green Recovery Plans, green jobs and all the rest.”  [58]

September 24, 2020.

Commenting on Scientific American’s decision to endorse Joe Biden for President in 2020, Ben Pile stated that, “institutional science has willingly politicised itself and prostituted itself to power to such an extent that it no longer understands the difference between politics and science”. In the article, Pile also defended climate policy critic Professor Roger Pielke Jr, stating that he “has upset ambitious climate policymakers for pointing out that alarmism, rather than science, underpins the urgent case for such policies.” [57]

September 24, 2020

Writing for Spiked, James Woudhuyson published an article entitled, ‘The Stalinist folly of the Ban on Petrol Cars’, which claimed that, “these kinds of targets (for electric cars) are rarely discussed, but they amount to hopes that are as misguided, blunt and authoritarian as Stalin’s breakneck Five Year Plans for industrialisation. But do our target tyrants really think that today’s purchases of all-electric cars can be multiplied hundreds of times by 2030?” [56]

May 5, 2020

In an article for Spiked, columnist Sam Allen characterised environmentalists as misanthropic, neo-Malthusian enthusiasts for population control, contending that “the more fervent the eco-warrior, the more dehumanising the rhetoric,” and concluding: “They are driven not by a love of nature, but above all by a hatred of people.” [64]

The article also compared environmentalists to eco fascists, stating: “The proximity of environmentalism to the far right is actually long-standing. Eugenics and scientific racism had a significant influence on the environmentalist movement in the early 20th century.”

April 15, 2020

Former University of Kent sociology professor Frank Furedi wrote an article for Spiked which downplayed the severity of manmade climate change, arguing that like many modern conspiracy theories, it was characterised by a desire to implicate humans in events which would otherwise be attributed to non-human forces. He wrote: “‘Manmade climate change’ highlights human culpability for events that would have previously been described as natural disasters.” [65]

April 13, 2020

In a Spiked article titled “An epidemic of doomsday forecasts,” James Woudhuysen argued that scientific modelling had “never been less credible”, referencing forecasts related to both COVID-19 and climate change. He wrote: [55]

But for decades, Britain has endured doom-laden forecasts about everything from health to IT and CO2. Science writer Matt Ridley is right to upbraid the authorities for having cried wolf about past epidemics, leaving them ill-prepared for this one.” [55]

Woudhuysen went on to claim that in the history of modelling, “the apocalyptic narrative briefly shifted to CO2” and argued that forecasts on epidemics have consistently “taken a walk on the wild side of pessimism”. [55]

November 28, 2019

Fox gave a speech to the EU parliament detailing her reasons for voting against motions to declare a “climate emergency”, and expressing her concern for the “hype-talk and scare-mongering that’s terrifying young people”. Speaking about the IPCC, Fox said, “There’s no scientific evidence from the IPCC or anyone else about the extinction of humanity, and we should be very careful about claiming that anthropological [sic] climate change has caused floods and droughts, that we have been doing quite casually over the last few days”.  [47]

September 20, 2019

O’Neill spoke to Mike Graham on talkRADIO about the “fundamentalist cult” of climate activists, claiming that younger members have “been indoctrinated by their teachers, and politicians, with this end of the world ideology”. He also argued that a large element of the climate action movement was due to “religion replacement”, saying: “environmentalism feels to me like a new fundamentalist religion”. [48]

September 16, 2018

Spiked published an article written by Ben Pile called “the myth of a climate crisis” where Pile claims that “most extreme weather data do not support [the existence of a climate crisis]”, frequently referencing the climate policy writer Roger Pielke Jr, whose writings on climate change have been covered previously by DeSmog. [9]

November 11, 2012

A short anti-wind farm film called Lost Horizons, directed and produced by Ben Pile, was uploaded to YouTube by the account GoddersVision, apparently run by former UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom. The film stars Steve Crowther, a former UKIP MEP and former acting leader of the party, and thanks Bloom, who has described global warming as a “sham”, in the closing credits. The YouTube account GoddersVision’s description is “pungent commentary from Britain’s most controversial MEP”, and links to Godfrey Bloom’s website. [45], [49]

Related Organisations

Contact & Address

According to its website in February 2020: [1]

spiked c/o WeWork Aldgate Tower

2 Leman Street

London

E1 8FA

United Kingdom

Viv Regan, managing editor: [email protected]

Social Media

Resources

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  54. Mike Small. “Claire Fox: This Climate Science Denying Former Revolutionary Communist Might Win in the European Election,” DeSmog, May 20, 2019.

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  57. Ben Pile, Science is now just another wing of politics, Spiked, September 24, 2020. Archived: September 28, 2020. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/noWVv

  58. James Woudhuysen. “Why the next financial crisis could be green”, Spiked, November 2, 2020. Archived November 2, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/hPnay 

  59. Tim Black. “In 2021, let’s challenge Green Tyranny,” Spiked, December 31, 2020. Archived January 4, 2021. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/sm5mk

  60.  James Woudhuysen. “The heat pump revolution: extracting power from the people,” Spiked, December 10, 2020. Archived December 14, 2020. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/ElevF

  61. Daniel Matthews-Ferrero. “Towards a Humanist Environmentalism,” Spiked, January 11, 2021. Archived January 18, 2021. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/1a53x 

  62. We don’t need a climate lockdown’: spiked’s Fraser Myers on BBC Big Questions,” YouTube video uploaded by user spiked on February 1, 2021. Archived.mp4 on file at Desmog

  63. Ben Pile. “How the Climate Assembly manufactures consent,” Spiked, February 2, 2021. Archived February 8, 2021. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/93VRw 

  64. Sam Allen. “The dark side of environmentalism,” Spiked, May 5, 2020. Archived February 2, 2021. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/i6vgv 

  65. Frank Furedi. “The rise and rise of Covid conspiracy theories,” Spiked, April 15, 2020. Archived February 2, 2021. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/fi2qY 

  66. Liam Deacon. “David Attenborough’s anti-human miserabilism,” Spiked, February 10, 2021. Archived February 22, 2021. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/QdC0N 

  67. Kya Shoar. “We must not be ruled by ‘The Science,’” Spiked, February 22, 2021. Archived February 22, 2021. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/KzOa3 

  68. Liam Deacon. “The dangerous rise of climate censorship,” Spiked, March 8, 2021. Archived March 8, 2021. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/4rkhJ 

  69. Ben Pile. “Paris Agreement: a commitment to terminal decline,” Spiked, January 22, 2021. Archived January 26, 2021. Archive.vn URLhttps://archive.is/GNSwb

  70. Tim Black. “Bill Gates and the greening of capitalism,” Spiked, February 25, 2021. Archived February 1, 2021. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/Jkc77 

  71. Is it time for an eco-friendly war?Spiked, March 30, 2021. Archived April 6, 2021. Archive.vn URL: https://archive.vn/6UjKn 
  72. Austin Williams. “Neo-colonialism has gone green,” Spiked, April 26, 2021. Archived April 26, 2021. Archive.ph URL: 
  73.  “‘Life is so much better than people think,’” Spiked, March 19, 2021. Archived April 12, 2021. Archive.ph URL: https://archive.ph/0nIQ6 

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