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

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]

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

  1. About spiked” Spiked. Archived February 11, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/gk8Xk

  2. Matt Wells. “LM closes after losing libel action,” The Guardian, March 31, 2000. Archived February 2020. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/W6x1m

  3. Jenny Turner. “Who are they? Jenny Turn reports from the Battle of Ideas,” London Review of Books, July 8, 2010. Archived February 14, 2020, PDF on file at DeSmog. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/Q3JBT

  4. David Pallister. “Life after Living Marxism: Fighting for freedom – to offend, outrage and question everything,” The Guardian, July 8, 2000. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/Yb7p1

  5. Spiked About” Facebook page of Spiked. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/X1R9i

  6. Otto English. “Astro Turfers of Britain Part Two: Who is Behind Brexit Party Recruitment and its PRK Makeover,” Byline Times, May 13, 2019. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/ZvJ1Y

  7. Paddy Hannam. “From Corbynista to Brexit Party candidate,” Spiked, December 9, 2019. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/1ikY0

  8. Steve Roberts. “The Brexit Party has betrayed us,” Spiked, December 3, 2019. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/FwVx4

  9. Ben Pile. “The myth of a climate crisis,” Spiked, September 26, 2018. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/r6OcG

  10. Rob Harries. “Don’t panic: the end is not nigh,” Spiked, January 30, 2018. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/oF56f

  11. Rob Lyons. “Let’s get fracking on with it,” Spiked, October 18, 2018. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/O3mrW

  12. Mike Small. “Revealed: US Oil Billionaire Charles Koch Funds UK Anti-Environment Spiked Network,” DeSmog, December 7, 2018. 

  13. Writers,” Spiked. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/9rCkJ

  14. Daisey Busel. “Brendan O’Neill: UN climate report typical green miserabilism,” talkRADIO, August 9, 2019. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/4YfdB

  15. Mick Hume. “Any shade of politics you like, so long as it’s green,” Spiked, March 14, 2007. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/RQQWz

  16. Articles by Christopher Snowdon,” Spiked. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/4mM4T

  17. Tim Black. “The climate emergency is a threat to democracy,” Spiked, January 24, 2020. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/hjV5c

  18. Brendan O’Neill. “The cult of Greta Thunberg,” Spiked, April 22, 2019. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/y3bgZ

  19. George Monbiot. “How US billionaires are fuelling the hard-right cause in Britain,” The Guardian, December 7, 2018. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/OPAe1

  20. America’s Largest Private Companies #2 Koch Industries,” Forbes, October 28, 2009. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/i2Z52

  21. Koch Industries secretly funding climate denial machine” Greenpeace, March, 2010. Archive February 14, 2020. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

  22. Brendan O’Neill. “The New McCarthyism is ruining public life,” Spiked, December 3, 2018. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/0x3uO

  23. Donate,” Spiked. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/9DhwH

  24. Articles by Brendan O’Neill,” Spiked. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/oexGp

  25. What is a Marxist Libertarian? (Pt. 2) Brendan O’Neill,” YouTube video uploaded by user The Rubin Report on November 30, 2017. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  26. About,” Brendan O’Neill Site. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/07Kaq

  27. Brendan O’Neill Full Profile,” The Guardian, June 3, 2008. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/QwSML

  28. Nick Cohen. “Revolting! By Mick Hume review – defence of a far-right democracy,” The Guardian, February 27, 2017. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/5R4SO

  29. Political correctness and its discontents,” The Centre for Independent StudiesArchived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/A9VdC

  30. About,” Manifesto Club. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/DZbbl

  31. Brendan O’Neill. “Greens are the enemies of liberty,” The Guardian, July 15, 2008. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/rUrU0

  32. Mick Hume. “Mick Hume moves on – new editor for spiked,” Spiked, January 29, 2007. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/riZMi

  33. Galen Strawson. “Trigger Warning: Is the Fear of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech? By Mick Hume – review,” The Guardian, August 28, 2015. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/4ccgj

  34. There Is No Such Thing as a Free Press… and We Need One More Than Ever,” Goodreads. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/buPla

  35. European elections 2019: Brexit Party wins three North West seats,” BBC News, May 27, 2019. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/OPeHa

  36. Claire Fox, Academy of Ideas Director,” Academy of Ideas. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/FzLoy

  37. Brexit Party candidate criticised for past IRA defence,” BBC News, April 30, 2019. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/0qZCq

  38. Brexiteers and Brexit tears,” Choppers Brexit Podcast on Apple Podcasts. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/4J7sP

  39. Claire Fox claims climate problem is not an emergency,” BBC Politics Live via Express, October 15, 2019. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/h8tk7

  40. Professor Frank Furedi,” University of KentArchived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/LkZEx

  41. Nick Cohen. “The rebels who changed their tune to be pundits,” New Statesman, August 12, 2002. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/mSN3v

  42. Frank Furedi. “In 2008, let us challenge the Politics of Apocalypse,” Spiked, December 27, 2007. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/8ZIm2

  43. About,” Climate Resistance BlogArchived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/BTvB6

  44. Leo Hickman. “Ukip’s Godfrey Bloom and the £2,000-a-month climate researcher,” The Guardian, November 6, 2012. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/RxqMv

  45. Lost Horizons,” YouTube video uploaded by GoddersVision on November 11, 2012. Archive .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  46. Christopher Snowdon,” Institute of Economic Affairs. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/Vv35s

  47. Claire Fox Thursday Debates Climate and environmental emergency,” European Parliament, November 28, 2019. Archived February 14, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttps://archive.fo/CGCWM

  48. Brendan O’Neill: Climate change kids think they’re being rebellious,” YouTube video uploaded by user talkRADIO on September 20, 2019. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  49. About GoddersVision,” YouTubeArchived February 15, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/Rb0yM

  50. Who We Are,” Learn Liberty. Archived February 15, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/13PxH

  51. Search results for spiked,” Learn Liberty. Archived February 15, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/yZM1U#

  52. James Delingpole,” Breitbart. Archived February 15, 2020. Archive.fo URLhttp://archive.fo/BwjVh

  53. Richard Collett-White. “Meet The Brexit Party’s Climate Science Deniers,” DeSmog, May 1, 2019. 

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

  55. James Woudhuysen. “An epidemic of doomsday forecasts,” Spiked, April 13, 2020. Archived July 6, 2020. Archive.fo URL: http://archive.fo/wv2DY

  56. James Woudhuysen, ‘The Stalinist Folly of the Ban on Petrol Cars’, Spiked, September 24, 2020. Archived September 28, 2020. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/qSb8e

  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

Other Resources