2007 - 2021

The Warrington Fox

As the old guard of climate science deniers are retired, retreat or have proved too much of an embarrassment even for their vanguard newspapers such as the Telegraph, the Mail, or the Express, a new breed of anti-environmental activists are on the rise. Amongst the side-effects of the predicted gains for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party may be the election of Claire Fox, their lead candidate in the North West, which covers England west of the Pennines, stretching up from its southern borders in Cheshire to Cumbria, and includes the key urban centres of Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

According to recent ComRes poll data Fox is certain to get in, Democratic Audit writes:

“The Brexit Party are pretty certain win at least three seats in the North West if current polls are right, and they have the high-profile, though controversial, media commentator Claire Fox as their lead candidate. Figure 1 shows that the headline data in the YouGov poll (conducted 8–17 May) has them on 32%. They have clearly scooped almost all the past UKIP vote, and dented the Conservative support levels too. With a further surge of a few percentage points more and a favourable fragmentation of the votes elsewhere, they might have a chance of winning a fourth seat.”

Fox is more than a “media commentator”, she’s recently been embroiled in a controversy surrounding her support for the IRA bombing of Warrington and a former leading member of the RCP.
As John Rogan writes:
“Claire Fox is standing as number one Brexit Party candidate in North West England. This EU Constituency contains Warrington. Here’s what the RCP had to say about the Feb/March 1993 Warrington bomb attacks — “we defend the right of the Irish people to take whatever measures are necessary in their struggle for freedom”.

The tension is further heightened by Fox’s Brexit Party colleague, the former Conservative minister, Anne Widdecombe, who was at the Conservative Party Conference on 12 October 1984, when the IRA bombed the Grand Hotel Brighton with the intention of assassinating Prime Minster Margaret Thatcher and her Cabinet. Five people were murdered — Sir Anthony Berry MP, Eric Taylor, Lady Jeanne Shattock, Lady Muriel Maclean and Roberta Wakeham. Something which may be of particular interest to voters in NW England is that Eric Taylor was North-West Area Chairman of the Conservative Party.

But it is not the strange bedfellows of the Brexit Party and their republican past, as much as the flow of dark money and the anti-environmental, climate science denying networks that the Fox-Farage candidacies opens up that is of interest.
This is the perfect storm of Brexit and the LM Network, fusing libertarianism with populism and the European far-right.
As Richard Collett-White and Chloe Farand and Mat Hope reported earlier, Farage and Widdecombe have a track-record on climate science denial:

“Farage has a history of spreading misinformation about climate science, of which DeSmog has kept track over the years. He told an interviewer in 2013: “I’m all for pollution controls but to obsess with carbon dioxide, which as I understand it, is a perfectly natural occurring phenomenon, strikes me as strange.”

“Farage has also called wind energy “the biggest collective economic insanity I’ve seen in my entire life.” That would be the cheapest source of new power, along with solar, energy experts now say.

“Under his watch, UKIP’s 2015 and 2017 general election manifestos pledged to rip up green measures, including a promise to repeal the UK’s Climate Change Act, withdraw from the Paris Agreement and spur on fracking.”

They continue:

“Widdecombe, who retired from Parliament in 2010, was one of only five MPs to oppose the 2008 Climate Change Act. The following year she told the Daily Express: “There is no climate change, hasn’t anybody looked out of their window recently?”

Six years after the bill passed into law, Widdecombe wrote that she was proud to have been one of the “rebels” and credits fellow Conservative Nigel Lawson, founder of the climate denial campaign group the Global Warming Policy Foundation, with convincing her. In the same article, she compared the rejection of climate science denial to book-burning in 1930s Germany.”

The UKIP and Conservative politicians are joined by Fox a regular guest on BBC Radio 4’s “Moral Maze” programme.
Claire Fox runs a libertarian think tank called the Institute of Ideas, rejecting government intervention even on issues like child pornography and online terror videos.

In a debate with environmental journalist George Monbiot, reported by the climate science denial blogger Ben Pile, she was asked whether she wanted people to be “free to pollute,” answering: “I want freedom.”

Fox has frequently tweeted about her denial of climate science, calling the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “advocacy research” and says treating the body as “high priests of The Science and final word on climate” would be a “betrayal of scientific inquiry.”

Fox has also tweeted supportively of Viscount Matt Ridley’s climate science denial and recommended people look to Bjorn Lomborg, who argues it would be too expensive to tackle climate change in a meaningful way.

Fox is a former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and forms part of a pro-free market network based around the Spiked magazine, funded by US oil billionaires the Koch brothers, as DeSmog revealed.

Fox is also a long-term ally and close collaborator of Spiked’s editor Brendan O’Neill.
Last year we revealed that Spiked are funded by the Koch brothers — the right-wing libertarian US oil billionaires who have been at the heart of climate change denial in the United States.

Our investigation showed that Spiked has received $300,000 from the Koch’s over the past three years, including $150,000 in 2016 — the year of Donald Trump’s US presidential election victory and the UK’s Brexit referendum.

Koch Industries is the largest privately-owned energy company in the US. It has been described as a “kingpin of climate science denial”, outpacing ExxonMobil when it comes to donations to organisations opposing established climate science and regulations to combat greenhouse gas emissions.

The Koch brothers’ funding network has also been credited with the rise in the influence of far-right, libertarian, rampant free-market capitalist thinking in the US and UK.

The Koch’s are one of the largest funders of libertarian causes and climate science denial in the world. DeSmog UK has previously revealed how the Kochs push their libertarian, deregulation agenda through organisations with ties to the Brexit Leave campaign and based out of offices in and around 55 Tufton Street.

Through its network, the Koch brothers have been accused of backing movements that have “undermined American democracy and have helped wealthy elites block progress on problems such as climate change and income inequality”. Their influence is so far-reaching that the network the brothers support has been dubbed the ‘Kochtopus’.

The Kochs aren’t just political operators, their companies are serious polluters, too — generating 24 million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year.

If Spiked and Claire Fox’s networks have their own background of clandestine operations and dark money, so does Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party which has been dogged with allegations of foreign funding and a structure that lends itself to “light touch”.
Tom McTague at Politico explains:
“Farage himself has lauded the freedom the Brexit Party’s streamlined setup gives him. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, he said he is “running a company, not a political party” adding: “The Chairman Richard Tice and I are not afraid to make decisions.”

And he suggested that inspiration had come from other populist movements in Europe. “I’ve watched the growth of the 5Star Movement [in Italy], from its inception, with absolute fascination,” he said. “The genius of setting up this new way of doing politics, an online platform.”

McTague continues: “His other influence is the far-right Dutch populist Geert Wilders, who is the only member of his party. This allows Wilders to dictate the party’s finances and political course.”

The Brexit Party is a new phenomenon in British politics, but it represents the continuity of anti-environmental climate science denial forces in a new form. As Chloe Farand has written:

“With the European elections around the corner, populists and right-wing parties are gathering momentum and teaming-up into a pan-European alliance. The alliance is being established around a common anti-immigration and euro-sceptic ideology but nationalists parties have something else in common: opposition to climate action. Research shows that dozens of candidates standing in the election are using climate science denial and anti-climate action rhetoric as a campaign strategy.”

This is the convergence of euro-scepticism, and corporate opposition to climate action. Libertarianism translated as deregulation equals untrammeled corporate power at a time when the public is waking up to the brutal realities of our climate crisis.

The irony is that if Claire Fox is elected, she and her networks may be exposed to accountability and the light of day in a way that they never have been before.

Fox did not respond to a request to comment for this article.

Comments (3)

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  1. Mark Bevis says:

    The Faragian/Foxian definition of freedom – the right of rich people to kill poor people with open impunity. Whilst historically that ‘right’ has always been there, never have they been so openly in demand of it.

    I do feel that in a dis-United Kingdom run by Trumpesque neo-liberals, my life will be forfeit. I am poor (by national standards), receive state benefits, vote Green, have anarchist views, am vehementely anti-fracking and accept the impending collape of global industrial civilisation. And I have a science degree. And still have long hair. All good reasons for being liqiudated by Universal Credit, cashless systems and just general right-wing Othering.

    I look forward to the collapse of global industrial civilisation more than I look forward to our political outcomes, as I’m more likely to survive the former.

  2. Jo says:

    Depressing stuff indeed.

  3. Daniel Raphael says:

    Very informative article, thanks.

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