This coming Friday, Writers Rebel – a collective of authors and notables from the theatre – and MP Watch – a grassroots movement formed to hold politicians to account on their Net Zero commitments – will picket 55 Tufton St in Westminster to shine some light on the opaque influence of hard-right think tanks on the Government and raise awareness of the malign influence the inhabitants have over government policy.
The collective of think tanks that call Tufton St their home include the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), Centre for Policy Studies, Taxpayers Alliance, Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and Policy Exchange. Whistle blower Shahmir Sanni revealed them essentially to be one organisation with different faces for different audiences; all exposed as linked to the fossil fuel industries and all embedded in government ministries.
They are reliably platformed by the BBC, the right-wing press and GB News where they spread the tropes of denial and delay: that climate action is unaffordable, and that it would hit the poorest hardest and decimate jobs. Or even, as Allister Heath, founder of the Taxpayers Alliance and editor of the Telegraph, wrote in one of his more deranged moments: “net zero is a trojan horse for the total destruction of western society”.
When they say we can’t afford action, what they are really saying is: ‘we can’t afford to survive’
All this denial and deflection has been successfully debunked elsewhere. What has been less scrutinised are the shadowy shills and fellow travellers in their quest to protect the interests of the fossil fuel industries that pay their salaries.
If you can judge people by the company they keep, the company kept by the denizens of number 55 is questionable. In perpetrating their campaign of disinformation, all of the groups within this cabal feed the discourse of the far right while proactively seeking their support.
The public face of dark money interests
Chloe Westley, former campaign manager at the Taxpayers Alliance has championed Tommy Robinson’s PEGIDA UK, an explicitly anti-Muslim hate group whose European branch has bemoaned the closure of the concentration camps.
Kathy Gyngell, a trustee of the GWPF is a founding signatory of far-right conspiracy peddlers Not Our Future who have incited death threats recently in Oxford, spreading the fiction of a ‘climate lockdown’.
At an IEA Founders Day party, Barbara Kolm-Lamprechter, head of Austria’s Hayek Institute, which has long been associated with the far-right, was invited as a keynote speaker. She has been accused of allegedly funnelling money to some of Europe’s most high-profile right-wing populist parties.
Far-right populism flexing its muscle across Europe
In fact, the ideological jihadists of Tufton Street have long had extensive ties to far-right parties with roots in neo-nazism right across Europe. For example, recently GWPF author Henrik Svensmark was a keynote speaker at a symposium hosted by the neo-Nazi Alternative fur Deutschland party (AfD) who regularly employ antisemitic and xenophobic rhetoric and have openly advocated murdering refugees at the German border. In 2021, Germany’s security service placed the AfD under surveillance as a suspected extremist group.
Tufton veteran and former MEP Daniel Hannan co-founded the Conservative Party’s EU network of political parties, the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) who have formed coalitions with the likes of Spain’s anti-Muslim Vox Party and Matteo Salvini’s Anti-migrant League, part of Italy’s populist government.
Hannan has also worked closely with Morten Messerschmidt, a convicted racist and Danish People’s Party MEP who has propagated the ‘great replacement’ theory, the racist conspiracy theory that white populations are being replaced by predominantly Muslim migrants, and is known to have sung songs from the Nazi era in a public restaurant on Adolf Hitler’s birthday.
ACRE’s members include the Brothers of Italy Party who grew out of the group: ‘Mussolini, sei immortale’ meaning ‘Mussolini, you are immortal’. They thought Italy’s wartime fascist regime had not been radical enough and wanted a return to violent revolutionary fascism. The Brothers of Italy are now the governing party.
Then there’s the Sweden Democrats Party whose founder, Gustaf Ekström, and chairman, Anders Klarström were, respectively, a card-carrying Nazi and Waffen-SS veteran and a member of the neo-Nazi Nordiska rikspartiet (Nordic Realm Party). Although they play down their history they remain a home for Nazi activists. It is sobering that the right-wing governing coalition rely on the SD for support in the Swedish Riksdag.
The dark money ATM
Financial sponsors of the GWPF are Donors Trust, which has been called the ‘dark money ATM’ of the far-right. Donors Trust gave more than £2mn dollars to groups linked to white supremacists, including American Renaissance and the V-DARE Foundation.
Sometimes usually careful fellow deniers let their sympathies slip. Jacob Rees Mogg, along with Daniel Hannon and other ideologues, has also voiced his approval for Alternative fur Deutschland and was guest of honour at a dinner hosted by the extreme right Traditional Britain group who proudly host German and Austrian neo-Nazi speakers at their events.
Suella Braverman, whose election campaign was run by Steve Baker , former GWPF trustee, and was funded by Terence Mordaunt, GWPF chairman, was criticised by HOPE not hate, for saying that her party was “engaged in a battle against cultural Marxism” the same far-right antisemitic conspiracy theory that led Anders Breivik to slaughter teenagers at a Norwegian summer camp.
And how do they get away with it? How could these supposed educational charities get away with being the shadowy puppet masters of the political class?
The answer is through a form of astroturfing, a practice intended to give the messaging of organisations undue credibility by using supposedly trustworthy platforms while withholding information about the source’s true interests.
Their spokespeople are introduced on the BBC or welcomed by publications as respectable commentators because the right-wing press is staffed with climate deniers (these days deniers of the urgency rather the science) and editors allied to Tufton St, and the BBC has Conservative enforcers on the payroll – chairman Richard Sharp is an alumnus of the Centre for Policy Studies – to make sure they are heard.
GWPF funder Michael Hintze’s generous gift to the Natural History Museum, which led to the grand entrance being named after him, and his donation to the Prince’s Teaching Institute has made him an unassailable member of the establishment. Undoubtedly, his attempt to lend credibility to climate disinformation in the educational field has done more to endanger our children’s future than any benefit that the PTI might confer.
The clandestine group Restore Trust’s feigned allegiance to the National Trust in an attempt to counter what they saw as a “woke” agenda (highlighting connections between 93 of its historic places and slavery) but this was also an “astroturfing” exercise. Although they initially denied any connection with Tufton street, it soon transpired that Neil Record of the GWPF was their seed funder and their director, Zewditu Gebreyohanes had come from Policy Exchange.
At the centre of the populist nexus
According to the report by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Brussels, funded by the German foreign office, the Conservative Party has undergone an increasing shift to the right that now means it “qualifies as a far-right party.”
The report also confirms that the rise of the far-right in the European Parliament was facilitated by an extreme right faction of the British Conservative Party.
55 Tufton St has been, until now, the safehouse where these fifth columnists live, shadowy figures working against the interests of the citizens of this country on behalf of secretive foreign interests: the fossil fuel industry and the populist agenda of the far right. The lid was lifted on their intent following the implosion of the administration of Liz Truss, darling of the IEA whose director Mark Littlewood crowed at their victory even as the economy tanked.
For the sake of all our futures, it is vital that the disinfectant of sunlight remains trained on this address.
Compere: Monique Roffey
- 12pm – Jay Griffiths
- 12:05pm – Richard Scott
- 12:10pm – Clare Pollard
- 12:15pm – Jessica Taggart Rose
- 12:20pm – Mike Berners Lee
- 12:25pm – Jessica Townsend
- 12:30pm – Rupert Read
- 12:40pm – Baroness Rosie Boycott
- 12:45pm – Zadie Smith
- 12:50pm – Hannah Lowe
- 12:55pm – Jaqueline Saphra
- 1pm – Natasha Walter
- 1:05pm – Juliet Stevenson
- 1:10pm – Greg Norminton
- 1:15pm – Dr Mya-Rose Craig
- 1:20pm – Nick Laird
- 1:25pm – April De Angelis
- 1:30pm – Anita Sethi
- 1:35pm – Alun Hughes
- 1:40pm – Rose Rouse
- 1:45 – Karen McCarthy Woolf
- 1:50pm – Owen Sheers
- 1:55pm – Leslie Tate
- 2pm – Tom Bullough