Spiked

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Logo of Spiked, a core element of the LM network, circa 2011.
LM network resources

Spiked is part of the libertarian anti-environmental LM network. It is an online magazine currently edited by Brendan O'Neill and previously by Times columnist Mick Hume. Spiked is a private company limited by shares with, in 2010, seven staff and an annual turnover of about £175,000.[1] For subsequent years, the directors have chosen to file only abbreviated accounts. According to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the advantage of abbreviated accounts has been perceived to be that only limited information will be available on public record. Its directors are Helene Guldberg (company secretary and managing editor, previously co-publisher of LM) and Frank Furedi. The great majority of the shares in the company Spiked Ltd, which has the same address as that of Spiked magazine and which runs Spiked magazine, are held by Frank Furedi and Jennie Bristow.[2][3]

According to Alexa, the web information company, Spiked was the 12,013th most popular website in the UK in June 2010. As of August 2012 it ranked 21,998th. [4][5]

Spiked was launched in 2000 after the magazine Hume edited, LM, was terminated after unsuccessfully defending a libel lawsuit. Helene Guldberg's co-publisher, Claire Fox, launched Spiked's sister organisation, the Institute of Ideas (IoI) around the same time. The staff and many of Spiked's contributors are members of the same network of Living Marxism/Revolutionary Communist Party supporters. Its offices were previously the offices of the Revolutionary Communist Party and then LM and are at the same address as the IoI.

In his statement announcing the closure of LM magazine in spring 2000, LM editor Mick Hume promised that “The LM-initiated Institute of Ideas, a series of events planned to take place from June to July, will go ahead in partnership with major institutions in London, including the British Library, the Royal Institution, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Society of Arts, Tate Modern, and the Union Chapel Project. A new company, the Academy of Ideas, has been set up by Claire Fox to coordinate these events.”

He also stated that “As for the post-LM future of magazine publishing, watch this space”. Mick Hume was the first editor of Spiked, launched shortly afterwards.

Thus very many of the personnel of other entities associated with the LM network have written for Spiked. Spiked has promoted the events and publications of the Institute of Ideas and its projects, the Battle of Ideas and Culture Wars. Many of Spiked's writers write for and appear at the events of these entities.

Spiked has featured a number of pro-GM articles by Vivian Moses of CropGen and Thomas Deichmann, the person at the centre of the ITN/LM libel case. Spiked has also published a number of articles downplaying the hazards of pesticide residues in food which suggest that there is nothing to worry about. It has also published articles attacking organic food by Dennis Avery and Alex Avery of the Hudson Institute and Center for Global Food Issues.[6]

Contents

Debates on the environment

An early advert for Spiked published in Last Magazine, Summmer 2000.

Spiked has also run a series of online debates about the environment sponsored by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), a UK public funding body whose mission is to support independent scientific research in the environmental sciences. One of the series was a debate on GM called "The future of GM"[7]. It features the opinions of "five experts" (Les Firbank, Tony Gilland, Robin Grove-White, Gregory Conko and CS Prakash) together with three "Commissioned responses" from other "experts" (Alan Gray, John Conroy, and the Agricultural Biotechnology Council). Of these eight experts only one has been known to take a critical attitude towards the technology, and it would seem incompatible with NERC's aim to obtain "independent" and "impartial" input. However, when the history of those behind Spiked was brought to NERC's attention, Marion O'Sullivan, the Press Officer, replied that:

"NERC is satisfied that there is no evidence suggesting that, on environmental matters, Spiked have any particular agenda." (emphasis added)[8]

In fact, those involved in Spiked are pro-GM and ignore or attack environmental concerns in almost any form. Two of the contributors to this debate on GM (John Conroy, Tony Gilland) are part of a group which includes Spiked, but their affiliation with the organisation was not made public. Gilland's contribution, "Let the Sowing Begin", argued that:

The [GM] farm-scale trials are an unnecessary obstacle to the introduction of this beneficial technology.[9]

The other experts commissioned by Spiked included the biotech industry lobby group, the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), and the pro-GM lobbyists Greg Conko and CS Prakash, who have also previously written for Spiked.[10]

A 2010 Spiked debate on After Copenhagen commenced with a manifesto from Spiked editor Brendan O’Neill, followed by contributions from Spiked staffers Brendan O’Neill, Rob Lyons and Nathalie Rothschild, LM associates Frank Furedi and Philip Hammond and critics of environmentalism Dominic Lawson, Mike Hulme, Ben Pile, Tim Ridley and Peter Taylor. [11]

Contributions to the 2009 Spiked ‘debate’ on online poker comprised four from sponsor Poker Junkie and one each from a pro-poker society, a poker player and an anti-regulation Spiked intern. Four readers commented.

Members of the LM network are among those who post comments on Spiked "debates", and these invariably support the party line but without revealing their affiliation. The same goes for other articles published by Spiked, many of which are penned by members of the LM network.

Debates on mobile phones

BT subsidiary O2 sponsored five Spiked Debates on mobile phones during 2005, 2006 and 2007[12] while another was sponsored by Orange. The Mobile Operators Association is also on record as having funded Spiked. The debates explored public concerns about the perceived effects of mobile phones on health, child protection and the environment. [13]

Campaigns 2010

Spiked campaigns in 2010 included:[14]

  • Challenging China-bashing
  • Drink and drugs
  • Environment
  • For Europe, Against the EU
  • Genetics
  • GM food
  • Hands off the human footprint - Climate Change
  • Mad cow panic and BSE
  • Open the Borders - Anti-immigration control

Seminars

Besides its website, Spiked also organises seminars which draw well-known figures to events carefully designed to promote its own agenda. In March 2003, Spiked co-sponsored with International Policy Network (IPN) a seminar held at the London headquarters of PR firm Hill & Knowlton entitled: "'GM food: should labeling be mandatory?"[15]

This seminar, in common with other Spiked seminars, was held at Hill & Knowlton, an influential public relations company.[16]

People

Editorial

Mick Hume – founder and editor-at-large | Brendan O'Neill – editor | Helene Guldberg – managing editor | Rob Lyons – deputy editor | Nathalie Rothschild – commissioning editor | Tim Black – senior writer

Contributors

Patrick Basham | Tracey Brown | Greg Conko | John Conroy | Fiona Fox | Thomas Deichmann | Bill Durodie | Michael Fitzpatrick | Tony Gilland | John Gillott | John Luik | Vivian Moses | Channapatna S. Prakash | Ellen Raphael | Christopher Snowdon | Juliet Tizzard | Patrick West

Officers and shareholders of Spiked Ltd

According to Spiked Ltd's Annual Return 2010:[17]

Officers

Frank Furedi - company director | Helene Guldberg - company director and company secretary

Shareholders

Five sixths of the shares are held by Frank Furedi and Jennie Bristow. Other shareholders comprise: Ben Atfield | Geraldine Atfield | Simon Belt | Colin Berry | Simon Best | Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen | Frank Cassidy | Fiona Cleary | Dave Clements | Ceri Dingle | John Fitzpatrick | Dieter Hamblock | Stuart Hibbin | Ged Hession | Jon Holbrook | Ashley Johnstone | Joe Kaplinsky | Rob Killick | Simon Knight | Rose Landthaller | Michele Ledda | Ellie Lee | Peter Martin | Keith McCabe | Jonathan Meads | Alan Miller | Matt Ridley | Paul Reeves | Hilary Salt | Marco Santucci | Helen Searls | Jon Sowerby | Keith Teare | Mark Tyson | Paul Wight | James Woudhuysen

Funding

Spiked state[18] that current and former partners and sponsors include: | Arts Council England | Bloomberg | British Association for the Advancement of Science | British Council | BT | Cadbury Schweppes | Cambridge University Press | Cheltenham Science Festival | Colubris Networks | City of London | Clarke Mulder Purdie | Continuum International Publishing Group | Dana Centre | European Commission research project RightsWatch | EuroScience | Hill and Knowlton | IBM | INFORM | Institute for the International Education of Students | Institute of Psychiatry | International Policy Network | Luther Pendragon | Medical Research Council | Mobile Operators Association | National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts | Natural Environment Research Council | Orange | O2 | Pfizer | Royal Institution of Great Britain | Social Issues Research Centre | Society of Chemical Industry | Tech Central Station | University of East London | Wellcome Trust

Spiked Ltd. lost money in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. In October 2009, Spiked appealed to its readers for funds to help it keep going. In 2011, Spiked again lost money and shareholder funds moved into the red. [19]

Publications, Resources, references and contact

Restraint or Revelation, published by Spiked in 2002 and written by Tessa Mayes of the LM network

Publications

Resources

Spiked, Brand Managers Pack
Greenstein, Tony, "Spiked by Spiked", Socialist Unity, 13 March 2009

Contact

Website: www.spiked-online.com (Accessed 21 August 2007)
Address: spiked, Signet House, 49-51 Farringdon Road, London, EC1M 3JP
Tel: +44 (0)207 40 40 470
Email: general-enquiries@spiked-online.com
Facebook:Spiked
Twitter:Spiked

Notes

  1. Companies House,Spiked Ltd. Financial Statement 2009
  2. Companies House, Spiked Ltd. AR01 Annual Return 2010
  3. Support Spiked, Spiked, acc 29 May 2010
  4. "spiked-online.com", Alexa website, accessed 9 June 2010
  5. "spiked-online.com", Alexa website, accessed 28 August 2012
  6. Alex Avery and Dennis Avery, Unearthing the truth about organic food, Spiked, 5 Sept 2001, acc 25 May 2010
  7. Spiked Science Debates: The future of GM, Spiked, 16 Sept 2002, version placed in web archive 19 May 04 (Accessed in web archive 25 May 2010)
  8. Marion O'Sullivan in an email to GMWatch, September 2002, archived here
  9. Tony Gillan, Let the sowing begin, Spiked, 16 Sep 02, version placed in web archive 2004, acc in web archive 25 May 2010
  10. Spiked Science Debates: The future of GM, Spiked, 16 Sept 2002, version placed in web archive 19 May 04 (Accessed in web archive 25 May 2010)
  11. "Copenhagen", Spiked website, accessed 10 June 2010
  12. "Online debates", Spiked website, accessed 7 June 2010
  13. "Online debates", Spiked, accessed 9 June 2010
  14. All Spiked Issues, Spiked, accessed 25 May 2010
  15. 'GM food: should labelling be mandatory?', IPN website, version placed in web archive 23/4/04, acc in web archive 25 May 2010
  16. 'GM food: should labelling be mandatory?', IPN website, version placed in web archive 23/4/04, acc in web archive 25 May 2010
  17. Companies House, Spiked Ltd. AR01 Annual Return 2010
  18. "Spiked partners and sponsors", Spiked website, accessed 3 May 2010
  19. Companies House, Spiked Ltd. Abbreviated (Unaudited) Accounts 2011
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