Claire Fox

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Claire Fox (1960–) is a British journalist and member of the House of Lords, known for her libertarian politics and lengthy career as a professional troll. In her younger years, she was involved in the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and its magazine Living Marxism (LM) but like many of the group, she moved vastly rightwards. More recently she has been involved in the right-libertarian website Spiked and her own Institute of Ideas/Academy of Ideas, while appearing on BBC shows such as The Moral Maze and Question Time.

She was also briefly a Member of the European Parliament for Nigel Farage's Brexit Party before Britain left the European Union. Shortly afterwards she was nominated as a peer, and now sits as Baroness Fox of Buckley in the House of Lords where she is not affiliated to any party or group.

She has over the years espoused a wide variety of interesting opinions on topics such as terrorism (in favour of the Provisional IRA), international law (against), freedom of speech (very much in favour of[1]), paedophilia (accused of defending[1]), multiculturalism (against[1]), the House of Lords (mixed), genetically modified food (in favour[2][3]), gun control (LM opposed[3]), the Bosnian genocide (Living Marxism was pro-Serb and denialist[2])...

Depending on whom you listen to, she's either part of a sinister corporate-funded conspiracy threatening the environment and democracy, or a boring controversialist repeating the same liberal-baiting cliches.[4]


Fox was born in 1960 (her birthplace is variously given as Lancashire in NW England, or Wales), and reportedly spent much of her childhood in Wales, being raised by Irish Catholic parents. She studied English and American literature at the University of Warwick in the west Midlands, reportedly arriving as an anti-abortion Tory and leaving as a Marxist. She then trained as a teacher and worked as a mental health social worker, before becoming a further education college lecturer. She joined the Socialist Workers Party, then the Revolutionary Communist Tendency (RCT) which became the Revolutionary Communist Party. In her spare time she worked for the RCT's magazine Next Step, and later in the RCP for its journal Living Marxism, becoming its co-publisher.[1]

She has a long relationship with the University of Buckingham, Britain's first private university and a hotbed of rightwing thought, and is Honorary Professor of Professional Practice in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.[5]


Free speech[edit]

She is very much in favour of free speech, even if it's people calling for gay men to be murdered.[1] She has consistently opposed no platforming, believing that even the most dangerous ideas can be countered by debate.[1]

The IRA[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Irish Republican Army

The RCP and Fox supported Republican terrorists during The Troubles in Northern Ireland; the RCP said in 1984 "we support unconditionally the right of the Irish people to carry out their struggle for national liberation in whatever way they choose".[6] Claire and her sister Fiona were members of the Irish Freedom Movement (IFM), which defended the PIRA — until it agreed to a ceasefire. After the 1993 Warrington bombing, which killed 2 children in the town of Warrington, Cheshire, England, the IFM said it supported "the right of the Irish people to take whatever measures necessary in their struggle for freedom".[7]

Particularly in 2019 and 2020 when she was standing as a MEP and then nominated for a peerage, Fox received a lot of criticism from those associated with victims of the Provisional IRA's bombings; she refused to condemn or apologise for her past comments, but declared that she now supported the Good Friday Agreement (when the PIRA leadership agreed to renounce violence) and the peace process. According to anti-IRA campaigner Ruth Dudley Edwards, Fox said at an unspecified point in time on or before 17 August 2020, "I do not support or defend the IRA's killing of two young boys in Warrington in 1993", which was something most people would agree with.[6][8]


See the main article on this topic: Pedophilia

According to The Guardian, "she has stood up for Gary Glitter's right to download child porn" on a Radio 5 phone-in, which proved rather controversial.[1] This factoid is much-repeated without any indication of the context or exact words she used; she probably didn't defend anybody's rights to abuse children.[citation needed]

GM foods[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Genetic modification

Fox has been implicated in secretive campaigns to promote GM foods, which may not seem a big deal if one looks at the scientific evidence, but big evil corporations being evil! She was heavily criticised by The Guardian's tree-huggers for her support of GM and opposition to the organic food movement, with Guardian reporters linking her to GM companies such as Monsanto.[2] She told The Guardian, "It's part of being a progressive person that I consider agriculture should be as efficient as possible. … GM offers great potential. It's not a panacea for the third world and companies will make lots of money out of it".[1]

Her sister Fiona Fox worked for the Science Media Centre, an organisation funded by Big Pharma which opposed Guardian staffers' media depictions of evil Frankenstein foods about to become sentient and kill us in our homes, including in the BBC drama Fields of Gold written by former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.[3] (Fiona Fox was also found to have published a pseudonymous article in 1995 under the name Fiona Foster denying the Rwandan Genocide.[4])


See the main article on this topic: Misogyny

She has been accused of defending sexist colleagues and some of her comments seem very anti-women, for instance saying, "When I got involved in politics one of things that was important for me was that a lot of the values associated with masculinity were ideas I would embrace — rationality, leadership, bravery. Why would I want to be a soft carer? What’s interesting now is that society gives more value to feminine characteristics I have little regard for. Emotion more important than reason? Come off it."[1] (It's not clear how this squares with her career as a social worker and teacher.)

Political career[edit]

She stood for Nigel Farage's Brexit Party in 2019, winning a list seat for Northwest England.[9]

She was nominated for a peerage by Boris Johnson in 2020, although not as a Conservative Party peer, and now sits in the House of Lords; speculation is that her support for Brexit was key to her selection.[6] Although possibly Johnson appreciated her work, being no slouch with controversial utterances and liberal-baiting.

Media career[edit]

After appearing once as a guest, she became a regular panelist on BBC Radio 4's edgy ethical discussion show The Moral Maze.[1][10] She is no longer a regular as of 2022.[11]

Institute of Ideas[edit]

The Institute of Ideas (IoI) came into being in 2000 from the circle around Living Marxism and the Revolutionary Communist Party, organising a series of conferences and events around the UK.[2][1] It operates under a variety of names including Academy of Ideas, Battle of Ideas, and Festival of Ideas. Maybe this is because IoI looks suspiciously like "lol".

The Guardian found that IoI had received funding from American pro-corporate/right-wing group Reason Foundation.[2]

IoI has organised events with prominent UK institutions including the British Library, British Museum, the Royal College of Art, and the National Portrait Gallery.[12] Its events include the Battle of Ideas, which began in 2005 organising annual conferences. Jenny Turner criticised these events for always featuring the same narrow range of speakers who have "a habit of sitting on panels together, pretending they don’t already know each other", and always saying the same things; Turner found the Battle of Ideas "deadly boring".[4]

The 2022 Battle of Ideas was held in London on 15 and 16 October 2022. The line-up included a bunch of right-wing controversialists including Matt Ridley, Andrew Doyle,Wikipedia Lord (Daniel) Moylan (a Tory peer), Rod Liddle,Wikipedia Allison Pearson,Wikipedia Leo Kearse, "and many more". Plus Sunetra Gupta (controversial for her views on COVID-19), and a few token lefties like Aaron BastaniWikipedia (Novara Media). It also featured a large number of TERFs and anti-trans campaigners, including Maya Forstater, Helen Joyce, Graham Linehan, James Dreyfus, and Julie Bindel. Some events were in conjunction with trollish right-wing TV channel GB News.[13][14][15]

A smaller event was held in Belfast in March 2022 as part of the Imagine Festival. Speakers included Ryan Christopher, Director of the Alliance Defending Freedom (which is an anti-LGBT hate group according to the SPLC[16]); Olivia Hartley the publisher of The Critic; Jenny Holland from The Critic and Spiked; Inaya Folarin Iman from GB News; and Alistair Donald of Battle of Ideas.[17] Very much a case of the same people talking to themselves.

It shouldn't be confused with Institute of Art and Ideas, founded by Hilary Lawson, that organises the HowTheLightGetsIn philosophy festival.[18] Although since Lawson is an anti-realist philosopher who believes the world is constituted by language, who knows if there's a difference?


In 2000, The Guardian associated Fox and the Institute of Ideas with a range of mainly right-wing groups such as Transport Research Group (pro-roadbuilding), Families for Freedom (one of several organisations with that name), Freedom & Law, the Association of British Drivers (pro-motorist), (opposed to restraints on building and development), and American group Reason Foundation.[2]

She has admitted that the Institute of ideas received money from drug company Pfizer and GM agriculture firm Syngenta.[1]

Some analysis of their influence runs dangerously close to conspiracy theory thinking. George Monbiot pointed out that people connected with LM and Spiked had "infiltrated" a range of organisations including British Pregnancy Advisory Service, groups connected with human embryo research such as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, and other organisations involved in genetics such as Genepool, though he conceded "it's not easy to understand why it is happening. Are we looking at a group which wants power for its own sake, or one following a political design, of which this is an intermediate step?"[3] Neoconservative journalist Nick Cohen is another person obsessed with LM conspiracy theories.[4]

Addressing claims of a "LM network" of former Living Marxism people infiltrating British institutions, Jenny Turner in the London Review of Books suggested that they could be viewed as a "loose, informal group of people" with similar ideas and associations:

...some of whom share memories of passionate commitment to a tiny democratic-centralist organisation, some of whom don’t; all of whom seem roughly to agree with each other on a rather shallow and repetitive libertarian agenda, and to display varying degrees of left-liberal-baiting enthusiasm for all the big, scary corporate technologies, especially those involving genetic manipulation, petrochemicals, non-sustainable power generation, human cells.[4]

She compared them not to a secret society but to other groups of people of similar backgrounds who seemed to have disproportionate power or influence, akin to "Oxbridge or Scottish or London literary mafias, or Guardianistas, or YBAs".[4]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Claire Fox: infamy's child, Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian, 19 Nov 2005
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Life after Living Marxism: Fighting for freedom - to offend, outrage and question everything, David Pallister, John Vidal, Kevin Maguire, The Guardian, 8 July 2000
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Invasion of the entryists, George Monbiot, The Guardian, 9 Dec 2003
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Who Are They?: Jenny Turner reports from the Battle of Ideas, Jenny Turner, London Review of Books, Vol. 32 No. 13 · 8 July 2010
  5. International Staff, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Buckingham, accessed 2 Nov 2022
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Claire Fox: From IRA comments controversy to a peerage, BBC News, 22 Aug 2020
  7. Fox Breaks Cover – from Revolutionary Communist to Farage's Right Hand Woman, Byline Times, 24 April 2019
  8. In defence of Claire Fox, Ruth Dudley Edwards, The Spectator, 17 Aug 2020
  9. European elections 2019: Brexit Party wins three North West seats, BBC News, 27 May 2019
  10. Moral Maze Claire Fox, BBC Radio 4 website, undated (c. 2008)
  11. See the Wikipedia article on The Moral Maze.
  12. Institute of Ideas, SourceWatch, accessed 2 Nov 2022
  13. Battle of Ideas 2002 Tickets, EventBrite, 2022
  14. Covid-19 and the new merchants of doubt, David Gorski and Gavin Yamey, BMJ Blogs, 13 Sep 2021
  15. Yesterday we recorded a special edition of Free Speech Nation at the Battle of Ideas in Westminster. You can watch it tonight at 7pm on @GBNEWS. Huge thanks to @DreyfusJames @RosieKayK2CO @mattwridley @LeoKearse @joshxhowie and Graham Linehan for being such wonderful guests!, Andrew Doyle (, Twitter, 11:28 AM · Oct 16, 2022
  16. Alliance Defending Freedom, Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed Dec 3, 2022
  17. The Belfast Battle of Ideas, Imagine Belfast, 2022, accessed Dec 3, 2022
  18. See the Wikipedia article on Institute of Art and Ideas.