Difference between revisions of "Michael Fitzpatrick"

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*[[Michael Fitzpatrick]], [http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/the-expert-invasion-of-family-life/18889 The expert invasion of family life], ''Spiked'', 20 October 2016.
*[[Michael Fitzpatrick]], [http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/the-expert-invasion-of-family-life/18889 The expert invasion of family life], ''Spiked'', 20 October 2016.
*[[Michael Fitzpatrick]], [http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/how-not-to-re-think-autism/19459 How not to ‘re‑think autism’], ''Spiked'', 17 February 2017.
*[[Michael Fitzpatrick]], [http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/how-not-to-re-think-autism/19459 How not to ‘re‑think autism’], ''Spiked'', 17 February 2017.
*[[Michael Fitzpatrick]], [http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/hands-off-my-halftime-burger/19847#.WS14UWjysuU Hands off my halftime burger], ''Spiked'', 23 May 2017.

Revision as of 13:50, 30 May 2017

LM network resources
Michael Fitzpatrick in 2008

Dr Michael Fitzpatrick recently retired after over 25 years as a GP in Barton House Health Centre, Stoke Newington, London[1]. He trained at Oxford and the Middlesex Hospital [2]. Fitzpatrick was a leading member of the now defunct Revolutionary Communist Party and is an associate of the libertarian anti-environmental LM network having been involved with Spiked, Global Futures, Sense About Science, the Risk of Freedom Briefings, Worldbytes and the Battle of Ideas. From 2001 to the present he wrote for Spiked as the health correspondent. In May 2010 he became, and continues to be, a trustee of the lobby group Sense About Science having accepted an approach from Tracey Brown[3]. His writing has also been listed as suggested reading for the Battle of Ideas events since 2005, where he has appeared every year, on 17 panels as of 10th December 2014, including a number of discussion topics, often related to alcohol and drug use. He contributed regularly to the British Journal of General Practice between 2002-2012, Community Care from 2007-2011, and between 2003-2004 he had a regular column in The Lancet, for whom he contributed 31 articles in this period, contributing one further article in 2007.

Revolutionary Communist Party

Michael Fitzpatrick, like his brother John, was a leading member of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). This is confirmed in an article written by Don Milligan, reflecting on his time as a workplace activist, branch organiser and as the party’s typesetter (1980-1993), in which he also argues the RCP were never in fact socialists:

What attracted me about the party was its insistence upon challenging the verities of Labourism – its refusal to abide by the shibboleths that marked the perimeters of leftwing thought. Although I only became aware of this much later, the very thing which I found attractive about the party was precisely the feature that made it capable of attracting deracinated individuals like myself, and like the largely middle class young people, with little or no understanding of socialism or of the history of the socialist movement which we recruited; young RCP comrades, contacts and full members, were by and large simply not socialists. It took an unconscionable length of time for this to dawn on me, and to recognise fully that the party leaders, Frank Furedi, Michael Fitzpatrick, and Mick Hume, were not socialists either[4]

Fitzpatrick's position amongst the leadership, perhaps as a member of the steering committee, is also suggested by his position on the editorial board (under his party name Mike Freeman) of the Revolutionary Communist Papers, the 'theoretical journal' of the Revolutionary Communist Tendency/Revolutionary Communist Party. He held this role from at least February 1979 until its final edition in September 1981[5]. He also wrote every editorial (but the first) of the RCP's short lived theoretical journal Confrontation, from the summer of 1987 until the summer of 1989, contributing 9 articles in all. The first editorial of Confrontation was written by Sabena Norton. He also contributed to 3 Revolutionary Communist Pamphlets between 1978-1982. Fitzpatrick also contributed a number of articles to the RCP party publication The next step and appears to have co-edited a post-election copy of the next step with Frank Furedi (as Frank Richards), after Thatcher's re-election in 1987, in which they argued the future of the left was to abandon the labour movement:

The future of the working class need not be the same as the future of Labour. Or, to put the same point in a different way, our class can have no future while labour retains its monopoly of political influence. Labourism as a political outlook is too steeped in the past to relate even to the most modest aspirations of the modern working class[6]

This analysis may have resulted from the middle class composition of the RCP as alluded to by Don Milligan and undoubtedly exaggerated the power of labour over the political process in its neglect to consider the influence of business.

Links with the LM Network

Fitzpatrick frequently contributed to the RCP's monthly review Living Marxism under the alias Mike Freeman. Living Marxism later became LM, in which Fitzpatrick had a regular column. Fitzpatrick has since contributed regularly to Spiked [7] and has spoken at events organised by both Spiked and the Institute of Ideas (IoI), such as its Genes & Society Festival, organised in association with Pfizer. Spiked and IoI both developed out of LM. Fitzpatrick has also contributed to the work of the Progress Educational Trust,[8] another body with links to the LM network.

Since May 2010 he has been a Trustee of the controversial lobby group Sense About Science.[9] Sense About Science shares its telephone number with an organisation called Global Futures of which Fitzpatrick is also a Trustee and to which Sense about Science's director, Tracey Brown, and its assistant director, Ellen Raphael, also belonged, prior to its seeming demise.[10] [11][12][13]

SAS contact page showing phone no., web archive version of Oct 29 2003
Global Futures contact page showing phone no., web archive version of 2002

Tracey Brown and Ellen Raphael both contributed to the magazine LM, which developed out of the monthly review of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), Living Marxism. Global Futures appears to be one of a series of front groups generated by the political network of individuals involved with LM and the RCP to forward their political agenda.

He was also member of the the joint Forum of the Social Issues Research Centre (which regularly donated to Sense About Science between 2003 and 2007[14]). He is also a member of the Royal Institution which drew up the Guidelines on Science and Health in collaboration with the SIRC to try and 'improve' the reporting of controversial scientific issues like GM foods by the media. The other members of the Forum were[15]:

Philip Harding (controller of Editorial Policy, BBC) | Steve Connor (Science Editor, The Independent) | Dr Graham Easton (GP and Senior Broadcast Journalist, BBC Science Radio) | Peter Bell (BBC) | Professor Susan Greenfield (director of the Royal Institution) | Dr Michael Clark (MP, Chairman, Commons Science and Technology Committee) | Professor Sir John Krebs (University of Oxford, the chairman of the Food Standards Agency) | Professor {[Sheila McLean]] (Director, Institute of Law and Ethics in Medicine, Glasgow University) | Mr Henry Marsh (Consultant Neurosurgeon, Atkinson Morley's Hospital) | Dr Roger Highfield ( Science Editor, The Daily Telegraph) | Dr Desmond Morris | Lord Dick Taverne (QC, the Co-Director of The Social Issues Research Centre) | Tim Radford (Science Editor the Guardian) | Professor Lewis Wolpert (University College London) | Dr David Boak (Royal Society) | Dr David Haslam (Royal College of General Practitioners) | Dr Jack Tinker (Royal Society of Medicine) | Mr Barry Jackson (President, Royal College of Surgeons). The Forum was moderated by SIRC Directors Kate Fox and Dr Peter Marsh[16].


Fitzpatrick led the Medical Research Council team that concluded in 1998 that there was no risk from the MMR vaccine after Dr Andrew Wakefield claimed that patients had suffered adverse reactions from it. In a 2004 paper published in the British Medical Bulletin Fitzpatrick argues

The unfolding of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) controversy reveals some of the key features of the cultural climate affecting matters of health and illness in contemporary society. A high level of anxiety around issues of health is reflected in a heightened sense of individual vulnerability to environmental dangers (such as atmospheric pollution, electromagnetic fields, bioterrorism) and in a general aversion to risk, particularly in relation to children. This mood has proved responsive to views sceptical, if not hostile, towards science and medicine and associated professionals, particularly in the sphere of immunization[17]

The case itself caused much controversy and Wakefield, who now lives in the USA, continues to stand by his research and deny all allegations against him. His supporters, mostly parents of autistic children, maintain he is the victim of a conspiracy and witch-hunt.[18]Martin J. Walker provides a detailed description of the controversy surrounding Fitzpatrick's involvement in the case and questions whether his roles for Global Futures and Sense About Science, who are both heavily funded by a number of pharmaceutical companies (including the 3 main producers of vaccines), may have had an influence on his research[19].


Many of his articles centre on the belief that all relationships with state institutions are negative, and a vague notion of ‘people know what is best for themselves’, should rule. He has questioned the value of health programmes expanded by the government encouraging the ‘five a day concept’ through the change4life programme and argues it is used as a mechanism to increase the relationship between the state and people’s personal lives, as a result of loss of state authority in other areas.[20]. He also talks disparagingly about programmes which involve the offering of advice around sexual health issues in a number of articles and strangely takes the position that feminists should not have sought for law enforcement agencies to become involved in domestic violence cases because they (law enforcement) exist as representatives of a patriarchal state. He also sees attempts to encourage GPs to take a proactive approach towards achieving disclosure of domestic violence as 'insidious' and ‘means opening up the personal realm of family life and relationships to professional interference on an unprecedented scale’[21]. Fitzpatrick has also described alcohol, tobacco, chemicals, cars, fast food and pharmaceuticals as ‘stigmatised products’[22] and was frequently cited in the media regarding the Andrew Wakefield MMR-Autism scandal. He has written numerous articles on autism for Spiked, as well as two books, one entitled 'Defeating Autism: a damaging delusion' (Routledge, 2008), which followed from 'MMR and Autism: what parents need to know' (Routledge, 2004).

Writing for Living Marxism/LM (1988-2000)

Word cloud of LM/Living marxism titles, written by Michael Fitzpatrick, 1990-2000. wordle website, 9 March 2015.

Fitzpatrick wrote for LM from November 1988 until April 2000, contributing more than 70 articles in this time. He takes a fairly consistent line of argument to a variety of issues, such as Aids, public health, smoking, and BSE amongst others. This often involves describing society as risk averse and quick to panic, arguing either that there is an an orthodoxy that restricts debate on the reality of certain risks, or that 'interested parties' seek to elevate certain forms of risk for their own benefit. These situations are then said to have led to a paralysing application of the precautionary principle which attacks the human spirit.


Many of Fitzpatrick's articles on Aids question the risk the virus poses in the UK, particularly to those understood to be in 'low-risk' groups. He argues the real motive behind health campaigns warning the public of the dangers of Aids was a moral crusade to encourage 'sexual conformity' and to pursue a 'moralist agenda'[23]. He also argues that in 'low risk' groups all forms of sexual activity can be practised and there is no need to practice 'safe sex' for the majority of heterosexuals in the UK, unless having sex with 'high-risk' partners. Fitzpatrick's analysis appears to relate to his disdain for any form of advice, which he appears to see as damaging to the human spirit and an attack on individual freedom.

Creating panic/Managing risk

For example, Fitzpatrick argues that the authorities have sought to exagerate the threat posed by Aids through 'propaganda':

The danger of an imminent and large-scale heterosexual epidemic of Aids in Britain has been the central theme of the vast wave of Aids propaganda that has engulfed British society since 1986.[24]

He has also argued this risk has been exagerated by the 'Aids establishment' in order to ensure public concern for the issue has remained prevalent:

The more senior figures in the Aids establishment... were concerned that the limited spread of HIV infection in the West Midlands was undermining their efforts to maintain a high level of public concern around the issue.[25]

A Moral agenda

Fitzpatrick argues that government campaigns on Aids were an attempt to deflect attention from economic recession and a mechanism to control people's personal lives:

The government's Aids panic is not a public health campaign at all, but a moral crusade. It is a means of promoting sexual and moral conformity by manipulating public fears about a rare but fatal disease. At a time of economic recession and social crisis, conventional morality and traditional family values provide a much-needed source of cohesion and stability. Aids has provided the most effective vehicle for the drive to restore Victorian values in the Britain of Mrs Thatcher and her successors. The breadth and depth of the consensus around 'safe sex', even when its irrationality has been exposed, is a testimony to the fact that for the government the Aids panic is worth every penny spent on it[26]

Aids and the Precautionary Principle

He also seems to equate campaigns promoting safe sex and warning about the spread of heterosexual Aids (which he describes as the 'aids panic') with an excessive application of the precautionary principle:

The Aids panic is now sustained by the argument that 'we don't know what might happen in the future, but we can't be too careful'. According to this logic, everybody should stay at home in case they get run over by a bus, or perhaps, you never know, hit by a meteor[27]

Aids Orthodoxy

Fitzpatrick argues an Aids orthodoxy has developed which seeks to stifle alternative debate, citing research questioning the links between HIV and Aids. However, whilst he acknowledges that the scientific merits of the alternative research he cites may well be debatable, he strangely still argues this example demonstrates an irrational aids orthodoxy:

Another challenge to the prevailing Aids orthodoxy comes from professor Peter Duesberg and other scientists who assembled for an 'alternative' Aids conference in Amsterdam last month. Duesberg refutes the view that HIV is the cause of Aids, emphasising the role of recreational drugs such as poppers and crack. Others at Amsterdam accepted that HIV plays some role in the genesis of Aids, but only in association with 'cofactors' such as other infections. They were, however, united in condemning the transformation of the HIV/Aids hypothesis into a dogma, the censorship and distortion of alternative theories and the suppression of funding for research into such alternatives. Whatever the scientific merits of Duesberg's case, which are certainly debatable, there can be no doubt that he has exposed the climate of irrationality that surrounds the whole issue.[28]

Public Health

Fitzpatrick took a similar line of argument to other 'healthcare issues' when writing for Living Marxism/LM, often rejecting any attempts to introduce proactive/interventionist approaches to healthcare, which he sees as invading people's personal spheres.

Domestic violence

For example, Fitzpatrick argued against interventionist approaches from GP's in the area of domestic violence, even when they have been shown to be effective at reducing incidences of domestic violence, arguing such policies equated to regulating people's behaviour rather than treating illness:

The long-term consequence of GPs adopting a more proactive approach to domestic violence is more insidious. It means opening up the personal realm of family life and relationships to professional interference on an unprecedented scale...A popular model, featured prominently in the BMA report, is the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project in Minnesota in America. This seeks, through multiagency working, to transform a range of violent behaviour into non-violent or egalitarian behaviour, showing respect and trust, giving support, being honest and accountable, fairly negotiating, taking shared responsibility, having economic partnership and responsible parenting. Whether or not this approach is effective in terms of deterring domestic violence, it carries the heavy cost of opening up the private sphere to public scrutiny and regulation in a way that is characteristic of authoritarian societies. Such an intrusion into people's intimate life can only be profoundly damaging both for the individual and for society[29]

The precautionary principle and Child protection

Similarly, Fitzpatrick is disparaging towards preventative strategies involving families, and the idea of promoting 'good parenting'. He also apppears to reject the idea of monitoring for child abuse as overly authoritarian:

Doctors are also expected to participate in the machinery of surveillance and intervention that has developed under the rubric of 'child protection'. This means maintaining constant vigilance for signs of abuse or neglect and keeping in close contact with local agencies, including social services and the police. Because, according to Labour front-benchers Jack Straw and Janet Anderson, as people accept that in extreme cases it is justified to intervene to remove children from their families, then it should also be acceptable to intervene at an earlier stage with a preventive strategy ('Parenting: a discussion paper', November 1996). For New Labour, preventing what it considers is an automatic transition from poor parenting, to juvenile delinquency, to a life of crime, justifies interference in every family in the country.[30]

He also criticises organisations which offer 'advice services' as, for Fitzpatrick, the act of asking for advice can only reinforce the feelings of inadequacy that lead one to ask for advice in the first place, further undermining self-confidence:

The intrusion of an external source of authority into the family undermines not only confidence, but accountability. This is the effect of help lines such as ChildLine and Parentline...Originally motivated by a concern to expose child abuse, such agencies find themselves dealing with a wide range of day to day family conflicts, in which they act as a sort of conciliation and arbitration service. As a result, children are indulged, adults degraded and parental authority weakened.[31]


Writing on issues surrounding healthy living, Fitzpatrick questioned the validity of evidence linking obesity and ill-health, particularly amongst those with lower levels of obesity. He also argues campaigns which seek to encourage weight loss provide a useful theoretical justification for imposing controls on everyone in society:

Linking weight to health makes it possible to generalise a sense of risk to the whole population. If more than half the population - including even me - is defined as being overweight, this surely justifies mass campaigns to change people's behaviour in the name of health. A major investigation of links between lifestyle and heart disease last year concluded that 'nearly everyone would benefit from being a little thinner' (British Medical Journal, 2 May 1997). In this way the influence of health professionals is extended from the sick to the well, and it becomes clear that the obsession with obesity provides a mechanism for imposing discipline over the whole of society.[32]


Anti-tobacco moralism

In one article Fitzpatrick takes the line of argument that the turn towards greater regulation of tobacco in the 1990s reflected broader themes in society which assume individuals are weak, place too much significance on the power of advertising, and in which people refuse to take personal responsibility for their actions. He also suggests that an emphasis on the addictive qualities of nicotine is somehow indicative of this, rather than a scientific reality:

The political significance of the anti-tobacco crusade is that it resonates with some of the most influential themes in Western society today. It projects an image of the general public as helpless dupes of tobacco propaganda and as pathetic victims of chemical dependency on nicotine. The campaign against tobacco assumes a society of feeble individuals who need to be protected against cigarette adverts and against their own addictive personalities...The new emphasis on nicotine as an addictive drug, a key theme in the current US controversy, reinforces the notion of the vulnerable individual and further undermines the idea of individual responsibility for behaviour.


Passive smoking Orthodoxy

As with the issues of obesity and Aids, Fitzpatrick develops a line of argument which suggests an unscientific orthodoxy has developed around the impacts of passive smoking, citing a paper published by the Social Affairs Unit to back up his argument that this risk is exaggerated[34].

According to a recent Guardian editorial, 'mention of "passive smoking" now attracts groans and ridicule only from a small minority of those refusing to believe the overwhelming weight of opinion' (11 April 1996). It proceeds to invoke a consensus that embraces 'everyone else from the Department of Health to independent researchers' who accept that passive smoking damages health. Such a smug and rhetorical statement, typical of much public health propaganda, should immediately raise suspicion. In fact, much of the case against passive smoking is based on a statistical fallacy: the confusion of relative and absolute risk...(For a rigorous critique see JR Johnstone, 'Scientific fact or scientific self-delusion: passive smoking, exercise and the new puritanism' in Health, Lifestyle and the Environment: countering the Panic, Social Affairs Unit/Manhattan Institute, 1991.)[35]

In a somewhat 'tongue in cheek' piece Fitzpatrick suggests the drive to ban smoking in public places has not gone far enough and links such policies to Pol Pot's Killing Fields and the Nazi's 'Final Solution':

The public has already endorsed some important initiatives against smokers, driving them out of homes, workplaces, public transport and other public places. It is now time for the government to take the campaign a step further...Recalcitrant smokers could be driven in trucks from the inner city estates where they are concentrated to these camps in remote rural areas. In Cambodia in the 1970s, Pol Pot, a pioneer of the new public health, used this approach to achieve a dramatic reduction in mortality from smoking. It is fortunate that the new government has shown that it is capable of the sort of tough thinking necessary to devise a final solution to the tobacco problem. No doubt there will remain a hard core of those so corrupted by tobacco, its profits and its toxins, that they will refuse to give it up. Filthy habit, filthy people - they will have to be exterminated. The camps can then make room for all the other deviants whose behaviour is designated a major problem of public health - those who are overweight and not inclined towards exercise, those who drink more than the prescribed number of units of alcohol and take illicit drugs[36]


Fitzpatrick argues that a new obsession with the issue of child sexual abuse has occurred without a concurrent rise in actual abuse, that feminist calls for the use of the criminal justice system will increase the oppression of women, and that the real reason for the obsession is an 'industry' which seeks to gain from increased incidences of abuse and the state's thirst for increased control over people's personal lives.

Creating panic/Managing risk

Fitzpatrick describes concern around the issue of child abuse as an effort by the state to extend its control over people's personal lives. As such he seeks to portray the issue as society panicking, which implies an exagerated perception of risk:

To explain the intensity and the pervasiveness of the public preoccupation with child sexual abuse, we must look to the wider sense of moral crisis that has engulfed Western society in recent years...The panic about child sexual abuse is another symptom of our anxious age. Here is the most extreme and degrading manifestation of the disintegration of the traditional family, which is also evident in the statistics of divorce and single parenthood, and in impressions of rampant juvenile crime[37]

Feminism as Patriarchy

Fitzpatrick also argues that using traditionally patriarchal state institutions, such as the police, against perpetrators of sexual violence, usually men, will inevitably lead to greater oppression of women. However, this clearly ignores the point that refusing to use these institutions in the absence of any alternative inevitably leaves the victims of abuse with no recourse for justice nor defence, and would ensure such institutions remain patriarchal and perpetrators of abuse retain control over victims:

Two British feminists argued for 'the exclusion of abusive men' through criminal proceedings (M MacLeod and E Saraga, 'Child sexual abuse: challenging the orthodoxy', Feminist Review, No28 1988). The feminists' main challenge to orthodoxy is their demand for the use of the state's repressive apparatus within the family. MacLeod and Saraga explicitly repudiate the traditional reticence of the left about state coercion. 'Recently', they note, 'a more complex analysis of state intervention has brought the work and ideas of feminists and some statutory agencies closer together'...It is ironic that the feminists are now inviting the 'patriarchal' state to tackle the problems of the violent patriarch. In reality, the state that safeguards the running of British capitalism at home and abroad has a capacity for violence that vastly exceeds that of the most psychopathic and chauvinist husband. The notion that this state could 'empower not oppress women and children' is an absurdity...The feminist argument combines utopian fantasy with an invitation to repression[38]

State power

In a similar analysis to his view of the 'Aids establishment', he appears to suggest that the risk of child abuse is elevated by 'interested parties' who will gain work, or an increase in power, as a result of an increase in perceived cases of child abuse:

For social workers, doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists, child sexual abuse is a growth area in a contracting market. It provides career opportunities, research prospects, and lots of case conferences to make everybody feel important. Back in 1988, MacLeod and Saraga complained that 'feminist theory is still "out in the cold" when it comes to the professional establishment'. Not any more. When it comes to calls for criminal proceedings, everybody can chorus 'we're all feminists now'...The result of more than five years of public concern about child abuse is the increase in state power and authority over family life. This does nothing to help abused children, but it reinforces the grip of a decadent establishment over a demoralised society[39]


The topic of BSE is frequently cited by members of the LM Network to justify their claims that society is currently in a heightened sense of panic, highly risk averse and obsessed with the precautionary principle. Fitzpatrick wrote a number of articles along these lines, also adding the idea that 'greens' and 'environmentalists' may have had something to do with the 'panic' surronding BSE. This argument is perhaps used in an effort to belittle concerns of environmentalists and equate all issues raised with new technology with undue panic.

Creating panic/Managing Risk

Fitzpatrick argues the likelihood of a link between BSE and CJD was given excessive credence by the state and quango's:

The great mad cow panic did not begin in rural England or even in the media: it was launched by parliamentary statements by the ministers of health and agriculture on 20 March, which for the first time endorsed the possibility of a link between BSE, beef and CJD.[40]

Fitzpatrick also argues the BSE crisis was based on a society constantly in search of a health scare:

Recent events mark a historic achievement for the cult of the new public health - a health scare, not about a disease, but about the possibility of a disease. In the increasingly virtual reality of late twentieth-century society, we have a real panic about a virtual disease.[41]

BSE and the Precautionary Principle

He argues that the case of BSE demonstrates a risk averse society and appears to suggest that fears surrounding nuclear energy and global warming should be considered as a result of this anxiousness, rather than given any credence:

Why then, if there is no evidence that BSE causes CJD, is there such a wave of panic about the dangers of eating beef? ...The first is the psychology of the contemporary 'risk society'. The panic about mad cow disease took off in a society which has become preoccupied with collective fears of impending doom and with individual anxieties about threats to health, security and safety. We worry about nuclear war and global warming, AIDS and Ebola, mugging and burglary, road rage, child abuse and violence against women.[42]

In another article he links concern for public health, global warming, nuclear energy, domestic violence and child abuse as having caused this anxious society, and creating a society obsessed with diet:

In our increasingly insecure society, in which familiar social and political landmarks have disappeared, there is a striking tendency to exaggerate the risks of everyday life and to live with a heightened sense of danger, if not one of impending doom. Pressure groups emphasise particular dangers - of nuclear radiation, global warming, atmospheric pollution or of male violence, crime, or diverse forms of abuse. Health hazards resulting from the environment or from individual lifestyle factors are a constant theme of public discussion. Diet provides the link between concerns about environmental threats to health and individual choice[43]

For Fitzpatrick all of these concerns demonstrate a society obsessed with risk:

The notion that we live today in a 'risk society' is increasingly influential. One of the guidelines that has emerged to regulate the 'risk society' is the 'precautionary principle'. This means that unless something can be proved to be safe, don't do it. The logic of this applied to the BSE/CJD controversy is clear: until it can be proved that BSE does not cause CJD, then avoid beef and beef products. As it will take decades to demonstrate this, the precautionary principle dictates lifelong vegetarianism - and close attention to food packages to detect hidden beef products. This may not seem any great sacrifice, but applied systematically to everyday life, the precautionary principle means a life of caution, restraint and, ultimately, resignation[44]

Society Anti-science

He argues society is moving towards the rejection of science, which may have elevated the panic surrounding BSE:

Another factor contributing to the mad cow disease panic is the popular hostility towards modern farming techniques which are widely regarded as a violation of the laws of nature. From this perspective, BSE is, like the lethal viruses that are said to threaten new plagues, an example of the revenge of nature against human arrogance and interference[45]

He also suggests that environmentalism and vegetarianism are indicators of an anti-science mentality:

In recent years there has been a steady growth in the influence of a set of broadly green, pro-animal, anti-science and technology ideas. These are expressed in the rise of vegetarianism, in an increasingly widespread distaste for intensive farming techniques and in popular campaigns against the transport of live animals and against McDonalds. For people who hold such sentiments, the thesis that BSE causes CJD has an instant attraction: it confirms their view that the production and consumption of meat are evil, and provides them with the additional argument that meat is also dangerous[46]

Green/Environmentalist elite capture

He suggests the national curriculum has been 'corrupted' by green prejudice, which has perhaps increased society's fatalism:

These views reflect modern society's extraordinary collapse of confidence in itself. It is a simple fact, familiar to every schoolchild before the corruption of the national curriculum by green prejudice, that human civilisation is based on 'breaking the rules' of nature, on increasing the productivity of nature by cultivating plants and domesticating animals[47]

He also laments the rise in vegentarianism as contradictory to human development and suggests it is no surprise that a one of the leading proponents of BSE/CJD link is a known vegitarian:

While in the past support for vegetarianism and animal rights were the province of religious zealots, eccentrics, and film and pop stars, these causes today command growing popular - and establishment - support. Academic philosophers and scientists can readily be found to contradict the rational and humanist foundations of modern civilisation... One of the leading proponents of the BSE/CJD link is Professor Richard Lacey, a medical microbiologist whose works are published by the Vegetarian Society. For him, the link is a matter of faith which does not require substantiation by epidemiological or other scientific evidence[48]

Writing for Spiked (2001-Present)

Word cloud of Spiked titles, written by Michael Fitzpatrick, 2001-2014. wordle website, 9 March 2015.

Fitzpatrick has written articles for Spiked regularly since 2000, contributing 183 articles. The main topics he focused on in Spiked were issues surrounding MMR, particularly in relation to the Andrew Wakefield 'scandal' and suggested links with autism, public health issues and changes to the NHS.

Writing for Tobacco (2002)

In 2002 Michael Fitzpatrick wrote an article for the tobacco funded Risk of Freedom Briefing publication in which he argued society had been medicalised to such an extent that people's personal lives had been invaded, undermining their autonomy and promoting dependency. He appears to question a number of modern definitions of illnesses, particularly those of a psychological nature, arguing many of these definitions allow people to avoid taking personal responsibility for their emotions:

The shift of medical practice away from the treatment of disease towards the regulation of personal behaviour draws doctors into areas in which they have neither competence nor expertise....The medicalization of society reinforces popular anxieties about health and fears about disease. Professional intrusion in personal life undermines individual autonomy and encourages dependency. The proliferation of disease labels, from post-traumatic stress disorder and social phobia to myalgic encephalomyelitis ('ME') and fibromyalgia, tends to prolong incapacity and inflates rates of disability. A return

to the old labels — ‘sadness’, ‘fear’, ‘laziness’, ‘apathy’ — would also point the way to the old, and often effective cures[49]


The Progress Club (Company number 04331329, created 29 November 2001) Directors along with: Geoff Kidder and Para Mullan[50]

Career Chronology

Educational Background

Other Links with the Network

Battle of Ideas Panel appearances






















  • Mike Freeman, The miners' fight for jobs: Our day will come, London: Junius Publications, March 1985, ISBN 0-9508 404-9-1.


  • Mike Freeman 'The road to power', Confrontation Number 1 Summer 1986. London: Junius Publications Ltd, June 1986, p. 32-89.




  • Mike Freeman 'Stalinism.. RIP', Confrontation, summer 1989, p. 5-11.
  • Kirsten Cale and Mike Freeman 'Eurocommunism in ruins', Confrontation, summer 1989, p. 61-84.
  • Mike Freeman, 'Pact, PR or bill of rights?', Living Marxism, No. 5 - March 1989, p. 30.
  • Mike Freeman, 'Why Ireland matters', Living Marxism, No. 10 - August 1989, p. 10.
  • Mike Freeman, 'Can anyone make sense of him?', Living Marxism, No. 10 - August 1989, p. 42.
  • Mike Freeman, 'Is there a moral majority?', Living Marxism, No. 13 - November 1989, p. 30.
  • Mike Freeman, 'Jesus Christ: the man, the myth', Living Marxism, No. 14 - December 1989, p. 16.




  • Mike Freeman, 'CND's alternative imperialism', Living Marxism, No. 29 - March 1991, p. 26.
  • Mike Freeman, 'America: beyond the Vietnam syndrome?', Living Marxism, No. 30 - April 1991, p. 18.
  • Mike Freeman, 'Why is British politics so boring?', Living Marxism, No. 31 - May 1991, p. 10.
  • Mike Freeman, 'Towards 2000: Is socialism finished?', Living Marxism, No. 33 - July 1991, p. 8.
  • Mike Freeman, 'What the British left said', Living Marxism, No. 36 - October 1991, p. 30.





1996 -2000
























2016 - 2017




  1. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'author affiliations', British Medical Bulletin, 2004, Volume 69 (1), pp. 143-153.
  2. Speaker profile Battle of Ideas, acc 23 Mar 2011
  3. See Tracey Brown, 'Where Sense About Science comes from', 1 June 2012, Sense About Science, accessed 5 March 2015.
  4. See Don Milligan ‘Radical amnesia and the Revolutionary Communist Party’, Reflections of a Renegade, 8 February 2008.
  5. He likely sat on the board from the journal's inception in March 1977, but Issues 1, 2 and 3 of the Papers did not disclose the names of any editor or editorial board.
  6. See: Frank Richards and Mike Freeman, 'The thrid Thatcher Term', The next step, Revolutionary Communist Party [UK], 12 June 1987, No. 22, 16pp. (A3)
  7. "Articles by Michael Fitzpatrick", Spiked website, accessed 2 May 2010
  8. Michael Fitzpatrick, Progress Educational Trust
  9. Board of trustees, SAS website, acc 10 May 2010
  10. George Monbiot, “Invasion of the entryists”, The Guardian, 9 December 2003
  11. Interview with George Monbiot”, LobbyWatch, April 2007; “Profiles - Living Marxism", LobbyWatch, accessed April 2009
  12. Sense About Science website contact page, version placed in web archive 29 Oct 2003, acc in web archive 2 May 2010, screengrab here
  13. Global Futures contact page, version of 2002, accessed in web archive 2/5/2010, screengrab here
  14. Based on Internet archive captures of the funders list published on the Sense about Science website, accessed 5 March 2015.
  15. Job roles in parentheses relate to roles stated on the research
  16. See 'Guidelines on science and health communication', November 2001, Social Issues Research Centre, accessed 12 March 2015
  17. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'MMR: risk, choice, chance', British Medical Bulletin, 2004, Volume 69(1), pp. 143-153.
  18. We support Dr. Andrew Wakefield, accessed 31 January 2011
  19. See: Martin J Walker, Brave New World of Zero Risk: Covert Strategy in British Science Policy, Slingshot Publications, September 2005.
  20. See Michael Fitzpatrick interview, 'Change4Life or life for a change?', WORLDbytes, accessed 5 March 2015
  21. See Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, 'Second opinion: Domestic violence - NOT a healthcare issue', LM 118, p. 43, March 1999.
  22. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'The rise of a pseudo-scientific links lobby: Every day there seems to be a new study making a link between food, chemicals or lifestyle and ill-health. None of them has any link with reality', 24 January 2013, Spiked, accessed 5 March 2015.
  23. For example, see Michael Fitzpatrick 'Aids panic in disarray', Living Marxism, No. 45 - July 1992, p. 17.
  24. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'Aids panic in disarray', Living Marxism, No. 45 - July 1992, p. 17, accessed 9 March 2015.
  25. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'The truth about the Birmingham Aids panic', Living Marxism, No. 46 - August 1992, p. 20, accessed 9 March 2015.
  26. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'Aids panic in disarray', Living Marxism, No. 45 - July 1992, p. 17, accessed 9 March 2015.
  27. See Michael Fitzpatrick, ' Aids panic in disarray', Living Marxism, No. 45 - July 1992, p. 17, accessed 9 March 2015.
  28. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'Aids panic in disarray', Living Marxism, No. 45 - July 1992, p. 17, accessed 9 March 2015.
  29. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'Second Opinion: Domestic violence - NOT a healthcare issue', LM 118, p. 43, March 1999.
  30. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'Doctoring the family', LM 98, March 1998, accessed 9 March 2015.
  31. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'Doctoring the family', LM 98, March 1998.
  32. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'Big girls and health zealots', LM 109, p. 33, April 1998.
  33. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'Warning: Anti-tobacco crusades can damage your life', Living Marxism, No. 94 - October 1996, p. 16.
  34. Who study, debate, and publish reports on various cultural, social and economic issues, with an 'emphasis on the value of personal responsibility'. See 'About Us', Social Affairs Unit website, accessed November 2008
  35. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'Warning: Anti-tobacco crusades can damage your life', Living Marxism, No. 94 - October 1996, p. 16.
  36. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'Exterminate the filthy smokers', LM 108, p. 37, March 1998, accessed 9 March 2015.
  37. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'Child Sex Abuse: Who's really bad?', Living Marxism, No. 60 - October 1993, p. 16.
  38. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'Child Sex Abuse: Who's really bad?', Living Marxism, No. 60 - October 1993, p. 16.
  39. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'Child Sex Abuse: Who's really bad?', Living Marxism, No. 60 - October 1993, p. 16.
  40. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'The great mad cow panic', Living Marxism, No. 90 - May 1996, p. 24.
  41. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'A mad, mad, mad, mad world', Living Marxism, No. 80 - June 1995, p. 17.
  42. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'A mad, mad, mad, mad world', Living Marxism, No. 80 - June 1995, p. 17.
  43. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'The great mad cow panic', Living Marxism, No. 90 - May 1996, p. 24.
  44. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'The great mad cow panic', Living Marxism, No. 90 - May 1996, p. 24.
  45. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'A mad, mad, mad, mad world', Living Marxism, No. 80 - June 1995, p. 17.
  46. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'The great mad cow panic', Living Marxism, No. 90 - May 1996, p. 24.
  47. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'A mad, mad, mad, mad world', Living Marxism, No. 80 - June 1995, p. 17.
  48. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'The great mad cow panic', Living Marxism, No. 90 - May 1996, p. 24.
  49. Michael Fitzpatrick 'Inventing Disease', Risk of Freedom Briefing, Issue No. 12, July 2002, p.2.
  50. Data from Companies House, accessed 19 March 2011
  51. He likely sat on the board from the journal's inception in March 1977, but Issues 1, 2 and 3 of the Papers did not disclose the names of any editor or editorial board.
  52. Based on him writing every editorial from this time forward.
  53. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'The enduring mystery of the ‘autism epidemic’', author biographical note, 27 October 2013, Autistica, accessed 9 March 2015.
  54. For approximate end date see: Michael Fitzpatrick, author archive, biographical note, Spiked, accessed 9 March 2015. This suggests he had retired by the 23rd of August, given that his last article for spiked was written at this time and his author biographical note indicates he was a retired GP.
  55. See Michael Fitzpatrick author archive, BJGP, accessed 5 March 2015.
  56. See Michael Fitzpatrick, search results, Autistica, accessed 9 March 2015.
  57. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'The enduring mystery of the ‘autism epidemic’', author biographical note, 27 October 2013, Autistica, accessed 9 March 2015.
  58. See Michael Fitzpatrick, 'The enduring mystery of the ‘autism epidemic’', author biographical note, 27 October 2013, Autistica, accessed 9 March 2015.
  59. See 'Reassessing the Enlightenment?', 30 October 2005, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  60. See ‘Morbid Fascinations – our obsession with death’, 28 October 2006, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  61. See ‘Playing Balls – why are men becoming obsessed with their health?’, 28 October 2006, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  62. See ‘Post Ideology’, 28 October 2007, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  63. See ‘Frederick Engels’, 28 October 2007, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  64. See ‘Boozy Britain’, 2 November 2008, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  65. See ‘Age of Autism: rethinking 'normal, 12 October 2009, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  66. See ‘Is the NHS institutionally ageist?’, 1 November 2009, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  67. See ‘The war on alcohol: new puritanism or healthy sobriety’, 30 October 2010, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  68. See ‘Your mind, your high: is recreational drug use morally wrong?’, 29 October 2011, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  69. See ‘Can social democracy survive the 21st Century?’, 30 October 2011, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  70. See ‘Atheism: What's the point?’, 21 October 2012, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  71. See ‘The law's drug problem: the challenge of legal highs’, 15 November 2012, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  72. See 'Do as I say not as I do: what's wrong with hypocrisy?', 19 October 2013, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  73. See 'What is addiction?', 19 October 2013, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  74. See ‘Science journalism: the tyranny of evidence?’, 20 October 2013, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  75. See 'The science of public health: where’s the evidence?', 19 October 2014, Battle of Ideas, accessed 27 January 2015
  76. The author is not noted. However, it is assumed this was written by Mike Freeman due to a previous publication The next step, Revolutionary Communist Party [UK], February 1983, No. 32, 24pp. (A3), which indicates Mike Freeman will write an article entitled 'Reclaiming our unions: a new direction for trade union activists' in the April edition. Although the title is different it is the only article on the issue of a new programme for unions.