Brendan O'Neill (columnist)

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Brendan O'Neill
Known forEditor of Spiked (2007–2021) and columnist for The Australian and The Big Issue
Political partyRevolutionary Communist (1990s)

Brendan O'Neill is a British pundit and author. He was the editor of Spiked from 2007 to September 2021, and is its "chief political writer".[1] He has been a columnist for The Australian, The Big Issue, and The Spectator.

Once a Trotskyist, O'Neill was formerly a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and wrote for the party's journal Living Marxism. O'Neill self identifies as a Marxist libertarian.[2][3]


He began his career at Spiked's predecessor, Living Marxism, the journal of the Revolutionary Communist Party, which ceased publication after ITN won their libel action against it.[4]

Since then, O'Neill has contributed articles to publications in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia including The Spectator, the New Statesman, BBC News Online, The Christian Science Monitor, The American Conservative, Salon, Rising East and occasionally blogged for The Guardian,[5] before moving to The Daily Telegraph.[6] He writes a column for The Big Issue in London and The Australian in Sydney. He also writes articles for The Sun.[7]

O'Neill has served[when?] as a visiting fellow and columnist with the Australian libertarian think-tank, the Centre for Independent Studies,[8][non-primary source needed] as well as being a keynote speaker[when?] for the pro-Israel advocacy organisation StandWithUs.[9][verification needed]

Writing as the fictional character "Ethan Greenhart", O'Neill is the author of Can I Recycle My Granny?, a satire of the green movement published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2008.[10][verification needed]


Northern Ireland[edit]

O'Neill is a supporter of a united Ireland, having said that former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is "not the ruler of the six counties, unfortunately, in my view. I am in favour of Irish unity, as it happens."[11]

O'Neill has described the Orange Order as an "organisation which was founded in 1795 with the sole purpose of intimidating Catholics and Irish nationalists" and which "played an important role in defending the sectarian set-up in Northern Ireland and in ensuring that Catholics were denied their basic civil rights." O'Neill has also been critical of the Parades Commission established to monitor parades in Northern Ireland.[12]

O'Neill was critical of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA supported. O'Neill wrote, in a 1998 issue of Living Marxism, "The new peace deal is a disgrace... The biggest losers in all this are the republican movement... [W]hat exactly will the republican communities gain at the end of their 25-year struggle? Sinn Fein and the IRA have not just agreed to down arms. They have effectively signed away everything they once stood for, accepting that there will not be a united Ireland."[13][14]

Sexual abuse[edit]

In a 2012 Huffington Post article,[15] O'Neill argued against victims of sexual abuse by high-profile individuals like Sir Jimmy Savile coming forward publicly, stating: "I think there is more virtue in keeping the abuse as a firm part of your past, rather than offering it up to a scandal-hungry media and abuse-obsessed society that are desperate for more episodes of perversion to pore over".[15][16]


He has characterized the increasing acceptance of homosexuality as "queer imperialism" in terms of LGBT rights being promoted to Russia by western activists.[16][17] He also claims that the depiction of homophobia as "a mental disorder" mirrors the way that homosexuality was once depicted,[18] and criticized the legalization of same-sex marriage in Australia, made possible by public referendum, arguing that it has been "attended by authoritarianism wherever it’s been introduced." He cited concerns it may impinge on religious freedom and feared the demonization of those who disagreed with the expansion of marriage.[19]


He considers efforts to combat racism in football to be "a class war" driven by "elites' utter incomprehension of the mass passions that get aired at football matches".[20] Referring to high-profile cases of racial abuse and alleged racial abuse, he argued, "these incidents and alleged incidents are not racism at all, in the true meaning of the word", due to the levels of passion involved, describing anti-racism efforts as "a pretty poisonous desire to police the ... working classes".[20] In 2020, when football fans booed players taking a knee to protest racism, he wrote that it showed "their disapproval of the colonisation of the beautiful game by the divisive cult of identity politics" and a working class reaction against the "virtue-signalling nonsense of Black Lives Matter". He has also described the far right Football Lads Alliance as a "working-class movement" against "terrorism and the ideologies that fuel it".[21]


O'Neill has described himself as "an atheistic libertarian". He criticised opposition to Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom as intolerant and fearmongering.[22]


O'Neill has opposed efforts to combat climate change through reductions in carbon emissions, and instead advocates for "technological progress".[23] He has said that the environmental movement has become a "religious cult"[24] and a "waging war on the working class".[25] He criticised the Swedish environmentalist activist Greta Thunberg in his 2019 article "The Cult of Greta Thunberg"[26] in which he describes her as a "millenarian weirdo" and criticises what he describes as the "monotone voice" speech patterns[27][28][29][30] of the Swedish environmentalist. O'Neill has described warnings concerning overpopulation as a "Malthusian" interference in women's right to reproductive freedom.[31]


In September 2019, he said on the BBC's Politics Live that British people should be rioting about delays to Brexit.[32] He said: "I'm amazed that there haven't been riots yet." When asked by guest presenter Adam Fleming: "Do you think there will be riots?", O'Neill responded: "I think there should be." In October 2019, 585 complaints about him calling for riots were dismissed by the BBC's executive complaints unit.[33] In 2020, O'Neill called for loud, open celebrations of Brexit, which formally took place on 31 January 2020, describing such celebrations as celebrations of democracy.[34]


In 2020, in relation to COVID-19, he has argued that "this pandemic has shown us what life would be like if environmentalists got their way"[35][36] and condemned the "chilling" and "dangerous" "witch-hunting of those who criticise the response to coronavirus".[37]


  • A Duty to Offend : Selected Essays. Brisbane, Queensland: Connor Court Publishing. 2015. ISBN 9781925138764.
  • Anti-Woke: Selected Essays. Brisbane, Queensland: Connor Court Publishing. 2018. ISBN 9781925826265.


  1. ^ O'Neill, Brendan. "It's time for a change at spiked 27 September 2021". spiked. spiked. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  2. ^ "The Rubin Report 'What is a Marxist Libertarian?". Archived from the original on 17 December 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  3. ^ Marsh, Natasha. "Brendan O'Neill, atheist blogger and the Church's biggest defender". The Catholic Weekly. The Catholic Weekly (Australian).
  4. ^ Well, Matt (31 March 2000). LM closes after losing libel action. The Guardian.
  5. ^ "Brendan O'Neill Profile". London: 3 June 2008. Retrieved 2 March 2009.
  6. ^ "Brendan O'Neill". Telegraph Media Group. Archived from the original on 9 January 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
  7. ^ "Articles by Brendan O'Neill | The Spectator Journalist | Muck Rack".
  8. ^ "Centre for Independent Studies – Brendan O'Neill". Archived from the original on 8 January 2015.
  9. ^ "StandWithUs UK 5th Annual Student Conference".
  10. ^ Can I Recycle My Granny?: And 39 Other Eco-Dilemmas, Ethan Greenhart, Hodder & Stoughton, 2008
  11. ^ "Today with Sean O'Rourke, RTE Radio 1 18/12/20 at 1.11.35". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  12. ^ O'Neill, Brendan (January 1998). "Mo Mowlam's marching orders". Living Marxism. Archived from the original on 1 March 2000.
  13. ^ O'Neill, Brendan (May 1998). "A peace of nothing". Living Marxism. Archived from the original on 8 March 2000.
  14. ^ Aaronovitch, David (24 April 2019). "The shadowy past of Farage's motley crew – Comment". The Times. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  15. ^ a b O'Neill, Brendan (26 December 2012). "If You Were Abused By Jimmy Savile, Maybe You Should Keep It to Yourself". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  16. ^ a b "Students protest Brendan O'Neill's Oxford visit". Cherwell. 9 May 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  17. ^ "Gay-loving Westerners vs redneck Russia". Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  18. ^ "Spiked accused of falling for pro-UAE disinformation campaign". Left Foot Forward. 7 July 2020. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  19. ^ "Gay marriage and the death of freedom". The Spectator. 6 December 2014.
  20. ^ a b "This isn't anti-racism – it's the policing of passion". 10 January 2012. Archived from the original on 9 November 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  21. ^ "From football hooligans to 'one of us': a short history of reaction". openDemocracy. 26 November 2020. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  22. ^ O'Neill, Brendan (13 April 2010). "The Secular Inquisition". Spiked Online. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  23. ^ "Apocalypse, my arse". 9 March 2007.
  24. ^ Plummer, Kate (20 September 2019). "All the worst right-wing hysteria about the climate strike". Scram News. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  25. ^ Dazed (17 October 2019). "Don't be fooled into thinking that climate activism is just for poshos". Dazed. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  26. ^ O'Neill, Brendan (22 April 2019). "The cult of Greta Thunberg". Spiked. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  27. ^ Charlie Hancock (25 April 2019). "Like Greta Thunberg, I am on the autism spectrum. She gives me hope". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  28. ^ Moran, Layla (23 April 2019). "Greta Thunberg has changed the course of history – what has Brendan O'Neill achieved?". The Independent. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  29. ^ Hope, Mat. "Attacks on Greta Thunberg Come from a Coordinated Network of Climate Change Deniers". Teen Vogue. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  30. ^ Silberman, Steve (6 May 2019). "Greta Thunberg became a climate activist not in spite of her autism, but because of it". Vox. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  31. ^ Revkin, Andrew C. (19 January 2011). "Deconstructing a Bestiary of Malthusian 'Miserabilists'". Dot Earth. The New York Times Blog. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  32. ^ "BBC guest says people should riot over Brexit delays: 'Why have the British people been so patient?'". Newsweek. 27 September 2019.
  33. ^ Tobbitt, Charlotte. "BBC dismisses 600 complaints over Brendan O'Neill's Brexit riots claim on Politics LIve". Press Gazette. Press Gazette. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  34. ^ "Ignore the Brexit day party poopers – it's time to celebrate | The Spectator".
  35. ^ "Virus aftermath: Optimism or pessimism about its effect on climate change?". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  36. ^ Hope, Mat; Derler, Zak; Hope, Mat (1 April 2020). "The Coronavirus Crisis: The Dangerous Crossover Between Climate and COVID Denial – Byline Times". Byline Times. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  37. ^ Mondon, Aurelien (29 April 2020). "Opinion: Coronavirus killed populism. Now the only choice is between left and right". The Independent. Retrieved 28 December 2020.

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