Send in the Clowns: Upper Class Twit Edition

I cannot tell you with what malicious glee I read this in the Guardian.

That House has taken the unprecedented step of publishing a “cease and desist” letter on its website demanding that Lord Christopher Monckton, a prominent climate sceptic and the UK Independence party’s head of research, should stop claiming to be a member of the upper house.

The letter, sent by David Beamish, clerk of the parliaments, to Monckton last Friday and now published on the Lords’ website, states: “You are not and have never been a member of the House of Lords. Your assertion that you are a member, but without the right to sit or vote, is a contradiction in terms.”

His Lordship, for those of you not up on one of the sillier turns of the very serious business of climate denialism, is a former hack (in the British sense) who worked in Maggie Thatcher’s policy shop.

That experience, like his education fully prepared him for the job of analyzing the various technical disciplines that go into making climate change predictions.  Monckton possesses an MA in Classics from Cambridge (less impressive than it sounds: Cambridge awards MA’s to any BA who survives the completion of their undergraduate studies for for six years after matriculation), which accompanies his diploma in journalism studies from University College, Cardiff.

Undeterred by any possible lack of knowledge or technical training, Monckton has been one of the stars of the denialist circuit, and no wonder.  He’s a snappy dresser, he talks funny — in a good, Peter Wimsey kind of way, and, by gum, he’s a lord.

Of course, no one loves a lord more than the common folk who inhabit the (former) colonies…

…which is why he was the perfect figure for the Republicans on the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support of the House Committee on Ways and Means to invite as their sole witness  to a hearing in 2009, during which he was slated to “debunk” the threat of anthropogenic climate change.

Of course, hilarity ensued.  Now Monckton has a famously thin skin — when you question his questionable “science” he threatens to sue.  And if you doubt his qualifications, why, he’s a member of the House of Lords.  A Peer. One born to rule.  Hemce  this exchange:

When asked by ABC Sydney’s Adam Spencer if he was a member, he said: “Yes, but without the right to sit or vote … [The Lords] have not yet repealed by act of parliament the letters patent creating the peerage and until they do I am a member of the house, as my passport records. It says I am the Right Honourable Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. So get used to it.”

Or not.  As the letter Mr. Beamish sent to the Second Viscount of Cloud-Cuckoo Land went on to say:

“I must therefore again ask that you desist from claiming to be a member of the House of Lords, either directly or by implication, and also that you desist from claiming to be a member ‘without the right to sit or vote’. I am publishing this letter on the parliamentary website so that anybody who wishes to check whether you are a member of the House of Lords can view this official confirmation that you are not.”

Monckton at this point can fairly be viewed as pathetic.  It’s reached the point where Monckton’s use of a thinly modified version of the emblem of the House of Lords is being examined to see if it is a breach of Britain’s trade mark protections — for which offense penalties can extend to six months in jail.

No sympathy here, or rather bucket-loads of vicious pleasure.  This, after all, is someone whose contempt for the hard work of actually mastering a complex technical field has lead him to advance positions that display reckless disregard for the health and wealth of billions.

Not to mention he’s the kind of asshole who would juxtapose the image of a climate scientist with whom he disagrees with that of a swastika.

So raise a glass to jeer at yet one more poster-child for the ills of a heriditary aristocracy.

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Image:  Joshua Reynolds, Portrait of Thomas Bruce Brudenell-Bruce, later 1st Earl of Ailesbury, in Peer’s Robes, 1776

27 replies
  1. 1
    handy says:

    Obviously the House of Lords, like their future king, are a den of soshulist thugs who want to continue the lucrative racket of environazism and just can’t bear to look at the evidence from the real climate science that the good folks at the oil companies are voluntarily doing right now, because they love humanity and love planet earth.

  2. 2
    Dexter says:

    I thought all Lords automatically become members of the House of Lords. What am I missing?

    ETA: Never mind. Looks like rules for hereditary peers were changed.

  3. 3
    Joel says:

    This guy is clearly a lunatic.

  4. 4
    Zifnab says:

    I’ve been conned by a climate change skeptic! Shock! Awe!

  5. 5
    El Cid says:

    No, no, no, you don’t understand. A long time ago he was a member of the Young Lords, but since then he has moved away from his Puerto Rican independence nationalism and embraced a role supporting the international efforts of the House of Blues.

    Also, Al Gore is fat and has a big house, whereas English aristocrats are never fat and never have big houses.

  6. 6
    shortstop says:

    I love the Guardian so much I want to marry it, but I can’t, because fake liberal Barack Obama secretly hates people who want to marry newspapers, and that’s why he’s doing absolutely nothing for us while pretending he supports us.

  7. 7
    Tom Levenson says:


    In 1999Tony Blair made good on the Labour Party’s long standing ambition to reform the House of Lords to eliminate most of the influence of heriditary peers. Under a compromise adopted then, no more than 92 heriditary peers may sit in the Lords.

  8. 8
    Nutella says:


    You’re out of date. That was changed in 1999, I think.

    A quote from Monckton on another topic where he’s an ‘expert’:

    “there is only one way to stop AIDS. That is to screen the entire population regularly and to quarantine all carriers of the disease for life. Every member of the population should be blood-tested every month … all those found to be infected with the virus, even if only as carriers, should be isolated compulsorily, immediately, and permanently.”

    from Wikipedia

  9. 9
    The Moar You Know says:

    I’m a porn star, everyone always tells me I’m the biggest dick they’ve ever met.

  10. 10
    Yurpean says:

    Monckton is a grade A tosser.

    If you’ve the time and inclination I heartily recommend Abraham’s methodical demolition of Monckton’s supposedly scientific claims. (warning: Flash)

  11. 11
    handy says:


    I bet this guy is a hoot at dinner parties.

  12. 12
    Anonymous37 says:

    Deltoid at Scienceblogs has been on the case for a while: here‘s Tim Lambert on Monkton and his claim that he’s a member of the House of Lords.

  13. 13
    Bruce S says:

    “This guy is clearly a lunatic.”

    Which give him full qualifications to advocate as an expert on all that matters to Congressional Republicans – “The Crazy!”

  14. 14
    iriedc says:

    Climate denial, AIDs nutcasery….Oh Lord, Monckton!

  15. 15
    Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony says:

    I love the Guardian so much I want to marry it, but I can’t, because fake liberal Barack Obama secretly hates people who want to marry newspapers, and that’s why he’s doing absolutely nothing for us while pretending he supports us.

    Shorter shortstop: Help! Help! I’m being oppressed!

  16. 16
    Yurpean says:

    The House of Lords reform is a true kludge. The number of hereditaries is fixed at 92, and when one of them dies, they hold an election to replace them. That’s not the weirdest thing about the process though.

    When they fixed the number, they wanted to ensure that the different parties were represented by the same proportion of hereditaries as pre-abolition, so the number of Tory, Labour, Lib Dem etc peers is fixed, and they hold elections within each section, which results sometimes in elections with only 3 or 4 voters when a Labour or LibDem peer dies.

  17. 17
    manwith7talents says:

    What a great twit!

  18. 18
    Cermet says:

    Like all nobody ass lickers that are inbreed morons, he hopes by being an AGW denier the energy industry will drop crumbs his way – pathetic.

  19. 19
    trollhattan says:


    Wow, “One Lord a-Pantsing.”

    Thanks for the link, I listened to the whole thing.

    At the end of the day, the denialists fall back on every scientist being in the bag of Big Climate(tm) to get funding (although J. Cole got their Soros virgins already, so there!) So the Koch-funded scientists are the only ones you can trust.

    Monkton may be is surely an assclown but he’s not just their assclown. His little shop of horrors is doing some real damage. Check out their papers–it’s a virtual catalog of wingnut anti-science battlegrounds.

  20. 20

    […] Writing about the follies of his lordship, the Third Viscount of Self-Delusion, brought to mind the terrible pun me old mum* used to relish whenever excessive aristocratic pretension loomed. […]

  21. 21
    Roy G says:

    He’s English, therefore, and Upper Class Twat.

  22. 22
    Bill Murray says:

    I thought Lord Mockton was originally up for a place in the Lords of the New Church, but was not allowed in once the confusion between sham science and Sham 69 was cleared up. Monckton has stood for election to the House of Lords 4 times (once as a conservative, thrice as a cross-bencher) but does not seem to have yet garnered a vote.

  23. 23
    Brain Hertz says:

    Cambridge awards MA’s to any BA who survives the completion of their undergraduate studies for for six years after matriculation

    (The actual requirement has changed over the years, so it’s not certain that Monckton’s BA to MA was an automatic post graduation thing).

    The other oddity about Cambridge’s (and Oxford’s) degrees are that you end up with an MA irrespective of the subject. I have one myself – in electrical engineering.

    But given how long the two institutions have been around (Cambridge was founded in 1284, Oxford in 1249), their claim is that it’s all the other universities around the world that have strange systems.

  24. 24
    handsmile says:

    I first posted a link to this Guardian story on a mistermix open thread yesterday morning, so hat tip to me I guess.

    Certainly did appreciate the additional context provided here, however, especially learning about Monckton’s appearance before the House subcommittee.

    With this article bequeathing the “Lord” such widespread derision (it was listed among the Guardian’s “Top 5 Viewed” stories for much of yesterday), I will be curious to see whether he continues to be addressed by this fraudulently-claimed title in future interviews and public appearances. I suspect he may insist which should only compound the mockery.

  25. 25
    Tom Levenson says:

    @handsmile: I didn’t tip the hat ’cause I didn’t see that you too had caught this, alas.

    One thing though–Monckton’s title isn’t bogus. He is in fact the third viscount of whatever. It’s just that he’s not a member of the House of Lords, and hence has no role in government, as such membership would indicate.

  26. 26
    Tehanu says:

    I used to know (slightly) a member of the Lords – a hereditary peer who’s still there after managing to hang on after the big change. Say what you will about the whole idea, but this particular lord, although I don’t agree with him on lots of things, is a serious, dedicated, knowledgeable worker specializing in trade relations with Eastern Europe and the Near East — not exactly a glamor area. So I don’t have quite the a la lanterne! attitude I might otherwise have about aristocratic politicians.

  27. 27
    handsmile says:

    Tom Levenson (#25):

    Thanks for your response! I do hope that my comment read as more sheepish than churlish.

    I appreciate your point of clarification about titles. Unschooled in the nuanced nomenclature of aristocratic peerage, I had thought that only sitting members of the House of Lords could be addressed by that title. Viscounts, barons, earls, etc. would be identified by their specific honorific, thus Viscount Monckton.

    Ah, England, that septic isle! (a favorite pun of the Guardian’s Marina Hyde)

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