Simon Webb Has Written a Book on British Concentration Camps

Readers of this blog will be well aware that I have extremely mixed views about Simon Webb and History Debunked. I don’t share his High Toryism, heading into the ideological territory of parties like Reform, Reclaim or Patriotic Alternative, for example. I particularly reject his views that the IQ difference between Blacks and Whites is biologically determined, and that there is a further biological difference in IQ between Whites and Asians. Some of what he’s written about African history is just plain wrong, such as the statement that before the White man arrived, Black Africa was stuck in the Bronze Age. Not true – the Bantu cultures spread throughout Africa were very firmly Iron Age, as were the Kordofanian and Nilotic peoples and those of Ethiopia. His videos about the decline of South Africa after the end of apartheid and Zimbabwe after it passed to Black majority rule and the horrific dictatorship of Mugabe seem to be based on a nostalgia for White colonial rule.

But sometimes he also says something interesting and important. Looking through his website, there’s a piece on the non-fiction books he has written. Three are mentioned – one on the Suffragette Bombers, subtitled ‘Britain’s Forgotten Terrorists’, another on 1919; Britain’s Year of Revolution, which probably explains why he disputes the memorialization of Philip Wootton in Liverpool as an innocent victim of lynching, rather than a violent thug. But it’s the third that interests me here. This is British Concentration Camps: A Brief History from 1900-1975, published by Pen & Sword like his other books. He describes this book thus:

‘For many of us, the very expression ‘Concentration Camp’ is inextricably linked to Nazi Germany and the horrors of the Holocaust. The idea of British concentration camps is a strange and unsettling one. It was however the British, rather than the Germans, who were the chief driving force behind the development and use of concentration camps in the Twentieth Century. The operation by the British army of concentration camps during the Boer War led to the deaths of tens of thousands of children from starvation and disease. More recently, slave-labourers confined in a nationwide network of camps played an integral role in Britain’s post-war prosperity. In 1947, a quarter of the country’s agricultural workforce were prisoners in labour camps. Not only did the British government run their own concentration camps, they willingly acquiesced in the setting up of such establishments in the United Kingdom by other countries. During and after the Second World War, the Polish government-in-exile maintained a number of camps in Scotland where Jews, communists and homosexuals were imprisoned and sometimes killed. This book tells the terrible story of Britain’s involvement in the use of concentration camps, which did not finally end until the last political prisoners being held behind barbed wire in the United Kingdom were released in 1975. From England to Cyprus, Scotland to Malaya, Kenya to Northern Ireland; British Concentration Camps; A Brief History from 1900 to 1975 details some of the most shocking and least known events in British history.’

This looks like solid scholarship, and one those of us on the left can get behind. One of the female commenters on this blog years ago, a very staunch socialist, sent me information about the forced labour camps set up by the Labour party in the 1930s supposedly to train unemployed workers into the habit of working again. This was relevant because it was based on the same squalid attitude as Blair’s ‘welfare to work’ policy, in which the unemployed were only to be given their dole if they did unpaid work for various companies, including charities like Tomorrow’s People, and the big supermarkets. The declassification of government documents a few years ago following a court case brought by the victims of the brutal methods Britain used to suppress the Mao Mao in Kenya has resulted in another book about the concentration camps set up by Britain there, Africa’s Secret Gulags. Some of this book sounds very similar to John Newsinger’s book about the horrors committed under British imperialism, The Blood Never Dried. Newsinger is very much a man of the left, but his book also describes the atrocities committed by Britain when attempting to quell the independence forces of Britain’s former colonies. I did not know, however, about the concentration camps set up north of the border by the Polish government in exile to persecute its political enemies, including the same people targeted by the Nazis, Jews and gays.

The book and his research on this shocking topic clearly impressed others on the left. In the journalism section on his website there’s an article he wrote about it for Jacobin, a left-wing journal. He’s also written a fourth book, on the Barbary pirates, but this isn’t mentioned on his website.

In writing the book on British concentration camps, Webb’s clearly done something that can be supported by the left in bringing to light the way the British state and its allies have used forced labour and similar camps to exert its control in the home country and across its colonies. Brutal methods that should concern anyone who believes in democracy, human rights and humane government.



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5 Responses to “Simon Webb Has Written a Book on British Concentration Camps”

  1. Mark Pattie Says:

    Interesting as always. I wonder if Simon Webb is a fan of Sargon, as they seem to inhabit the same sort of anti-feminist, right-wing milieu. Certainly some of the suffragettes were violent, but describing them as “terrorists” is surely a bit over the top. I suspect he thinks the late, great Mr Mandela was a terrorist as well. That being said, SW is not an Islamophobe, despite his obsession with crimes committed by Pakistanis and Somalis- although he seems to have a point about those particular ethnicities being overrepresented when it comes to grooming gangs, for instance. Re his political affiliations: I suspect he was/is a Ukip supporter, but probably left when Herr von Batten took over.

    • beastrabban Says:

      I don’t know about his relationship with Sargon and the Lotus Eaters – I don’t think he’s been on their channel. He has, however, been a guest of the New Culture Forum. Regarding the book on the suffragettes, it might be that it’s just on the violent wing of the movement, who could be described fairly as terrorists. Years ago there was an item on the women’s suffrage movement on Pebble Mill. That tells you have long ago it was!. One of the guests was from the feminist Fawcett Library, and she drew a sharp distinction between the suffragists, who were the non-violent part of the movement, and the suffragettes, who were the mad violent part. She was very insistent on commemorating the suffragists, rather than the suffragettes.

      As for Nelson Mandela, Webb has put up a video about him stating that he was the one responsible for the ANC’s turn to terrorism, though he doesn’t blame him for doing so under the very repressive circumstances of the apartheid regime. His attitude, if I remember correctly, was that Mandela and the others were more or less forced into it because the Afrikaner National Party had taken absolutely no notice of their peaceful protests and attempts at overturning discrimination.

      • Mark Pattie Says:

        Re his position on Mandela- I hate to say it but I think SW is a hypocrite. He says he doesn’t blame Mandela given the cruelties of the Apartheid regime- but in another video he seems to excuse away that very same Apartheid regime! No doubt he does so to grift to the very worst of his commenters. I don’t believe he supports PA/BF (my best guess is Reclaim or Ukip), but I think he *would* join them if they ditched the outright Hitler-worship and antisemitism.

  2. Que? Says:

    A stopped clock is right twice a day.

    I have to give some HD/SW some credit. He’s ain’t that bad when it comes to British history.
    However, he is a major grifter and I certainly wouldn’t trust anything he says outside of British history, especially when it comes to African and Middle Eastern histories.

    I agree with Mark Pattie’s reply. SW/HD is a major hypocrite.

    • Mark Pattie Says:

      I am amazed he mentioned the fact that the British used concentration camps against the Boers in 1899. I’m sure Certain Sections of his base (the PA-ers and BF-ers) would not like the idea of us going to war and torturing a fellow Germanic-speaking (and, dare I say it, white) ethnic group. Then again, Hitler invaded Denmark and Norway, Putin has laid siege to Ukraine (a fellow Slavic-speaking Christian country), and the Chinese have been in Tibet for 63 years now despite their similar-ish language (although the Tibetans are ethnically distinct from Han Chinese).

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