Posts Tagged ‘League of St. George’

A Memoir of a Brutal Life in British Fascism

May 29, 2014

Matthew Collins book

Matthew Collins, Hate: My Life in the British Far Right (London: Biteback Publishing 2011). With a foreword by Billy Bragg.

This is a grim book about grim people. Extremely grim and unpleasant people. The kind of people Norman Stanley Fletcher, the balladeer of H.M. Prison Slade, used to describe as ‘charmless nerks’. Collins is a writer and researcher for the anti-Fascist magazine, Searchlight. The blurb on the back describes him as the organisation’s Northern Ireland correspondent, and states that he is noted for his work exposing the English Defence League. Before he joined Searchlight, he was a committed member of the Far Right. This is his account of his passage through the various British Fascist parties and their allies – the NF, the BNP, Combat 18 and the UDA, before disgust at their leadership and extreme brutality led him to contact Searchlight. His part in exposing a still unnamed Sun journalist as an NF member and a World In Action documentary into Combat 18, supplying arms to the UDA, eventually forced him to flee England for Australia. He spent 10 years in Oz, enjoying a life of carefree pleasure, meaningless sex, and marriage, before finally returning to Blighty to continue the struggle.

Unlike other, more academic books, which analyse the NF, BNP and related Fascist organisations from the perspective of their ideologies, electoral performance and demographic composition of their membership, Collins autobiographical account describes what life in the Far Right is actually like for the rank-and-file members. These are the storm troopers, who spend their weekends travelling across Britain to parade on marches, attend speeches and rallies, and get extremely drunk, threaten and beat up ‘Reds’, Blacks, Asians, gays, and just about anyone and everyone they don’t like. Which really could be anyone and everyone. There’s a description in the book of how the NF’s storm troopers trashed a pub during a weekend away in Brighton, simply because one of the barmaids objected to one of the skinhead thugs attempting to grab the phone from her hand and demanding that she call him a taxi. Collins makes it extremely clear that these are extremely violent, brutal men.

The ‘Political Soldier’ NF

Collins joined after the NF had split into two factions. One of these, led by Griffin, was the ‘Political Soldier’ movement, This took its inspiration from Roberto Fiore and other terrorists from the Italian Forza Nuova. They were attempting to stem the drift away from Fascism under Thatcher by developing new ideological strands, some of which were more left-wing. They took over elements from Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya and revolutionary Iran. Some aspects of these new ideologies were more left-wing than the NF’s usual stance. For example, during the Miners’ Strike one faction within the NF offered help to the strikers, which Scargill obviously declined. The rank-and-file members weren’t interested in this. Collins says they had no interest in going to a remote farmhouse to answer detailed questions on their personal political and religious convictions. They are really interested in getting drunk and beating someone to a pulp.

Fascism and Political Violence

And the violence is very, very brutal. Far more brutal than the gang fights kids get into a school. It takes no account of age or gender, and continues even when the victim is on the floor. These are people, who by and large think nothing of maiming and ultimately killing their victims. Collins describes how deeply ashamed he was at taking part in a BNP attack on an anti-Fascist meeting at Welling Library, during which 17 people were hospitalised. Nearly all of these were women. Most of them were Asians, worried about the safety of their children in an area with so much racist violence against them. One of the intended victims was pregnant, and locked herself in the ladies’ loos for safety, while the men outside tried to get in to attack her and her unborn child. On their way in, they punched Geoffrey Dixon, the Labour councillor for Greenwich and the caretaker to the floor, and then stamped on them. Collins states that the caretaker never worked again. Some of the victims were so terrified that they jumped from the windows – the meeting was held on the first floor – to escape. Collins states that he and one of the other storm troopers were the only ones to hit men during the assault, which even sickened the other Fascist. Collins himself was so shocked and disgusted that he left and rejoined the NF for a while. Later on Collins tells how the BNP and its supporting football hooligans attacked the Liberal candidate for Bermondsey, Simon Hughes, in his battle bus.

Fascist Violence and Intimidation at University Meeting

And Fascists behave no better when in an academic environment. Collins describes the atmosphere of threat, intimidation and abuse produced by the BNP when they organised an event at which David Irving, the notorious holocaust denier, spoke. Collins does not give the name of the institution, which hosted the meeting, but states that it was held – incredibly – in the International Students’ House. The BNP stewarding the event effectively take over the library, at one point stopping the terrified students from leaving, then allowing them to come and go as they wish, but under their supervision. Seeing a group from anti-Fascist Action outside the window, the Nazis immediately begin to make ape noises and shout challenges and anti-Semitic abuse. They also generally behave as drunken louts, indecently exposing themselves, tearing books off shelves, and intruding into small, private discussion groups. A few tried to pick up two African girls, while another tried to press his unwelcome attentions on a blonde woman, who shut herself in her office, leaving the offended Nazi banging on the door and loudly declaring his love and sexual intentions outside. Collins describes it as like a prison riot.

This description of the loutish antics of the BNP, even in an academic environment, is important. In the 1980s a number of branches of the Students’ Union passed rules stating that the Union was a ‘no platform for racists and Fascists’. It’s a controversial decision, as some, who are definitely not Fascists or Fascist sympathisers, feel that it’s anti-democratic. There was also obviously enormous controversy when the Oxford Union back in the 1990s invited Irving to speak. Collins description of this episode and the aggressive, threatening and generally disgusting behaviour by the BNP actually shows you how wise the Anti-Fascist groups are to try and keep them off campus, if only to protect the students themselves, regardless of any wider political issues.

Fascists Personally Sad Inadequates

There’s a danger in that describing violence, whether by Fascists or any other group of thugs, can also glamorise it, making it appear attractive, even admirable. Collins avoids this. He makes it very clear how brutal and unpleasant it actually is, how ashamed he is of his part in it, and how sad and pathetic the men involved actually are. Pathetic? Yes, really. He states that by and large, the members of the Far Right are so unattractive to the opposite gender that they have actually little chance of getting girlfriends or having any kind of sex life. Collins does seem to have had a string of extremely short-term relationships, but they mostly never called him back. He mostly solved his own problems in finding female company through amassing a collection of porn and self-abuse. When he did finally succeed in getting what looked like a long-term relationship, the girl left him because she couldn’t take his involvement in Fascism and its dangers any longer. He is particularly scathing about the sexual inadequacies of his fellow Fascists, and their lack of physical endowment. It’s low stuff, but it makes them unattractive at the level such groups aim at. You consider the way violent criminals, like East End White gangsters, and gangsta rappers, are often portrayed surrounded by attractive young women. The message of those images is that if you were similarly a vicious hard man, you too will have girls flinging themselves at you. Collins here shows that in the case of Fascism, this very definitely will not happen. The only people within the Fascist milieu that have any kind of sex life are the skinheads, and he’s not impressed with them. He sees them as quite squalid individuals, fathering children with three or four different women, who in turn have other kids by three or four different fathers. The men just seem to use them purely for sex, and he describes the skinhead girls as going from one meaningless, squalid relationship to another with a mattress tied to their backs.

NF’s Ian Anderson More Basil Fawlty than Hitler

Some of the Fascist leaders are also less than impressive up close. Collins describes Ian Anderson, the leader of the NF faction he joined, as a rather Fawlty-esque figure. Anderson had a vicious temper, flying into abusive rages whenever anything went wrong, to the point where Collins calls him ‘Angry Anderson’. An Oxford drop out, Anderson was physically scruffy and his house a mess. Collins describes him wearing worn, threadbare suits. His living room floor was covered with newspapers and other rubbish. His furniture was similarly worn and threadbare. His settee had no seat, so that if you sat on it, you were effectively sitting on the floor. At one point the house is such a mess that the other leading storm troopers don’t want to go there for meetings.

Anderson was trying to lead his faction of the NF away from anti-Semitism in an attempt to make it more electorally respectable. Collins states that some of his fellow storm troopers shared his views. One of his friends told him that while they hated non-Whites, they really didn’t understand the hatred of the Jews. This policy was not having much success, however, and Anderson’s NF were losing members fast due to competition from the much more aggressive and overtly Nazi BNP, led by Richard Edmonds and Tyndall. Collins and many of the other members were left dispirited and disillusioned by Anderson’s leadership. Turnout at parades and marches were tiny often as low as thirty. Towards the end of that section of the NF, they were reaching as low as perhaps ten or twelve. Anderson himself also seemed to regard the NF as a business, to provide him with a personal income, at one point asking the party’s governing body to give him £8,000. Even here, his management was not very business-like. Orders and correspondence went unread, and cheques weren’t cashed or paid in. Faced with this venality and incompetence, Collins and many others left to join the BNP.

BNP Nazi, Viciously Anti-Semitic

These were overtly, aggressively Nazi. Not only did their literature deny the reality of the Holocaust, but its members also looked forward to a similar policy of racial extermination. Collins states that when he was in there, although in his calmer moments he wanted a bloodless, painful removal of Jews and non-Whites from Britain, he also dreamed of sending them ‘to the East’, as the Nazis deported the Jews and their other victims to the concentration camps. The BNP also had links to surviving Nazis and members of Mosley’s BUF. He describes the chaos and violence at the Kensington Library meeting, which ultimately led to the formation of the extremely violent Combat 18. This was a meeting of the League of St. George, whose doorman was dressed in full Nazi regalia. This was gatecrashed by Searchlight’s Gerry Gable and a squad of about fifty anti-Fascists. Despite Gable’s appeal for calm, the meeting degenerated into violence and the Nazis were given a vicious beating.

Origins of Combat 18

Combat 18’s origins are murky, and there is considerable evidence of state involvement. Charlie Sargent, its founder, whom Collins describes as ‘an overweight, knife-carrying, drug-peddling lout’, was later revealed to be a police informer. Harold Covington, who was also involved in its foundation, may also have been connected to the American intelligence services. I have seen the accusation that Combat 18 was set up the FBI to act as a honey trap for the Far Right. Collins mentions him, but only to say that he was small fry compared to William Pierce, the writer of the notorious Turner Diaries, and the US National Alliance. Covington was also unpalatable to many British Nazis because of his support for the IRA and connections to American Nazi IRA supporters, like Sean Maguire.

BNP Connections to Ulster Protestant Terror Groups

Far more acceptable to British Nazis was the UDA, and Collins describes how he and another BNP member, Eddie Whicker, answered the UDA’s request for British members to provide them with support. The BNP and its members were later revealed by World In Action attempting to supply them with guns. Collins himself appears to have been less than impressed with them. He states that their magazine, Ulster, was full of tradition and history, but had very little in the way of ideology. The UDA seemed actually not to know what it is they stood for, except that they didn’t want to be governed by Ireland or indeed anybody else. They were also poorly armed and equipped compared to the IRA. And while they were desperate for British Fascist support, they were less keen on their racism. One issue of Ulster contained an order for attacks on Chinese restaurateurs in the Six Counties to stop. This, however, seems to have been rejected in recent years, as there has apparently been a rise in racist attacks by Ulster Loyalists, disenchanted with the Good Friday agreement. In addition to attacking Leftists, Blacks, Asians and gays, the NF and BNP also laid into Irish Republicans and the ‘Troops Out’ movement when they organised their marches.

Hooligans and Political Use of violence

Taking part and supporting the Fascists in their violence were an assortment of football hooligans. These include various casuals, as well as hardened hooligan ‘firms’ like the Nutty Turn Out, and, of course, Millwall. The NF and BNP journey up and down the country in their campaigns, including the northern industrial towns where they attempt to intimidate the local Black and Asian populations. Much of the campaigning and violence takes place in the East End of London and Brick Lane, which has a long tradition of racist violence and resistance to racists since Mosley and his squadristi in the 1930s. Zadie Smith describes the racist violence in the area, and a fictional Asian group, the Bengal Tigers, set up to fight back against the Nazis, in her novel, Brick Lane. Collins also goes into the various motives the NF and BNP have for campaigning. He and many other Fascists had absolute contempt for parliament and democracy, and due to their repeated electoral failures many of them saw standing in elections as a waste of time. Their real focus was on expanding Nazi power through control of the streets. Nevertheless, standing in elections acted as a recruiting tool. They also regarded it as an instrument through which they could make race relations worse, and drum up even more hatred. This should be borne in mind the next time the BNP or any other Far Right group puts forward candidates at an election. They have no intention of making things better for society, only in creating further discord and violence. As for the Derek Beackon and the other NF members, who became the first elected BNP local councillors in Tower Hamlets, Collins states that when he met him was always drunk. He is also immensely proud of the way he and Searchlight managed to have all but two of the seven storm troopers lose their seats at the next elections.

Recruitment through Racial Tensions Created by ‘Satanic Verses’ Controversy

Collins also provides insight into the way the BNP and NF exploited racial tension created by Muslim outrage at Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. He states that for the Far Right, it was simply a case of attacking Asians as usual. However, it allowed them to gain support from Whites frightened by the rise in Muslim assertiveness and aggression.

Conservatives and the Fascist Right

Also linked to the NF and the BNP were extreme Right-wing Tories, such as Western Gaols. Collins describes attending the meeting at the Sudeley Room at House of Lords, where the meeting was addressed by the South African Conservative MP, Clive Derby-Lewis. Later on, as his disenchantment with Fascism increases, another Tory, Adrian Davies, invites him to join the Conservatives and acts as his alibi when he is forced to hide out in Spain for a week, following his exposure of the Sun journalist as a Nazi.

Background of Fascist Members and Supporters

Collins book is also important in that it provides an insight into the background and type of men drawn to the NF. Collins’ father was Irish, though Collins himself didn’t realise this for much of his childhood, and it didn’t matter much to him after he found out. Unsuited to married life, his father gradually became more and more distant from his family until the marriage broke down completely and he left. His family were poor working class, and Collins was a poor, underperforming pupil at school. A remark from his father that if he was Roman Catholic, there’d be no Blacks at his school, and thinking about his family poverty and deprivation led him to conclude, as undoubtedly so many angry poor Whites did, that it was caused by Black and Asians.

His family were also Tories, who read the Daily Mail, watched Jim Davidson, and he fully supported Thatcher’s attack on the miners and Norman Tebbit’s demand that the unemployed should get on their bikes. This anger and alienation led him first to argue with the Leftist teachers at his school, and to borrow books on modern Fascism from the school library. He then moved on to actively looking for literature and trying to join the NF. A copy of British Nationalist pushed through the front door allowed him to make contact with the Richard Edmonds, the BNP’s leader. A meeting with five members of the NF in the local pub impressed him with how normal they were, and their stories about Richard Edmonds led him to join the NF. In the event, he and a number of others ended up in both organisations, with Edmonds and Anderson each asking him to spy on the other’s party. Collins joined when he was very young – only 15 – in 1987, and spent six years in the organisation before being forced to flee the country to escape them when he was 21.

Growth of Fascism and New Labour’s Abandonment of Working Class

He states in the book that part of the rise in the Far Right was due to New Labour’s turn away from the working class. There is also jealousy and resentment at the way Black and Asian culture was celebrated and encouraged, while White working class culture was given no such assistance and enjoyed no similar amenities. These are important points. Owen Jones in the chapter ‘Backlash’ in Chavs argues that New Labour’s abandonment of the White working class for the middle class, and its celebration of Black and Asian culture, although entirely right, has also led many working class Whites to feel abandoned and resentful of the supposed privileges of non-Whites.

This is now extremely important, with the victory in the European elections of extreme Right-wing, populist parties like UKIP and the French Front National. UKIP is anti-immigrant, but has a policy of weeding out Fascists, although it does seem to have an incredible amount of them. Its members are, however, mainly older, working class people, who feel that the established parties, particularly New Labour, have abandoned them.

The book does provide a fascinating insight into what life in the Far Right is actually like for the average storm trooper, as well as giving Collins account of how he became so disgusted with them that he ended up not only working for Searchlight and then Special Branch, the latter not entirely willingly. There are problems, however. As a member of Searchlight, Collins is of course biased in their favour. While they have done a great deal of good in exposing the Far Right and its activities, other anti-Fascists have complained that Gable and Searchlight have smeared them and accused of being Fascists when they have pursued their own investigations independently. They have also accused it of appropriating their work, when this has subsequently been proven to be the more correct. See, for example, Matthew Kalman and John Murray’s article about the smears directed at them and Larry O’Hara, ‘Another Searchlight Smear Job’, in Lobster 30: 26-7. O’Hara has similarly attacked the World In Action documentary on the Far Right for its inaccuracies. Nevertheless, it’s still an important, gripping book for its personal account of the British Far Right during the late ’80s and early ’90s, its connections and the personal lives and motivations of its members.

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Western Goals, the Tories and Links to Fascism

March 2, 2014

Daniel Hannan

Daniel Hannan, Eurosceptic Tory MP and opponent of the NHS

Earlier this week I reblogged an article from Guy Debord’s Cat critiquing the assertion by Daniel Hanna the idea of the BNP are ‘Left-wing’. Hannan is the Conservative MEP for Dorset, who wishes Britain to leave the EU and supports the privatisation of the NHS. His claim that the BNP is Left-wing follows the line of the American and Canadian Conservatives that Fascism is a form of Socialism. It is true that both Italian Fascism and the Nazi party contained socialist elements. Mussolini was originally a radical Socialist, who broke with the Italian socialist party because of his support for Italian intervention in the First World War. Both the Nazis and the Fascists allied with traditional right-wing Conservative groups to gain and hold on to power. Mussolini declared that the Fascists were the party of pure, ‘Manchester school’ laissez-faire economics. Hitler attempted to win over German industrialists by stating that ‘private property cannot survive an age of democracy’, and so private industry needed his personal dictatorship to survive. He made it clear that he would not nationalise any industry or enterprise, unless it was extremely badly run, and declared his support for the upper classes and the industrialists, as they had proven their social and physical superiority to everyone else by achieving their social position by their own efforts. It’s a statement that very clearly demonstrates the influence of social Darwinism on Hitler.

In Britain it is true that some left-wingers joined the BUF because of its apparently anti-capitalist programme. Many of the British Fascist groups, however, consisted of extreme Right-wing, Die-Hard Conservatives, worried about the threat of organised labour and subversions by foreign industrialists, such as the Anglo-German Jewish industrialist, Mond. The British Fascisti in the 1920s consisted of middle class ladies and senior military officers, and supplied blackleg labour to break up strikes. They strenuously rejected Oswald Mosely’s advocacy of a corporative state on the model of Mussolini’s Italy as ‘socialism’. All of the British Fascist groups were extremely nationalistic and anti-Semitic.

Maggie’s Militant Tendency and the Union of Conservative Students

Although the Tory Die-Hards and their support for Fascism did not survive World War II, there were nevertheless individuals and groups with the Conservative party that were extremely sympathetic to the Far Right. In the 1980s Margaret Thatcher had a Panorama documentary, ‘Maggies’ Militant Tendency’, pulled from the airwaves as the programme argued that the Conservative party had been infiltrated by Fascists, just as Labour had been by the Far Left group, Militant Tendency. There was also a scandal when one of the leaders of the Union of Conservative Students in Northern Ireland, Tinnies, declared their support for Far Right policies. Tinnies stated that they were ‘all Thatcherite achievers, but if Mrs Thatcher doesn’t want us, we will go to the Far Right’. The British parapolitical magazine, Lobster, in issue 21 carried an article on another group with links to Fascism within the Tory party, Western Goals (UK).

Western Goals

Western Goals (UK) was the British branch of the American Conservative organisation, the Western Goals Foundation. During its career, Western Goals had links to and supported the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, acting as a conduit for Oliver North’s funding of them according to a report of the Tower Commission. Its British subsidiary had links with the World Anti-Communist League, the British Anti-Communist League, the American Conservative groups the Conservative Action Foundation (CAF), the Committee to Defend the Constitution (CDC) as well as CAUSA, a front organisation for the Moonies, which supplied funds to the CAF. It also had links to the pro-Apartheid South African Conservative party, and also supported the Neo-Nazi German Republican Party and the French Front National, as well as El Salvador’s ruling Arena Party. There was also contact with the BNP, the League of St. George and David Irving’s Focus Group.

Western Goals (UK) parent organisation, the Western Goals Foundation, was set up in America in 1979 by Larry McDonald, an extreme Right-wing Georgia congressman with support from General John Singlaub. It was chaired by Linda Guell with Carl ‘Spitz’ Channell as its president. Western Goals (UK) was launched six years later May 1985, when Linda Guell visited Britain. By this time Western Goals also had a branch in Germany, and had run a series of TV adverts supporting the Contras. Both McDonald and Singlaub were linked to the Conservative Action Group, and Singlaub also had ties to the World Anti-Communist League.

Western Goals (UK) first director was the Young Conservative, Paul Masson. It also had a parliamentary advisor board, whose membership included the Rev. Martin Smyth, Patrick Wall, Nicholas Winterton, Neil Hamilton, Bill Walker and Stefan Terlezki, a former MP. Patrick Wall was also president of the British Anti-Communist Council, which was at the time a branch of the World Anti-Communist League. Peter Dally, another leading figure of BACC, was also president at the launch of Western Goals (UK). Terlezki was also a leading member in the British section of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN). In March 1986 the anti-Fascist magazine, Searchlight, reported that Paul Masson had become a member of the ABN’s International Youth Committee, and that a delegation had been sent to them by the Young Monday Club consisting of Masson, David Neil-Smith, A.V.R. Smith and Adrian Lee.

‘Spitz’ Channell and Tax Fraud

In late 1986 Western Goals (UK) split with its American parent. This was partly due to the scandal over the Tower Reports finding of its funding of the Contras. More importantly, ‘Spitz’ Channell had admitted tax fraud. Western Goals (UK) therefore separated from the Western Goals Foundation, which was effectively wound up and absorbed into the Larry McDonald Trust. The split was, however, a difference without distinction, as the supposedly independent Western Goals (UK) still retained links to the Larry McDonald Trust.

Attacks on ‘Left-wing’ Charities

In 1986 and 1987 Western Goals played a leading role, with other Right-wing organisations such as the anti-trade union Economic League, in attacking the charities Oxfam, Cafod and War on Want. They also produced a report attacking Christian Aid. In October the same year Western Goals (UK) also held a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference attacking the charities under the title ‘Alms for the Poor or Arms for Communism?’. In 1989 they sent a report on the above charities involved in Central America Week to the Charities’ Commission. The report was produced by Michael McCrone and Gideon Sherman, the childhood friend of the Right-wing blogger, ‘Guido Fawkes’.

Claims of Communists in Labour, Liberals and Attacks on Livingstone for Pro-Gay Stance

During the 1987 election, they also produced as briefing paper containing the details of ‘Communist aligned’ Labour and Liberal candidates, which was circulated to Tory MPs and their friends in the media. It became the basis for a four page report in the Daily Mail. In August the same year the Kilburn Times reported that they had launched an attack on Ken Livingstone for his support of gay issues. They stated

Livingstone and his friends in London’s Labour councils want to encourage more homosexuals to come out of the closet and spread their perverted filth. The gay rights policy which he is preparing to put before Parliament in the Autumn is typical of someone who is working to destroy the family and traditional family values. It will mean more danger of AIDS and that is just what Britain’s enemies want.

The following year, in 1988, members of CAUSA, CAF and CDC addressed one Western Goals’ meetings. *In January 1989 there was a report that Stuart Northolt and A.V.R. Smith of Western Goals (UK) were collaborating with David Finzer, the general secretary of the World Youth Freedom League, WACL’s youth wing, and who was also linked to CAF and the CDC, to raise money for an international conference on ‘self defence for Eastern Europe’.

Jonas Savimbi and UNITA

It was also in 1988 that Western Goals (UK) claimed to have an ‘African desk’, although this was probably just a grandiose way of referring to Northolt and Smith. Western Goals (UK) also participated in organising a visit that July to Britain of Jonas Savimbi of UNITA in Angola. They held a briefing with him at the House of Commons, claiming it was attended by 20 MPs belonging to their organisation. There is some question over this, as Western Goals (UK)’s parliamentary advisory body had ceased to function by this time, and there is no evidence that the Tory MPs Winterton, Hamilton or Walker were still involved with them. Another Tory MP, Stefan Terlezki, had left the House of Commons.

Opposition to War Crimes Trials in Britain

In February 1989 Western Goals issued a press release criticising the proposal to allow war crimes’ trials in Britain. They condemned such trials as a ‘Communist disinformation ploy’. The statement was issued on notepaper listing the names of their vice-presidents, one of whom was the Unionist MP, the Rev. Martin Smyth. Smyth then resigned, as he had actively campaigned for the trial of Nazi war criminals.

UNITA and the South African Conservative Party

Later that year in June they issued a ‘discussion paper’, Namibia – What Kind of Independence?, which strongly favoured South Africa and Angola’s UNITA. They also issued the pamphlet, ANC/IRA Partners in Terror, which was timed to coincide with the visit to Britain of the leader and foreign affairs spokesman of the South African Conservative Party, Andries Treunicht and Clive Derby-Lewis. This was presented as having been organised by the Anglo-South African Fellowship. In reality it was organised by Western Goals, with A.V.R. Smith dealing with PR. The meeting’s press release also contained the contact details of Gregory Lauder-Frost and Christopher Forster. In addition to being members of Western Goals, Lauder-Frost was also chair of the Monday Club’s Foreign Affairs’ Committee, while Forster was also chair of the Anglo-South African Fellowship.

European Dawn and the Leader of El Salvador’s Death Squads

By the time of the 1989 Conservative Party conference, they had adopted an explicitly pro-Fascist stance. It was then that Western Goals (UK) launched their magazine, European Dawn. The magazine announced that it was ‘published by Western Goals (UK) on behalf of YEWF’ – the latter organisation was the Young Europeans for World Freedom, WACL’s youth organisation. So far, only two issues of European Dawn are known to have been published. The logo featured the kind of Celtic cross adopted by the British National Party. It was edited by Northolt and produced by Smith, publishing articles supporting the Front National in France and the Neo-Nazi Republican Party in Germany. The first issue was also accompanied by a covering letter by Northolt, which mentioned that the organisation’s executive committee had held a private dinner, at which the guest of honour was Major Roberto D’Aubuisson. D’Aubuisson was a member of El Salvador’s governing Arena Party, and one of the organisers of its death squads. According to Northolt, D’Aubuisson had agreed to become an honorary patron of Western Goals (UK).

European Dawn, the Tories and the Front National

European Dawn was also one of the joint sponsors of Western Goals (UK) fringe meeting on October 12 1989 of that year’s Tory party conference. In their press, Western Goals (UK) described themselves as ‘a London-based right-wing organisation devoted to the preservation of traditional Western values and European culture, and it opposes communism, liberalism, internationalism and the “multi-cultural society”.’ The meetings main speaker was Derby-Lewis of the South African Conservative Party. One of the other speakers was Yvan Blot, of the French Front National.

Derby-Lewis and British Conservatives

When Derby-Lewis again visited Britain the following year, 1990, A.V.R. Smith arranged for him to attend WACL’s 22nd conference in Brussels as a Western Goals Institute delegate. Western Goals (UK) also claimed that he had met leading members of the Conservative party such as Lord Hailsham, the tennis player and Buster Motram, who had formerly supported the NF. They also claimed that he had addressed a meeting of the House of Lords Monday Club under Lord Sudely and a banquet of the South West Essex Monday Club, attended by Teresa Gorman, Teddy Taylor and Tim Janman. His speech at the banquet was praised for its ‘robust defence of European values and civilisation in Southern Africa’. He was also a guest at a ‘select’ dinner in Whitehall for Conservative MPs, Conservative candidates, councillors and party officials. European Dawn also became more overtly anti-Semitic. It has been alleged that there was at least one meeting between Northolt and Smith and the Fascist League of St. George. However, both A.V.R. Smith and Keith Thompson of the League of St. George have denied them.

Western Goals and the BNP

The BNP certainly appear to have had links to Western Goals, discussing them in an issue of their magazine, Spearhead. The article described how a group of BNP members had arrived at a meeting between the South African Conservatives’ Andries Treunicht and Western Goals (UK) at the Royal Commonwealth Society, where they attempted to sell copies of Spearhead. Prevented from doing so, the BNP criticised Western Goals’ members for their squeamishness in not owning up to their Nationalist convictions:

Their line was the familiar one: “Oh yes, I agree with all you say, but keep it quiet”… Their greatest fear is that of being embarrassed by their nationalist acquaintances turning to their gatherings and compromising their “respectable” credentials’. Just how many Western Goals members were sympathetic to the BNP is open to question. However, one of early members of Western Goals (UK), and an associated of Smith and Northolt, Stuart Millson, left the organisation to join the BNP. Millson had been a member of the Young Monday Club and Conservative Student while at Exeter University in 1985. By 1991, however, he claimed to have left the BNP and was once more a member of the Tories. Another BNP activist, Sean Pearson, was also a member of the Yorkshire branch of the Monday Club run by Anthony Murphy, who was also Western Goal’s main contact in the region. He was thrown out of his local branch of the Conservative party after Leeds Other Paper, Searchlight and City Limits revealed that he had been distributing racist leaflets in Bradford. However, he joined Thurrock Conservative Association, thus remaining a member of the party. In April 1991 he was one of the Party’s election agents in Bradford.

Conclusion: Western Goals example of Fascism in Conservative Party, not Socialism

Hughe’s article predicts that the organisation and the Monday Club would find themselves under increasing pressure from the party’s leadership under John Major, who was an opponent of White supremacism. Certainly Western Goals and its links to the BNP and German and French extreme Right would now be acutely embarrassing for David Cameron. Cameron has, after all, attempted to present the party as pro-gay and anti-racist. One of the first things he did as leader was sever links to the Monday Club. Nevertheless, Western Goals and its extreme Right-wing stance, which can certainly be considered Fascist, does refute the claim of Daniel Hannan and other Conservatives, on both sides of the Atlantic, that somehow Fascism is a form of Socialism and the BNP are ‘left-wing’.

Banned from TV Under Thatcher: Maggie’s MIlitant Tendency

October 2, 2013

The Conservative party is always keen to watch for and denounced supposed left-wing bias in the BBC. There is an entire website, Biased BBC, which is full of such accusations. The Conservatives have, however, used their influence when in power to censor and suppress any material of which they didn’t approve. I’ve already blogged about how Thames TV lost its broadcasting licence because of Thatcher’s disapproval of the World in Action documentary, ‘Death on the Rock’. Another documentary that incurred Thatcher’s displeasure was the Panorama edition, ‘Maggie’s Militant Tendency’. Mainstream political parties and organisations, such as Labour, are frequently targeted for infiltration by extremists, such as the various Communist sects. Called ‘revolutionary entryism’ by the extreme Left, the process is designed to allow the smaller, more extreme party to be able to take over its larger, more mainstream host. The extremists are thus able get into power, which they could not do on their own behalf. The nascent Communist party tried these tactics in Weimar Germany when the SPD split following the Council Revolution of 1919. The Communists tried to infiltrate the more extreme, break-away faction, the USPD, with the intention of breaking it up. This would remove the party as an alternative to the Communists. At the same time they hoped to radicalise the more extreme members of the USPD, and so get them to join the Communist party. It didn’t work, and the USPD eventually reunited with the parent party, the SPD, the German equivalent of the Labour party.

Similar tactics were tried in the ’70s and ’80s by other Marxist groups, which tried to get into the British Labour party. Harry Conroy records in his biography of Jim Callaghan (London: Haus Publishing Ltd 2006) hearing a conversation between a Maoist and another extremist about how they intended to infiltrate the Labour party. In the 1980s there was the controversy over the activities within Labour of the Militant Tendency, a radical group, which seemed intent on rigging elections and other activities in order to seize power within the party. Eventually they were expelled by the then leader, Neil Kinnock. This was, however, used by the Conservatives to show that Labour was full of splits, with a weak leadership, and that it had been infiltrated by ‘Reds’. Once Labour got in, these infiltrators would use their power to set up a Communist dictatorship. It was the classic ‘Red Scare’, and was run by the Sun. It also supplied the basis for one of Frederick Forsythe’s novels, in which MI% agents have to stop a Labour party infiltrated by Communists from gaining power and turning the country into a puppet of the Soviet Union. The plot appears to represent genuine fears on the part of the CIA and MI5. James Angleton, the head of the CIA, believed that Harold Wilson was a Soviet agent, a belief shared by his colleagues in MI5 and in the Conservative party. One of those who bought this rubbish was one Margaret Thatcher. Sadly, the Red scaremongering didn’t end with the suspicions about Wilson. In the 1990s the Times libelled Michael Foot by claiming that he was a Soviet agent codenamed ‘Agent Boot’. So much for the Times as a centre of journalistic excellence.

What was not widely known at the time was that the Conservatives were also afraid that they had similarly been infiltrated by the National Front and other Far-Right organisations. A 1983 report by the Young Conservatives concluded that ‘organised infiltration is a reality’. They identified the Fascist groups that had infiltrated the Party as WISE, Tory Action and the London Swinton Circle, as well as David Irving’s Focus Policy Group. A number of Conservative MPs, which belonged to some of these groups were also suspected of NF membership or sympathies. These included Harvey Proctor, Ronald Bell and Gerard Howarth, as well as George Kennedy Young, a former deputy head of MI6, who had almost taken over the Monday Club in the 1970s, and who was particularly active in Tory Action.

The Tory party was also faced with a series of public scandals where members of the party publicly declared their support for Racial Nationalism and the Far Right. I distinctly remember a report on the Six O’clock News about the leader of either one of the Young Conservative groups or Union of Conservative Students in Northern Ireland, Tinnies, who had publicly embraced the Front’s racism. Tinnies declared of himself and his followers that ‘we are not Fascists. We are Thatcherite achievers. But if Mrs Thatcher does not want us, we will go to the Far Right.’ I’ve heard since that it was because of Fascist infiltration and sympathies amongst the membership that the Tories wound up the Union of Conservative Students, and replaced it with Conservative Future.

Larry O’Hara, a historian of Fascist politics in this period and a staunch anti-Fascist, has argued that there was no organised infiltration of the Tory party in the 1980s. The NF members, who joined the Tories, according to O’Hara, did so due to disillusionment with the NF after its catastrophic performance in the 1979 bye-election. Moreover, according to O’Hara, the actual core membership of the BNP is small, perhaps only about 200 members. Most of its members leave after about two years as they are simply anti-White immigration and have no interest in Fascist ideology. Andrew Brons, then the chairman of the NF, and the leader of the ‘Strasserite’ faction in 1984 vehemently denied that the NF had any such policy. He stated ‘the idea that we, a radical, Racial Nationalist party, should seek to infiltrate the unsavoury corpse of the Conservative party is so ludicrous that is should not need to be denied.’ Nevertheless, at the time the idea that the Fascist fringe had infiltrated the Conservative party was all too credible. Mrs Thatcher’s model of a monetarist state was General Pinochet’s Chile, and she herself was friends with the Chilean dictator. The Fascist future depicted in Moore’s ‘V for Vendetta’ strip seemed all too likely to come true. The BBC’s long-running documentary series, Panorama, investigated the allegations that the Tories had indeed been infiltrated. The resulting programme, ‘Maggie’s Militant Tendency, was not, however, broadcast as Thatcher had it suppressed.

In fact long before the Thatcher administration the membership of the Conservative Party and various Fascist organisations had overlapped. In the immediate period after the First World War Right-wing Tories had formed militantly anti-Socialist, anti-Semitic groups such as the British Fascisti. The first editor of the BNP after it was formed from the merger of the White Defence League and National Labour Party in 1960 was Andrew Fountaine. Fountaine was a Norfolk landowner, who had fought for the Fascists during the Spanish Civil War. Fountaine had been adopted by the Tories in 1949 as their candidate for Chorley. He was later thrown out of the party after he made a speech at the Conservative Party Conference criticising it for allowing Jews to gain important public offices. he then stood as an Independent Conservative in the 1950 election, only losing it by 341 votes. In 1958 he formed his own National Front, which was dissolved at the foundation of the BNP. In the 1970s and 1980s the National Front had a deliberate policy of trying to recruit members of the Conservative party, as well as alienated Whites in inner city areas. David Irving’s Focus Policy Group had made repeated attempts to purchase the mailing list of Conservative activists.

Other links between the Conservatives and the Far Right was through the various anti-immigration groups, such as the Race Preservation Society. These brought together Fascist organisations such as the BNP and Northern League as well as members of the Tory party. They were backed by wealthy private individuals, which allowed them to publish a series of magazines and pamphlets. These included Sussex News, Midland News, the British Independent, New Nation and RPS News. It has been said, however, that the RPS was not a Fascist organisation, but a federation of racial populist, anti-immigrant groups. WISE, whose initials stood for Welsh, Irish, Scots, English, was another racist, anti-immigrant group also maintained contact with the both the Conservative Party and the Fascist fringe. In the 1970s following the immigration to Britain of Asian refugees from Idi Amin’s Uganda, a number of former Conservatives joined the NF, such as John Kingsley Read and Roy Painter. These embarked on a struggle for power within the NF, which culminated in Read replacing Tyndall as chairman in 1975. The Monday Club was another society in which the Conservatives mixed with members of the NF. At an anti-immigration rally in September 1972 held by the Monday Club, the NF provided the stewards and 400 members of the audience. After George Kennedy Young was defeated in his bid to become chairman, the NF was gradually excluded from the Club. The Club ultimately presented their books for examination by Lesley Wooler, of the Jewish 62 group, to make sure there were no more anti-Semites within it. Despite this, the Monday Club still retained a reputation for racism, especially after various anti-immigration rants by Norman Tebbit, one of the Club’s members and member of Mrs Thatcher’s cabinet. So embarrassing is the Club’s reputation that about a decade ago David Cameron officially announced that he was severing the link between the Tory party and the Club.

The Tory party has nevertheless had links and shared members with the extreme Right over the years. This eventually became so embarrassing for Thatcher that she had the Beeb’s investigation into it pulled from the airwaves. This demonstrates the Tory party’s own willingness to use censorship and manipulate the news when th threatens their hold in power. In this respect, they may act precisely like the Fascist organisations from which they are so keen to distance themselves.

Meanwhile, here’s Spitting Image’s satirical suggestion of where Maggie that the idea for her policies.
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It’s on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2DnW5uC1_A.

Sources

Larry O’Hara, ‘Notes from the Underground: British Fascism 1974-92 – Part 1, 1974-83, in Lobster 23: 15-20 (June 1992).

Richard Thurlow, Fascism in Britain: A History, 1918-1985 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell 1987).