A. K. Chesterton

Arthur Kenneth Chesterton MC (1 May 1899 – 16 August 1973) was a journalist and political activist, born at Krugersdorp, near Johannesburg, in the Transvaal Republic. He was involved in the founding of several far-right movements in opposition to the break-up of the British Empire. He supported a strong anti-immigration stance thereafter as increasing numbers of former British subjects migrated to the United Kingdom.

The author G. K. Chesterton was his second cousin.

A. K. Chesterton

A. K. Chesterton
Personal details
Arthur Kenneth Chesterton

1 May 1899
Krugersdorp, South African Republic
Died16 August 1973 (aged 74)
London, United Kingdom
Political party
RelationsG. K. Chesterton (second cousin)

Early life

Born in Krugersdorp, South African Republic, A. K. Chesterton was sent to Berkhamsted School in England but persuaded his parents to let him return to South Africa in 1915. In October 1915 he added four years to his age and joined the British Army, who posted him to German East Africa, where he almost died of malaria and dysentery. After training as an officer, he served on the Western Front in 1918 with the London Regiment and won the Military Cross. His war experience was crucial to his repudiation of democracy.

After the war, he worked as a journalist for The Star in Johannesburg. He then secured a job with the Stratford-on-Avon Herald in England, where, as theatre critic from 1925 to 1929, he cultivated his aesthetic sense of societal decadence and cultural decline.

For the next four years, according to Chesterton's biographer, David Baker:

"he tilted at windmills and sharpened his skills as a controversialist while the Great Depression deepened and the bankruptcy of liberal and capitalist democracy became apparent. The corporate state, he came to believe, would rule in the interests of the whole nation, whereas democracy was the plaything of special interests and privilege."[1]


Moving to London and marrying a Fabian socialist and pacifist, Chesterton lived near the headquarters of Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists (BUF). He took to dropping by for conversation and argument, and by late 1933 he had joined the movement. He became the director of publicity and propaganda and chief organiser for the Midlands.

In 1936, alcoholism and overwork led to a nervous breakdown. He consulted a German neurologist and during 1936 and 1937 lived in Germany. After returning to Britain he was appointed editor of the Blackshirt, the official BUF newspaper. This position provided a pulpit for his increasingly anti-Semitic rhetoric.

He left the BUF in 1938, disillusioned, but continued to be active in far-right politics by joining the Nordic League and serving as editor of Lord Lymington's right-wing journal, the New Pioneer.

Chesterton became a member of the Right Club, a group founded in May 1939 to consolidate existing right-wing British organizations into a unified body. Archibald Ramsay, founder of the Right Club, explained its ideology and purpose:

"The main object of the Right Club was to oppose and expose the activities of Organized Jewry, in the light of the evidence which came into my possession in 1938. Our first objective was to clear the Conservative Party of Jewish influence, and the character of our membership and meetings were strictly in keeping with this objective."[2]

In 1939, Chesterton re-enlisted in the British Army after the outbreak of war. He served in East Africa, but was invalided out in 1943 due to poor health. He returned to Britain and launched the short-lived National Front after Victory Group, a coalition that included the British Peoples Party. He became deputy editor of the publication Truth.

He lived again in Africa for a short time, but soon returned to Britain where he established the League of Empire Loyalists in 1954. The League was a pressure group against the increasing dissolution of the British Empire, and was known at the time for stunts at Conservative Party meetings and conferences. These included hiding underneath the platform overnight to emerge during the conference to put across points. The League had support from some Conservative Party members, but they were disliked by the leadership.

About this time, Chesterton was appointed by Lord Beaverbrook as a literary adviser, contributing to the Daily Mail and the Sunday Express. He also wrote Beaverbrook's autobiography, Don't Trust to Luck.[3]

Chesterton founded and edited the magazine Candour, which he issued for the rest of his life, and which is still published today.[4]

Chesterton co-founded the National Front (NF) in 1967, and later became its Policy Director.[5] He tried to exclude neo-Nazis from movements such as the National Socialist Movement and the Greater Britain Movement from joining the NF, but was unsuccessful. Upon stepping down the first of several long, inter-factional disputes took place within the NF which frequently affected its policies in ways of which Chesterton did not approve. Today, the NF describes itself as a "white nationalist organisation founded in 1967 in opposition to multi-racialism and immigration".[6]


Amongst Chesterton's works are Portrait of a Leader (1937), a hagiography of Mosley; Why I left Mosley (1938), which broke from his earlier work; The Tragedy of Anti-Semitism (1948) in which he distanced himself from this form of prejudice; and The New Unhappy Lords, a diatribe against international finance.

Later life and death

The last 30 years of Chesterton's life were spent in a modest flat in South Croydon with his wife, Doris. He died on 16 August 1973.

See also


  1. ^ David Baker Ideology of Obsession: A. K. Chesterton and British Fascism, 1996, I. B. Tauris (UK)/Macmillan (US)ISBN 1-86064-073-7
  2. ^ http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk Archived 27 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, article on Hugh Grosvenor, 2nd Duke of Westminister, retrieved 30 August 2012,
  3. ^ *Hugh McNeile (2014). The history of the League of Empire Loyalists and Candour. The A.K Chesterton Trust. p. 14. ISBN 0957540345.
  4. ^ Candour, BM Candour, London, WC1N 3XX
  5. ^
  6. ^ Julia Verse (March 2014). Undoing Irishness: Antirassistische Perspektiven in der Republik Irland. transcript Verlag. p. 65. ISBN 978-3-8394-1682-2.

External links

British League of Ex-Servicemen and Women

The British League of Ex-Servicemen and Women (BLESMAW) was a British ex-service organisation that became associated with far right politics during and after the Second World War.

British People's Party (1939)

The British People's Party (BPP) was a British far-right political party founded in 1939 and led by ex-British Union of Fascists (BUF) member and Labour Party Member of Parliament John Beckett.

Candour (magazine)

Candour is a British far right-wing magazine founded and edited by A. K. Chesterton until his death in 1973.

Football Lads Alliance

The Football Lads Alliance (FLA) is a movement in the United Kingdom founded by John Meighan in 2017. According to The Times, "the movement was set up as a self-proclaimed 'anti-extremist' movement" but has increasingly become associated with far-right politics and far-right activists.The Premier League has warned clubs that "the group is using fans and stadiums to push an anti-Muslim agenda". Concern has also been expressed that the Alliance is "giving cover to the far right" and "uses a secret Facebook page full of violent, racist and misogynistic posts".

Gerard Wallop, 9th Earl of Portsmouth

Gerard Vernon Wallop, 9th Earl of Portsmouth (16 May 1898 – 28 September 1984), styled Viscount Lymington from 1925 until 1943, was a British landowner, writer on agricultural topics, and politician involved in right-wing groups.

Greater Britain Movement

The Greater Britain Movement was a British far right political group formed by John Tyndall in 1964 after he split from Colin Jordan's National Socialist Movement. The name of the group was derived from The Greater Britain, a 1932 book by Oswald Mosley.

International Third Position

For another party by the name "England First", see England First Party.International Third Position (ITP) was a neo-fascist organisation formed by the breakaway faction of the British National Front, led by Roberto Fiore, an ex-member of the Italian far-right movement Third Position.

John Bean

John Edward Bean (born 7 June 1927) is a long-standing participant in the British far right, who has been active within a number of movements.

John O'Brien (British politician)

John O'Brien (b. 1922; d. 21 September 1982) was a leading figure on the far right of British politics during the early 1970s.

John O'Brien was born in Shropshire in 1922. He was educated at St. Peter's College in Birmingham before beginning work as a publicity copywriter and served for five years in the REME during the Second World War. After the war, he spent some time in industry before returning to Shropshire where he ran his own horticultural business. A fruit farmer by trade, O'Brien had initially been a member of the Conservative Party in Shrewsbury. A supporter of Enoch Powell, he attempted to organise a 'Powell for Premier' movement following the Rivers of Blood speech. When this failed to get off the ground he briefly joined the National Democratic Party before emerging as a member of the National Front. O'Brien gained a reputation for working towards unity on the far right, establishing contacts not only with the NDP, but also the Monday Club, the Union Movement, the Integralists led by white Russian George Knuppfer and a number of local anti-immigration groups, with the NF ultimately absorbing a number of such groups.Following internal wranglings within the party, O'Brien was appointed leader of the NF in 1970, following the resignation and removal of A. K. Chesterton (who had brought O'Brien in to be NF Office Manager). Initially seen as a compromise candidate (after the rebellion against Chesterton, no one was willing to take the post), he soon set about trying to modernise the party and clashed with John Tyndall and Martin Webster over the issue, who had backed the O'Brien candidacy because they thought erroneously that he could be easily manipulated. The simmering conflict came to a head when O'Brien accused Webster of working with the Northern League, which had been proscribed in the NF. O'Brien moved to expel Webster but failed to get Tyndall's backing leading to open conflict.During the resulting struggle O'Brien briefly departed from the scene to go on honeymoon and during his absence the pro-Tyndall contingent made moves to expel a number of his supporters. O'Brien and his supporters, appalled at the extent to which a small neo-Nazi clique around Tyndall had taken over most of the facets of the party, failed to win the struggle and left to join John Davis' National Independence Party as a group. Although the NIP initially looked like it might challenge the NF, Tyndall's party was galvanised by the arrival in Britain of Uganda's Asian population, who had been expelled by Idi Amin.The opposition to their resettlement in the UK gave the better-known NF a boost and meant that the NIP failed to gain any momentum – although they famously beat former Tory candidate turned National Front candidate Roy Painter in Tottenham at the February 1974 General Election (despite his campaign enjoying a campaign-diary spot during the election with The Guardian) – and struggled on until 1976, when it was closed down. O'Brien did not return to the political arena after this although he contributed to the British nationalist journal Candour. He died suddenly on 21 September 1982.The former leader of the NF can claim to have made one of the most significant blows against neo-Nazism in post-war Britain. His involvement with the This Week documentary on ITV about the NF (Thames Television, ITV, September 1974 – where he was also interviewed at length about the party he left whilst its chairman) caused immense damage to the National Front and instigated fury within the party's ordinary membership that they had not been made aware as to the full extent of the neo-Nazi pasts and continuing links of the likes of Tyndall and Martin Webster. Within one month of the broadcast, Tyndall was fired as NF Chairman.O'Brien should not be confused with the John O'Brien involved with the White Nationalist Party, as the latter is still alive.

List of British far-right groups since 1945

The far-right, extreme right, hard right, radical right, fascist-right and ultra-right are terms used to discuss the position a group or person occupies within right-wing politics. The terms are often used to imply that someone is an extremist. The terms have been used by different scholars in somewhat conflicting ways.Far right politics usually involve supremacism — a belief that superiority and inferiority is an innate reality between individuals and groups — and a complete rejection of the concept of social equality as a norm. Far right politics often support segregation; the separation of groups deemed to be superior from groups deemed to be inferior. Far right politics also commonly include authoritarianism, nativism, racism and xenophobia.Many of these parties stem from either the legacy of Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists, or the political views held by either John Tyndall, Andrew Fountain, Eddy Morrison, Ian Anderson, Colin Jordan and A.K. Chesterton, along with those of their parties like the British National Party, National Front (United Kingdom), National Socialist Movement (1960s) and National Democrats (United Kingdom) over the last 40 years.

The ideologies usually associated with the far right include fascism, Nazism and other ultra-nationalist, religiously extreme or reactionary ideologies.The term radical right refers to sections of the far right that promote views which are very conservative in traditional left-right terms, but which aim to break with prevailing institutions and practices. The radical right does not have a clear straightforward structure, but rather consists of overlapping subcultures with diverse styles of rhetoric, dress and symbolism whose cohesion comes from the use of alternative system of communications.

Militant Christian Patriots

The Militant Christian Patriots (MCP) were a short-lived but influential anti-Semitic organisation active in the United Kingdom immediately prior to the Second World War. It played a central role in the ultimately unsuccessful attempts to keep the UK out of any European war.

National Democratic Party (UK, 1966)

The National Democratic Party (NDP) was a right wing political party that operated in the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s. The NDP sought to position itself as an early rival to the National Front although ultimately it failed to challenge the position of this group.

National Socialist League

The National Socialist League was a short-lived Nazi political movement in the United Kingdom immediately before the Second World War.

Nordic League

The Nordic League was a far right organisation in the United Kingdom from 1935 to 1939 that sought to serve as a co-ordinating body for the various extremist movements whilst also seeking to promote Nazism. The League was a private organisation that did not organise any public events.

Right Club

The Right Club was a small group of antisemitic and fascist sympathising renegades within the British establishment formed a few months before the Second World War by the Scottish Unionist MP Archibald Ramsay. It was focused on opposition to war with Germany up to and including by acts of treason to the point that many of its members were imprisoned for the duration of the war.

Sharon Ebanks

Sharon Elizabeth Ebanks (born 1967 or 1968) is a former member of the British National Party and one of the founder members of the New Nationalist Party. In 2006, she was wrongly declared elected to Birmingham City Council.

The Link (UK organization)

The Link was established in July 1937 as an 'independent non-party organisation to promote Anglo-German friendship'. It generally operated as a cultural organisation, although its journal, the Anglo-German Review, reflected the pro-Nazi views of Barry Domvile, and particularly in London it attracted a number of anti-semites and pro-Nazis. At its height the membership numbered around 4,300.

The Link was opposed to war between Britain and Germany, and because of this attracted the support of some British pacifists. When The Link and the Anglo-German Review were included among a number of peace organisations across the political spectrum in the Peace Service Handbook (a publication put out by the Peace Pledge Union), the Daily Telegraph and The News Chronicle published articles accusing the PPU of supporting Nazism. In response, PPU member Stuart Morris wrote to the papers stating there was no connection between the PPU and The Link, and that the former organisation did not support the German demand for colonies or peace at the expense of smaller nations. The PPU also sent a letter to its group leaders dissociating The Link from the PPU, and ceased publishing the Peace Service Handbook.The organisation was investigated by Maxwell Knight, head of counter-subversion in MI5 and future role model for James Bond's boss M. The organisation closed shortly after the start of World War II in 1939.

Barry Domvile was interned in 1940 as someone who might "endanger the safety of the realm".According to Anthony Masters, the Link was allegedly resurrected in 1940 by Ian Fleming, then working in the Department of Naval Intelligence, in order to successfully lure Rudolf Hess (deputy party leader and third in leadership of Germany, after Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring) to Britain in May 1941.

White Defence League

The White Defence League was a British far-right political group. Using the provocative marching techniques popularised by Oswald Mosley, its members included a young John Tyndall.

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