British Brothers League

The British Brothers' League (BBL) was a British anti-immigration, extraparliamentary,[1] proto-fascist[2] pressure group[3] (the 'largest and best organised' of its time[4]) that attempted to organise along paramilitary lines.[5]

The group was formed in May 1901[6] in east London as a response to waves of immigration that had begun in 1880 and had seen a rapid increase in the numbers of Russian and Polish Jews, as well as others from Eastern Europe, into the area.[7] As a result, Captain William Stanley Shaw formed the BBL to campaign for restricted immigration with the slogan 'England for the English' and soon formed a close alliance with local Conservative MP Major Evans-Gordon.[8] Initially the League was not antisemitic and was more interested in keeping out the poorest immigrants regardless of background, although eventually Jews became the main focus.[9] The League promoted their cause with large meetings, which were stewarded by guards whose role was to eject opponents who entered and raised objections.[10]

The League claimed 45,000 members, although membership was actually fairly irregular as no subscriptions were lifted and anyone who signed the organisation's manifesto was considered a member, with Tory MP Howard Vincent amongst those to do so.[9] As a result of this, attempts to militarise the group were largely a failure, although the movement continued to organise demonstrations against immigrants.[9] The Aliens Act 1905, which restricted immigration, was largely seen as a success for the BBL and, as a result, the movement by and large disappeared.[8] It officially carried on until 1923, albeit on a tiny scale, and was associated with G. K. Chesterton and the distributist movement.[11] Nonetheless they would resurface from time to time as new immigrant scares and shortly before the outbreak of the First World War they were even given a public donation of ten shillings by Arthur Conan Doyle, who had been caught up in a growing public swell of Germanophobia as war loomed.[12]

The League also left behind a legacy of support for far-right groups in east London and this was exploited by the British Union of Fascists, the British League of Ex-Servicemen and Women, the Union Movement and the National Front who gained followings in the same environs.[13]

BritishBrothersLeaguePoster(1902)
Anti-immigration poster, from 1902

External links

References

  1. ^ Albert Lindemann, Esau's Tears: Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews (CUP, 1997)
  2. ^ Sam Johnson, '"Trouble Is Yet Coming!" The British Brothers League, Immigration, and Anti-Jewish Sentiment in London's East End, 1901-1903' in Robert Nemes and Daniel Unowsky (eds), Sites of European Antisemitism in the Age of Mass Politics, 1880-1918 (Brandeis University Press, 2014)
  3. ^ J. A. Cloake and M. R. Tudor, Multicultural Britain (OUP, 2001)
  4. ^ D. Glover, Literature, Immigration, and Diaspora in Fin-de-Siècle England: A Cultural History of the 1905 Aliens Act (CUP, 2012)
  5. ^ Robert Benewick, The Fascist Movement in Britain (Allen Lane, 1972)
  6. ^ Richard S. Levy (ed) Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution, Volume 1 p86 (2005)
  7. ^ Robert Benewick, Political Violence and Public Order, Allan Lane, 1969, p. 25
  8. ^ a b Peter Barberis, John McHugh, Mike Tyldesley, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations: Parties, Groups and Movements of the 20th Century, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2000, p. 175
  9. ^ a b c Benewick, Political Violence and Public Order, p. 26
  10. ^ Robert Winder, Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain, Abacus, 2013, p. 258
  11. ^ Stephen Dorril, Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley & British Fascism, Penguin Books, 2007, p. 350
  12. ^ Winder, Bloody Foreigners, p. 264
  13. ^ Richard Thurlow, Fascism in Britain: A History, 1918-1985, Basil Blackwell, 1987, p. 108
Adam Marshall Diston

Adam Marshall Diston (1893–1956; born in Scotland) was a journalist for the Sunday Dispatch and ghostwriter for Winston Churchill. He had 'close affinities' to Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists. He had a military background, serving in a Scottish regiment from 1914-1918.

Aliens Act 1905

The Aliens Act 1905 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The Act for the first time introduced immigration controls and registration, and gave the Home Secretary overall responsibility for immigration and nationality matters.While the Act was ostensibly designed to prevent paupers or criminals from entering the country and set up a mechanism to deport those who slipped through, one of its main objectives was to control Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe. Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe saw a significant increase after 1880 which served as some basis for the creation of the Aliens Act 1905. Although it remained in force, the 1905 Act was effectively subsumed by the Aliens Restriction Act 1914, which introduced far more restrictive provisions. It was eventually repealed by the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act 1919.

Antisemitism in the UK Conservative Party

Antisemitism is alleged to have existed within the Conservative party since its founding in 1834, when the party rose out of the previous Tory Party. The party is officially titled the Conservative and Unionist Party, while its members are still colloquially called Tories. This article details the various alleged antisemitism events in relation to each of the successive Conservative party leaders in office at the time.

David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale

David Bertram Ogilvy Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale (13 March 1878 – 17 March 1958), was an English landowner and was the father of the Mitford sisters, in whose various novels and memoirs he is depicted.

East End of London

The East End of London, usually called the East End, is the historic core of wider East London, east of the Roman and medieval walls of the City of London, and north of the River Thames. It does not have universally accepted boundaries to the north and east, though the River Lea is sometimes seen as the eastern boundary. Parts of it may be regarded as lying within Central London (though that term too has no precise definition).

The East End began to emerge in the Middle Ages with initially slow urban growth outside the eastern walls, which later accelerated, especially in the 19th century, to absorb pre-existing settlements. The first known written record of the East End as a distinct entity, as opposed its component parts, comes from John Strype's 1720 Survey of London, which describes London as consisting of four parts: the City of London, Westminster, Southwark, and "That Part beyond the Tower". The relevance of Strype's reference to the Tower was more than geographical. The East End was the urbanised part of an administrative area called the Tower Division, which had owed military service to the Tower of London since time immemorial. Later, as London grew further, the fully urbanised Tower Division became a byword for wider East London, before East London grew further still, east of the River Lea and into Essex.

The area was notorious for its deep poverty, overcrowding and associated social problems. This led to the East End's history of intense political activism and association with some of the country's most influential social reformers. Another major theme of East End history has been migration, both inward and outward. The area had a strong pull on the rural poor from other parts of England, and attracted waves of migration from further afield, notably Huguenot refugees, who created a new extramural suburb in Spitalfields in the 17th century, Irish weavers, Ashkenazi Jews, and, in the 20th century, Sylheti Bangladeshis.The closure of the last of the East End docks in the Port of London in 1980 created further challenges and led to attempts at regeneration and the formation of the London Docklands Development Corporation. The Canary Wharf development improved infrastructure, and the Olympic Park mean that the East End is undergoing further change, but some parts continue to contain some of the worst poverty in Britain.

English Defence League

The English Defence League (EDL) is a far-right, Islamophobic organisation in the United Kingdom. A social movement and pressure group that employs street demonstrations as its main tactic, the EDL presents itself as a single-issue movement opposed to Islamism and Islamic extremism, although its rhetoric and actions target Islam and Muslims more widely. Founded in 2009, its heyday lasted until 2011, after which it entered a decline. It is presently chaired by Tim Ablitt.

Established in London, the EDL coalesced around several football hooligan firms protesting the public presence of the small Salafi Islamist group Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah in Luton, Bedfordshire. Tommy Robinson, a former member of the British National Party (BNP), soon became its de facto leader. The organisation grew swiftly, holding demonstrations across England and often clashing with anti-fascist protesters from Unite Against Fascism and other groups, who deemed it a racist organisation victimising British Muslims. The EDL also established a strong social media presence on Facebook and YouTube. Moving towards electoral politics, it established formal links with the far-right British Freedom Party, a breakaway from the BNP. The EDL's reputation was damaged in 2011 after supporters were convicted of plotting to bomb mosques and links were revealed with Norwegian far-right terrorist Anders Breivik. In 2013 Robinson—supported by the Quilliam think tank—left the group; he claimed it had become too extreme, and established the rival Pegida UK. The group's membership declined significantly following Robinson's departure and various branches declared independence.

Ideologically on the extreme-right or far-right of British politics, the EDL is part of the international counter-jihad movement. Officially, it presents itself as being opposed to Islamism, Islamic extremism, and jihadism, although its rhetoric repeatedly conflates these with Islam and Muslims more broadly. Rejecting the idea that Muslims can truly be English, the EDL presents Islam as an intolerant, primitive threat seeking to take over Europe. Political scientists and other commentators have characterised this Islamophobic stance as culturally racist. Both online and at its events, EDL members have incited violence against Muslims, with supporters carrying out violent acts both at demonstrations and independently. The EDL's broader ideology features nationalism and populism, blaming a perceived decline in English culture on high immigration rates and an uncaring political elite. It distinguished itself from Britain's traditional far-right by rejecting biological racism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia. Although several of its leaders were previously involved in fascist organisations and some neo-Nazis and other fascists attended EDL events, commentators differ on whether the EDL itself is ideologically fascist or not.

Headed by a small leadership team, the EDL sub-divided into over 90 local and thematic divisions, each with considerable autonomy. Its support base consisted primarily of young, working-class white British men, some from established far-right and football hooligan subcultures. Polls indicated that most UK citizens opposed the EDL, and the group was repeatedly challenged by anti-fascist groups. Many local councils and police forces discouraged EDL marches, citing the high financial cost of policing them, the disruptive influence on community harmony, and the damage caused to counter-terrorism operations.

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".

History of the Jews in England

The history of the Jews in England goes back to the reign of William the Conqueror. The first written record of Jewish settlement in England dates from 1070. The Jewish settlement continued until King Edward I's Edict of Expulsion in 1290.

After the expulsion, there was no Jewish community, apart from individuals who practised Judaism secretly, until the rule of Oliver Cromwell. While Cromwell never officially readmitted Jews to the Commonwealth of England, a small colony of Sephardic Jews living in London was identified in 1656 and allowed to remain.

The Jewish Naturalisation Act of 1753, an attempt to legalise the Jewish presence in England ["Scotland was under the jurisdiction of the Jew Bill, enacted in 1753, but repealed the next year"], remained in force for only a few months. Historians commonly date Jewish Emancipation to either 1829 or 1858, though Benjamin Disraeli, born Jewish but converted to Anglicanism, had been elected twice as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1868 and in 1874. At the insistence of Irish leader Daniel O'Connell, in 1846 the British law "De Judaismo", which prescribed a special dress for Jews, was repealed. Due to the lack of anti-Jewish violence in Britain in the 19th century, it acquired a reputation for religious tolerance and attracted significant immigration from Eastern Europe. In the 1930s and 1940s, some European Jews fled to England to escape the Nazis.

Jews faced anti-Semitism and stereotypes in Britain, and anti-Semitism "in most cases went along with Germanophobia" to the extent that Jews were equated with Germans in the early 20th century, despite the English themselves being a Germanic ethnic group. This led many Ashkenazi Jewish families to Anglicise their often German-sounding names.Jews in Britain now number around 275,000, with almost all (over 260,000) of these in England, which contains the second largest Jewish population in Europe (behind France) and the fifth largest Jewish community worldwide. The majority of the Jews in England live in and around London, with almost 160,000 Jews in London alone, and a further 20,800 just in Hertfordshire, mostly in Southwestern Hertfordshire. The next most significant population is in Greater Manchester, a community of slightly more than 25,000, primarily in Bury (10,360), Salford (7,920), Manchester proper (2,725) and Trafford (2,490). There are also significant communities in Leeds (6,760), Gateshead (3,000), Brighton (2,730), Liverpool (2,330), Birmingham (2,150) and Southend (2,080) . Towns and villages in Hertfordshire with large absolute populations include Bushey (4,500), Borehamwood (3,900), and Radlett (2,300). It is generally believed that Jews are undercounted in censuses due to a disinclination on the parts of some community members to reveal their ethnoreligious background and practise, so these numbers may be low estimates.

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.

St James's Gazette

The St James's Gazette was a London evening newspaper published from 1880 to 1905. It was founded by the Conservative Henry Hucks Gibbs, later Baron Aldenham, a director of the Bank of England 1853–1901 and its governor 1875–1877; the paper's first editor was Frederick Greenwood, previously the editor of the Conservative-leaning Pall Mall Gazette.The St James's Gazette was bought by Edward Steinkopff, founder of the Apollinaris mineral water company, in 1888. Greenwood left, to be succeeded by Sidney Low (1888–97), Hugh Chisholm (1897–99) and Ronald McNeill (1900–1904). Steinkopff sold the paper to C. Arthur Pearson in 1903, who merged it with the Evening Standard in March 1905, ending the paper's daily publication.

A weekly digest of the paper, the St James's Budget, appeared from 3 July 1880 until 3 February 1911.

The Britons

The Britons was an English anti-Semitic and anti-immigration organisation founded in July 1919 by Henry Hamilton Beamish. The organisation published pamphlets and propaganda under the imprint names of the Judaic Publishing Co., and subsequently the Britons Publishing Society. These entities engaged primarily in disseminating anti-Semitic literature and rhetoric in the United Kingdom, and bore hallmarks of the British fascist movement. Imprints under the label of the Judaic Publishing Co. exist for the years 1920, 1921, and 1922.

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.

William Evans-Gordon

Major Sir William Eden Evans Gordon (8 August 1857 – 31 October 1913) was a British MP who previously served as a military diplomat in India.

As a political officer on secondment from the British Indian Army from 1876 to 1897 during the British Raj, he was attached to the Foreign Department of the Indian Government. His career in India was a mixture of military administrative business on the volatile North-West Frontier, and diplomacy and foreign politics advising Maharajas or accompanying the Viceroy in the Princely States.

After leaving the Army, Evans Gordon returned to Britain and in 1900 was elected as Conservative Party MP for Stepney on an anti-alien platform. As a result of the pogroms in Eastern Europe, an increasing number of Jews were arriving in Britain either to stay, or en route for America. Evans Gordon, as a 'restrictionist', was heavily and actively involved in the passing of the Aliens Act 1905, which sought to limit the number of people allowed to enter Britain, even temporarily. He held Stepney from 1900 to 1907.

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