Imperial Fascist League

The Imperial Fascist League (IFL) was a British fascist political movement founded by Arnold Leese in 1929 after he broke away from the British Fascists. It included a blackshirted paramilitary arm called the Fascists Legion, modeled after the Italian Fascisti. The group espoused anti-Semitism and the dominance of the 'Aryan race' in a 'Racial Fascist Corporate State', especially after Leese met Nazi Party propagandist Julius Streicher, the virulently racist publisher of Der Stürmer; the group later indirectly received funding from the Nazis. Although it had only between 150 and 500 members at maximum, its public profile was higher than its membership numbers would indicate.

After the IFL turned down a merger with the British Union of Fascists in 1932, due to policy differences, the BUF mounted a campaign against the IFL, physically breaking up its meetings and fabricating phony plans that showed the IFL planning to attack the BUF's headquarters, which were passed on to the British government.

The Imperial Fascist League went into a steep decline upon the outbreak of World War II, after Leese declared his allegiance to "King and country", to the displeasure of pro-German members. Nevertheless, Leese was interned under wartime security regulations, and the IFL was not reformed after the war.

Imperial Fascist League
Director-GeneralArnold Leese
FounderArnold Leese
IdeologyBritish nationalism
National Socialism
Fascism (Initially)
Political positionFar-right
International affiliationNazi Germany
SloganSt George Our Guide!
Party flag
Flag of the Imperial Fascist League


Leese had originally been a member of the British Fascists and indeed had been one of only two members ever to hold elected office for them (as a councillor in Stamford).[1] However he split from the BF around 1927 and decamped to London where in 1929 he established both the IFL and its organ The Fascist.[1] The Fascists Legions, a blackshirted paramilitary arm, was soon added under the command of Leslie H. Sherrard.[2] The group initially advocated such policies as corporatism, monetary reform and the removal of citizenship from Jews.[2] It had no more than 500 members[3] and may have had as few as 150.[4] The group was initially led by Brigadier-General Erskine Tulloch although real power lay with Leese, who was confirmed as Director-General in 1932.[5] Henry Hamilton Beamish, head of The Britons, served as vice-president of the IFL and was a regular speaker at the movement's events.[6]

National Socialism

The IFL soon shifted away from Italian fascism (it originally used the fasces as its emblem) after Leese met Nazi Party propagandist Julius Streicher in Germany. Soon anti-Semitism became the central theme of IFL policy and its new programme, the 'Racial Fascist Corporate State', stressed the supremacy of the 'Aryan race'.[7] The IFL altered its flag so that it featured the Union Flag superimposed with the swastika.[3] As a result of this conversion the IFL enjoyed a higher profile than its membership might suggest, in large part due to the funding it received from Nazi Germany paid through the English correspondent for the Völkischer Beobachter Dr. Hans Wilhelm Thost.[3] Indeed, by the mid-1930s the IFL had turned against the Italian model so much that it denounced Benito Mussolini as a "pro-Semite", claiming that the Second Italo-Ethiopian War had been organised by Jews.[8]

History of British Fascism
A flowchart showing the history of the early British fascist movement

Arrival of the BUF

In 1932 Robert Forgan approached the IFL and suggested that they should merge into Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists but the offer was declined.[9] Leese rejected any overtures from Mosley due to the latter's initial reluctance to make anti-Semitism a central theme, leading to Leese dismissing Mosley as a "kosher fascist".[10] He even dubbed the BUF the "British Jewnion of Fascists" over the issue.[11] One of their biggest differences was the fact that the IFL held a biological view of anti-Semitism, the belief that the Jews were inherently inferior as a race, in contrast to the BUF, whose eventual adoption of anti-Semitism was framed in ideas about the Jews' supposed undue influence at the top echelons of society.[12]

By 1933 the BUF decided to act against the renegade IFL, with Blackshirts attacking a number of meetings. This campaign culminated in an incident in Great Portland Street, when fifty Blackshirts disguised as communists invaded the stage to attack Leese, before causing considerable damage to the hall in an attempt to force a large repair bill onto the IFL.[13] The BUF even passed fabricated evidence of an IFL plot to attack its headquarters to the Home Office.[14] By 1939, with the IFL's influence diminished, the rivalry had cooled to the point where the BUF bookshop in Canterbury was prepared to stock IFL pamphlets.[15]

Although rejecting a merger with the BUF, the IFL was linked to the Nordic League through Commander E. H. Cole, a staunch advocate of the Russian Czarist hoax The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, who served as chancellor of the League as well as being a leading IFL member.[16] Before long both Leese and P. J. Ridout also became members of this group, membership of which encompassed most shades of far right activity.[17]


The outbreak of the Second World War caused the small group to fall apart as Leese declared loyalty to King and country and renamed the group the Angles Circle but this stance was rejected by some pro-German members such as Tony Gittens, Harold Lockwood and Bertie Mills.[18] It proved to be academic however as in 1940 Leese was interned under Defence Regulation 18B and although he continued to be politically active after the war the IFL was not reformed.[19] His formation of the National Workers Movement in 1948 meant the final end for the IFL.[20]

See also



  1. ^ a b Benewick, p. 44
  2. ^ a b Benewick, p. 45
  3. ^ a b c Dorril, p. 203
  4. ^ Thurlow, p. 64
  5. ^ Thurlow, p. 71
  6. ^ Thurlow, p. 70
  7. ^ Benewick, pp.45-6
  8. ^ Griffiths, p. 100
  9. ^ Dorril, p. 194
  10. ^ Dorril, p. 204
  11. ^ Thurlow, p. 75
  12. ^ Benewick, pp. 22-3
  13. ^ Dorril, p. 262
  14. ^ Dorril, p. 276
  15. ^ Benewick, p. 278
  16. ^ Dorril, p. 425
  17. ^ Dorril, p. 426
  18. ^ Thurlow, p. 170
  19. ^ Benewick, pp. 46-7
  20. ^ Thurlow, p. 248


  • Benewick, R. (1969) Political Violence and Public Order, London: Allan Lane.
  • Dorril, S. (2007) Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley & British Fascism, London: Penguin Books.
  • Griffiths, R. (1983) Fellow Travellers on the Right, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Thurlow, R. (1987) Fascism in Britain: A History, 1918-1985, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

External links

  • The Fascist contains excerpts from a 1934 issue of The Fascist, published by the Imperial Fascist League
  • [1] Jewish Telegraphic Agency press report on the formation of Arnold Leese's post-war National Workers Party in 1948
Adrien Arcand

Adrien Arcand (October 3, 1899 – August 1, 1967) was a Montreal journalist who led a series of fascist political movements between 1929 and his death in 1967. During his political career, he proclaimed himself the Canadian Führer.

He was detained by the federal government for the duration of the Second World War under the Defence of Canada Regulations.

Arnold Leese

Arnold Spencer Leese (1878–1956) was a British fascist politician and veterinary surgeon. Leese was initially prominent due to his veterinary work, in particular, his study of camels. A virulent anti-Semite, Leese led his own fascist movement and he was also a prolific author and publisher of polemics both before and after the Second World War. He has been described as being "central to fascism's rebirth" in the United Kingdom after 1945, acting as an intellectual mentor to Colin Jordan and John Tyndall, the "most significant figures on the extreme right since the 1960s".

British Empire Party

The British Empire Party was a minor right-wing party in the United Kingdom. It was founded in the early 1950s by P. J. Ridout, a former member of the Imperial Fascist League.In the 1951 general election, the party stood one candidate, Trefor David, in Ogmore, who received 1,643 votes. A former Plaid Cymru member and miner, David gained some supporters amongst local miners but saw his support reduced after a local paper revealed the fascist past of Ridout.The party gained a brief boost in 1951 when Arnold Leese told his followers to join the group, although ultimately the minor levels of support that Leese commanded made little difference.

British Fascism

British Fascism is the form of fascism promoted by some political parties and movements in the UK. It was based on British nationalism with aspects of Italian Fascism and Nazism before and after World War II.Historical examples of fascist movements in Britain include the British Fascists (1923–1934), the Imperial Fascist League (1929–1939), and the British Union of Fascists (1932–1940). More recent examples of British fascist groups include the British Movement (1968–1983), National Front (1967–present), Britain First (2011–present) and National Action (2013–2017).

British Fascists

The British Fascists were the first political organisation in the United Kingdom to claim the label of fascist. While the group had more in common with conservatism for much of its existence, it nonetheless was the first to self-describe as fascist in Britain. William Joyce, Neil Francis Hawkins, Maxwell Knight and Arnold Leese were amongst those to have passed through the movement as members and activists.

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".

Hastings Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford

Hastings William Sackville Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford (21 December 1888 – 9 October 1953) was a British peer. He was born at Cairnsmore House, Minnigaff, Kirkcudbrightshire the son of Herbrand Russell, 11th Duke of Bedford and his wife Mary Du Caurroy Tribe, DBE, RRC, FLS, the aviator and ornithologist. He was noted for both his career as a naturalist and for his involvement in far-right politics.

Henry Hamilton Beamish

Henry Hamilton Beamish (2 June 1873 – 27 March 1948) was a leading British antisemite and the founder of The Britons.

The son of Rear-Admiral Henry Hamilton Beamish, who had served as an A.D.C. to Queen Victoria, Beamish was born in London. He served in the Second Boer War as Captain and settled in South Africa afterwards. However he left the country having decided that the Jews held too much influence there.Returning to London in 1918, Beamish set up The Britons as a specifically antisemitic propaganda organisation and also became involved with the Silver Badge Party. He ran as an independent in a 1918 by-election in Clapham on an anti-immigrant platform, supported by right-wing MP Noel Pemberton Billing, but did not win, receiving 43% of the votes cast. Along with Lieutenant-Commander E.M. Frazer, Beamish produced a poster in 1919 denouncing Commissioner of Works Sir Alfred Mond (Alfred Mond, 1st Baron Melchett) as a traitor. This poster resulted in a libel suit filed by Mond, who was successful and was awarded £5000, although Beamish left Britain without paying.Following his departure from Britain, Beamish travelled the world preaching anti-Semitism. He was one of the earliest developers of the Madagascar Plan for Jewish deportation. He spoke in Germany where he claimed, rather dubiously, to have taught Adolf Hitler. In the early 1920s Beamish announced that "Bolshevism was Judaism." He served as Vice-President of the Imperial Fascist League for a time and was a member of the Nordic League. In 1932 he addressed a meeting of the New Party alongside Arnold Leese on the subject of "The Blindness of British Politics under the Jew Money-Power", although he otherwise had little involvement with the initiatives of Oswald Mosley.Described by a judge in South Africa in 1934 as an "anti-Jewish fanatic"., Beamish travelled to the United States in 1935 where he was actively working as a representative of the German government as a Nazi agent. In September 1936 he visited Japan, and then spoke at a meeting of the Canadian Nationalist Party in Winnipeg in 1936. before embarking on a major lecture tour of Nazi Germany as a guest of Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. He met fellow fanatical anti-Semite Julius Streicher in Nuremberg in January 1937. In the same year he spoke at several meetings in North America with Canadian fascist leader Adrien Arcand including some organized by the German American Bund.Eventually he settled in 1938 in Southern Rhodesia, where he served as an independent MP and was interned in 1940 for his pro-Nazi sentiments. He remained President of The Britons until his death in Southern Rhodesia in 1948.


IFL may refer to:

American footballIntense Football League, (2004–2008) in the United States, merged into the Indoor Football League

Indoor Football League, (2008–present) in the United States

Intercontinental Football League, a European league proposed by the NFL in the 1970s

Israel Football League, (2007–present) in Israel

Italian Football League, (2008–present) in ItalyAssociation footballIndonesian Futsal League

Indian Football League, a precursor of India's I-League

Irish Football League, Northern IrelandOtherInterflug (1963–1990), national airline of East Germany

International Fight League, a former American mixed martial arts league

Imperial Fascist League, British fascist group of the 1930s

Imperial Federation League, advocated consolidation of the British Empire

Intact forest landscape

Integrated Facility for Linux, an IBM mainframe processor for the Linux operating system

Baylor Institute for Faith and Learning, division of a Baptist university in Texas

IFL (chemotherapy), a chemotherapy regimen

Institute for Learning, a defunct UK body intended to promote teaching

Indian Federation of Labour (1941–1948), a British-supported federation of Indian trade unions

International Ferro Metals, a ferrochrome producer operating in South Africa

List of British Jewish entertainers

This list of British Jewish entertainers includes entertainers (actors, directors, screenwriters, musicians, and others) from the United Kingdom and its predecessor states who are or were Jewish.

The number of Jews contributing to British cinema increased after 1933, when Jews were prohibited from working in Nazi Germany. In the early 1930s, an anti-semitic newspaper, The Fascist (published by the Imperial Fascist League), sought to isolate the Jews in British cinema.In the 1970s, the scripts for television of British Jewish playwright Jack Rosenthal entitled Bar Mitzvah Boy and The Evacuees were praised as "unprecedented" "British-Jewish depictions". Stephen Brook wrote in The Club in 1989 that while there had been Jewish actors in British theatre, Jews had been more prominent as producers or agents. In 1995, The Independent observed that British Jewish comedians had taken the lead from American Jewish comedian Jackie Mason, by laughing at their own Jewish neuroses, Jewish mothers, and their leaning towards chicken soup and chopped liver, which they would not have done ten years prior. By the year 2000, British-Jewish comics may have reached their largest numbers, including Arnold Brown, David Baddiel, and Sacha Baron Cohen.

List of British fascist parties

Although Fascism in the United Kingdom never reached the heights of many of its European counterparts, British politics after the First World War saw the emergence of a number of fascist movements, none of which ever came to power.

List of fascist movements by country U–Z

A list of political parties, organizations, and movements adhering to various forms of fascist ideology, part of the list of fascist movements by country.

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.

R. B. D. Blakeney

Brigadier-General Robert Byron Drury Blakeney, generally known as R.B.D. Blakeney (April 18, 1872 – February 13, 1952), was a British Army general and fascist politician. After a career with the Royal Engineers, Blakeney went on to serve as President of the British Fascists.

Robert Forgan

Robert Forgan (10 March 1891 – 8 January 1976) was a British politician who was a close associate of Oswald Mosley.

Rotha Lintorn-Orman

Rotha Beryl Lintorn Lintorn-Orman (1895–1935) was the founder of the British Fascisti, the first avowedly fascist movement to appear in British politics.

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.

Pre-1945 groups
post-1945 groups
Active groups
Pre-1945 people
Post-1945 people
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