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.

Pre-War

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

A number of fascist movements emerged before the Second World War. Even before the March on Rome, Italian fascism gained praise in sections of the press, with articles appearing in both the Saturday Review and Pall Mall Gazette in 1921 and in The Times in 1922 praising the fascists for their strike-breaking and general anti-trade union activities.[1] On 4 November 1922 a group of black-shirted admirers of Benito Mussolini held a remembrance service at Westminster Abbey which the Workers' Socialist Federation protested, both for the group being allowed to march to the Abbey and for the fact that they were permitted to use a building as significant as Westminster Abbey in the first place.[2] However it would be 1923 before any formal group seeking to connect itself to fascism would be formed. Whilst none of these gained any parliamentary representation some of them enjoyed wider notability. Amongst the more important groups that were founded were:

Minor movements

Alongside these several more minor groups that adhered to fascism were also established. Amongst those identified were:

  • The British Democratic Party became involved in the Coordinating Committee, an initiative of Archibald Maule Ramsay in the late 1930s. Disagreements between member parties saw this fall apart in 1939.[14]
  • The British Empire Fascist Party, a very short-lived group set up by Graham Seton Hutchinson in November 1933. The group supported the establishment of the corporate state and was strongly anti-Semitic.[15] Seton Hutchinson had intended to use the name for a merger between his own National Workers Party and the BF but the latter group backed out when they realised the lack of membership of that group.[16]
  • The British Empire Fascists broke from the BF in the 1920s and advocated cutting wages for the highest earners.[17]
  • The British Union (not to be confused with the BUF, which used the name British Union after the outbreak of war) emerged in the early 1930s and worked with the BF.[18]
  • The British United Fascists were established in Kensington in 1933 where they had an office. They clashed with the BUF and had their office wrecked by some of that group's Blackshirts, resulting in the group disbanding soon afterwards.[17]
  • The Empire Fascist Movement is mentioned in some mid 1920s reports in Socialist Review although details are missing.[17]
  • The Fascist Movement was another 1920s splinter group from the BF, although little is known about it beyond its name.[17]
  • Italian Fascismo was established in Leith in 1924, with a black-shirted uniform. It was entirely mimetic of Italian fascism and seemed to exist only among Edinburgh's Italian community.[12]
  • The Kensington Fascist Party was set up in the late 1920s and existed well into the 1930s. Although it maintained an independent existence it tended to work closely with other, larger movements, including the BF, IFL and the Unity Band.[18] In 1931 it was one of a number of minor movements to sign a document produced by the BF calling for the abolition of parliamentary government.[19]
  • The Legion of Loyalists was an early 1930s group, close to the BF.[18] In 1931 it was one of a number of minor movements to sign a document produced by the BF calling for the abolition of parliamentary government.[19] It later affiliated to the British Council Against European Commitments, a pro-German umbrella organisation founded by Viscount Lymington, in 1938.[20] Robert Benewick calls this group the League of Loyalists.[21]
  • The Loyalty League emerged in 1922 as a group attached to the Conservative Party that sought to promote Italian fascism. The group is also described as having been established in 1923 and being strongly anti-Semitic in tone although, according to Thomas Linehan, this may have been a different group with the same name.[17]
  • The National Workers Movement, later National Workers Party, was the personal party of Graham Seton Hutchinson, and appeared to have few or even no members beyond its leader.[22] The group, which maintained close links to the Nordic League, also used the name National Socialist Workers Movement/Party.[23]
  • The New Movement existed very briefly in the early 1930s and was most likely absorbed quickly by the IFL.[18]
  • The Nordics were a small group of anti-Semitic "racial nationalists" who merged with the IFL in 1934.[24] They were distinct from the Nordic League.
  • The Scottish Union of Fascists was set up by T.W. Denholm-Hay in 1934 as a more Scottish-minded breakaway from the BUF. Links were established with Wendy Wood and her Democratic Scottish Self-Government Organisation although it made no headway, having only 70 members upon formation. It merged into the Scottish Party.[25]
  • The Stamford Fascists were a partial splinter group from the BF, established in 1926 when Arnold Leese and Henry Simpson were elected as councillors in Stamford in defiance of BF policy that members should not contest elections under the BF banner. Leese alone briefly changed this group into the Fascist League, before formally establishing the IFL in 1928.[26]
  • The United Empire Fascist Party was established by C.G. Wodehouse-Temple in December 1933 and included amongst its membership Serocold Skeels, a former IFL member and agent for Nazi Germany who was eventually expelled from the party for his anti-Semitism. The group soon changed its name to United British Party, establishing offices in London and Edinburgh, and adopted a grey-shirted uniform for a while. Despite this overt militarism, which it eventually abandoned, the UBP's Fourteen Points programme was largely bereft of fascist rhetoric.[27]
  • The Unity Band was established by Lieutenant-Colonel Oscar Boulton in 1930 and was widely known for its publishing output although it had few members beyond the highly active Boulton.[28] In 1931 it was one of a number of minor movements to sign a document produced by the BF calling for the abolition of parliamentary government.[19] The two groups split the following year and they competed for the leadership of the non-BUF fascist movement for the next few years.[29] Linked to the Britons, the group had a strongly Christian ethos.[29]
  • The White Knights of Britain, also known as the Hooded Men, were a Ku Klux Klan-styled secret society that existed between 1937 and 1938. Deeply anti-Semitic, they used the swastika as their emblem and had Edward I of England as their patron saint due to his Edict of Expulsion against the Jews (although Edward was not a saint in any mainline Christian observance). It was close to the Nordic League, with E.H. Cole and T. Victor Rowe leading figures in both organisations.[30]
  • The Yorkshire Fascists emerged in the 1920s, probably from the BF and were still in existence by 1930, by which point they were close to the IFL.[17]

Post-War

After the Second World War a handful of groups emerged which looked directly to fascism and Nazism for their inspiration. Those who have openly done so (in contrast with parties which merely describe themselves as aligned with nationalism) are:

Yorkshire NF
National Front demonstration in Yorkshire, 1970s

Bibliography

  • R. Benewick, Political Violence and Public Order, London: Allan Lane, 1969
  • G. Bowd, Fascist Scotland - Caledonia and the Far Right, Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2013
  • M. Cronin (ed.), The Failure of British Fascism, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996
  • S. Dorrill, Blackshirt – Sir Oswald Mosley and British Fascism, London: Penguin, 2007
  • R. Eatwell, Fascism : A History, London: Pimlico, 2003
  • N. Goodrick-Clarke, Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity, New York: New York University Press, 2003
  • R. Hill & A. Bell, The Other Face of Terror - Inside Europe’s Neo-Nazi Network, London: Collins, 1988
  • K. Hodgson, Fighting Fascism: the British Left and the Rise of Fascism, 1919-39, Manchester University Press, 2010
  • T. Linehan, British Fascism 1918-39: Parties, Ideology and Culture, Manchester University Press, 2000
  • M. Pugh, 'Hurrah for the Blackshirts!' Fascists and Fascism in Britain between the Wars, London, 2005
  • R. Thurlow, Fascism in Britain, London: IB Tauris, 1998
  • M. Walker, The National Front, Glasgow: Fontana, 1977

References

  1. ^ Hodgson, p. 99
  2. ^ Hodgson, p. 100
  3. ^ Benewick, p. 27
  4. ^ Benewick, p. 37
  5. ^ Benewick, p. 36
  6. ^ Benewick, pp. 45-46
  7. ^ Pugh
  8. ^ R.J.B. Bosworth, "The British Press, the Conservatives, and Mussolini, 1920-34", Journal of Contemporary History, 1970
  9. ^ Linehan, p. 144
  10. ^ Linehan, p. 111
  11. ^ Dorrill, p. 529
  12. ^ a b Linehan, p. 133
  13. ^ Bowd, pp. 32-34
  14. ^ Benewick, p. 289
  15. ^ Linehan, pp. 132-133
  16. ^ Thurlow, p. 56
  17. ^ a b c d e f Linehan, p. 130
  18. ^ a b c d Linehan, p. 131
  19. ^ a b c Dorrill, p. 200
  20. ^ Dorrill, p. 439
  21. ^ Benewick, p. 287
  22. ^ Linehan, p. 136
  23. ^ Thurlow, pp. 78, 80
  24. ^ Thurlow, p. 78
  25. ^ Bowd, p. 40
  26. ^ Linehan, p. 71
  27. ^ Linehan, pp. 132-133
  28. ^ Linehan, p. 133
  29. ^ a b Linehan, p. 134
  30. ^ Thurlow, p. 81
  31. ^ Thurlow, p. 214
  32. ^ Walker, p. 52
  33. ^ Walker, pp. 36-37
  34. ^ Goodrick-Clarke, p. 38
  35. ^ Hill & Bell, p. 82
  36. ^ Hill & Bell, p. 116
  37. ^ D, Williams, "The Rest of the Right", Searchlight, May 2007, p. 10
  38. ^ Hill & Bell, pp. 272-280
  39. ^ Malik, Nesrene (June 28, 2005). "Ukip isn't dead. It's alive and embracing the far right". The Guardian. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
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.

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.

British Union of Fascists

The British Union of Fascists, or BUF, was a fascist political party in the United Kingdom formed in 1932 by Oswald Mosley. It changed its name to the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists in 1936 and, in 1937, to British Union. It was finally disbanded in 1940, after it was proscribed by the British government following the start of the Second World War.

The BUF emerged in 1932 from the British far-right, following the electoral defeat of its antecedent, the New Party, in the 1931 general election. The BUF's foundation was initially met with popular support, and it attracted a sizeable following. The press baron Lord Rothermere was a notable early supporter. As the party became increasingly radical, however, support declined. The Olympia Rally of 1934, in which a number of anti-Fascist protestors were attacked by the paramilitary wing of the BUF, the Fascist Defence Force, isolated the party from much of its following. The party's embrace of Nazi-style anti-semitism in 1936 led to increasingly violent clashes with opponents, notably the 1936 Battle of Cable Street in London's East End. The Public Order Act 1936, which banned political uniforms and responded to increasing political violence, had a particularly strong effect on the BUF whose supporters were known as "Blackshirts" after the uniforms they wore.

Growing British hostility towards Nazi Germany, with which the British press persistently associated the BUF, further contributed to the decline of the movement's membership. It was finally banned by the British government in 1940 after the start of the Second World War, amid suspicion that its remaining supporters might form a pro-Nazi "fifth column". A number of prominent BUF members were arrested and interned under Defence Regulation 18B.

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 Western society. 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".

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.

National Fascisti

The National Fascisti were a splinter group from the British Fascisti formed in 1924. In the early days of the British Fascisti the movement lacked any real policy or direction and so this group split away with the intention of pursuing a more definite path towards a fascist state.

National Socialist League

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

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