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.[1]

National Fascisti
FounderLt. Col. Henry Rippon-Seymour
Founded1924
Dissolved~1928
Split fromBritish Fascists
IdeologyFascism
Anti-communism
Anti-semitism
Militarism
Political positionFar-right

Formation

The National Fascisti's leader was Lieutenant Colonel Henry Rippon-Seymour. Members of the National Fascisti were dressed in black shirts in imitation of Benito Mussolini and his followers and received some military drilling, although membership was much too small for them to pose any real threat. Despite their frustrations at the lack of policy from the British Fascisti their own ideas were fairly banal, with vague calls for a government of experts being about as far as they went.[2] Strongly anti-communist, they argued that their aim was to "smash the reds and pinks".[3] Anti-Semitism, which at that point was absent from British Fascisti policy, also played a role in the new group.[4] They also called for racial purity and the consolidation of the British Empire.[5]

Development

The group liked to pull stunts to get attention and in 1925 they hijacked a lorry carrying copies of the left-wing newspaper the Daily Herald which they proceeded to crash.[6] The action briefly got them in the headlines as did a meeting at Hyde Park, London where 1000 people attended and finished the day in a pitch battle with Communist Party of Great Britain supporters.[7] The group also ran boxing and fencing clubs to train members although ultimately their strident militarism, which included marching with drawn swords, drew them more derision than support.[8]

Like the British Fascists (BF) they contacted the Home Secretary in the run-up to the 1926 General Strike to offer their services to the Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies. Rippon-Seymour refused to follow the lead of BF chairman R. B. D. Blakeney in breaking from fascism and so his offer was turned down flat by the government.[9] As individuals National Fascisti members were however allowed to enter the Special Constabulary during the strike, which many did.[10]

Disappearance

Cracks began to show in the group, notably around December 1926 when Rippon-Seymour pulled a sword and an unlicensed gun on Croydon branch leader Charles Eyres after Eyres has accused the leader of defrauding the party out of funds and of dictatorial leadership.[7] Eyres had brought a gang of cudgel-wielding supporters from Kensington to confront Rippon-Seymour whilst the leader's use of the Colt revolver, which actually belonged to "Victor Barker", saw him convicted of both possession of an illegal firearm and common assault at the Old Bailey.[11]

In 1927 a leading member was "Colonel Victor Barker", who was actually Valerie Arkell-Smith. The National Fascisti members did not know he was assigned female at birth and treated him as a man; "Barker" became secretary to Rippon-Seymour as well as training members in the boxing and fencing clubs.[12]

A series of internal struggles saw them change their name to the British National Fascisti under the leadership of Rippon-Seymour.[1] Meanwhile, leading members such as Colonel Ralph Bingham drifted from the group to become active instead in the Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies.[13] Such a small group could not withstand internal wrangling and the movement faded from the scene fairly quickly after this.

Significance

Despite their general failure the National Fascisti remain significant for being the first group in British politics to attempt to develop fascism as a specifically British ideology.[14] They also helped to launch the political careers of William Joyce and Arnold Leese, who had helped to instigate the split from the British Fascisti and who would go on to greater significance.[8]

See also

Bibliography

  • R. Benewick, Political Violence and Public Order, London: Allan Lane, 1969
  • S. Dorril, Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley & British Fascism, London: Penguin Books, 2007
  • R. Griffiths, Fellow Travellers on the Right, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983
  • M. Pugh, Hurrah for the Blackshirts: Fascists and Fascism in Britain Between the Wars, Pimlico, 2006
  • R. Thurlow, Fascism in Britain: A History, 1918-1985, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987

References

  1. ^ a b Benewick, p. 36
  2. ^ Benewick, p. 37
  3. ^ Pugh, p. 53
  4. ^ Griffiths, p. 88
  5. ^ J.A. Cole, Lord Haw-Haw: The Full Story of William Joyce, Faber & Faber, 1987, p. 31
  6. ^ Benewick, p. 38
  7. ^ a b Thurlow, p. 54
  8. ^ a b Dorril, p. 199
  9. ^ Pugh, p. 66
  10. ^ Pugh, p. 99
  11. ^ Pugh, p. 69
  12. ^ Pugh, p. 54
  13. ^ Dorril, p. 184
  14. ^ Benewick, p. 31
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.

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".

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.

Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies

The Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies was a British right-wing movement, established in 1925 to provide volunteers in the event of a general strike. During the General Strike of 1926, it was taken over by the government to provide vital services, such as transport and communications.

Rotha Lintorn-Orman

Rotha Beryl Lintorn Lintorn-Orman (1895–10 March 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.

Valerie Arkell-Smith

Victor Barker, born Lillias Irma Valerie Barker (1895–1960) was a transgender man who is notable for having married a woman. Under various pseudonyms he was an officer of the National Fascisti, a bankrupt, and a convicted criminal.

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