Far Right, Nationalist and Fascism based groups have a history in Britain dating back to before the Second World War. The evolution of the far right ideology with its roots in Mussolini’s Fascisti to the modern day Britain First and Neo Nazi hate groups is a fascinating journey and one we have documented here for the benefit of our readers.
1923 British Fascists (British Fascisti)
The British Fascists were formed in 1923 by a British Nationalist called Rotha Lintorn-Orman as a reaction to Internationalism and what she perceived as the Communist left.
1929 Imperial Fascist league
In 1929 Arnold Leese, who had previously been a member of the British Fascists, established his own pro fascist group the Imperial Fascist league. Where the British Fascists had been primarily concerned with Italian fascism which focused on expansionism and empire building the IFL, under influence from prominent Nazi Julius Streicher, began to adopt themes of Anti-Semitism and White Supremacy which is closer to the definition of Fascism we would use today.
1932 British Union of Fascists
In 1931 a young Labour (ex Conservative) MP called Oswald Mosley left government to form his own political party with a group of equally disgruntled Labour MPs which he called the ‘New Party’. This authoritarian right wing party merged with several other smaller fascist groups in 1932 which became known as the British Union of Fascists. In keeping with the origins of fascism and as a nod the party adopted a black clothing preference (reminiscent of Mussolini’s National Fascist Party paramilitary uniform) and members became known colloquially as ‘Blackshirts’
1933 British Union of Fascists attends the Nuremberg Rallies
As part of the British Union of Fascists representation Moseley’s sister in law the infamous Unity Mitford (who it is rumoured had a love affair with Hitler – certainly a close friendship is documented) travelled to Germany to watch Hitler’s address.
1936 The Battle of Cable Street
The Battle of Cable Street was a physical clash in London’s East End between Mosley’s Blackshirts and rising Anti-Fascist opposition (with links to Communism). The march also saw a lot of Jewish people protesting against the Anti-Semitism the British Union of Fascists were openly promoting. Mosley was forced to abandon a planned pro fascism march as a result of the size of the crowds opposing it.
1935 The Nordic League was established in the UK
Founded in Germany in 1921 and claiming Heinrich Himmler as a member the established Nordische Gesellschaft was brought to the UK to be managed by chairman Archibald Ramsay. The group promoted strong anti-Jewish sentiment which manifested itself in Anti-Semitic speeches and calls for increasing calls for violence. William Joyce was closely involved with the League in its early years of operation.
1936 The Public Order Act
In 1936 the government passed a law making it illegal to wear political uniforms in any “public place or meeting.” (A law which still stands today). The act also forbade the use of “physical force in promoting any political object”.
1937 National Socialist League
The British Union of Fascists split in 1937 with the pro-Nazi and radical Anti-Semitic faction led by William Joyce splitting off to form the National Socialist League. This venture was largely unsuccessful and in 1939 dropped to less than fifty members and eventually folded.
1937 British League of Ex Servicemen and Women
The British League of Ex Servicemen and Women was established as an anti-Semitic right wing alternative to the British Legion. It was run by founder James Taylor until 1944 when the leadership changed to Jeffrey Hamm. Hamm expelled deputy leader Victor Burgess who went on to found the Union of British Freedom. The league was subsumed into the Union Movement in 1947.
1937 British Union of Fascists changes its name to British Union
The British Union claimed a membership of 50,000 people at the height of its influence.
1939 British People’s Party
In 1937 the British Union of Fascists Director of Publications John Beckett was dismissed by Moseley and after establishing the National Socialist League with William Joyce (Joyce’s nick name Lord Haw Haw), Beckett went on to found the British People’s Party. The party was primarily seen as an anti war party with the objective being the immediate cessation of the Second World War. There was a downturn in Anti-Semitism with Beckett citing Joyce’s strong Anti-Semitic views as one of the factors precipitating the demise of the National Socialist League. Unlike the British Union the British People’s party escaped proscription in the war years and continued in a muted capacity until its eventual disbanding in 1954.
1939 The Right Club
Archibald Ramsay established The Right Club primarily as an anti-Jewish vehicle. It was intended to be a coalition of likeminded Anti-Semitic individuals and groups with a view to limiting what they perceived as problematic Jewish influence in the government. After a police raid on one of the members the group membership list was seized and several high profile members arrested including Ramsay. This effectively ended The Right Club for good.
1940 Defence Regulation 18B expanded
In May 1940 the government expanded legislation that allowed suspected Nazi sympathisers to be detained indefinitely. Both Oswald Moseley and Archibold Ramsay were arrested under this legislation (though William Joyce avoided arrest by emigrating to Germany). It is estimated up to a thousand people were detained under 18B as a result of suspected Nazi views. (Moseley would remain under supervision in the grounds of Holloway prison until 1943.)
1940 British Union of Fascists proscribed by the government
In 1940 the British government proscribed the British Union whose total membership at this point was estimated to be in excess of 18,000 people.
1942 English National Association
The English National Association was an Anti-Semitic right wing party founded by John Webster and led by Edward Godfrey
1944 Union for British Freedom
Victor Burgess who regularly spoke at Speakers Corner founded the Union for British Freedom after leaving the British League of Exservice Men and Women (at Jeffrey Hamm’s request).
1944 National Front After Victory
In 1944 AK Chesterton established a new far right group called the National Front After Victory which was intended to pull together several smaller fascist groups including the British People’s party. (AK Chesterfield had been the editor of the British Union of Fascists newsletter titled “Blackshirt” until leaving in 1938 to join the Nordic League.) The National Front After Victory was not a success and soon dispersed.
1945 Union Movement
Moseley made a return to far right politics with the creation of the Union Movement, another far right attempt at unifying different post war extremist and Anti-Semitic groups under one banner. Although envisioned as a political party the Union Movement performed poorly in elections and evolved into more of a street protest group which led to discontent and loss of members.
1948 British Nationality Act
The British Nationality Act of 1948 expanded the definition of a British citizen to include both British born and ‘naturalised’ citizens born overseas in British colonies. This would lead to an increase in immigration over the following four years which would act as a spur for far right opposition.
1950 British Empire Party
Founded by P J Ridout in 1950 the British Empire Party was a small political party who only ever put one candidate up for election.
1954 League of Empire Loyalists
AK Chesterton’s League of Empire Loyalists was intended to be a pro-British Empire party fighting for the sustainable future of the British Empire. The ethos of the group shifted in the latter years when immigration became the key focus.
1956 White Defence League
In 1956 Colin Jordan formed the White Defence League after breaking away from the League of Empire Loyalists. This was a clear step away from the ideology of Empire building to embrace overt racism. Jordan’s vision was more Anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi, anti-Immigration than the LEL and the group made little attempt to align itself with established political parties.
1957 National Labour Party
Disenchanted with the LEL members John Bean and John Tyndall established the National Labour Party (which despite the name has no legitimate link to the Labour party). Unlike the LEL which had poor success at elections, the NLP secured a handful of council seats. However, after failure in the General Election and Bean arrested for rioting, the party membership dwindled and eventually merged with the White Defence League in 1960 to form the British National Party.
1958 Notting Hill Race riots
The 1958 Notting Hill Race riots gave the White Defence League and Colin Jordan enhanced publicity due to WDL claims of involvement in the riots in addition to the public rallies they were holding with regularity across London. The riots were primarily white working class youths attacking the homes of West Indians in the Notting Hill area. Approximately 400 agitators took part.
1960 British National Party
The primary focus of the newly established BNP was Anti-Semitism and the group’s manifesto included the mandatory deportment of British Jews to Israel. Curbing immigration was a key political pledge and this was to be achieved by the repatriation of immigrants currently living in the country. The leaders of both the National Labour Party (Bean and Tyndall) and the White Defence League (Jordan) were prominent figures in the new party as was the widow of Arnold Leese (who had founded the Imperial Fascist League.) The main focus of the BNP initially was as a public protest group rather than a political party though some council seats were obtained. Bean stepped down as leader in 1966 and was succeeded by Philip Maxwell who took the party into the merger with the National Front in 1967.
1962 National Socialist Movement
In 1962 Colin Jordan split from the British National Party and along with John Tyndall founded the National Socialist Movement. The key reason for the split was Jordan’s pro-Nazi views which were perceived as too radical to be likely to win votes (by the BNP). Jordan retained control of the paramilitary arm of the BNP (called Spearhead) but was arrested for his involvement under the Public Order Act (1936) Both Jordan and Tyndall were imprisoned. The NSM established links with the American Nazi party and its leader George Lincoln Rockwell which had close links not just to fascism but specifically to the ideology of Adolf Hitler and WW2 Nazism.
1960 National Party of Europe
The National Party of Europe was the idea of Oswald Mosely which focused on establishing a unity between far right parties in different European countries. It was to promote ‘European Nationalism’ and the idea of Europe as a single nation. There was little support for the NPE as most far right groups preferred to focus their energies into British Nationalism.
1961 Conservative Monday Club
The Monday club was a splinter group from the Conservative political party with emphasis on right wing principles and ideals, in particular supporting an anti-immigration agenda.
1962 The Patriotic Party
Established by Richard Hilton from Chesterton’s LEL the Patriotic party was mainly composed of ex-military personnel. The name changed from True Tories to The Patriotic Party in 1964 and was eventually subsumed by the National Front.
1964 Greater Britain Movement
In 1964 John Tyndell split from the National Socialist Movement and (taking most of its members with him) formed the Greater Britain Movement with which he planned to focus on a British flavour of National Socialism drawing on less European and Nazi influences. Unlike the LEL or the NLP the Greater Britain Movement showed little interest in politics but instead defined itself as a street protest party. The group established a reputation for violence (including a high profile attack on a synagogue) and Tyndall himself was arrested for illegal possession of a gun. There was an attempt by the GBM to unify several key far right groups into a single unity but this was rejected by Chesterton, Mosley and Bean. The GBM was finally (and reluctantly) merged into the National Front in 1967.
John Tyndall launched the far right publication Spearhead in 1964. He used it to promote the National Front and subsequently the BNP throughout his association with both groups. The magazine continued until 2005 but retains an archived online presence to the present day.
1965 Racial Preservation Society
The Racial Preservation Society was a White Nationalist group focusing on the distribution of far right and radical publications. In addition to promoting right wing authors the Society published their own magazine entitled “The Southern News”.
1966 National Demographic Party
In 1966 David Brown, an Independent political candidate and chairman of the Racial Preservation Society founded the National Demographic Party. The group merged with the British Defence Leagues in the early seventies after unsuccessful merger discussions with both the British National Party and Chesterton’s League of Empire Loyalists.
1968 “Rivers of Blood” Speech
In 1968 Enoch Powell, Conservative MP made a speech in Parliament relating to the proposed bill of The Race Relations Act 1968 (legislating for equal rights of housing, employment and public services irrespective of colour). The speech was vehemently anti-immigration, detailing a bleak future for the ‘indigenous’ population and proposing the state sponsored voluntary emigration of non-national British citizens. The speech was denounced by the then Conservative leader Edward Heath as racialist and Powell was demoted from his position in the cabinet. However Powell’s speech had had the effect of bringing some of the far right’s political arguments into the wider public arena and can be seen as a turning point for the growth of the far right in Britain.
1967 The National Front
In 1967 Chesterton merged his League of Empire Loyalists with Philip Maxwell’s British National Party and shortly after with John Tyndell’s Greater British Movement. The National Front, although still Anti-Semitic focused on White Supremacy as its core principle and campaigned against non-white immigration, mixed race marriages and ethnic diversity. The NF is best defined as a Neo Nazi movement, upholding the same far right values as previous Fascist parties but with a strong pro-British (and anti-European) flavour and few links to traditional Nazi symbolism or ideology. Chesterton was succeeded as leader in 1971 by John O’Brien. The National Front shows the evolving shift of the far right from the primary focus being Anti-Semitism to Racism, White Supremacy and British Nationalism.
1968 British Movement
In 1967 Colin Jordan looked to merge his National Socialist Movement with the National Front but this was rejected by Chesterton. Instead, Jordan rebranded the NSM to the British Movement which sought to establish itself as a street action party and which quickly gained a reputation for violence and street rioting. There were numerous arrests of BM members throughout the seventies and early eighties. In 1975 (after being arrested –again) Colin Jordan resigned as leader and was succeeded by Michael McLoughlin who campaigned to make the party more attractive to the young working classes and who grew the membership to in excess of 3000 members.
1972 John Tyndell becomes leader of the National Front
Tyndall oversaw some success with the NF in local elections and council seats but his Nazi past proved a barrier to his credibility and the NF party leadership passed to John Kingsley Read in 1974. This was to be a short lived period and Tyndell quickly reclaimed the leadership with Read leaving the NF in 1976 to set up his own group titled The National Party.
1973 Union Movement renamed the Action Party
Under the leadership of Jeffrey Hamm the Union Movement changed its name to the Action party in 1973 and contested a handful of seats at the London council elections. The party divided into two in 1974 with some members staying loyal to the Action Party and others defecting to join the newly established League of St George.
1974 The League of St George
The League of St George upheld Mosley’s vision of a united Europe with the members joining from the Action Party primarily interested in pro European politics. Less of a street protest party than a discursive organisation the League kept membership to small numbers and sought to establish links with other far right groups across Europe. The group published a periodical titled The League Review.
1976 National Party
The National Party came into being as a result of both disagreement in the Conservative party ranks relating to ethnic immigration and friction between John Tyndell and John Kingsley Read of the National Front. (Read allegedly having more moderate views and who eventually left the far right to join the Conservative party). Despite making attempts at gaining a political foothold the National Party failed to gain mainstream credibility or success beyond a couple of council seats. The NP also promoted Holocaust Denial.
1977 November 9th Society
In 1977 Terry Flynn founded the November 9th Society (which became politically active under the name ‘The British First party’) Promoting their Neo Nazi views the group publicly supported discredited historian David Irving in 2006 (jailed for his historically inaccurate and intentionally malicious denial of the Holocaust).
1977 The Battle of Lewisham
In 1977 the National Front led an anti-multiculturalism march in South East London that attracted the attention of anti-fascist demonstrators. This led to massive clashes and fights on the streets with over 200 arrests and injuries to over 100 people. The march also divided anti fascists with differences of opinion as to whether to react with peaceful protest or using force to prevent the march from proceeding.
1978 Action Party changes to Action Society
In 1978 the Action Party changed its focus from being a political group to being a publishing house and changed its name to the Action Society. In 1994 Jeffrey Hamm died and the Action Society ceased its publishing activities.
1979 The National Front fractures
1979 saw Margaret Thatcher win the General Election for the Conservative party which started to move the party away from centrist ground and back toward a more right wing agenda. This weakened the National Front with many members feeling as a result of the political shift such a far right protest group was no longer required. The publicity for the National Front after the street riots during the Battle of Lewisham had also had a detrimental effect on the party which led to a leadership challenge by Andrew Fountaine. This challenge was not successful and leadership was maintained by Tyndell but it led to fractures with some members leaving with Fountaine to join his Constitutional Movement and others leaving to join the newly set up British Democratic Party. The fractures took their toll on both Tyndell and the National Front and after a short period Tyndell was succeeded as leader by Andrew Brons who had the backing of the National Front deputy leader Martin Webster.
1979 The Constitutional Movement
Andrew Fountaine’s Constitutional Movement was established as a breakaway group from the National Front and intended as a less extreme right wing alternative. Fountaine wanted to distance his group from Naziism and offer a credible political alternative to the mainstream parties. Poor results led Fountaine to become disillusioned and leave the party which struggled to make much impact without him. The party changed its name to the Nationalist Party in 1982 but after winning no seats at the 1983 General Election lost a lot of members to the British National Party and faded into oblivion.
1979 British Democratic Party
The BDP were the second group to splinter from the National Front in 1979. The group was established by Anthony Reed Herbert in an attempt to make far right politics more palatable to the mainstream. The party was undermined by its association with Ray Hill who was working undercover for the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight and who was passing key information about the BDP to antifascists and the press. The BDP received bad publicity with regard to alleged involvement in supplying firearms to Neo Nazis which undermined their credibility and led to the assimilation of the BDP with the British National Party in 1982.
1980 New National Front
John Tyndall resigned from the National Front in 1980 citing ideological differences (primarily he objected to pro homosexuality views within the group) and took a chunk of the NF membership with him. In 1981 Tyndall started to made advances toward other right wing parties and groups with the hope of establishing a bigger and more effective union. This was referred to as the Committee for National Unity.
1982 British National Party
In 1982 the Committee for National Unity decided to establish a new far right political party. This was to be founded on the key policy of British (specifically white British) nationalism and was called the British National Party. Although envisioned as a political party the early years of the BNP were characterised by street based activity (in much the same manner as the National Front). Tyndall’s Neo Nazism was deemed to appeal to too narrow a base by the party and in 1999 he was replaced by Nick Griffin who sought to remould the party into more of a political entity with appeal to a wider demographic of right wing voters.
1982 National Socialist Action Party
The Neo Nazi group The National Socialist Action Party was established by long term far right supporter Tony Malski who intended the party to be a pro force military style organisation. Malski had no political aspirations and the NSAP did not field any political candidates. The party disbanded after negative publicity from a Channel 4 documentary in 1984.
1986 Official National Front
In 1986 the National Front divided into two. The Official National Front and the Flag Group. The Official National Front (including Nick Griffin who would eventually emerge to lead the BNP) took a less traditionalist approach to right wing politics and a more moderate approach to British Nationalism. There was less emphasis within the ONF on anti-Semitism which caused friction in the group leading to a splintering in 1989 and a name change of the group’s remaining members to ‘Third Way.’
1986 Flag Group
Immediately after the National Front split the group led by Andrew Brons named themselves the National Front Support Group. However this quickly became rebranded as the Flag Group. After fielding several political candidates under this name and after the demise of the ONF the Flag Group eventually reclaimed the branding and name of the National Front.
1987 Blood and Honour
Blood and Honour was officially formed as a Neo Nazi group in 1987 though the origins of the group can be dated back to some of the Neo Nazi and White Supremacist musical bands linked to the National Front of the late 1970s. Blood and Honour attempted to bring Nazism to public attention through far right musical groups and a quarterly publication advertising far right events, paraphernalia and Nazi inspired concerts and gigs.
1989 International Third Position
The International Third Position came into being as a result of the split in the National Front. It was led by Roberto Fiore but the most prominent member was Nick Griffin who would eventually lead the BNP. The ideology was racial separatism, the idea that different races can coexist within a nation if there are strict boundaries governing interaction between them. The group rebranded as ‘England First’ in 2001.
The United Kingdom Independence Party was founded in 1991 in opposition to the signing of the Maastricht treaty which established the three pillars of the European Union. The party achieved little political headway or notoriety until into the turn of the century moving its share of the national vote from only 0.3% in 1997 General Election to only 1.5% in 2001 General Election. When established UKIP although a right wing party is not technically a far right party. The far right associations would come later in the history of UKIP.
1992 Blood and Honour “Battle of Waterloo”
A highly publicised concert (heavily promoted by periodical Blood and Honour) to be given by far right rock band “Skrewdriver” ran into clashes with antifascists and police who attempted to prevent concert goers from attending the event by closing down Waterloo station in London. Subsequent attempts by anti-fascists to prevent Skrewdriver and other Neo Nazi music bands from having an audience took place at many of the events organised by Blood and Honour. The co-founder of Blood and Honour – Neo Nazi Ian Donaldson – died in a car crash in late 1992.
1992 Combat 18
Combat 18 was intended as a paramilitary group to defend, in particular, BNP members from expressing far right views in public. The group had strong links to Neo Nazi organisation Blood and Honour and was built on the premise of violence and street action. Co-founder Charlie Sargeant was imprisoned for murder in 1997. After rejection from the BNP in 1993 (the association with Combat 18 believed to be discrediting the BNP who still retained aspirations of political success) went on to increased levels of violence, racist attacks and confirmed links to football hooliganism. The activities of Combat 18 show the beginnings of a shift in the attitude of the far right from Racism to Islamophobia. The group were also associated with Northern Ireland loyalist movements.
1997 National Socialist Movement
This group has no direct association with Colin Jordan’s NSM in the 1960s. It was established from a split in paramilitary far right group Combat 18 and initially led by David Myatt. The group was both racist and anti-Semitic and known for the use of violence. In 1999 NSM member David Copeland embarked on a London bombing spree with the use of homemade nail bombs, intentionally targeting ethnic and homosexual members of the public.
2002 The Racial Volunteer Force
The Racial Volunteer Force was a breakaway group from Combat 18 in 2002. Led by Mark Atkinson and John Hill from Combat 18 the RVF was established as a street protest group. Unlike Combat 18 who were moving toward Islam as a primary target the RVF wanted to retain the ethos of National Socialism and in particular Anti-Semitism.
2002 White Nationalist Party
Based in the North of England and founded by Combat 18 frontman Eddy Morrison the White Nationalist Party was founded on extreme National Socialism principles. Mark Cotterill left the White Nationalist Party in 2004 he to found his own party the England First party
2004 England First Party
Prior to his membership of the White Nationalist Party Mark Cotterill had been a member of the BNP and he planned for the England First Party to be closer in political ethos to the BNP than the more street based protest group WNP he had just left. Cotterill used this new group to establish the far right (and relatively wide reaching) periodical Heritage and Destiny which he described as the “radical voice of racial nationalism”.
2005 Nationalist Alliance
Founded in 2005 by Catherine Parker-Brown the Nationalist Alliance as a unity was short lived. As a result of infighting the group split later the same year and although the party continued with its nationalist agenda for a couple of years it failed to make an impact on the far right political scene.
2005 British People’s Party
Founded by Eddy Morrison from the National Front the British People’s Party was a hard line anti-Semitic Holocaust denying party with Northern Ireland sympathies. The sole BPP political candidate David Jones was expelled from the party in 2012 allegedly as a result of a liaison with far right hate blogger Claire Khaw.
2006 New Nationalist Party
Formed by ex BNP Sharon Ebanks the New Nationalist Party was intended to focus on local political issues in the areas surrounding Birmingham. Although the party contested several local council seats none of the candidates from the NNP were successful.
2006 Nigel Farage and UKIP
In 2005 high profile member Robert Kilroy Silk left UKIP (to establish his own right wing political party) and UKIP floundered in an electoral slump as the party struggled to establish an identity as a credible political entity beyond their support of a single issue (leaving the EU). In 2006 Nigel Farage took over the party leadership and after establishing a broader political agenda took the party through a period of success including putting 13 UKIP MEPS into the European Parliament.
2009 The English Defence League
The EDL was founded in 2009 by Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon). It marked a key turning point in far right views as it was established as an anti-Islam party rather than a pro Nationalist party. Initially Robinson tried to make a distinction between what he called “Radical Islam” and the UK Muslim population in general but this view was not shared by the majority of his members and the group quickly established a reputation for being anti Islam.
2010 The European Defence League
Tommy Robinson’s vision was to expand the EDL to a wider European membership. In 2010 he set up the European Defence League which saw moderate success in Holland with the Dutch Defence League but which failed to garner mainstream support across Europe.
2010 British Freedom Party
The British Freedom Party was chaired by Paul Weston from UKIP and was promoted as politics of a “centrist” nature. This aspiration for the central ground looked unlikely when anti Islam Tommy Robinson was appointed deputy leader and even more unlikely when EDL member Kevin Carroll (known for his anti-Islam views) was promoted to leader in 2013.
2010 Britannica Party
The Britannia Party was a small splinter group from the BNP set up by Charles Baillie. It received minimal votes in Scottish council elections and, despite claims to oppose Scottish devolution, achieved little publicity with its campaigning.
2011 Britain First
Britain First is probably the most high profile splinter group of the BNP. Established in 2011, by party funder and founder Jim Dowson, Britain First continued the anti-Islam trend of the extreme far right. The party has achieved some success online with the Facebook page in particular receiving over one and a half million likes. The group however have failed to rise to the challenge of converting online activism to street based protest with less than 0.01% of the online membership regularly turning up to face to face Britain First events.
2011 The London Forum
Jeremy Bedford-Turner (Jez Turner) an ex National Front member set up the London Forum in 2011. The forum was (and still is) a speaking place for far right and nationalist speakers to publicly share their views. Past guests have included Holocaust Denier David Irving, Barrister Ian Millard (barred from practising law due to his anti-Semitic views) and Alison Chabloz – anti-Semitic singer songwriter.
2013 Tommy Robinson leaves the EDL
In 2013 Robinson held a press conference to confirm he would be leaving the EDL. He cited his reasons as concerns with the methods employed by the EDL and the “dangers of far right extremism.” Robinson was supported in leaving the EDL (along with deputy Kevin Carroll) by the Quilliam foundation – a counter extremist think tank co-founded by ex-Islamic extremist Maajid Nawaz.
2013 Robinson leaves the English Defence League
Robinson was succeeded as leader of the English Defence League by Tim Ablitt who tried and failed to merge the EDL with the British Freedom Party. Under Ablitt the EDL attempted to make overseas connections including an open link with Terry Jones the President of American group ‘Stand up America Now’ (infamous for his threats to burn copies of the Islamic holy book the Quran). During this period the EDL also received controversial support from the Jewish Defense League.
2013 National Action
National Action are a youth Neo Nazi movement established on the internet in 2013 but set up as a street protest party. Unlike traditional far right groups there is no single public figure linked to leadership of the party though prominent members include Jack Renshaw, Garron Helm and Ashley Benn. The group are primarily an Anti-Semitic organisation, citing Hitler and the Nazis as their inspiration. The group are also associated with both Nationalist and Racist beliefs. Aside from poorly manned youth rallies the group’s key activity has been placing Neo Nazi stickers promoting ‘White Power’ in big Northern cities. National Action also claim to be supporters of Donald Trump. Also allegedly linked to National Action is Anti Semite Joshua Bonehill-Payne, convicted in 2016 for sending hate tweets to Labour MP Luciana Berger and currently in prison.
2013 British Democratic Party
The British Democratic Party is a splinter group from the BNP attracting the more extreme far right members and including Andrew Brons (leader) and John Bean. The BDP are an anti EU party opposing all immigration and supporting the reintroduction of the death penalty.
2013 Murder of Lee Rigby
The murder of fusilier Lee Rigby was a crime committed by two converts to Islam and despite being widely disowned by Muslim communities as having any links to Islam the murder caused civil tension with both the EDL and the BNP using the murder as a call to arms for their respective far right associations. The murder of Lee Rigby was also a pivotal point for the rise in anti-Muslim crime which spiked sharply in the weeks and month after the murder took place.
2013 Liberty GB
Liberty GB was founded in 2013 by ex UKIP candidate (and ex BFP leader) Paul Weston. The party was founded on anti-Islam principles and despite the use of ‘Liberty’ in its name is a conservative organisation with racist undertones and strong links to the EDF. Weston was arrested in 2014 for religious harassment and more recently Liberty GB member Timothy Burton was convicted in court of religiously harassing the founder of Muslim support group Tell Mama UK.
2014 Dowson leaves Britain First
After a disagreement about strategy, specifically relating to the mosque invasions favoured by Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen of Britain First, Jim Dowson left Britain First. The group continued with online success on social media but with very limited political success beyond this with Jayda Fransen the party’s deputy leader managing to acquire only 0.14% of the vote in the Rochester and Stood by-election. Britain First also hit the headlines in this period for inflammatory comments about burying dead pigs in building works for mosques and for its ‘Christian Patrols.’ Britain First has been denounced by Christian leaders as not being representative of the Christian faith and the Community Security Trust (a charity to promote safety of Jewish communities and individuals) has also warned Jews that Britain First do not have Jewish interests at heart. Paul Golding stood for London mayor in 2016 but achieved only 1.2% of the total vote.
2014 Knights Templar International
Founded by Jim Dowson in 2014 the KTI is a primarily online allegedly non-political Christian organisation (which mainly operates through Facebook). Anti-Bigotry group IRBF exposed email correspondence from Paul Golding of Britain First advising his members to join the KTI which confirmed the link between the two groups and the link back to Dowson. IRBF also exposed the KTI director as being Jim Dowson’s sister in law.
Established as an online anti Islam movement by an anonymous leader under the pseudonym ‘James Bond’ Bluehand claims an International membership though is independently estimated to have fewer than 300 genuine online members. The group operates exclusively on Twitter and has no presence beyond social media. In November 2017 ‘James Bond’ lost his primary Twitter account and over 30,000 followers.
2015 Pegida UK
Pegida UK was established as a sister group to the far right German organisation Pegida (an acronym for Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) It was brought to the UK by Tommy Robinson who hoped to establish the group as a more respectable alternative to the EDF. To date the two Pegida UK marches have been notable for their lack of attendees with neither publicised event managing to attract more than 200 delegates. The group have had some moderate success on Pegida radio catering to a far right crowd with anti Islam guest speakers. Robinson stepped down as leader to be succeeded by Paul Weston of Liberty GB. The group is also assocated with Anne Marie Waters from Sharia Watch.
While not a far right event in itself the EU referendum in 2016 was notable for the change in public attitudes to embrace far right ideas including anti-immigration and anti-Islam sentiment. Hate crime toward many minority demographics significantly increased after the referendum.
2016 UKIP post referendum
UKIP moved further to the right in the lead up to the EU referendum with campaigns like their Breaking Point poster (depicting a dystopian and factually inaccurate view of immigration) consolidating their status as a far right party. Nigel Farage stepped down as leader in the same year and the party has struggled to find a long term replacement. The current leader Paul Nuttall (a climate change sceptic) has enjoyed several scandals including the claim he does not live in his constituency and the disproval of his claim that he lost personal friends in the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989.
2016 The murder of Jo Cox
In 2016 Labour MP and campaigner for human rights Jo Cox was murdered by far right supporter Thomas Mair. Mair had been a member of the National Front in the 1990s and was also alleged to have links with both the EDL and Britain First. This high profile act of terrorism brought far right extremism to the attention of both the media and the public with the Government Prevent program confirming in 2017 that one in every four referrals to the program was now related to far right extremism.
2016 Patriot News Agency
Jim Dowson established the Patriot News Agency to link together far right social media sites and organise the publication and sharing of pro Donald Trump anti Hilary Clinton propaganda in an attempt to influence the US Presidential elections. This was at least partially successful with a strong social media following and the candidate of choice elected (though there is no established evidence to support Dowson’s role in Trump’s election).
2016 National Action is Proscribed
The support of National Action for far right fascist murderer Thomas Mair in additional to their public calls for the death of both further MPs and “traitors” led to the Conservative government proscribing the group in late 2016.
Scottish Dawn and NS131 2017
In the wake of the National Action proscription two splinter groups – NS131 and Scottish Dawn appeared. Believed to have been a way for National Action to retain their structure under a new identity both these groups were proscribed by the Home Secretary in September 2017.
In August 2017 UKIP held a leadership election which was contested by 7 candidates, one of whom was Anne Marie Waters, director of Sharia Watch and co founder of Pegida UK with ex EDL leader Tommy Robinson. Many in the party saw Waters as a one policy candidate and wanted to keep UKIP free of becoming an ‘anti Islam’ party. Rival candidate Henry Bolton suggested UKIP was in danger of becoming the “UK Nazi party” if Waters was elected leader and called for more moderate leadership. Waters lost the leadership to Bolton and announced shortly afterwards she intended to launch her own party which would focus primarily on reducing Muslim immigration in the UK.
Liberty GB merged with For Britain
In November 2017 Paul Weston of Liberty GB announced that he planned to shut his group down and join Anne Marie Waters in the For Britain group.
2017 saw the appointment of Donald Trump to the US presidency. Trump united the right wing vote in America with a series of policies designed to create disunity and discord between communities. These included a ban on Muslims flying into the US, plans for a wall to be erected between the USA and Mexico on the grounds Trump believed ‘Mexicans to be rapists’ and his infamous comment after a race riot in Charlottesville where he claimed there to be ‘very fine people on both sides.”
Although an American, the influence of Donald Trump spread across the Atlantic with the influences seen on UK social media. This was a key turning point in the rhetoric of the far right when the narrative changed from “No, I’m not racist,” to “Yes I am racist and I have a right to be.”
National Action members imprisoned
After the proscription of National Action there was a series of trials involving members and associates of the group. In 2018 Jack Renshaw was jailed on a charge of incitement to racial hatred and plotting to murder an MP and several others including Mark Jones, Alice Cutter and Garry Jack were also given prison sentences.
National Action marked a shift in the target of the far right from racism and Islamophobia to a focus on anti-Semitism. Anti Semitism had never left the British far right but the rise of National Action gave it a popularity boost. It was 2018/2019 that many right wing social media groups turned their attention from people of colour and Muslims to Jewish people as a target.
The far right splits
The new influx of anti-Semitic haters, led by Neo Nazi groups like National Action and boosted by social media platforms with large numbers of American followers led to a huge split in the British far right.
Key figure Tommy Robinson aligned himself with the Middle East forum (a pro Israel, anti Islam American think tank) and received huge amounts of funding from them to continue to push his anti Muslim agenda.
But many British far right fascists refused to accept a pro Israel narrative and wanted to move into an anti Jewish arena where the focus was on opposing both the Muslim and Jewish communities.
National Action splinter groups
The anti-Semitism groups on the far right at this time broadly fell into two categories – the overt law breaking Neo Nazi National Action splinter groups such as the System Resistance Network and the TripleK Mafia and the sanitised low key fascists who hoped to appeal to the mainstream and to make an impact in politics.
The NA splinter groups were short lived (though covert factions do remain behind closed doors). Crass publicity seeking stunts like Adam Thomas naming his child Adolf in honour of Adolf Hitler got them publicity but with that publicity came scrutiny. The TripleK Mafia ended with three high profile members receiving prison sentences.
After the demise of National Action, racist member Sam Melia set up an internet organisation that despatched stickers to members willing to cover their local town in far right rhetoric. Melia boasted that his group was secure and anonymous but this proved not to be the case when anti hate group Hope not Hate tracked down both the leadership and the members.
There was some press coverage suggesting common practice of the hundred handers was to put razor blades under their stickers in the hope that anyone removing the material would be hurt in the process.
The Sonnenkrieg Division
Neo Nazi anti-Semites are rife on dark corners of the internet (mainly Telegram) where they have little influence and mainly remain anonymous. One significant exception to this is the Sonnenkrieg (Sun War) division. Alleged to have links to both the German Attomwaffen Division and to the Esoteric Satanic group Order of the Nine Angles this group has been taken seriously as a threat to the UK.
Unlike many of the Nazi groups the Sonnenkrieg is a real life organisation rather than an online forum and members have been investigated for violence, terrorism and rape.
Groups like this clearly show the policing of far right rhetoric is a battle more often lost than won. In February 2020 the Sonnenkrieg Division was proscribed as a terrorist organisation. But as with National Action this did very little to deter members who simply rebranded and formed new groups.
Hate had moved beyond the likes of Facebook and Twitter and Neo Nazi groups were organising themselves using obscure platforms and sophisticated technology to avoid detection.
The rise of the Neo Nazis also showed a tidal change from the far right tactics of Tommy Robinson and Britain First who focused on a ‘grifting’ model and used publicity and media to make income. The Neo Nazi groups are not interested in making a living from hate, nor from growing their following base. They are small, closed, tight groups of a few individuals who are prepared to break laws in the most heinous ways possible to demonstrate their extremist beliefs.
Ex BNP poster boy Mark Collett founded Patriotic Alternative with deputy Laura Towler (who married Sam Melia from Hundred Hands) in 2019. The group recruited some aspiring far right figures such as James Goddard of the yellow vests and Millenial Woes from You Tube.
Unlike many Nazi organisations Collett intended Patriotic Alternative to be seen as a credible political alternative to the mainstream politicial parties and censored the image (which he refers to as ‘the optics’) of the organisation to present a sanitised, wholesome, child friendly face to the world.
Patriotic Alternative is fixated on demographics and in particular the belief that by 2066 (or some other arbitrary year) what they see as the white indigenous population will be replaced by people of colour.
Patriotic Alternative has been widely discredited by the mainstream press and deplatformed by social media. The veneer of respectability (the deputy actually sells branded tea bags) has been exposed for what it is – the front to a racist, white supremacist group with hate as its core message.
The organisation has also been rejected on three separate occasions when trying to register as a political party.
Patriotic Alternative has been very susceptible to internal politics and, particularly, resistance to Collet’s leadership. Collet is seen as too extreme a figure even by a lot of the far right and recent months have seen him fall out with numerous associates of his party including Vinnie Sullivan, Dionne Secret Sources and Nazi singer Alison Chabloz.
Patriotic Alternative recently had their membership list hacked and are currently in the process of being methodically doxed by person or persons unknown.
Britain First leadership change
2019 saw deputy Jayda Fransen leave Britain First and, shortly after, leader Paul Golding was joined by Tim Burton from the failed Liberty GB group. Golding then became romantically involved with Ashlea Simon, the ex girlfriend of James Goddard in Patriotic Alternative.
This change of personnel led to a change in direction for Britain First. Although ostensibly the party was still pro Jewish and anti Muslim, there were concerns among the BF members that Golding was getting too close to the anti Jewish sentiment of his old friend Collett and (allegedly) of his girlfriend Ashlea Simon.
The ‘37’ words group (Telegram)
The schism in Patriotic Alternative deepened and eventually fractured into an offshoot group which promotes nationalism rather than the ‘ethno nationalism’ (racism) of Patriotic Alternative. The group is currently little more than a Telegram chatroom but it serves as an interesting reminder that the more extreme the message, the more even people who share a similar philosophy will reject it.
The decline of Tommy Robinson
After a deliberate campaign by Patriotic Alternative to recruit the followers of Tommy Robinson to ‘ethno nationalism’ and in a difficult financial climate due to the Covid 19 virus, Robinson’s donations started to dry up in 2020. In anticipation of a libel case with legal costs expected to exceed 700k, Robinson went bankrupt in early 2021. The bankruptcy was followed by a series of negative press articles including the allegation he had been using his supporter donations to fuel his cocaine habit and that in an attempt to prevent this story from being leaked he had publicly threatened to out the partner of the journalist (falsely) as a paedophile.
To date he is divorced, bankrupt, deplatformed from every major social media platform and losing followers by the day.
Roanna Carleton Taylor