The Far Right In Britain: Fascism and Racism

In the early 1930s, aristocrat and member of parliament, Sir Oswald Mosely, formed the British Union of Fascists, the BUF. He was attracted by the success of Mussolini and Hitler in Italy and Germany, and disillusioned with democratic politics in Britain. A member of The Labour Party at the time, he did not stand for re-election in 1931, instead forming his neo-Nazi party.

They wore black shirts, and uniforms similar to those seen in Germany. Mosely was a skilled orator, also adopting the straight-arm Nazi salute for hs party, and organising mass rallies and marches that were deliberately confrontational.

Their flag was comparable to some Nazi insignia.

Following the outbreak of WW2, the BUF was banned in Britain, and Mosely spent three years in prison for advocating pro-German sympathies.

By 1958, immigration was becoming a contentious issue in Britain, and the White Defence League was formed, basing its ideology on racism, and white supremacy. That later merged to become the larger British National Party, led at the time by Colin Jordan. They liked to parade on marches through areas of immigrant settlement, deliberately inflaming tensions in communities. Rather than be associated with Nazi symbols and regalia, they used the Union flag and the St George’s flag in their propaganda, trying to appeal to ordinary white Britons. Since then, both flags have sadly had unpleasant associations with racists and fascists.

In the late 1960s, some splinter groups got together to form the National Front, led by John Tyndall. That party had an openly racist and antisemitic agenda, and used large groups of mostly young men (including skinheads) to carry out violent protests on the streets. It gained considerable traction, mainly in England, and had over 20,000 official members, as well as twice that number of sympathisers. In 1979, they stood in many seats at the General Election, but failed to get any candidate elected. Despite some mainstream appeal, some NF supporters used the Nazi salute, and wore Swastika emblems. That made them unpopular with many British people.

Ninety years after Mosely’s BUF, the Far Right political groups have never gone away. Numerous organisations have existed in the decades since the 1980s, and hatred against Muslims since 9/11 has driven new supporters to them. The most prominent of these is The Englsh Defence League, which is still very active, and primarily Islamophobic.

As someone old enough to have had relatives who fought against Fascism in WW2, it makes my heart sad to see all this. The hard lessons of history are not only ignored but celebrated, and similar Far-Right groups are re-emerging all over the western world.

60 thoughts on “The Far Right In Britain: Fascism and Racism

  1. It is sad indeed, Pete. Here, in Spain, we have a party called Vox. They have a bigger hold in some places than in others and they make deals with the traditional right party (PP), but their leaders are ridiculous (at best), although there are people who appreciate their message. They try to turn things on their heads and present themselves as true Spaniards, but… Fingers crossed they never make it to the top.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A well written and enlightening article.
    I witnessed the NF in London in the early 80s. They would have got more support & traction (particularly against Maggie) if they didn’t associate with Nazi & skinhead stuff.
    The same right wing fascism is here alive & well in the world today – but from well dressed very wealthy people. It owns much of the mainstream media and indoctrinates us very subtly, buying their way into world dominance.
    When I was a kid I never thought Dennis the Menace would have a real lookalike, that would make us all great (again).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The truth of the racism matter is this: “People of good moral standing will argue, “I do not mind in the least if the ethnic minorities move into our neighborhoods — as long as it is not mine.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suppose they have their own reasons, or maybe that is the only option offered by the people smugglers? Whatever anyone’s views on those ‘boat people’, the sad fact is that the issue is reigniting racist attitudes in our country.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. If you will permit me a small plug, Pete: my grand uncle Wilfred Risdon was Mosley’s first Director of Propaganda [which mostly entailed organising Mosley’s meetings—a post William Joyce later filled, with different & hate-filled results], after following him from the Independent Labour Party, and then the New Party, formed in 1930. Wilfred left Mosley in early 1939, to become Secretary of the London & Provincial Anti-Vivisection Society, and later the National Anti-Vivisection Society, which moved its HQ to the heart of the medical establishment, Harley Street—he wanted to outlaw the use of animal testing, in favour of humane methods of medical research. If any of your readers would like to find out more, they can start at my own WordPress blog,, which has a link to the website with information about my biography of Wilfred Risdon. Thanks, Jon 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Pete. It was a very volatile period in our history [the 1930s, I mean] and it’s almost impossible for us to know by looking back with our contemporary knowledge, what it must have felt like to be trying to create a new political landscape. My grand uncle was a man of his time.

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  5. If far right groups are emerging all over the world– and I know they are — then there must be some rationale –Take the Trump fanatics for example — 77 million of them who would goose step at the drop of a hat if told to do so — that’s is nearly a third of the population of the USA — If a country is to be “all-inclusive” and tolerant of all ideologies, as most democracies claim to be and do, then there has to be a place for the far right voices as well. Intolerance and prejudice are inherent to Mankind and if those voices are to be quelled in a social paradigm such as democracy, then the democracy has become hypocritical. A voice for all views or a voice for none is my mantra. Yes, let them have their voices, but do not let their ideologies become dominant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would say freedom of speech includes everything but the right to shout fire in a crowded room, and that stirring up hatred in an already volatile situation is doing exactly that. This speech is very harmful

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The very freedoms we enjoy as Americans in our precious little democracy are the direct product of hatred .. hatred of the English oppressors by the colonials in the 1700s, hatred of the nazis and the people who bombed pearl harbor …hatred of the North by the South and of the South by the North during the civil war …do not dispute the value of hatred because when properly applied, it can be very protective of good things.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s one way of looking at it I guess. Or you could turn it around and say that it was a love of independence and a care for slaves. I don’t know how you properly apply hatred but IMO it’s never a force for good

          Liked by 2 people

          1. We live in a world where everything is governed by positives and negatives. This goes from our physical molecular structure right up into our philosophies and ideologies. It is impossible to appreciate healing until pain is experienced. There will always be opposites .. positive and negative… up and down .. in and out .. here and there… love and hate …hatred is one of the negatives that balance the universe… it is necessary, it is prevalent, it has always been a part of humanity, it will always be a part of humanity, and like the earth arose from celestial chaos, all good things are born of chaos … and hatred, therefore, is one of the primary motivators of love …and is, therefore good. One of my arguments is always “If you love the beggar or the immigrant so much then go on and adopt a couple of them and take care of them yourself …” It is always a matter of people defending the minorities until they realize that the minorities have moved into their own neighborhoods and then attitudes change dramatically as property values drop and once pristine neighborhoods turn into slums … which is usually the case.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I used to live in Leicester which has one of the highest rates of post war immigration. The Asian (Of Indian origin) population has only enriched the life of the town. Many employees of the NHS, for example, are refugees or immigrants, one reason it’s suffering post Brexit. As for adopting refugees, my sister had a family staying in her house and so would I if I were able.
              Besides, you don’t make perilous journeys across land and sea and spend all your savings just to improve your level of comfort

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Your pereceptions are interesting and thank you for sharing them. The only thing the influx of a foreign element into my home town did for the town was to urbanize it, thus destroying the original quiet and peace and pastorality of it.

                Liked by 2 people

          1. Where there is a threat to the established order by the influx of outside elements there is definitely a fire … it might be smouldering but eventually it will burst into flames.

            Liked by 1 person

    2. They are only ever banned for openly inciting violence and race hatred, John. If they have ‘basic’ right-wing views, then their freedom of speech is guaranteed in Britain. Unfortunately, most groups exploit this, gradually becoming more and more unacceptable in society.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is because most so called asylum seekers are seeking asylum from their miserable poverty stricken lifestyles …they want to come to generous nations to suck up all the free stuff that they can get …and live a cushier lifestyle .. usually at the expense of taxpayers. I am, of course, in favor of asylum for those who actually are in real danger in their native countries …Ukrainians come to mind …but I believe the purely comfort seekers should be deported en masse. The asylum concept is being egregiously abused and the bleeding hearts are letting it happen, much to the detriment of the proposed host countries.

        Liked by 1 person

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