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International Socialism, July/August 1975


David Evans

News from the Nazi Front


From Notes of the Month, International Socialism, No.80, July/August 1975, p.5.
Transcribed & marked up by by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


David Evans writes: The fact that the National Front has not so far been able to make much headway in the anti-Common Market campaign can be attributed to a certain extent to internal power squabbles. Recently the Guardian carried an article by Martin Walker which predicted the imminent expulsion from the NF of John Tyndall, its Policy Director, and former deputy to Colin Jordan in the British Nazi Party. This move could represent a significant change of line in the policy of the NF, the victory of the so-called ‘populist’ faction over the more hard-line ex-Nazis. The idea that the NF will eventually purge itself of the Nazi image is one that is often voiced in the press – and the election of John Kingsley Read to the chairmanship and Roy Painter to the National Directorate late last year are quoted as examples of this process. It is undoubtedly true that there does exist now in the NF a body of opinion which would like nothing more than to rid the party of the ex-Nazis in the leadership, and certain branches of the NF, particularly in the Midlands have long been hostile to both Tyndall and Webster. But if Tyndall is expelled, it will not change to any great extent the party’s line on immigration, trade unions, law and order, housing or any other significant matters of policy. Nor should it change the attitude of the left towards the NF – that is, an uncompromising opposition to any form of publicity, meeting or demonstration they may attempt.

The January issue of Spearhead makes the Front’s position on its politics very clear. John Bean (who once described himself as ‘the British Dr Goebbels’) wrote of those who want to purge the Nazi leadership that they ‘ought, politically speaking to go back to school’ if they imagined that this would end the ‘smear campaign’ against them. And Martin Webster, in the same issue wrote that ‘while any party must be free to adjust the emphasis which it puts on various aspects of its policy, if this process is to be used by the unscrupulous simply as a cover for a gradual process of dumping fundamental objectives, then the party is on the high road to ruin’. Both Bean and Webster are long time members of thinly disguised Nazi organisations, as are several others still high up in the Front leadership.

But the Nazi connections go much deeper than the leadership. In spite of attempts to prevent it, several NF members attended the birthday celebrations for Hitler held secretly in April, and others have been involved in the publication of Did 6 million really die?, a pamphlet claiming that the Nazi Concentration Camps were merely American propaganda. Within the last few months, Spearhead has carried articles which first appeared in White Power, an American Nazi magazine, and Spark, the shortlived NF student newspaper carried cartoons borrowed from the same magazine. During the last general election, an NF candidate suggested that there should be one trade union to look after all workers – ‘given responsible leaders, the general union could end the unrest we have at present in industry’ (Walsall Observer, 27.9.74), presumably in the same way that Robert Ley’s Labour Front did in Nazi Germany. It is also apparent that various Nazi papers on the continent, such as Folk Og Land (Norway) and Nordisk Kamp (Sweden) regard the NF as a ‘fraternal organisation’.

If there is a significant move towards ‘populism’ in the Front, it will manifest itself more in the form of activity rather than political line. The growing infiltration of such bodies as Ratepayers Associations, Housing Advice Centres and the self-employed workers’ organisations is becoming more apparent, and in some areas, such as North London, these bodies are effectively NF fronts. In other areas, the NF has made efforts to work within social bodies such as youth clubs, and in Canterbury for example, an NF Youth Club professing to be non-political is planned.

The fact that the NF appears to change its tactics, or the extent to which it can convince the media that it has changed its image, should not deceive the left into thinking it is less of a threat. What it does mean however is that trade unionists and socialists must be acquainted with and ready to argue against specific National Front policies. While the continuing Nazi connections should be given the maximum publicity, it is no longer sufficient to merely denounce NF members as Nazis – many of them are now well aware of Tyndall’s Nazi background, and at their annual meeting in January, there were chants of ‘Nazi Nazi’ whenever he rose to speak. The fight against NF, especially in the context of the Common Market must be against the divisive and anti-working class measures which they support, and most of all, it must pose the socialist alternative at every stage. Only by an uncompromising opposition to all manifestations of racialism and fascism, in the context of the wider struggle for socialism can the threat from the far right be minimised.

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