Temulkar wrote: From Mosely to Farage, A Brief History of New Parties on the Right
‘To be ruled by misguided sentimentalism would be disastrous. Once it was known that Britain offered sanctuary to all who cared to come, the floodgates would be opened and we would be inundated by thousands seeking a home.’
The above words come not from Nigel Farage in the 21st century but press baron Viscount Rothermere in 1937. The similarities in ideology are however unmistakeable. It has been the ever present complaint of the far right in Britain that the national identity is being eroded by an unstoppable tsunami of immigration. In the 1930s, it was Jews fleeing Nazi Germany that were the target of the new parties of the right. By the 1950s with anti-semitism out of vogue the target became the West Indian immigrants arriving on the SS Windrush(as Danny Boyle portrayed in the Olympics last year). In the Seventies it was British born Asians fleeing from Idi Amin and Uganda and later refugees from flooding in Bangladesh. Today it is the Poles, the Bulgarians, The Gypsies and Romanians who are identified as threats to the English way of life. To the supporters of UKIP the floodgates have truly been opened and it is that impotent cry of rage at the death of a perceived golden age of Britain that is the recruitment siren to UKIP today just as it was the New Party and later the BUF in the Thirties.
The economic crisis of the twenties and thirties brought about a new breed of politics after the shattering of Edwradian Age in the trenches of the Western Front. Oswald Mosely a veteran of the war having served in the trenches entered politics initially as a conservative but quickly fell out with his own benches. The use of Black and Tans in Ireland in and the atrocities associated with their behaviour appalled Mosely. He crossed the benches sitting initially as an independent before joining a Labour party that had become the second party in British politics with the eclipse of Lloyd Georges Liberals.
Mosely served as a Minister under Ramsay Macdonald but his radical solution to unemployment of nationalisation, keyneseyan stimulus and trade barriers to protect british jobs was not adopted by the Labour party itself torn apart over coalition in the National Government. Mosely founded his New Party in 1931 and initially it was a threat to the rising Labour Party. Mosely’s corporatist ideology even found support amongst die hard socialists such as Nye Bevan. At its founding six sitting Labour MPs joined, although two promptly resigned when faced with Moselsys egomania. However in the election later in the year the party was wiped out losing all of its seats and garnering only 0.7% of the vote.
The defeat led to Moselys holiday to Europe where the growing might of Hitlers National revolution and Mussolinis fascists appealed to the authoritarian side of Moselys character. The New Party moved rightwards until it merged into the British Union of Fascists in 1932. The BUF with a script borrowed from Germany were ultra nationals, anti communist and protectionist. They quickly garnered the support of the press with both The Mail and The Mirror running articles in their support. However the growing violence at meetings and Moselys use of a paramilitary akin to Hitler’s SA appalled the British mainstream. At a rally in Olympia in 1934 and again at the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 the Blackshirts use of political violence cost them much support.
With the rising threat of Nazism belatedly recognised by the British government and the gathering storm clouds in Europe The decline of the British Union of Fascists was inevitable. In 1936 the government banned political uniforms and the party was increasingly unable to contest elections. In 1940 he was interred and kept under house arrest until the end of the War. In 1948 Mosely attempted to resurrect his career with the Union Movement in response to increased immigration. Again it would be immigration that the British right focussed its efforts. It was after a Mosely rally that the Notting Hill riots were started and Mosely remained active on the far right of British politics until his death.
The UM and other radical right groups such as the League of Empire Loyalists were however supported by right wing elements in the Tory party. Indeed the LEL originated in the Tory party as a right wing think tank (1950s style). Arthur Chestertons LEL represents a less aggressive stance that is perhaps more akin to modern UKIP than the radical racist policies of the UM. Roger Eatwells description of the leagues membership could almost be applied to Farage’ merry band today,
"Most of its 2000-3000 active members were Colonel Blimpish rather than fascist: in fact many of its members saw it as a Conservative ginger group... an attempt to keep the Conservatives true to the Imperial way."
In the 1960’s and 1970s however Chestertons “Blimpish” brand of right wing nationalism began to morph into something far more malignant when John Tyndall an LEL member helped to found the National Front. It was also in the 1960s that the politics of race once again reared its head Conservative Enoch Powell delivered his infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech attacking the increased immigration. The rhetoric and appeal to sentiment and anecdote would be familiar to any political observer today.
“For reasons which they could not comprehend, and in pursuance of a decision by default, on which they were never consulted, they found themselves made strangers in their own country. They found their wives unable to obtain hospital beds in childbirth, their children unable to obtain school places, their homes and neighbourhoods changed beyond recognition, their plans and prospects for the future defeated; at work they found that employers hesitated to apply to the immigrant worker the standards of discipline and competence required of the native-born worker; they began to hear, as time went by, more and more voices which told them that they were now the unwanted.”
Powells rivers of Blood Speech
The 1970s were a period of dramatic rise in the radical right in Britain. The appeal to the disenfranchised blue collar workers suffereing from the economic collapse in the mid seventies of right wing policies cannot be exaggerated. As Labour hemorrhaged support due to its failures and Union Barons intransigence the rise of the right was predictable. NF daubed on the walls of working class estates in the seventies are an image that sticks with any who lived at the time. Such was the Rights hatred of Wilsons Labour government that former army general Walter Walker planned a right wing coup against it.
National Front Demo 70s from the Clash Film Rude Boy
The election of Margaret Thatcher however stole much of the anti-immigrant rhetoric from the far right and brought it back within the Tory fold after the moderate approach of Heath. As the about to become Iron Lady said in 1978,
"... we do not talk about it [immigration] perhaps as much as we should. In my view, that is one thing that is driving some people to the National Front. They do not agree with the objectives of the National Front, but they say that at least they are talking about some of the problems.... If we do not want people to go to extremes... we must show that we are prepared to deal with it. We are a British nation with British characteristics.
By the 1980s former LEL member Tyndall had formed the British National Party but there was little electoral success and the party remained on the fringes of Britsh politics in the 1980s. Led by a change in social attitudes towards new ethnic groups in Britain politicians discarded the rhetoric of race as a vote loser. The change in attitude is demonstrated by the television programming by the 1990s. Programmes such as "The Black and White Minstrel Show" or "Love Thy Neighbour", massively popular during the 1970’s and early 80’were rightly deemed deeply offensive by the end of the decade. Along with football hooliganism, National Front skinheads and right wing anti immigration policies seemed consigned to the dustbin of History.
All that changed in 1991 with the emergence of Anti Federalist League founded by Alan Sked. Sked a former Liberal and Professor of International History at LSE led an anti Maastricht and EU party into the 1992 General Election and would later claim that it was the emergence of the AFL that cost Chris Patton his seat in Bath. In 1993 Sked stood in two bye elections, even gaining the support of that old darling of the right Enoch Powell and in September that year the AFL changed its name to the UK Independence Party. The party faced competition from another anti EU movement in James Goldsmiths referendum Party and Sked grew increasingly disillusioned with UKIP’s inexorable move rightwards leaving the party in 1997. Sked has subsequently attacked the party for racism and incompetence publishing highly critical papers before elections in 1999, 2001 and 2004.
With the disbanding of the Referendum Party after the death of James Goldsmth UKIP gained increased support and the recruitment of TV presenter and former Labour MP Robert Kilroy Silk raised the parties profile tremendously. However Kilroy Silks Mosleyesque grab for leadership of the party ended in failure and Silk flouncing out to form the now defunct Veritas. The mainstream view of UKIP in the media at the time is amusing in light of this weeks developments in the Tory Civil War. Nick Cohen writing in the Observer in 2005 described UKIP,
“If you type 'swivel-eyed loons' into Google and hit return, the search engine will tell you that that the most eye-swivellingly loony site on the world wide web is the home-page of the UK Independence Party."
In the same article Cohen summed up the Rights need for a new Mosely,
"In the past far-right populists wore uniforms and screamed from radios. That world is dead, in Europe at least. Today a toothy smile and ingratiating manner might just work instead. There's a post vacant on the right of British politics, and if Kilroy can't fill it, it doesn't mean that someone else won't".
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In 2006 the “Swivel Eyed Loons” elected that “someone else” in the blimpish Nigel Farage as leader. Farage a former tory defected to become a founder of the AFL is highly reminiscent of Arthur Chesterton and his LEL of the 1950s. Despite the buffoonish nature of their leader whose appeal seems to rest as much on clowning as Boris Johnsons, the heart of the party remains Anti immigrant, and protectionist in nature. Even Kilroy Silk the party’s former darling would later describe Kippers as 'right wing fascist nutters' and Alan Sked the former leader of the party would claim that Farage had said,
'we will never win the nigger vote. The nig-nogs will never vote for us.'
Farage stood down as leader to contest the speaker John Bercows seat in the 2010 election. The party was gaining support and a much higher profile as disillusioned Tories began to drift towards UKIP when David Camerons” Hug a Hoody,” detoxification of the party was at its height. Despite success in the European elections in 2009 the results in 2010 General Election did not provide the hoped for breakthrough with only 3.1% of the vote. UKIP unsuprisingly are in favour of electoral reform. Electoral success has seen UKIP represented in the European Parliament although UKIP MEP’s rarely attend and since the elections this May they are now firmly installed in local politics.
Since 2010 with Farage once again installed as leader, UKIP have become the rising force in British politics of the Right as traditional Tory support has been alienated by the Cameroons modernising project. UKIP however also presents a real challenge to the Left today. It is not enough to simply disregard UKIP as the Tory party’s SDP. Farage’s message couched as it is in reasonable terms is seductive to the disenfranchised public angry at mainstream politics and an out of touch political elite. The Left must use the discussion on immigration must show the benefits to our society. The exposure of UKIP counsellors for racist bigoted posts on social media sites demonstrates the ugly underbelly of UKIP that the Left has a duty to challenge. The Left must demonstrate to the disenfranchised that rather than the immigrant worker undercutting, it is the gangboss profiteering that is the enemy. UKIP’s message of sentimentality and nationalism has to be challenged because behind the affable pint drinking facade there is an extreme right wing party, a successor to the message of Mosely, Chesterton, Tyndall and Powell.
Last edited by Temulkar on Sat May 25, 2013 3:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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