They still shall not pass
Saturday 4th October 2014
Gerry Gable reports on the state of Britain’s extreme right 78 years after the Battle of Cable Street
In October 1936 the nature of fascism and national socialism was far clearer to the people of Britain.
In Spain a democratically elected socialist government was under attack by Spanish fascist generals supported by Moorish troops under General Franco’s command and armed and supported by Hitler’s Luftwaffe and Mussolini’s fascist volunteers.
While thousands of anti-fascists ranging from Communists to even the odd Conservative from a multitude of countries rallied to the defence of the Spanish republic behind the slogan: “They shall not pass”, at home their counterparts, Mosley’s jackbooted, black-shirted private army with its wealthy and influential backers, and the barking mad Arnold Leese’s Imperial Fascist League, which had advocated the mass gassing of Jews since 1928, were out in the open, and the people reacted in the most appropriate way — by confronting them on the streets.
Move forward to today and the enemy, who in the main have hardly shifted in their warped ideology, now come in multiple forms and sizes.
The past five years have witnessed the collapse of the British National Party, the first British nazi party to make a breakthrough at the ballot box with, at one stage, more than 60 elected local councillors and another 40 or so on parish and town councils, many elected unopposed, as well as two MEPs.
In terms of membership, the BNP never reached the size of Britain’s largest post-war fascist movement, the National Front, which similarly underwent a rapid collapse after its heyday in the 1970s.
The BNP never had more than 15,000 members and at the end of 2013 officially had 4,220 members and falling.
Since then the party has lost its two MEPs as well as its leader, Nick Griffin, who resigned from the chairmanship in July and was booted out of the party this week, is now keener to spend time in Russia and Syria, and with leaders of the murderous Golden Dawn in Greece and Forza Nuova in Italy.
In Britain Griffin, who had been appointed BNP president, had been undermining his successor Adam Walker, resulting in his expulsion from the party on October 1.
Various split-offs from the BNP have gone nowhere. Those slightly less thuggish nazis around the former BNP MEP Andrew Brons, founder of the British Democratic Party, are rarely heard of. Britain First has barged its way into the headlines with its green-uniformed mosque invasions, but has lost its financial backer James Dowson and its leader Paul Golding is awaiting trial for harassment and wearing a political uniform. And the rump of the National Front has split yet again.
So where does the danger come from? The English Defence League certainly presented a problem, with its marches of thousands of drunken racists around the streets of our major cities giving rise to community tension and disruption.
They have been joined by some well-organised and violent Polish nazis living in Britain who boast at private nazi meetings about carrying out violent attacks on black, Muslim and Jewish people.
Searchlight predicted that the anti-fascist movement would be tested by having to defend communities country-wide nearly every weekend.
Investigations of the EDL uncovered the fact that it was initiated by a group of wealthy businesspeople, who were pulling the strings. However on the streets the organisation, which has no formal membership, was badly led by a pair of low-level convicted criminals. The greater problem would come, we said, when the EDL splintered into small but violent factions.
The EDL have tried three times to mount major marches into the area around Cable Street. On each occasion they have been repulsed by a united front of thousands of people drawn from the local community and further afield. They still have not passed.
Hungarian nazis have also tried to organise in London but were beaten off by large numbers of anti-fascists led by UAF.
But Britain’s fascists are best organised outside the media spotlight. There are three centres for their operations. One is the Traditional Britain Group (TBG), a follow-on from the far-right Monday Club and Western Goals of the 1960s and 1970s.
The TBG organises closed meetings and conferences, bringing into the country well-known overseas extremists, and has links to several millionaires who finance websites and publications internationally.
The TBG also acts as a bridge between fascists and a number of ultra-Tory groups, where one finds Conservatives sitting down with former senior nazi activists such as the infamous former NF organiser Martin Webster.
The second is the Iona London Forum, which also brings in overseas nazis to address its private meetings. These include Germans, Italians, Poles, Spaniards, Swedes, Russians and Americans, including last weekend the key US nazi Mark Webber.
Some have hate-crime convictions in their own countries, but have no trouble entering Britain. Among Iona’s speakers are Holocaust denier David Irving and disgraced fascist bishop Richard Williamson.
The most worrying development is the arrival on the far-right scene of Generation Identity. This group first surfaced in Sweden at a secret meeting attended by Russian fascists such as Alexandr Dugin and the French extremist philosopher Alain de Benoist.
GI believe the “white race” has been brought down by two calamities — the defeat of nazi Germany and what they term the Marxist cultural revolution of 1968, when young people in the West stood up in a left-oriented revolt.
GI are close to the TBG and Iona and are not boneheads or sub-working class but middle and upper-class young people at university or recently graduated. They tell their followers they are prepared to die for their beliefs.
This weekend they were to have gathered in Budapest for a very important conference. For some months Searchlight has exposed their plans and last weekend the Hungarian government banned the conference.
Since last October a series of nazi conferences have taken place in London, Vienna, Crimea, Stockholm and several mainly young far-right extremists, as well as Griffin, have visited Syria for meetings with the Syrian fascist party, founded in 1936 in support of fascist Italy and still approved of by President Assad today.
Readers may wonder why this article does not mention Ukip — well that would need another article.
Searchlight, since its creation 50 years ago, has always been intelligence-led and we are very proud of the work of our volunteers working inside the extreme right in Britain and abroad. From the outset we have worked on the basis that, in the battle to defend democracy against its enemies, we can never win unless we know our enemies’ plans, make a sound analysis and use it to best effect against them.
Gerry Gable is editor and publisher of the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight.