It’s the general election of 1979, Conservative billboards claim “Labour isn’t working” as all three major parties head into the election with new leaders. Thatcher claims victory with a small majority and begins one of the most divisive and damaging premierships in recent history.
However, at the other end of the results table sits the National Front (NF) – standing 303 candidates across the country, making them the fourth largest party, collecting shy of 200,000 votes and blaming Thatcher’s hardline approach to immigration for stealing the “racist vote”.
With around 15,000 members, the National Front continued to be a physical force on the ground; attacking and breaking up left-wing meetings and protests, as well as holding rallies and organising marches which make the EDL’s actions look weak in comparison. Blamed for inciting racial violence and committing murders across the country, the NF may not have been a re-embodiment of Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts, but they were a force to be reckoned with.
Party divisions took over in the 80s; the breakaway British National Party (remember them?) took some years to get going, but under moderniser Nick Griffin (remember him?) they managed to get their electoral machine moving. A breakthrough came in 2010 when the BNP went into the general election with 338 candidates and a total of 560,000 votes. Griffin has since lost his MEP seat and his role as party chairman.
What’s next for British fascism? Britain First? The BNP break away party that is trying to inject some good old fashion Ulster Loyalism to the mainland in the form of their de facto paramilitary wing, parading around in uniform, abusing local mosques and err, Roma children.
No, they’ll go the way of those before them - not the greatest threat to the country today.
Overall then, there are few modern fascist groups that have the gravitas to provoke the expenditure of emotional energy from your average Brit.
However, there is one individual whose single-handed efforts are attempting to revive modern British fascism.
Indeed, lefties and Trade Unionists beware - Joshua Bonehill is coming for us.
The former Daily Bale owner and UKIP member (shocker, right?) is an absolute delight and, incidentally, leader of “The British Resistance” - an openly far right, racist group with only three known members.
When he’s not buying Twitter followers for himself or his organisation (over 60k followers combined – a tad suspicious given this is a man who draws audiences as large as eight at BNP rallies) he’s parading his incessant bigotry. Indeed, his Twitter account is a delight to behold – this ‘moronic hoaxer’ claims 93% of British people think homosexuality should be illegal, and that he has personally approached immigrants and explained to them why they shouldn’t be in Britain and instead of telling him to get lost – they’ve agreed and left.
This is modern British fascism; it’s moved on from a national political movement in the 1930s, to a more serious force in the 1970s, to an electoral threat in the late 2000s, to this guy. I don’t think we should be too worried.
By Gareth Shanks