League of Saint George

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The League of St. George is a Neo-Fascist organization based in the United Kingdom. It has defined itself as a "non-party, non-sectarian political club" and, whilst forging alliances with different groups, has eschewed close links with other extremist political parties.[1]

League of St. George Emblem

History[edit]

A flowchart showing the history of the early British fascist movement

The League was formed around 1974 as a political club by Keith Thompson and Mike Griffin as a breakaway from the Action Party, founded by British fascist, Oswald Mosley. The League sought to continue what it saw as a purer form of the ideas of Mosley than those offered by then leader Jeffrey Hamm.[2] In the 1970s the League became a political home for the more intellectual adherents of "Neo-Nazi" ideology, particularly those who wanted a united Europe with a European-derived population, a continuation of Mosley's Europe a Nation policy. Alongside this the League also followed Mosley's lead in endorsing Irish republicanism, something of a change from their contemporaries in the British far right who reserved their support for Ulster loyalism.[3] The League was never intended to be a political party, but more of a social, intellectual, and cultural organization, albeit with the ultimate political aim of promoting European people and their culture. Intended as an exclusive club for what were seen as the leading minds on the British far right, its membership tended to be restricted to around 50–100 members.[4] Indeed membership of the League was restricted to those invited to join only.[5]

The group often had a torrid relationship with the far right parties, and indeed the National Front barred its members from joining the League in 1977.[6] Around this time Spearhead even included articles claiming that the League was in fact a cult dominated by clandestine leaders, secret oaths and profane initiation ceremonies.[7] Nonetheless individual members maintained ties to both organisations, with some contributing to both Spearhead and The League Review.[8] Similarly the British Movement, which had originally co-operated with the League, eventually severed its ties over the Northern Irish issue.[9]

International contacts[edit]

Adopting the emblem of the Arrow Cross, the League sought to forge links with like-minded groups in Europe, and took part in international Neo-Nazi rallies at Diksmuide in Belgium, where they forged links with the Vlaamse Militanten Orde and the National States' Rights Party.[10] Eschewing the route of electoral politics, the League instead sought to set itself up as an umbrella group for National Socialists of any affiliation, although the League did work closely with first the British Movement and then the British National Party when it was founded (with Thomspon and John Graeme Wood attending the party's inaugural meeting whilst claiming to speak for the League).[11]

Steve Brady, a former activist in the short-lived National Party (and who retained close links to the Ulster Defence Association despite the League's avowed support for Irish republicanism), was appointed International Liaison Officer in 1978 and helped to oversee the development of links with groups internationally such as the Faisceaux Nationalistes Européens of France, founded by Mark Fredriksen, and Italy's Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari (NAR).[12] The group also gained support in South Africa amongst some leading supporters of the Herstigte Nasionale Party who were responsible for funding the League during the early 1980s.[13]

'Safehousing'[edit]

The League went into hiatus in the early 1980s after an episode of ITV current affairs show World in Action exposed their attempts to set up safe-houses for suspected Italian terrorists,[14] based on information given by Ray Hill, who had been active in the League.

Subsequent activities[edit]

Following these revelations the group became less active, but did not close down altogether. Their magazine, The National Review, received some attention in far right circles in 1986 when Colin Jordan published an article calling for the development of an underground struggle.[15] This article was credited with attempts to revive the British Movement and to set up other groups to carry out Jordan's ideas.[16]

In 1996 it was alleged in Searchlight that members of the League had recruited mercenaries for a mission in South Africa organised by Constand Viljoen with the aim of assassinating the country's leaders and damaging its infrastructure. Ultimately the plan was foiled by the South African secret service and by a change in strategy by Viljoen, who abandoned his Afrikaner Volksfront in order to lead the Freedom Front.[17]

It continues to exist under other leadership to this day. Previously publishing a regular magazine, The League Review, which had a comparatively wide European readership, it now publishes a quarterly journal, The League Sentinel.[18]

The group was featured in Bill Buford's Among the Thugs where the author commented to a member that his ideas of leaving urban life and returning to the soil recalled those of the Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.[19]

Members[edit]

Leading members of the League have included Dagenham-based John Harrison, millionaire Robin Rushton, Mike Griffin, and Roger Clare, who has also been active in South Africa and New Zealand.[20] Ian Souter Clarence, the former head of Column 88, was a member,[21] whilst both publisher Anthony Hancock and National Front and National Party veteran Denis Pirie were also closely associated with the group.[22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Michael Billig, A Social Psychological View of the National Front, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978, p. 101
  2. ^ Ray Hill & Andrew Bell, The Other Face of Terror, London: Grafton, 1988, p. 184.
  3. ^ Hill & Bell, The Other Face of Terror, p. 185.
  4. ^ Glyn Ford, European Parliament Committee of Inquiry on Racism and Xenophobia - Report on the Findings of the Inquiry, 2.12.27
  5. ^ Peter Barberis, John McHugh, Mike Tyldesley, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations: Parties, Groups and Movements of the 20th Century, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2000, p. 185
  6. ^ S. Taylor, The National Front in English Politics, London: Macmillan, 1982, p. 100.
  7. ^ Billig, Fascists, p. 117
  8. ^ Billig, Fascists, pp. 117-118
  9. ^ Barberis et al, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations, p. 177
  10. ^ Hill & Bell, The Other Face of Terror, pp. 195–6.
  11. ^ Hill & Bell, The Other Face of Terror, pp. 165–6.
  12. ^ Hill & Bell, The Other Face of Terror, pp. 185–9.
  13. ^ Hill & Bell, The Other Face of Terror, pp. 255–6.
  14. ^ A Century of British Fascism
  15. ^ Ford, European Parliament Committee of Inquiry on Racism and Xenophobia - Report on the Findings of the Inquiry, 2.12.25
  16. ^ Ford, European Parliament Committee of Inquiry on Racism and Xenophobia - Report on the Findings of the Inquiry, 2.12.26
  17. ^ 'South Africa'
  18. ^ League Sentinel
  19. ^ Review of 'Among the Thugs'
  20. ^ Fascism Today - Groups in Britain from Bernard O'Mahoney's site
  21. ^ Hill & Bell, The Other Face of Terror, p. 198.
  22. ^ Hill & Bell, The Other Face of Terror, pp. 205–6.

Bibliography[edit]

  • R. Hill & A. Bell, The Other Face of Terror- Inside Europe’s Neo-Nazi Network, London: Collins, 1988

External links[edit]