John Tyndall (politician)

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John Tyndall
John Tyndall BNP.jpg
Tyndall addressing a Nationalist Alliance meeting in 2005
Chairman of the
British National Party
In office
1982 – September 1999
Deputy Richard Edmonds
Succeeded by Nick Griffin
Chairman of the National Front
In office
Preceded by John Kingsley Read
Succeeded by Andrew Brons
In office
Preceded by John O'Brien
Succeeded by John Kingsley Read
Personal details
Born John Hutchyns Tyndall
(1934-07-14)14 July 1934
Exeter, Devon, England
Died 19 July 2005(2005-07-19) (aged 71)
Hove, East Sussex
Political party League of Empire Loyalists 1954-1957,
National Labour Party
British National Party (1960) 1960-1962,
National Socialist Movement 1962-1964,
Greater Britain Movement 1964-1967,
National Front
New National Front
British National Party
Spouse(s) Valerie Tyndall
Children One daughter

John Hutchyns Tyndall (14 July 1934 – 19 July 2005) was a British National Socialist. A leading member of various small Neo-Nazi groups during the late 1950s and 1960s, he served as chairman of the National Front (NF) from 1972–74 and again from 1975–80, and then as the chairman of the British National Party (BNP) from 1982–99. Over the course of his political career he unsuccessfully stood for election to the British and European Parliaments on several occasions.

Born in Devon and raised largely in Kent, Tyndall undertook national service prior to involving himself in extreme-right politics. In the mid-1950s he joined the League of Empire Loyalists (LEL) and came under the influence of its leader, Arthur Chesterton. Finding the LEL to be too moderate, in 1957 he co-founded the National Labour Party (NLP) with John Bean, his first explicitly Neo-Nazi group. In 1960 the NLP merged with Colin Jordan's White Defence League to found the first British National Party (BNP). Tyndall grew close to Jordan and together they established a paramilitary group called Spearhead. Bean and other BNP members were unhappy with this and expelled Tyndall and Jordan, who went on to establish the National Socialist Movement and then the wider World Union of National Socialists. In 1962 they were convicted and imprisoned for their paramilitary activities. After a split with Jordan, Tyndall formed his Greater Britain Movement (GBM) in 1964. Although never changing his basic beliefs, by the mid-1960s Tyndall was replacing the overt references to Nazism in his rhetoric with appeals to British nationalism, believing that this would be more productive to his cause.

In 1967 Tyndall joined the newly established National Front, which was then led by Chesterton. He took on the role of Vice Chairman and eventually assumed the position of Chairman in 1972. His leadership was however threatened by both a 'Populist' faction and a 'Strasserite' faction. In 1974 he was deposed as Chairman and briefly expelled from the party the following year. On his return he resumed his position as Chairman, although the latter part of the 1970s saw the party's prospects decline. Following an argument with long-term comrade Martin Webster, Tyndall resigned from the party in 1980 and formed his short-lived New National Front (NNF). In 1982 he merged the NNF into his new British National Party, which established itself as the most prominent extreme-right group in the UK by the late 1980s. Electoral success however largely eluded the party. Tyndall's refusal to moderate the party's policies or image caused anger among a growing array of 'modernisers', who succeeded in ousting him in 1999, when he was replaced by Nick Griffin. Tyndall retained his affiliation with the BNP, and was charged with incitement to racial hatred for comments made at a 2004 party meeting. He died before he could be put on trial.

Throughout his political career, Tyndall promoted a racial nationalist belief that there was a white 'British race' which was part of a wider Nordic race. He believed that this race was threatened by a Jewish conspiracy to encourage non-white immigration into Britain and argued for the establishment of an authoritarian state which would deport all non-whites from the country and engage in a eugenics project. His life and thought has ben discussed in a number of academic studies of the British far right.


Early life: 1934–58[edit]

John Tyndall was born in Exeter in Devon, England, on 14 July 1934.[1][2] His Irish father was a Metropolitan Police officer who had been born in County Waterford and came from a family with a long line of service in the Royal Irish Constabulary.[3] He was related to the early English translator of the Bible, William Tyndale, his ancestors having moved to County Waterford in Ireland in the 16th century as land owners to assist in controlling the native Irish population on behalf of the monarch.[2] His political views were influenced by his mother, who exhibited what he called "a kind of basic British patriotism".[1] His father, who had been born in Ireland to an Unionist family, was an internationalist.[1] Tyndall developed a strong dislike of the political process during his youth.[4] He studied at Beckenham and Penge Grammar School in western Kent, where he attained three O-levels, a fairly moderate result.[5] At the school, his achievements had been sporting rather than academic,[1] for he enjoyed playing cricket and association football and developed a passion for fitness.[6] His upbringing was emotionally stable and materially secure.[1]

In his youth, Tyndall read Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, and was influenced by it

Tyndall served his national service in occupied Germany from 1952 to 1954.[3] After completing his national service, he returned to Britain and began to focus on political issues.[7] Initially interested in socialism, he attended a world youth festival held in the Soviet Union.[6] However, he later stated that he had not joined any socialist organisation and that he began to regard left-wing politics as anti-patriotic and anti-nationalist.[8] He then moved swiftly to the political right.[6] He had a devotion to the cause of the British Empire and a hostility to the growing permissiveness of liberal British society, stating that "the smell everywhere was one of decadence".[7] Tyndall worked as a salesman and thereby had the variable working hours which allowed time for his political activities,[9] and from around 1957-58 he decided to commit full time to his political cause.[10] During that decade he read Mein Kampf, the book written by Adolf Hitler, and grew sympathetic to Hitler's Nazi ideology.[11] Tyndall approved in particular of "the descriptions of the workings of certain Jewish forces in Germany, which seemed uncannily similar to what I had observed of the same kinds of forces in Britain."[12] and concluded that Britain's decision to go to war against Nazi Germany was ultimately the result of a conspiracy headed primarily by Jews,[13] a conspiracy which also masterminded non-white immigration into Britain after the war.[14]

Tyndall decided against joining Oswald Mosley's Union Movement, disagreeing with its promotion of the political union of Britain with continental Europe.[7] Instead he joined the League of Empire Loyalists (LEL), a right-wing group which had been founded by Arthur Chesterton, after one of their demonstrations was featured on television.[15] Having visited their basement office in Westminster, he read and enjoyed Chesterton's writings.[16] He embraced Chesterton's conspiracy theory that the Jews had been conspiring to bring down the British Empire.[16] Tyndall began associating with other young men who had joined the LEL.[10] At a February 1957 by-election in Lewisham North, Tyndall aided the LEL campaign, during which he met fellow party member John Bean, an industrial chemist.[10] Both Tyndall and Bean were frustrated by the LEL's attempts to exert pressure on the mainstream Conservative Party.[17] They wanted to be involved in a more radical party, one that would combine "nationalism" with "popular socialism" and which would reach out to the white working-class through appeals against immigration from the Caribbean.[10]

From the National Labour Party to the Greater Britain Movement: 1958–67[edit]

"By his systematic attack on all European culture the Jew is polluting and destroying the European soul... If the European soul is to be recovered in our country and throughout Europe, it can only be by the elimination of this cankerous microbe in our midst."

— Tyndall's views on the Jews[11]

In April 1958 Tyndall and Bean founded their own extreme-right group, the National Labour Party (NLP), based at Thornton Heath, Croydon, gaining early membership from a number of LEL members living in south and east London.[18] According to the historian Richard Thurlow, the NLP promoted an "English" variant of Nazism, and was more pronounced in its "explicit racism" than the LEL had been, focusing less on bemoaning the decline of the British Empire and more on criticising the arrival of non-white immigrants from former British colonies.[9]

The NLP began co-operating with another extreme-right group, the White Defence League, which had been established by Colin Jordan, a secondary school teacher.[19] Together the two groups embarked on a project of stirring up racial tensions among white Britons and black Caribbean immigrants in Notting Hill.[19] Tyndall briefly left the NLP, and in his absence Bean and Jordan merged their respective groups into the British National Party (BNP) in 1960.[20] The BNP were racial nationalists, calling for the preservation of a 'Nordic race', of which the 'British race' was considered a branch, while removing both immigrants and Jewish influences from Britain.[21] Tyndall soon joined this new BNP.[19] At this time, Tyndall became a close confidante of Jordan, who helped to further his Neo-Nazism.[22] Tyndall also developed a friendship with Martin Webster, who became a long-term comrade after watching Tyndall speak at a Trafalgar Square rally in 1962.[23]

Within the BNP, Tyndall established an elite group known as Spearhead, who wore military-style uniforms inspired by those of the Nazis, and underwent paramilitary and ideological training.[24] It is likely that there was no more than sixty members of Spearhead.[22] The group campaigned on behalf of imprisoned Nazi war criminals Rudolf Hess and Adolf Eichmann.[22] According to anti-fascist activist Gerry Gable, Spearhead was the first time that Neo-Nazis in Britain had tried to establish a "terrorist group".[25] Both Bean and another senior member, Andrew Fountaine, were concerned about the overt Neo-Nazism embraced by Tyndall and Jordan, instead thinking that the BNP should articulate a more British-oriented form of racial nationalism.[22] In 1962, Bean held a meeting at which Tyndall and Jordan were expelled from the party.[24] The pair then regrouped around twenty members of Spearhead and formed the National Socialist Movement (NSM) on 20 April 1962, a date symbolically chosen for being Hitler's birthday.[26] They celebrated the event with a cake decorated with a Nazi swastika.[3] According to the historian Richard Thurlow, the NSM was "the most blatant Nazi" group active in Britain during the mid-20th century.[27] The NSM gained few members; an estimate in August 1962 suggested that it had only 30 to 50.[28] Around this time, Tyndall had a great liking for wearing jackboots; Colin Jordon has related that once on the way to a nationalist meeting in Germany, Tyndall made his entourage look for a shoe shop as soon as they crossed the border so that he could buy himself a pair of genuine German jackboots.[29]

Tyndall was one of the British Neo-Nazis who established links with their American counterpart George Rockwell

In April 1961, Tyndall published a pamphlet that he had written, The Authoritarian State: Its Meaning and Function, which helped to cement his reputation within the British far right.[30] In the pamphlet, he attacked democratic systems of government as part of a conspiracy orchestrated by the Jews, quoting from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.[31] It called for the replacement of the United Kingdom's liberal democratic system with an authoritarian one in which a "Leader" is given absolute power.[22] Although the British authorities had prohibited the American Neo-Nazi George Lincoln Rockwell from entering the UK, the NSM managed to smuggle him in to attend a summer camp in August 1962. There, the NSM took part in the formation of the World Union of National Socialists (WUNS), at which Jordan was elected 'world führer' and Rockwell as his heir.[32] Among those in attendance were Savitri Devi and Fred Borth.[33]

The NSM gained the attention of the media as well as Special Branch.[34] In July 1962, Tyndall was arrested for breaching the peace at a Trafalgar Square rally in which he had been attacked by Jewish military veterans and other anti-fascists after calling the Jews a "poisonous maggot feeding on a body in an advanced state of decay".[35] His comments resulted in him being convicted of inciting racial hatred and he was sentenced to six weeks imprisonment, reduced to a fine on appeal.[36] The police then raided the group's London headquarters, with its leading members brought to trial at the Old Bailey, where they were found guilty of establishing a paramilitary group in contravention of Section Two of the Public Order Act 1936.[37] Tyndall received a six month prison sentence, while Jordan received nine months.[38]

Jordan had been courting the French socialite Françoise Dior but while he had been imprisoned, she entered a relationship with Tyndall and they were engaged to be married. On Jordan's release, Dior left Tyndall and instead married Jordan.[39] This contributed to a growing personal feud between Tyndall and Jordan, with the latter accusing Tyndall and Walker of making obscene phone calls to Dior.[40] Tyndall was also angry at what he perceived as Jordan's deviation from orthodox Nazi thought, and by the fact that Jordan's relationship with Dior had been attracting negative press attention for the group.[34] In the spring of 1964 Tyndall and Webster tried to oust Jordan as the head of the NSM but failed.[34] In later years he expressed the view that his involvement in the NSM had been a "profound mistake", arguing that he "still had a lot to learn" and that "when one sees one's nation and people in danger there is less dishonour in acting and acting wrongly than in not acting at all."[34]

Having broken from Jordan and the NSM, Tyndall formed the Greater Britain Movement (GBM).[41] According to Tyndall, "the Greater Britain Movement will uphold, and preach, pure National Socialism".[42] The group established its base in a run-down building in Notting Hill, with swastikas being sprayed onto the exterior and an image of Hitler decorating the interior.[43] Tyndall tried to convince the WUNS to accept his GBM as its British representative, however Rockwell—concerned not to encourage schismatic dissenters in his own American Nazi Party—sided with Jordan and the NSM.[44] Tyndall then established contact with Rockwell's main rival in the American Neo-Nazi scene, the National States' Rights Party.[45] Tyndall also launched a new magazine, which he titled Spearhead.[46] According to the historian Alan Sykes, this magazine became "increasingly influential" in the British far right.[47] Much of the material he wrote for the journal was less openly Neo-Nazi and extreme than his previous writings, something which may have resulted from caution surrounding the Race Relations Act 1965.[45] The GBM engaged in several stunts to raise publicity; in 1964 for instance Webster assaulted the Kenyan leader Jomo Kenyatta.[48] In 1965, the group staged a shooting incident at its Norwood headquarters, claiming that it had been an attack by anti-fascists.[49]

The National Front: 1967–80[edit]

Photograph of people carrying Union Flags, demonstrating outside a factory.
A National Front march from the 1970s, the movement from which the BNP emerged by 1982.

In the mid-1960s, there were five extreme-right groups operating in Britain, with Tyndall believing that they could achieve more if they united.[49] To that end, Spearhead abandoned is open affiliation with Neo-Nazism in early 1966.[49] That year, Tyndall issued a pamphlet titled Six Principles of British Nationalism which made no mention of Neo-Nazism or Jewish conspiracies.[50][51] Chesterton read the pamphlet and was impressed, entering into talks with Tyndall's GBM about a potential merger of their respective organisations.[52] Independently, Chesterton had also been discussing the issue of a unification with Bean's BNP, which proved more successful, with the LEL and BNP merging to form the National Front (NF) in 1967.[53] According to Thurlow, the formation of the NF was "the most significant event on the radical right and fascist fringe of British politics" since the internment of fascists in the Second World War.[54]

The new NF initially excluded Tyndall and his GBM from joining, concerned that he may seek to mould it in a specifically Neo-Nazi direction, although they soon agreed to allow both him and other GBM members to join on probation.[53] On entering, the former GBM soon rose to become the most influential faction within the NF, with many of its members rapidly rising to positions of influence.[55] Tyndall became the party's Vice Chairman and remained loyal to Chesterton, who was the party's first Chairman, for instance by supporting him when several members of the party Directorate rebelled against his leadership in 1970.[56] Although remaining Tyndall's private property, Spearhead came to be the de facto monthly magazine of the NF.[56] Chesterton resigned as Chairman in 1970, and was replaced by the Powellite John O'Brien.[57] In 1972, O'Brien and eight other members of the party Directorate resigned in protest at Tyndall's links to Neo-Nazi groups in Germany.[58] This allowed Tyndall to take control as party chairman in 1972.[59]

The historian Nigel Copsey has noted that while the BNP under Tyndall could be described as "Neo-Nazi", it was not "crudely mimetic" of the original German Nazism.[60] According to Thurlow, under Tyndall the NF represented "an attempt to portray the essentials of Nazi ideology in more rational language and seemingly reasonable arguments",[61] functioning as an attempt to "convert racial populists" angry about immigration "into fascists".[62] Tyndall oversaw the NF during the period of largest growth, during which it campaigned against the arrival of Ugandan Asians in the country.[63] Membership of the party doubled between October 1972 and June 1973, possibly reaching as high as 17,500.[64] Relations had apparently warmed between Tyndall and Jordan, for the latter was invited to join the NF in 1972.[42] However, a poor showing in the 1974 general election resulted in Tyndall being challenged by two groups within the party, the 'Strasserites' and the 'Populists', the latter of whom were largely Powellite ex-members of the Conservative Party.[65] The Populist challenge was successful and in October 1974 Tyndall was replaced as Chairman by John Kingsley Read.[66] Tyndall used Spearhead as a vehicle to criticise rival factions with the NF.[67] As a result, Tyndall was expelled from the party during a disciplinary tribunal in November 1975.[68] Tyndall took the issue to the high court, who overturned the NF's expulsion.[69] The 'Populists' then left the party, splitting to form the National Party in January 1976, which for a short term proved more successful than the NF.[70] Back in the party and with his rivals gone, Tyndall regained the position of Chairman.[71]

"I do not believe that the survival of the white man will be found through the crest of political respectability because I believe that respectability today means one thing, it means your preparedness to be a lackey of the establishment... I don't want respectability if that is what respectability means, preparedness to surrender my own race, to hell with respectability if that is what it is."

— Tyndall's views on electoral 'respectability'[72]

Encouraged by Webster and new confidante Richard Verrall, in the mid-1970s Tyndall returned to his openly hardline approach of promoting biological racist and anti-Semitic ideas.[71] This did not help the NF's electoral prospects.[71] By 1979, membership had fallen to approximately 5000.[71] Tyndall nevertheless refused to dilute or moderate his party's policies, stating that to do so would be the "naïve chasing of moonbeams".[71] In November 1979, Fountaine unsuccessfully tried to oust Tyndall as leader, subsequently establishing the National Front Constitutional Movement.[73]

Tyndall had developed disagreements with Webster over a number of issues, and soon began blaming him for the party's problems.[73] Webster had for instance disagreed with Tyndall's support for Chesterton's leadership,[74] while Tyndall disagreed with Webster's attempts to encourage more skinheads and football hooligans to join the party.[75] Tyndall in particular began critiquing Webster's homosexuality and the allegations that Webster had been making sexual advances toward young men in the party.[76] More widely, he complained about a "homosexual network" among leading NF members.[73] In October 1979 he called a meeting of the NF Directorate at which he urged for Webster's resignation. At the meeting Webster apologised for his conduct, and the Directorate stood by him against Tyndall.[77] Angered, Tyndall then tried convincing the Directorate to give him as Chairman greater powers, but they refused.[78] Tyndall resigned in January 1980,[79] subsequently referring to the party as the "gay National Front".[75]

In June 1980, Tyndall founded the New National Front (NNF).[79] The party claimed that a third of NF members defected to join the NNF.[79] He stated that "I have one wish in this operation and one wish alone, to cleanse the National Front of the foul stench of perversion which has politically crippled it".[79] As his choice of name for the party suggested, he remained hopeful that his breakaway group could eventually be remerged back into the NF.[79] There developed a great rivalry between the two groups.[80] Meanwhile, as the NF moved away from the Tyndellite approach under its new leadership, Tyndall realised that he may never have the opportunity to regain his position within it.[81]

Leading the British National Party: 1981–99[edit]

John Tyndall was both [the BNPs] greatest asset and its greatest drawback. His persistence, rock-like reliability and leadership had kept the movement going, but with almost imperceptible growth since its 1982 foundation.

— John Bean[82]

In January 1981, Tyndall was contacted by the far right activist Ray Hill, who was in reality a spy for the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight. Hill suggested that Tyndall establish a new political party through which he could unite many smaller extreme-right groups. While Hill's real attention had been to cause a further schism among the British far right and thus weaken it, Tyndall deemed his suggestion to be a good idea.[83] Tyndall made suggestions of unity to a number of other small extreme-right groups and together they established a Committee for Nationalist Unity (CNU) in January 1982.[84] In March 1982 the CNU held a conference at Charing Cross Hotel, and while the NF officially refused to send a delegation, several NF members did attend.[84] The fifty extreme-rightists in attendance agreed that they would establish a new political party, to be known as the British National Party (BNP).[84] According to Tyndall, "The BNP is a racial nationalist party which believes in Britain for the British, that is to say racial separatism."[85] Under Tyndall's leadership, in 1982 the BNP issued its first policy on immigration as "immigration into Britain by non-Europeans... should be terminated forthwith, and we should organise a massive programme of repatriation and resettlement overseas of those peoples of non-European origin already resident in this country."[86]

Tyndall was to be the leader of this new party, with the majority of its members coming from the NNF, although others were defectors from the NF, British Movement, British Democratic Party, and Nationalist Party.[87] The party was formerly launched at a press conference held in a Victoria hotel on 7 April 1982.[88] At the conference, Tyndall described the BNP as the "SDP of the far right".[88] Its stated policy objectives were identical to those that the NF had had under Tyndall's leadership in the 1970s.[88] Its constitution was however very different. Whereas the NF had had a Directorate which helped to guide the direction of the party and could replace the leader, Tyndall's new BNP gave full executive powers to the Chairman.[89] Tyndall ran the BNP from his home, "Seacroft", in Hove, East Sussex,[90] and he rarely left the county.[91] In 1986 Tyndall was convinced of inciting racial hatred and sentenced to a year's imprisonment, although ultimately served only four months before his release.[92] In 1987, the BNP opened discussions with a faction of the NF, the National Front Support Group (NFSG), to discuss the possibility of a merger, however the NFSG decided against it, remaining cautious about Tyndall's total domination of the BNP.[93]

Tyndall was influenced by the electoral success of the French far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen

By 1988, Searchlight reported that the party's membership had declined to around 1000.[94] Tyndall responded by trying to raise finances, calling for greater sales of their newspaper and increasing the price of membership by 50%.[95] He also promised that he would make the BNP the largest extreme-right group in the UK and that he would establish a professional headquarters for the party.[95] This was achieved in 1989, as a party headquarters was opened in Welling, Southeast London, an area chosen because it was a recipient of significant 'white flight' from inner London.[96] That year also witnessed the BNP become the most prominent force on the British far right as the NF collapsed amid internal arguments and schisms.[97]

In the early 1990s, a paramilitary group known as Combat 18 were formed to act as bodyguards and stewards to protect BNP events from anti-fascist protesters.[98] By 1992, Combat 18 was having an increased influence over the BNP's street activities, something which displeased Tyndall and Bruce.[99] By August 1993, activists from the BNP and Combat 18 were physically fighting each other.[100] In December 1993, Tyndall issued a bulletin to BNP branches declaring Combat 18 to be a proscribed organisation, furthermore suggesting that it may have been established by agents of the state to discredit the BNP.[101] To counter the group's influence, he secured the American white nationalist militant William Pierce as a guest speaker at the BNP's annual rally in November 1995.[102]

Tyndall had observed the electoral success that was being achieved by Jean-Marie Le Pen and the French National Front during the 1980s, and hoped that by learning from their activities he could improve the electoral prospects of the BNP.[103] He saw the issue as being one of credibility among the electorate, declaring that "we should be looking for ways to overcome our present image of weakness and smallness".[104] However, he ignored the significant impact that had been achieved by the French NF through moderating its policies and thereby gaining greater respectability among the electorate.[104] While Tyndall had sought to keep skinheads and football hooligans out of the BNP (they instead gravitated to the NF), he still kept a range of Holocaust deniers and convicted criminals close to him.[104] He expressed the view that "we should not be looking for ways of applying ideological cosmetic surgery to ourselves in order to make our features more appealing to our public".[105] Conversely, a faction of 'modernisers' had developed within the party during the early 1990s, favouring a move towards a more electorally palatable strategy and an emphasis on building grassroots support to win local elections.[106] They were impressed by La Pen's move to disassociate his party from biological racism and focus the perceived cultural incompatibility of different racial groups.[107] Tyndall opposed many of the modernisers' ideas and sought to stem their growing influence in the party,[108]

In 1999, Tyndall was replaced as BNP Chairman by Nick Griffin (pictured at a BNP press conference in 2009)

In the 1992 general election, the party stood 13 candidates.[109] Tyndall stood as the BNP's candidate for Bow and Poplar, there gaining 3% of the vote.[110] At the 1993 local elections, the BNP gained one council seat—won by Derek Beackon in the East London town of Millwall—after a campaign that targeted the anger of local whites over the perceived preferential treatment received by Bangladeshi migrants in social housing.[111] At the time Tyndall described this as the BNP's "moment in history", deeming it a sign that the party was entering the political mainstream.[112] However, following an anti-BNP campaign launched by local religious groups it lost its Millwall seat during the 1994 local elections.[113]

Tyndall stood as the BNP candidate in the Dagenham by-election, 1994, in which he gained sufficient support to retain his deposit. This was the first time that an extreme right candidate had kept their deposit since Martin Webster's showing for the NF in West Bromwich in 1973.[114] In the 1997 general election, the party stood over fifty candidates.[115] Tyndall stood as the party's candidate in the East London constituency of Poplar and Canning Town, where he received 7.26% of the vote.[115] Tyndall claimed that following the election, the party received between 2500 and 3000 enquiries—roughly the same as they had received after the 1983 general election—although far fewer of these enquirers became members.[115] The party was stagnating,[116] and Tyndall's "political career was now on borrowed time".[116]

After the BNP's poor performance at the 1997 general election, opposition to Tyndall's leadership grew.[108] His position was damaged by a lack of financial transparency in the party, with concerns being raised that large donations to the party had been instead used by Tyndall for personal uses.[117] The modernisers challenged his control of the party, resulting in its first ever leadership election, held in October 1999. Tyndall was challenged by Nick Griffin, who offered an improved administration, financial transparency, and greater support for local branches. 80% of party members voted, with two-thirds backing Griffin; Tyndall had secured only 411 votes, representing 30% of the total membership.[118] Tyndall accepted his defeat with equanimity and stood down as Chairman.[119] He stated that he would become "an ordinary member", telling his supporters that "we have all got to pull together in the greater cause of race and nation".[120]

Final years: 1999–2004[edit]

Tyndall remained a member of the BNP and continued to support it in the pages of Spearhead.[121] Griffin however sought to restrain Tyndall's ongoing influence in the party, curtailing the distribution of Spearhead among BNP members and instead emphasising his own new magazine, Identity, which was established in January 2000.[122] To combat the influence of declining sales, Tyndall established the group "Friends of Spearhead", whose members were asked to contribute £10 a month.[121]

By 2000, Tyndall was beginning to agitate against Griffin's leadership, criticising the establishment of the party's Ethnic Liason Committee, which had one half-Turkish member, as a move towards admitting non-whites into the party.[123] Tyndall attacked Griffin's policies in Spearhead, such as when Griffin publicly declared that an all-white Britain was no longer possible, Tyndall declared this to be "a betrayal of BNP activists and a repudiation of everything they have fought for over the past 19 years", adding that "a whites-only Britain is indeed possible – through a BNP victory. And without such a victory not even any limited relief from the present multi racial horror will ever be possible."[124]

In 2004 Tyndall joined in signing the New Orleans Protocol. The New Orleans Protocol seeks to "mainstream our cause" by reducing violence and internecine warfare, and was written by David Duke, When he signed, Tyndall made it clear that he was not acting on behalf of the BNP. For a time, he also became associated with Eddy Morrison who had split from the White Nationalist Party and organised a Spearhead Support Group to back Tyndall. However the alliance fell apart when Tyndall made it clear that he did not support Morrison's attempts to set up a new party (which eventually emerged as the Nationalist Alliance).[citation needed]

Tyndall gave a speech at a BNP event in which he claimed that Asians and Africans had only produced "black magic, witchcraft, voodoo, cannibalism and Aids", also attacking the Jewish leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Howard, as an "interloper, this immigrant or son of immigrants, who has no roots at all in Britain". The speech was filmed by undercover investigator Jason Gwynne and included in a 2004 BBC documentary, The Secret Agent.[125] On 12 December 2004, Tyndall was arrested on suspicion of incitement to racial hatred for these comments; on 6 April 2005, he was charged by police with two offences of using words or behaviour intended or likely to stir up racial hatred.[citation needed] Tyndall was found dead at his flat in Westbourne Villas, Hove, on 19 July 2005.[126] He had been due to stand trial at Leeds Magistrates' Court two days later.[126]

Policies and views[edit]

Deep fascist roots, including indigenous [i.e. British] ones, had nourished Tyndall's political psyche. His political career, spanning over 40 years, saw him pass through a labyrinthine array of right-extreme organisations. Moreover, regardless of some cosmetic changes, his ideology had remained the same from start to finish.

— Historian Nigel Copsey, 2008[60]

Tyndall was a fascist,[127] a racial nationalist,[128] and a Neo-Nazi.[129] Tyndall adhered to Neo-Nazism during the 1960s, although from the 1970s onward increasingly he shielded this behind the rhetoric of "British patriotism".[130] According to Thurlow, this was because by this time Tyndall had realised that "open Nazism was counter-productive" to his cause.[131] The historian of religion Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke states that "Tyndall cloaked his former extremism in British nationalism".[132] The journalist Daniel Trilling concurred, stating that "Tyndall's claim to have moderated his views was merely expedient".[133] This was in accordance with a wider trend among Britain's far-right to avoid the term "British fascism", with its electorally unpalatable connotations, and instead refer to "British nationalism" as a way of hoping to appeal to the masses.[134] Sykes stated that Tyndall split with Jordan because he "thought more traditionally in terms of British nationalism, the British race and the British Empire", whereas Jordan had remained more focused on pan-'Aryan' unity.[135] Nevertheless, his basic ideological world-view did not change.[136]

The political scientist Nigel Copsey believes that the "seminal influence" on Tyndall's thought was Chesterton.[130] Thurlow however observed that for Tyndall, as for Jordan and Walker, it was Arnold Leese rather than Chesterton or Mosley who was their main influence from within the British "fascist tradition", noting that Tyndall adopted Leese's "political intransigence... his refusal to compromise with political reality and his willingness to martyr himself for his beliefs".[27] According to Trilling, the "two guiding stars in... Tyndall's political universe" were Hitler and the British Empire.[6]

Race and nationalism[edit]

Tyndall was a British nationalist, white nationalist and white supremacist.[137] Tyndall had "deeply entrenched" biologically racist views.[138] Tyndall's biological racist approach was close to that of Hitler and Arnold Leese,[138] for he believed that there was a biologically distinct white-skinned "British race" which was one branch of a wider Nordic race.[138] Tyndall believed that race defined a nation and that "for if that is lost we will have no nation in the future."[139] Tyndall wrote in the pamphlet Six Principles of British Nationalism that "it is no refutation of this to trot out the old tale about the British being a mixed stock. Our only mixture is of stocks of North Western Europe closely akin to each other and blended together like the branches of a family tree. This is something entirely different from interbreeding with races of completely alien background and character, such as those indigenous to Africa and Asia."[140] Tyndall believed the Nordic race to be superior to others,[138] and under his leadership, the BNP promoted a variety of pseudoscientific claims in support of white supremacy.[141] Those parties he controlled restricted membership to those of Northern European ethnic heritage.[138] Tyndall over time became less outspoken on race because of the possibility of being persecuted under the race relations legislation, in The Eleventh Hour he wrote "anyone henceforth who ventures to suggest in public, either in speech or in writing, that one race may not be equal to another is on "dangerous" ground".[138]

From open Hitler worship and barely disguised expression of such ideas in the National Socialist Movement, through the 'English' form of national socialism [i.e. Nazism] in the Greater British Movement, to the expression of such sentiments clothed in apparently respectable form in the National Front, Tyndall was to retain the basic extremist views which had always characterised his thought.

— Historian Richard Thurlow, 1987[142]

Tyndall described his crime as having "dared to publish an honest and frank opinion on the relative merits of Whites and Negroes."[143] Tyndall argued that non-whites were unassimilable to Britain and that those living in Britain should be repatriated.[144] Tyndall advocated an "an-all White Britain"[124] and spoke positively of white immigrants from Poland, Hungary and the Baltic states, regarding them as being racially similar and sharing the "same basic culture" as the British and were thus easily able to assimilate "within a generation or two".[145]

Tyndall was antisemitic.[146] From Chesterton, Tyndall had inherited a belief that there was a global conspiracy of Jews bent on world domination, opining that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was genuine evidence for this.[139] Tyndall believed that Jews were responsible for both communism and international finance capitalism, using both to their own ends, and that they were responsible for undermining the British Empire and the British race.[139] Tyndall also believed that both democratic government and immigration into Europe were parts of the Jewish conspiracy to weaken other races.[147] Tyndall had expressed the view that "if Britain were to become Jew-clean she would have no nigger neighbours to worry about... It is the Jews who are our misfortune: T-h-e J-e-w-s. Do you hear me? THE JEWS?"[148] Tyndall also added Holocaust denial to the antisemitic beliefs inherited from Chesterton, believing that the Holocaust was a hoax created by the Jews to gain sympathy for themselves and thus aid their plot for world domination.[149]

Tyndall strongly objected to interracial relationships and miscegenation and remarked in his book The Eleventh Hour: "I feel deeply sorry for the child of a mixed marriage, but I can have no sympathy whatever for the parents... They produced an offspring that will never wholly fit, and will undoubtedly face a life much harder than the normal person born of pure race."[150][151] Tyndall believed that Jews were behind multiracial Britain, he remarked: "My experience as a campaigner against the multi-racial idea in Britain and in favour of our country's centuries-old tradition of racial homogeneity has brought home to me beyond any doubt the fact that Jews are to be found at the forfront of opposition to British racial self-preservation."[152]

Social views[edit]

During Tyndall's period of leadership the BNP promoted eugenics, calling for the forced sterilisation of those with genetically transmittable disabilities.[153] In party literature, it talked of improving the British 'racial stock' by removing "inferior strains within the indigenous races of the British Isles".[141] In his magazine Spearhead, Tyndall had stated that "sub-human elements", "perverts", and "asocials" should be eliminated from Britain through "the gas chamber system".[154] The official programme of the Greater Britain Movement forbade marriages between British people and non-Aryans and called for the state to sterilize:

For the protection of British blood, racial laws will be enacted forbidding marriage between Britons and non-Aryans. Medical measures will be taken to prevent procreation on the part of all those who have hereditary defects, either racial, mental, or physical. A pure, strong, healthy British race will be regarded as the principal guarantee of Britain's future.[155]

Tyndall objected to homosexuality and advocated for it to be outlawed.[156] Tyndall wrote that homosexuality only can flourish when "the literary and artistic products of the homosexual mind can only flourish in a society where heterosexual values have been gravely weakened."[157] He expressed the view that the NF "was itself by no means immune to this sickening cult", and he disapproved of the presence of homosexuals in the party.[158] Under Tyndall, the BNP called for the re-criminalisation of homosexual activity.[159]

Tyndall later reflected in his book The Eleventh Hour that his earlier involvement during the 1960s with openly neo-Nazi movements was a mistake, he wrote: "having made a thorough study of the forces dedicated to destroying my own country, and knowing that Hitler faced very similar forces in his, I have come to believe that many of his intentions were good ones and many of his achievements admirable. But that does not mean that it is right for a British movement belonging to an entirely different phase of history to model itself on the movement of Hitler... We are a different country, with our own proud past and traditions, and these — not the traditions of foreigners — should be our source of inspiration".[160] During an interview in the 1970s, Tyndall was questioned about his earlier involvement with neo-Nazi movements and replied:

When I was in my 20s I was for a time associated with an extremist organisation and this did turn out to be unwise and I've always admitted it and I have never tried to hide the fact. Many of my views have changed since that time as they do, some of my views have remained the same, yes, I was always very patriotic, always a nationalist, and those views remain the same.[161]

Personal life[edit]

Tyndall lived a life of temperance and regular exercise.[116] The American journalist George Thayer, who met with Tyndall in the 1960s, described him as having "cold, evasive eyes, was blonde and balding, and had not the slightest spark of humour. He was suspicious, nervous, and excitable, and moved with all the stiffness of a Prussian in Court."[43]

His wife, Valerie – whom he met while both were in the National Front in the 1970s – stood as an NF candidate in Brighton, Kemptown, in the 1979 general election, and as BNP candidate in Hackney, South & Shoreditch in the 1983 general election and at Old Bexley & Sidcup (against Edward Heath in his last election) in the 1997 general election. Her father, Charles Parker, became a leading member of the BNP in its early years and provided the party with a source of funding. Valerie died on 24 June 2011 in Hove.[162]

Thurlow thought that Tyndall's oratorical style was learned from Mosley's example,[163] while Trilling instead believed that it was based on that of Hitler.[164] According to Trilling, Tyndall's "speeches were pompous but studied... [he] copied the hand gestures, the rising delivery that ended in a crescendo of angry epithets [from Hitler]... But it was flat and tedious, like a provincial PE teacher trying to show his bored pupils how the rugby or football greats might have done it."[164] Copsey stated that "Tyndall may have been a rousing speaker, but his tactical intelligence and vision left much to be desired".[82] The East London BNP activist Eddy Butler noted that at a 1986 party rally in Dewsbury, Tyndall "lost them completely. He knew how to talk to a small room of nationalists, but he didn't know how to talk to a thousand Yorkshire young geezers. He hadn't got a clue about normal people or normal politics. He'd go on about the Britain of Sir Francis Drake; you'd think "what's he on about?"".[165]

Trilling described Tyndall as having had "a long pedigree in the most extreme and violent quarters of Britain's far right".[129] Although Tyndall was a prominent figure within the far-right of Britain, he still nevertheless remained a controversial figure, writer Martin Walker notes "he was well-known and unpopular within Nationalist circles because of his arrogance, his overbearing personal manner and the way he brought the authoritarianism of his politics into his personal life."[29]

Elections contested by John Tyndall[edit]

UK Parliament elections

Date of election Constituency Party Votes  %
1979 general election Hackney, S & Shoreditch NF 1,958 7.6
1992 general election Bow and Poplar BNP 1,107 3.0
9 June 1994 by-election Dagenham BNP 1,511 7.0
1997 general election Poplar and Canning Town BNP 2,849 7.3
2001 general election Mitcham and Morden BNP 642 1.7

European Parliament elections

Year Region Party Votes  % Results Notes
1999 London BNP 17,960 1.6 Not elected Multi member constituencies; party list

Elections contested by Valerie Tyndall[edit]

UK Parliament elections

Date of election Constituency Party Votes  %
1979 general election Brighton Kemptown NF 404 0.9
1983 general election Hackney, S & Shoreditch BNP 374 1.0
1997 general election Old Bexley and Sidcup BNP 415 0.8

European Parliament elections

Year Region Party Votes  % Results Notes
1999 London BNP 17,960 1.6 Not elected Multi member constituencies; party list


Year Title Notes
1961 Authoritarian State: Its Meaning and Function National Socialist Movement (UK, 1961). Reprinted by Westropa Social Alliance Press in 1973, OCLC 43505111
1966 Six Principles of British Nationalism 2nd edition printed in 1970. Reprinted by The A.K. Chesterton Trust in 2013, ISBN 0-95646-697-4
1971 Death in the Lebanon London: G. Bles, ISBN 0-71380-291-X
1975 The Case for Economic Nationalism Croydon: National Front Policy Committee, ISBN 0-90510-900-7
1988 The Eleventh Hour: A Call for British Rebirth London: Albion Press, ISBN 0-95136-861-3. Reprinted in Welling in 1998, ISBN 0-95136-860-5



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  137. ^ "National Front leader (1971-1974 & 1976-1979) John Tyndall in 1970's interview". During an interview in the 1970s Tyndall was asked "do you believed that the white man is ethnically superior?" Tyndall replied: "Yes, undoubtedly. I'm not talking about the white man in relation to say for instance the Japanese or the Chinese but I'm talking about the white man in relation to the Negro, and I think that the whole of what has happened in Africa since the white man left or he nearly left has borne out this." 
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  161. ^ National Front leader (1971-1974 & 1976-1979) John Tyndall in 1970's interview. YouTube. 
  162. ^ "Death of Valerie Tyndall", Heritage and Destiny website, 25 June 2011
    - "Obituary - Valerie Tyndall", BNP website (no date)
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  165. ^ Trilling 2012, pp. 62–63.


Bottom, Karin; Copus, Colin (2011). "The BNP in Local Government: Support for the Far-Right or for Community Politics?". In Nigel Copsey and Graham Macklin (eds.). British National Party: Contemporary Perspectives. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 142–162. ISBN 978-0-415-48383-4. 
Copsey, Nigel (2008). Contemporary British Fascism: The British National Party and the Quest for Legitimacy (second ed.). London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0230574373. 
Driver, Stephen (2011). Understanding British Party Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press. ISBN 978-0-7456-4078-5. 
Gable, Gerry (1995) [1991]. "Britain's Nazi Underground". In Luciano Cheles, Ronnie Ferguson, and Michalina Vaughan (eds.). The Far Right in Western and Eastern Europe (second ed.). London and New York: Longman Group. pp. 258–271. ISBN 9780582238817. 
Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas (2002). Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 978-0814731246. 
Goodwin, Matthew J. (2011). New British Fascism: Rise of the British National Party. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-46500-7. 
Sykes, Alan (2005). The Radical Right in Britain: Social Imperialism to the BNP. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0333599242. 
Thurlow, Richard (1987). Fascism in Britain: A History, 1918–1985. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-13618-5. 
Trilling, Daniel (2012). Bloody Nasty People: The Rise of Britain's Far Right. London: Verso. ISBN 978-1-84467-959-1. 
Tyndall, John (1988). The Eleventh Hour: A Call for British Rebirth. London: Albion Press. ISBN 0-95136-861-3. 
Walker, Martin (1977). The National Front. Fontana. ISBN 0006348246. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
New creation Chairman of the British National Party
Succeeded by
Nick Griffin