London Swinton Circle
The London Swinton Circle (otherwise known as the Swinton Circle) is a long running British right-wing pressure group. The group states that its purpose is to uphold traditional conservative and Unionist principles.
The group formed part of a number of Conservative Party linked fringe groups which came to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s, such as the Monday Club, Tory Action and WISE (Welsh, Irish, Scottish, English), but is now positioned outside of the Conservative Party.
A few city-based discussion groups with the suffix "Swinton Circle" were formed for those Conservative Party activists who had attended Conservative Party training at Swinton College. The London Swinton Circle was founded in 1965, early members included Rhodes Boyson and T. E. Utley. Another prominent early member was Roger Moate MP. The London Swinton Circle was the only one of the groups to continue beyond the 1970s.
The London Swinton Circle came to be run during the eighties by Mrs Beryl 'Bee' Carthew who was described by the satirical Private Eye magazine as a "well-known right-wing looney". Carthew had previously formed and ran the "Powellight Association" which published a magazine, Powellight, in support of Enoch Powell during the late 1960s and early 1970s. An executive member of the Monday Club with George Kennedy Young, she was expelled from the Club in 1974 as part of a purge made by Jonathan Guinness. She briefly joined the National Front in 1975, before later rejoining the Conservative Party. She briefly ran the London Office for the nascent UK Independence Party (UKIP).
From the early 1980s
In the early 1980s, the group held several meetings of "right-wing Tories and neo-fascists" with the aim of “co-ordinating anti-immigration campaigns”. By this time, the Conservative Party were concerned that “co-ordinating Groups” like the Swinton Circle were being infiltrated by the far right. Its most commented upon meeting was in 1983 with Ivor Benson as guest speaker. Revelations about the extreme right past of one member led to a motion in Parliament.
Adrian Davies was for a time secretary of the Circle after Bee Carthew. Subsequently the Circle has been run by Allan Robertson, a former member of the Scottish Monday Club and contributing editor of Right Now! magazine.
Conservative MPs, including Liam Fox and Owen Paterson, were criticised in 2014 for speaking to the group whose publications have expressed views such as the mass deportation of British people of African descent to Africa. The Circle had also suggested that "an earthquake in New Zealand might have been a warning against gay marriage".
The Circle is strongly Unionist and supports the restoration of capital punishment, and is against immigration and same-sex marriage. It backed Brexit, though the Swinton Circle continues to endorse the Conservative Party.
Breakaway rival group
Alan Harvey, a former member of the National Front, has been described by Searchlight magazine as a publisher of "racist and antisemitic" material. Harvey also ran the Springbok Club, which he founded as a merger of the White Rhino Club and the Rhodesian Forum, and which has been described by Johann Hari in The Independent as a "racist organisation." In 1998, one year after he ceased being the Conservative MP for Tatton, Neil Hamilton (a former member of the Federation of Conservative Students in his youth and former Deputy Chairman of the UK Independence Party) attended the club. Harvey said that "Mr. Hamilton gave a riveting keynote speech in which he recalled his own fond memories of South Africa during the era of civilised rule. He also expressed great pleasure at seeing [the flag of Apartheid South Africa] proudly on display ... and expressed the hope that one day it would be seen flying in Cape Town and Pretoria once again". However, it became public in July 2015 that Harvey had firmly refused an alliance with ex-UKIP candidate and writer for European Knights Project Jack Sen with Harvey expressing concern over Sen's alleged "neo-Nazi" associations and maintaining the Springbok Club was "101% pro-Israel".
Harvey was a one time Chair of the Circle but was expelled from the London Swinton Circle in October 2008 after disrupting the business of the Circle amidst allegations that he was a "Searchlight mole".
In January 2009, Harvey formed a rival breakaway group using the name 'Swinton Circle'. London Swinton Circle member, and former Leader of the National Front, Ian Anderson commented on the development that Harvey was claiming "he was in charge of the [London] Swinton Circle and even called meetings, however as they rapidly degenerated into occasions for him to attack anyone he felt like, they have not been a great success". Harvey later told Searchlight magazine that he had "won" in his struggle against the London Swinton Circle.
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