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List of British fascist parties

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Although Fascism in the United Kingdom hasn’t yet reached the heights of many of its historical European counterparts, British politics after the First World War saw the emergence of a number of fascist movements, none of which ever came to power.

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“He’s a fascist!” For decades, this has been a favorite smear of the left, aimed at those on the right. Every Republican president—for that matter, virtually every Republican—since the 1970s has been called a fascist; now, more than ever. This label is based on the idea that fascism is a phenomenon of the political right. The left says it is, and some self-styled white supremacists and neo-Nazis embrace the label. But are they correct? To answer this question, we have to ask what fascism really means: What is its underlying ideology? Where does it even come from? These are not easy questions to answer. We know the name of the philosopher of capitalism: Adam Smith. We know the name of the philosopher of Marxism: Karl Marx. But who’s the philosopher of fascism? Yes—exactly. You don’t know. Don’t feel bad. Almost no one knows. This is not because he doesn’t exist, but because historians, most of whom are on the political left, had to erase him from history in order to avoid confronting fascism’s actual beliefs. So, let me introduce him to you. His name is Giovanni Gentile. Born in 1875, he was one of the world’s most influential philosophers in the first half of the twentieth century. Gentile believed that there were two “diametrically opposed” types of democracy. One is liberal democracy, such as that of the United States, which Gentile dismisses as individualistic—too centered on liberty and personal rights—and therefore selfish. The other, the one Gentile recommends, is “true democracy,” in which individuals willingly subordinate themselves to the state. Like his philosophical mentor, Karl Marx, Gentile wanted to create a community that resembles the family, a community where we are “all in this together.” It’s easy to see the attraction of this idea. Indeed, it remains a common rhetorical theme of the left. For example, at the 1984 convention of the Democratic Party, the governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, likened America to an extended family where, through the government, people all take care of each other. Nothing’s changed. Thirty years later, a slogan of the 2012 Democratic Party convention was, “The government is the only thing we all belong to.” They might as well have been quoting Gentile. Now, remember, Gentile was a man of the left. He was a committed socialist. For Gentile, fascism is a form of socialism—indeed, its most workable form. While the socialism of Marx mobilizes people on the basis of class, fascism mobilizes people by appealing to their national identity as well as their class. Fascists are socialists with a national identity. German Fascists in the 1930s were called Nazis—basically a contraction of the term “national socialist.” For Gentile, all private action should be oriented to serve society; there is no distinction between the private interest and the public interest. Correctly understood, the two are identical. And who is the administrative arm of the society? It’s none other than the state. Consequently, to submit to society is to submit to the state—not just in economic matters, but in all matters. Since everything is political, the state gets to tell everyone how to think and what to do. It was another Italian, Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator of Italy from 1922 to 1943, who turned Gentile’s words into action. In his Dottrina del Fascismo, one of the doctrinal statements of early fascism, Mussolini wrote, “All is in the state and nothing human exists or has value outside the state.” He was merely paraphrasing Gentile. The Italian philosopher is now lost in obscurity, but his philosophy could not be more relevant because it closely parallels that of the modern left. Gentile’s work speaks directly to progressives who champion the centralized state. Here in America, the left has vastly expanded state control over the private sector, from healthcare to banking; from education to energy. This state-directed capitalism is precisely what German and Italian fascists implemented in the 1930s. Leftists can’t acknowledge their man, Gentile, because that would undermine their attempt to bind conservatism to fascism. Conservatism wants small government so that individual liberty can flourish. The left, like Gentile, wants the opposite: to place the resources of the individual and industry in the service of a centralized state. To acknowledge Gentile is to acknowledge that fascism bears a deep kinship to the ideology of today’s left. So, they will keep Gentile where they’ve got him: dead, buried, and forgotten. But we should remember, or the ghost of fascism will continue to haunt us. I’m Dinesh D’Souza for Prager University.



A flowchart showing the history of the early British fascist movement
A flowchart showing the history of the early British fascist movement

A number of fascist movements emerged before the Second World War. Even before the March on Rome, Italian fascism gained praise in sections of the press, with articles appearing in both the Saturday Review and Pall Mall Gazette in 1921 and in The Times in 1922 praising the fascists for their strike-breaking and general anti-trade union activities.[1] On 4 November 1922 a group of black-shirted admirers of Benito Mussolini held a remembrance service at Westminster Abbey which the Workers' Socialist Federation protested, both for the group being allowed to march to the Abbey and for the fact that they were permitted to use a building as significant as Westminster Abbey in the first place.[2] However it would be 1923 before any formal group seeking to connect itself to fascism would be formed. Whilst none of these gained any parliamentary representation some of them enjoyed wider notability. Amongst the more important groups that were founded were:

Minor movements

Alongside these several more minor groups that adhered to fascism were also established. Amongst those identified were:

  • The British Democratic Party became involved in the Coordinating Committee, an initiative of Archibald Maule Ramsay in the late 1930s. Disagreements between member parties saw this fall apart in 1939.[14]
  • The British Empire Fascist Party, a very short-lived group set up by Graham Seton Hutchinson in November 1933. The group supported the establishment of the corporate state and was strongly anti-Semitic.[15] Seton Hutchinson had intended to use the name for a merger between his own National Workers Party and the BF but the latter group backed out when they realised the lack of membership of that group.[16]
  • The British Empire Fascists broke from the BF in the 1920s and advocated cutting wages for the highest earners.[17]
  • The British Union (not to be confused with the BUF, which used the name British Union after the outbreak of war) emerged in the early 1930s and worked with the BF.[18]
  • The British United Fascists were established in Kensington in 1933 where they had an office. They clashed with the BUF and had their office wrecked by some of that group's Blackshirts, resulting in the group disbanding soon afterwards.[17]
  • The Empire Fascist Movement is mentioned in some mid 1920s reports in Socialist Review although details are missing.[17]
  • The Fascist Movement was another 1920s splinter group from the BF, although little is known about it beyond its name.[17]
  • Italian Fascismo was established in Leith in 1924, with a black-shirted uniform. It was entirely mimetic of Italian fascism and seemed to exist only among Edinburgh's Italian community.[12]
  • The Kensington Fascist Party was set up in the late 1920s and existed well into the 1930s. Although it maintained an independent existence it tended to work closely with other, larger movements, including the BF, IFL and the Unity Band.[18] In 1931 it was one of a number of minor movements to sign a document produced by the BF calling for the abolition of parliamentary government.[19]
  • The Legion of Loyalists was an early 1930s group, close to the BF.[18] In 1931 it was one of a number of minor movements to sign a document produced by the BF calling for the abolition of parliamentary government.[19] It later affiliated to the British Council Against European Commitments, a pro-German umbrella organisation founded by Viscount Lymington, in 1938.[20] Robert Benewick calls this group the League of Loyalists.[21]
  • The Loyalty League emerged in 1922 as a group attached to the Conservative Party that sought to promote Italian fascism. The group is also described as having been established in 1923 and being strongly anti-Semitic in tone although, according to Thomas Linehan, this may have been a different group with the same name.[17]
  • The National Workers Movement, later National Workers Party, was the personal party of Graham Seton Hutchinson, and appeared to have few or even no members beyond its leader.[22] The group, which maintained close links to the Nordic League, also used the name National Socialist Workers Movement/Party.[23]
  • The New Movement existed very briefly in the early 1930s and was most likely absorbed quickly by the IFL.[18]
  • The Nordics were a small group of anti-Semitic "racial nationalists" who merged with the IFL in 1934.[24] They were distinct from the Nordic League.
  • The Scottish Union of Fascists was set up by T.W. Denholm-Hay in 1934 as a more Scottish-minded breakaway from the BUF. Links were established with Wendy Wood and her Democratic Scottish Self-Government Organisation although it made no headway, having only 70 members upon formation. It merged into the Scottish Party.[25]
  • The Stamford Fascists were a partial splinter group from the BF, established in 1926 when Arnold Leese and Henry Simpson were elected as councillors in Stamford in defiance of BF policy that members should not contest elections under the BF banner. Leese alone briefly changed this group into the Fascist League, before formally establishing the IFL in 1928.[26]
  • The United Empire Fascist Party was established by C.G. Wodehouse-Temple in December 1933 and included amongst its membership Serocold Skeels, a former IFL member and agent for Nazi Germany who was eventually expelled from the party for his anti-Semitism. The group soon changed its name to United British Party, establishing offices in London and Edinburgh, and adopted a grey-shirted uniform for a while. Despite this overt militarism, which it eventually abandoned, the UBP's Fourteen Points programme was largely bereft of fascist rhetoric.[27]
  • The Unity Band was established by Lieutenant-Colonel Oscar Boulton in 1930 and was widely known for its publishing output although it had few members beyond the highly active Boulton.[28] In 1931 it was one of a number of minor movements to sign a document produced by the BF calling for the abolition of parliamentary government.[19] The two groups split the following year and they competed for the leadership of the non-BUF fascist movement for the next few years.[29] Linked to the Britons, the group had a strongly Christian ethos.[29]
  • The White Knights of Britain, also known as the Hooded Men, were a Ku Klux Klan-styled secret society that existed between 1937 and 1938. Deeply anti-Semitic, they used the swastika as their emblem and had Edward I of England as their patron saint due to his Edict of Expulsion against the Jews (although Edward was not a saint in any mainline Christian observance). It was close to the Nordic League, with E.H. Cole and T. Victor Rowe leading figures in both organisations.[30]
  • The Yorkshire Fascists emerged in the 1920s, probably from the BF and were still in existence by 1930, by which point they were close to the IFL.[17]


After the Second World War a handful of groups emerged which looked directly to fascism and Nazism for their inspiration. Those who have openly done so (in contrast with parties which merely describe themselves as aligned with nationalism) are:

National Front demonstration in Yorkshire, 1970s
National Front demonstration in Yorkshire, 1970s


  • R. Benewick, Political Violence and Public Order, London: Allan Lane, 1969
  • G. Bowd, Fascist Scotland - Caledonia and the Far Right, Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2013
  • M. Cronin (ed.), The Failure of British Fascism, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996
  • S. Dorrill, Blackshirt – Sir Oswald Mosley and British Fascism, London: Penguin, 2007
  • R. Eatwell, Fascism : A History, London: Pimlico, 2003
  • N. Goodrick-Clarke, Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity, New York: New York University Press, 2003
  • R. Hill & A. Bell, The Other Face of Terror - Inside Europe’s Neo-Nazi Network, London: Collins, 1988
  • K. Hodgson, Fighting Fascism: the British Left and the Rise of Fascism, 1919-39, Manchester University Press, 2010
  • T. Linehan, British Fascism 1918-39: Parties, Ideology and Culture, Manchester University Press, 2000
  • M. Pugh, 'Hurrah for the Blackshirts!' Fascists and Fascism in Britain between the Wars, London, 2005
  • R. Thurlow, Fascism in Britain, London: IB Tauris, 1998
  • M. Walker, The National Front, Glasgow: Fontana, 1977


  1. ^ Hodgson, p. 99
  2. ^ Hodgson, p. 100
  3. ^ Benewick, p. 27
  4. ^ Benewick, p. 37
  5. ^ Benewick, p. 36
  6. ^ Benewick, pp. 45-46
  7. ^ Pugh
  8. ^ R.J.B. Bosworth, "The British Press, the Conservatives, and Mussolini, 1920-34", Journal of Contemporary History, 1970
  9. ^ Linehan, p. 144
  10. ^ Linehan, p. 111
  11. ^ Dorrill, p. 529
  12. ^ a b Linehan, p. 133
  13. ^ Bowd, pp. 32-34
  14. ^ Benewick, p. 289
  15. ^ Linehan, pp. 132-133
  16. ^ Thurlow, p. 56
  17. ^ a b c d e f Linehan, p. 130
  18. ^ a b c d Linehan, p. 131
  19. ^ a b c Dorrill, p. 200
  20. ^ Dorrill, p. 439
  21. ^ Benewick, p. 287
  22. ^ Linehan, p. 136
  23. ^ Thurlow, pp. 78, 80
  24. ^ Thurlow, p. 78
  25. ^ Bowd, p. 40
  26. ^ Linehan, p. 71
  27. ^ Linehan, pp. 132-133
  28. ^ Linehan, p. 133
  29. ^ a b Linehan, p. 134
  30. ^ Thurlow, p. 81
  31. ^ Thurlow, p. 214
  32. ^ Walker, p. 52
  33. ^ Walker, pp. 36-37
  34. ^ Goodrick-Clarke, p. 38
  35. ^ Hill & Bell, p. 82
  36. ^ Hill & Bell, p. 116
  37. ^ D, Williams, "The Rest of the Right", Searchlight, May 2007, p. 10
  38. ^ Hill & Bell, pp. 272-280
This page was last edited on 18 February 2020, at 06:06
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