The BBC sees Britain through a forest of strutting jackboots

In my Midlands comprehensive school in the 1970s, the boys in the 6th form were all planning to be Labour voters like their fathers and grandfathers. I’d joined the Labour Party aged 15 and we regarded the NF as uncouth ‘skin-heads,’ the sort you avoided at all costs. In London Professor Lez Henry had more to fear. ‘Us black yoof, were terrorised,’ he said, remembering NF bullies in Lewisham as, ‘Organised fascists.’ He recalled their language; ‘Paki and Queer bashing,’ and ‘Nigger hunting,’ presumably allowed to do so on the BBC as he is black. Despite that trauma and leaving education early, he doesn’t seem to have done badly; now ‘Professor of Criminology and Sociology in the University of West London,’ and author of (2020) ‘Marxism as a reggaematical tool to chant down Babylon!’

He might be called a ‘Renaissance Man,’ if that term was not now deemed ‘Eurocentric’ and sexist; listing his areas of expertise as; criminology, sociology, anthropology, race, education, ethnicity, youth crime and cultural studies.’ He’s also Reggae Deejay ‘Lezlee Lyrix,’ and of course a poet and community activist. In the American way, he also calls himself as a, ‘Renowned public speaker.’ He was also the only working-class voice in the second episode of, ‘Britain’s Fascist Thread,’ on BBC Radio 4, in which Camilla Schofield, Senior Lecturer in Modern History at UEA, has been given a three-part series to explore, ‘The unbroken thread of fascism in Britain.’ 

Part Two started with soundtrack from the ‘Battle of Lewisham,’ 13th August 1977, when 500 NF marchers clashed with 4,000 counter-demonstrators. Those figures were not given out and for Camilla the clash, no matter how unequal the numbers, was part of an, ‘Ongoing strategy,’ in, ‘The thread of fascism from 1918 to the present day,’ Rather than skin-heads,o they represent for her, ‘A real world threat,’ and, ‘The threads woven in from the past,’ were being keenly stitched by those who want to, ‘Mythologise’ Britain’s past. 

The previous episode brought out the current academic obsession with the British Empire, where everything in our history is related to its evils. For Paul Jackson, Senior Lecturer in History the University of Northampton, and Guardian writer, the fascism of Moseley and the British people post-war, was about, ‘Rekindling empire, and a last- ditch attempt at ‘racial purity’ with the formation of groups such as the, ‘Racial Preservation Society,’ and the ‘Imperial Fascist League.’ 

There were some very eccentric groups, composed mainly of much older people who were seen as hangovers from an Edwardian twilight. Some belonged to, ‘The National Socialist League,’ founded by William Joyce, who was hanged by the British. Schofield mentioned AK Chesterton, a south African follower of Moseley who tried to break up Tory Party conferences. In 1967 he founded the NF. 

I don’t think anyone in my comp, where both head-boy and head-girl were black, had heard of any of them. Schofield insists that the 70s far-right were a real threat as they attempted to ‘Reassert Britain as a white-man’s country, where racial nationalism was going hand in hand with economic nationalism.’ She didn’t explain what that meant, or mention the EEC, the pan-European group we’d joined four years earlier. Analysis of economics in the 70s is strangely absent from the program. It is arguable that the wealth extracted from the Empire K allowed the British of all classes to have a higher standard of living. Atlee and his post-war government were aware of how workers benefitted from colonisation. Perhaps the sudden end of empire contributed to racism, but that was not discussed.

Neither was the thorny topic of immigration, the issue that most directly affected working class attitudes, and did most to turn people away from the Labour party. Instead to support the idea of ‘resurgent fascism,’ Jackson mentioned the Commonwealth Immigration Acts of 1962-1968 which tried to limit immigration, and he said, ‘Normalised racism.’ 

Starting out from the premise that limiting immigration or even worrying about its effects is racist, brought us to Enoch Powell. For Schofield he was, ‘Critical to the unbroken thread of fascism,’ and even, ‘Reframed the story of World War Two.’ Powell, who enlisted early in the war and became the youngest brigadier in the British Army, one of only two men to rise from private to that rank, was apparently a chief mythologiser of history in his attempt to lead the British public down the Himmel Strasse to Britain’s Third Reich. This argument was supported by allegations about Powell’s rhetoric about future conflict and immigration and its possible effects on his working- class constituents.

Although there were no direct quotes, for Schofield his words represented, ‘The loss of the moral authority of white-rule.’ They, ‘Cleared a path to fascism,’ and ‘Racial populists were turned into fascists.’ She means people becoming disillusioned with the Left, but according to her thesis, were proto-Nazis all along. 

The 70s were a turbulent time when, those earlier dark, ‘threads became embedded,’ and there were new developments; For Professor Lez and Schofield, ‘The young black man,’ was seen as predatory and a real threat. Contemporary attempts to stop street crime, which began to be called ‘mugging,’ were racist, based on ‘Disinformation.’ 

The program came alive for me at this moment. After my Midlands comprehensive I moved to south London where I became a nursing auxiliary in Lambeth and was mugged three times by young black men working in small gangs. My friends and some of their mothers suffered the same fate. There was also constant burglary. We lived in a reign of terror carried out by black youths from Brixton and Peckham. Perhaps for the first time, street robbery was seen by the Left as political. A nursing student suggested that I’d been mugged due to my, ‘Racist body-language.’ The first time I’d heard that. When I wrote about the attacks and the climate of fear many of us were experiencing, I was accused of racism and reported to the Brixton based, ‘Race Today Collective, a Marxist group run by Darcus Howe which later became affiliated to the US Black Panther Movement. In 2014, looking back to the 70s, Diane Abbott MP called Howe, ‘A living embodiment of the struggle against police racism and injustice. He was the embodiment of the idea that police racism could be challenged successfully.’ A blue plaque was placed on their building by English Heritage in 2004. 

The 70s were a time when our present culture wars began, at least in the use of ‘weaponised’ language and attempts to control what could and could not be said. The word ‘fascist’ became a pejorative term for anyone opposed to immigration. Peter Hain, then young activist, didn’t take part in the ‘Battle of Lewisham,’ where the police used riot shields for the first time, but began to question the idea of, ‘free speech,’ believing it had to be used ‘with responsibility.’ The idea followed that ‘hate-speech’ had to be controlled by legislation. As stated by Schofield in the previous episode, only the Right took an ‘absolutist view on free-speech.’ 

Like Mosely’s troops at the Olympia rally of 1934, the NF were dead as a political force after the Lewisham disorder. A month later the Anti-Nazi League and Rock Against Racism formed. Hain sees fascism as an exception which he and others wished to confront. Schofield’s thesis, unchallenged in the program so far, is that it is and always has been the norm, ‘mainstream’ in the UK, never, as most of us think, ‘antithetical to liberal democracy.’

Professor Paul Gilroy, founding Director of the Centre for the Study of Race and Racism at University College London, added a more nuanced tone, noting the failure of the far-right to gain a foothold in Britain. He looks like a Rastafarian despite a white father, was privately educated at the University College School, part of the elite ‘Eton Group,’ of twelve public schools who organise social and sporting events with Eton College. His twitter page doesn’t mention this and when I asked about it, he instantly blocked me. 

His site is decorated with an image of Churchill’s head defaced by Black Lives Matter protestors in June 2020. Like Schofield he’s preoccupied with countering, ‘British myths,’ particularly ‘Romantic narratives of whiteness, Christianity and ethnic homogeneity as uniquely constitutive of these islands.’ In their place he’s working to insert, ‘The long history of Black Britons into the cultural and social fabric of Britishness.’ Most of us beyond BBC land, find it hard to locate black people in Britain before the 1950s or to spot fascists about the place, and have come to despise the current ubiquity of the term. Schofield is also worried about it because she thinks it now masks the true popularity of the ideas behind it, which are, ‘attractive to people across the board.’ 

In next week’s episode, on March 5th, she and her academic colleagues will finally prove their thesis that Britain is a fascist country as they discuss the, ‘means by which fascism is calibrated and communicated in the 21st century.’ Or perhaps they feel no need to prove it, as they already find it self-evident. ‘There was electoral success for a British fascist party like never before,’ Schofield reports eagerly. Who? What? Where? Tune in to find out. 

Subscribe to the quarterly print magazine

Subscribe to the quarterly digital magazine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

17 Comments on The BBC sees Britain through a forest of strutting jackboots

  1. Thank you for listening to these programmes so I don’t have to, Jane. A very good column, as usual (although you do need a copy editor!). It’s hard to disagree with much of it. Everything seems to be “fascist” nowadays. If we are “fascist”, what does that make much of the rest of the world? I also applaud the excellent posts below by Percy Openshaw. I do recommend the speech “I am an Englishman”, available on YouTube. It’s from a fictional BBC crime drama series, but perhaps has the unintended consequence of making us feel sympathy for the young chap and his cause.

    Of course there were black people in Britain before the 1950s, but they were very few in number. They may have always been here, but not to the extent of the post-Windrush era, which is what gets truly “mythologised” by the academic left et al. Naturally, it’s one of the few things that makes Ash Sarkar proud of Britain’s history. Say no more.

  2. “A K Chesterton, a South African follower of Moseley [sic] who tried to break up Tory Party conferences”.
    FACT: G K’s cousin was born in South Africa but was an Englishman with a lifelong respect for the British Empire. He left Mosley’s movement in the late 1930s and attacked him then and subsequently. His Empire Loyalists vocally heckled a Conservative Party conference, described shortly afterwards by Mosley as a “few freaks”, and were attacked no less severely than real weapon-carrying disrupters were treated by stewards at Mosley’s pre-war Olympia meeting. Chesterton was a conspiracy theorist, who relied on the writings of Douglas Reed and Father Fahey, but never seemed quite sure as to how “Jewish” it was. He also “liked a drink” even in latter years, and was never grateful for Mosley paying for his pre-war anti-alcoholism treatment in Germany.

    It is quite true that “post-fascists” like Chesterton, Tyndall, Jordan and Fountaine were prominent in anti-immigration movements after WW2, probably because their “racism” alerted them sooner to its dangers and to its political populist comeback prospects. However, some Conservatives like Lord Elton, Cyril Osborne, Gerald Nabarro and Peter Griffiths also campaigned with little success, and much abuse, against the post-WW2 immigration; plus several Labour MPs more discreetly at the outset,. It is incorrect, unfair and dishonest for Conservatives today to blame more outspoken supporters of immigration control, whether Mosley in the early1950s or Powell in the late 1960s, for their own supine and muddled response to “the multi-racial society, whether you like it or not” (Willie Whitelaw).

  3. There does seem to be many attempts by the usual suspects to undermine any sense of exceptionalism by native English and British to their homeland. We apparently are not allowed to feel as though England is indeed our inheritance, our soil, our heritage, our history, our culture, our traditions…our identity. If anything there is a definite attempt to disconnect people from place, in order to justify the imposition of multiculturalism over an ethnically homogenous country, that once was, but apparently never really was, but was in fact ‘a myth’. Progressive liberals will consider this only right and just and as they have the levers of power in academia, law, politics and media, the majority of the population will be cowed, shamed and prosecuted into silence, as a result.

    • Quite so: the “equality, diversity, inclusion” mantra, which goes back to the “race, gender, class” revolution of Herbert Marcuse and Stuart Hall but has now captured the Gramscian heights of “political and cultural communication”, makes immigrants not just the equal of the natives but specially favoured. Their ancestral overseas cultures are praised, while the English culture is denigrated or marginalized or fragmented or denied – as in “The Guardian” which speaks (contrary to evidence and memory) of “an England which never existed”. At the moment I write a “black” woman on TV is interviewing Diane Abbott and three other “black women” on racist Britain; the “debate” will continue. What “debate”?

  4. Surely if England was ever fascist, the deluded fascists who put themselves forward at elections would have saved their deposits. By the logic of the “everything I disagree with is fascist” mob, Britain is a Loony country, especially as all but one of the original demands of the Monster Raving Loony Party manifesto have become law.

    • Yes. And which Anglosphere institutions -of any kind- are not now dominated by the anti-empiricism insisted upon by the neo-marxist people? A sharp summary of this anti-civilisational destructiveness is given in 21 succinct points by “Gad Saad: Welcome to the Abyss of Infinite Lunacy”, now widely available.

  5. It’s bad alright. And it’s bad because, over the decades, there was no critical mass of volunteers to fight back. That’s the thing: Not only are there too few Ordinary People who realise that a proper society must be continuously fought for, there’s also the problem that fighting is seen as uncivilised by the anti-Left higher-ups. And so, The Wasteland.

    • Harry Black, you neatly touch upon the powerful little poem of G.K. Chesterton’s, “The Reactionary”. But for my want of editing skills, I would have treated readers to its appeal. It is freely available on the web.

  6. From all that you say, Miss Kelly, it is clear that the BBC, once controlled by the broad left, is now a tool of the extreme – like so many other institutions in this country. I note their grotesque exaggerations and tendentious, de-contextualised evidential base, but one should also register their glaring self-contradictions. On the one hand, they will tell us that Britain was “always multiracial” – hence the preposterous scrabbling about to find black inhabitants of medieval London or eighteenth century Glasgow; on the other hand, they celebrate Windrush as the start of “diversity”, the rescue of the British people from the apparently drab and uninventive years of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Newton, Wren, Purcell and Elgar. They seem to think that any and every society should welcome transformation with open arms, unless – of course – that society is not European, in which case it is to be “respected” in even the most chauvinist and bigoted of its attitudes. Real experience, as reported by people on the receiving end of their “generous” policies, is at once dismissed. Is it far-fetched to see in the left’s contempt for the pain of their victims a tinkling echo of Stalin’s aversion to accounts of Ukrainian famine? I think it is not. As to Powell, it was his direct reference to such pain in the famous speech which really did for him, for he refused to sanitise his constituents’ language or disguise the circumstances it described. Perhaps he should have done. He gave his enemies – not too strong a word – the perfect and endlessly repeated left wing excuse for not listening: objection to “tone”. But this brings one to the real mystery at the heart of our current and perhaps terminal difficulties: why was the rest of the centre-right so cowed? Over in France, de Gaulle muttered – towards the end of his time in office – that the number of Muslims in his country, then a mere half million, was a problem which could lead to danger. Colombey, he observed, is “les deux eglises”, not “les deux mosquees”. But neither he nor his successors addressed the matter. Churchill, likewise, fretted about immigration long before Powell – but in private. What was the matter with them? Were they really so deterred by the left’s distorted view of empire or its attempt to make all Europe responsible for Germany’s wartime criminality that they could not articulate a civil nationalist argument? Historians will scratch their heads over this conundrum in future – supposing the left allows any evidence to survive.

    • Although most of my education was in fee-paying schools, I spent two terrifying years in a Scottish comprehensive school, where I nevertheless had the privilege of being taught advanced Latin and elementary Greek by Mr Charles Taylor (RIP), a decorated wartime veteran of the Royal Navy, whose twin heroes (as he often said) were Enoch Powell (the UK’s last true conservative) and Jimmy Reid (the notorious Glaswegian Communist). Mr Taylor taught me to think. His admiration of Powell would get him instantly banned from teaching today.

      • Of that I am sure. We no longer live in a free society, let alone a democracy. We inhabit an ongoing “experiment” conducted by an increasingly lunatic boss-class which responds to serious contradiction with repression. Every charge this boss-class levels at its critics applies to itself – “repressive tolerance”? Check – we are allowed tiny squeaks of protest on threads like these. Use of power to promote false “knowledge”? Check – news, tv drama, the remains of so-called comedy – are all corralled in an effort to promote a long list of “appropriate” views. I confess, I am increasingly persuaded that this tunnel will lead to a new dark age. The prospects of liberation are so remote as to be inconceivable. At least the victims of the Iron Curtain could look west. On what can we bend our gaze for consolation?

        • In times past, when Civ has collapsed, Good People have gathered their families, friends, and allies into small forts, and held them. God helps those who help themselves, more often than not, though sometimes not as we expect.

    • Churchill reportedly said not only that he could not get his Cabinet to see the problem of immigration but that KBW would make a good election slogan. Of course, this wit and wisdom today is given as another “reason” for removing him from the English list of national heroes. Indeed, the English are not entitled to many heroes at all, because we all “profit(ed)” from the enslavement, exploitation and massacre of the “peoples of colour”. As the ex-Marxist Professor Furedi has correctly observed, the iconoclasm is an attack on our national history and identity themselves. The BLM/Woke theme is becoming more explicit, and demographically reinforced: The White English are an evil race which has no moral right to exist, and their country built entirely by colonial labour must be handed over to Afro-Asia in reparations. Don’t believe this? – read “The Guardian” just for starters.

      • But but but, many of the people promoting this pernicious calumny against the British in their own ancestral homeland are white themselves, right!