|Last Edited||RBH - December 01, 2019 03:06pm|
|Description||The British National Front (often referred to as simply the National Front or the NF) is a far right-wing British Political party that had its heyday during the 1970s and '80s. |
It was founded on February 7, 1967 under the chairmanship of Arthur K. Chesterton, a cousin of the novelist G.K. Chesterton and former leader of the League of Empire Loyalists, with the purpose of opposing immigration and multi-culturalist policies in Britain. It grew during the 1970s and had as many as 20,000 members by 1974. It did particularly well in local elections and polled an incredible 44% in Deptford (with a splinter group) almost beating the incumbent Labour candidate, who only won due to the split. Similarly it came third in three parliamentary by-elections, trouncing the Liberals.
Its electoral base were largely blue-collar workers and the self-employed who resented immigrant competition in the labour market. The party also attracted a few disillusioned Conservatives who gave the party much needed electoral expertise and respectability. The NF fought on a platform of opposition to communism, support for Ulster loyalism, anti-European Economic Community, was anti-liberal and most notoriously demanded the compulsory repatriation of New Commonwealth immigrants. The chief ideologue of the NF (and then editor of Spearhead from 1976-80) was Richard Verrall. A common sight in the 70s, it was well-known for its noisy demonstrations particularly in London where it often faced far-left and communist counter-marchers including the Anti-Nazi League.
Lead at first by Chesterton, it was led for most of the 1970s by John Tyndall and Martin Webster (except for a brief period when the populist John Kingsley Read became chairman in 1974).
1979 was a disastrous year for the National Front, it was totally eclipsed by the rise to prominence of the newly re-invigorated Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher whose tough right-wing stance on immigration plus law and order saw support haemorrhage. Many ex-Tories returned to the fold. Its leaders Tyndall and Webster split in 1980; a further blow to NF. The former went on to form the British National Party (1982) which has since pushed out the NF as the dominant far-right party in Britain. The party rapidly declined during the 1980s although it retained some support in Northern Ireland during this period. Its opponents view it as a skinhead party with barely concealed neo-nazi views something which the Front themselves has vociferously denied.
Schisms led to the foundation of several other right-wing political parties, including the British National Party.
The fortunes of the National Front have subsequently waned, although it still exists as a small party, and fielded 7 candidates at the 1997 General Election. The NF's current National Chairman is Tom Holmes.
Opponents of the National Front claim it to be a neo-Fascist organization, and its activities are often still opposed by far-left groups, most notably the Anti-Nazi League.