National Socialist Movement
|A lunatic Chaplin imitator|
and his greatest fans
|First as tragedy|
|Then as farce|
The National Socialist Movement was a British neo-Nazi organisation active in the 1960s, led by Colin Jordan (1923–2009); its paramilitary wing was called Spearhead. Jordan was a lifelong admirer of Adolf Hitler and disliked the leading British fascist Oswald Mosley for being too soft on Jews, and the NSM was known for being particularly antisemitic (even by the standards of neo-Nazis), with arson attacks on synagogues. Other prominent members included John Tyndall (co-founder with Jordan) and Andrew Brons, both of whom went on to long careers on the far right.
Colin Jordan's early history
Colin Jordan's father was a postman, but he attended Warwick School (an English fee-paying school supposedly founded by Æthelflaed, Lady of the Mercians in 914 CE), and studied history at Cambridge University. He was influenced as a young man by Arnold Leese, camel doctor, fascist, and antisemite.
Jordan started out with the League of Empire Loyalists, and was fined in 1956 for protesting a visit by Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev to the UK. He then moved into more and more extreme positions. In the late 1950s, Jordan was National Organizer of the White Defence League, whose purpose was to "preserve Britain as a white man's country". He was then National Organizer of John Bean's British National Party (an earlier incarnation not directly related to the version famous from the 1980s) before leaving (or possibly being expelled) in 1962. In 1961 he was part of a group who protested with anti-Jewish slogans outside an event marking the anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (a failed rebellion in World War Two that led to the deaths of 13,000 Jews).
The NSM was founded by Jordan and another leading British far-right figure John Tyndall in 1962; Tyndall was later chairman of the National Front and of the reconstituted British National Party. The NSM claimed to have been founded on 20 April, Hitler's birthday, although the exact date would seem to be a propaganda claim.
On 1 July 1962 it held a rally in Trafalgar Square, London, complete with swastikas and signs saying "Free Britain from Jewish control". Speakers included Jordan, John Tyndall (national secretary), and Dennis Pirie (deputy secretary). The meeting was disrupted by a far larger group of around 2000 anti-Nazi protestors chanting "Remember Belsen" and "Down with Fascism", and throwing eggs, coins, and tomatoes. At one point they broke through the police cordon protecting the NSM, set fire to their flag, and assaulted Pirie; afterwards the police provided an escort to get Jordan to the nearest Underground station in safety. There were 20 arrests in total. Other planned rallies in Trafalgar Square by the NSM, British National Party, and Union Movement were subsequently banned.
Jordan was suspended and then dismissed from his job as a schoolteacher; he taught English, mathematics, and civic affairs at a secondary modern in Stoke. According to The Times, he commented: "I shall not alter my principles in any way and this will only confirm my beliefs. We want to make Britain white, and the Jews have a country of their own and should be confined to it." Jordan and Tyndall were initially both convicted of using insulting words with intent to provoke a breach of the peace at the rally, and respectively sentenced to 2 months and 6 weeks prison; Tyndall's sentence was reduced to a £10 fine, while Jordan's was reversed and then reinstated but reduced to one month in a series of appeals (although by then Jordan was in jail for something else, as described below). Another NSM member Ian Roland Kerr-Ritchie lost his job with the Automobile Association.
The NSM published their manifesto on 13 July 1962, declaring "Hitler showed the way" and condemning "Jewish dominance" of chain stores and hire purchase. It promised that Britain's democracy would be replaced by National Socialist authoritarian rule.
Along with American neo-Nazi George Lincoln Rockwell, Jordan founded the World Union of National Socialists (WUNS) in 1962 as an international organisation of Hitler-fans. Rockwell had been planning such an association since 1959, and by 1961 was in communication with Jordan as well as Bruno Ludtke in Germany and Savitri Devi in France. In August 1962, Rockwell slipped illegally into the UK, and he, Jordan, Devi, and others held a meeting under the auspices of a smaller international neo-Nazi organisation, the Northern European Ring, in the English countryside in the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire. Although the meeting was disrupted by anti-Nazi protestors, the attendees set out a document, the Cotswolds Agreements, constituting the WUNS. Initially Jordan was international leader and Rockwell his deputy, but when Jordan was jailed at the end of 1962, Rockwell took over the leadership. From 1966-68 WUNS published a journal, National Socialist World, with contributions from Jordan.
The NSM quickly returned to the attention of the police and courts in August 1962, after police observed the NSM's paramilitary organisation Spearhead on manoeuvres. Police searched NSM offices and seized pistols, knives, Nazi memorabilia, and a container of weed killer with the label amended to "Jew killer". Jordan was sentenced to 9 months in jail for contravening section 2 of the Public Order Act 1936 which banned quasi-military organisations.
Jordan was released in June 1963, and immediately went to petition the British government over Rudolf Hess. In the summer of 1963, the NSM launched a leafletting campaign in Germany, and announced its intention to contest a by-election in Luton.
Jordan had been friends with John Tyndall when the NSM was founded, but they rapidly fell out. Tyndall left the Movement in 1964, with Tyndall setting up a rival group, The Greater Britain Movement, trying and failing to partner with Rockwell. This split was partly to do with policy and Jordan's leadership style, but Jordan also married Tyndall's ex-fiancee, Françoise Dior (1932–1993) (niece of fashion designer Christian Dior) while Tyndall was in jail.
In 1965 a small group broke away from the NSM to establish a British branch of the Ku Klux Klan; 8 of them were convicted of public order offences after staging a cross-burning ceremony in Long Lawford near Rugby.
The National Socialist Movement was linked to a series of attacks on British synagogues which came to trial in 1965. One of the accused told police: "Colin Jordan was present at one of our meetings and said it was a good idea to set fire to Jewish synagogues, but he could not give official backing to the scheme." Jordan was not charged, but his ex-wife Francoise was jailed for 18 months for encouraging the attacks. By then the couple were divorced due to her adultery with another NSM member, Terence Cooper. She told the court "I would like to make an Act of Parliament to burn down all synagogues by law", and had also reportedly suggested blowing up a statue of Winston Churchill.
The NSM became the British Movement in 1968. This was an attempt to superficially moderate the organisation and be less obviously Nazi, following the introduction of new legislation criminalising the promotion of racial hatred. Enoch Powell had popularised a new kind of racism with his "Rivers of Blood" speech on 20 April 1968, and the NSM desired more electoral success than was possible for an organisation that celebrated Hitler and Nazi Germany, still only 23 years after the end of World War Two.
Despite this, Jordan and his organisation never had a lot of followers and become less significant in the 1970s as the focus of the far right moved from hating Jews to hating black and Asian immigrants, with Jordan's lifelong devotion to Hitler still alienating potential allies. Nonetheless Jordan persisted in producing hateful propaganda, albeit to a dwindling audience, for the rest of his life.
In a curious incident, Jordan was arrested for shoplifting three pairs of red women's knickers from Tesco's in 1975, and fined £50.
The other NSM
A second organisation, the National Socialist Movement United Kingdom (NSMUK), was founded in 1997 after the internecine squabbles in Combat 18 led to one member, Charlie Sargent, killing another, Chris Castle. This NSM was founded by supporters of the murderer, including Charlie's brother Steve, David Myatt, and some other Combat 18 members.
- Ridley Road: how Britain’s heinous Nazi horrors inspired my TV thriller, The Guardian, 2 Oct 2021
- See the Wikipedia article on National Socialist Movement (United Kingdom).
- Colin Jordan: British Nazi activist who married Christian Dior's niece, The Independent, 28 April 2009, republished 19 April 2019
- See the Wikipedia article on Arnold Leese.
- "Disturbances At Station", The Times, Friday, Apr. 20, 1956, Issue 53510, p 6. Via Gale.
- "White Defence League" (letter), Colin Jordan, The Times, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 1959, Issue 54597, p 3. Via Gale
- "News in Brief", The Times, Wednesday, Apr. 18, 1962, Issue 55369, p 15 (via Gale)
- "Anti-Jew Slogans On Banners", The Times, Tuesday, Apr. 18, 1961, Issue: 55058, p 9. Via Gale
- "Anti-Jewish Rally Protest", The Times, Tuesday, June 19, 1962. Issue 55421. p5. Via Gale.
- "20 Arrested In Clashes", The Times, Monday, July 2, 1962. Issue 55432. Via Gale.
- "Three Rallies In Trafalgar Sq. Banned", The Times, Aug. 15, 1962. p 10. Issue: 55470. Via Gale.
- "'Nazi' Rally Teacher Is Suspended", The Times, Thursday, July 5, 1962. Issue 55435. Via Gale.
- "Dismissal Of Mr. Colin Jordan Recommended", The Times, Friday, July 20, 1962. Issue: 55448. p 8. Via Gale.
- "Mr. Jordan To Lose Job". The Times. Thursday, Aug. 30, 1962 Publication: The Times (London, England). Issue: 55483. p 7. Via Gale.
- "Prison Sentence On Colin Jordan", The Times, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 1962. Issue: 55475. p 8. Via Gale.
- "Home News", The Times, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 1962. Issue: 55488. p 5. Via Gale.
- "Cut In Colin Jordan's Sentence", The Times, Saturday, May 4, 1963, Issue 55692, p 6. Via Gale.
- "The A.A. Suspends Mr. Kerr-Ritchie", The Times, Saturday, Aug. 25, 1962, Issue: 55479, p 4. Via Gale.
- "Hitler's Admirer Issues Manifesto", The Times, Saturday, July 14, 1962. Issue 55443. p 6. Via Gale.
- Dreaming of a National Socialist World: The World Union of National Socialists (wuns) and the Recurring Vision of Transnational Neo-Nazism, Paul Jackson, Fascism (journal), Brill, 17 Dec 2019
- "National Socialist H.Q. Searched", The Times, Aug. 11, 1962, Issue 55467, via Gale.
- "Group AIM To Emulate Hitler's Brownshirts, Crown Say", The Times, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 1962. Issue: 55481. p 5. Via Gale
- "Spearhead Four Gaoled", The Times, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 1962. Issue 55523, p 7. Via Gale.
- "Colin Jordan Freed", The Times, Saturday, June 1, 1963. Issue: 55716. p 8. Via Gale (where it is listed under "Fines Up To £500 In Public Order Bill")
- "Strife caused by abuse of liberty". The Times, Wednesday, July 10, 1963, Issue 55749. p 14, via Gale.
- "Nazi To Fight Luton", The Times, Thursday, Aug. 22, 1963. Issue 55786. p 5. Via Gale.
- "Action If Klan Is Not Checked", The Times, Tuesday, June 15, 1965, Issue: 56348, p 6. Via Gale
- "Mrs. Castle On Ku-Klux-Klan List, Prosecution Say", The Times, Friday, Oct. 8, 1965, Issue: 5644, p 6. Via Gale
- "3 Months' Sentence On Colin Jordan", The Times, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 1965, Issue: 56468, p 5. Via Gale
- "Jordan Sentence Quashed", The Times, Friday, Nov. 26, 1965, Issue: 56489. p 7. Via Gale.
- "Synagogue Fires: Six Remanded", The Times Tuesday, Nov. 23, 1965, Issue: 56486, p 13. Via Gale.
- "Colin Jordan gets divorce decree", The Times, Saturday, Oct. 28, 1967. Issue: 57084, p 3. Via Gale
- "Mrs Jordan gaoled for 18 months", The Times, Thursday, Jan. 18, 1968, Issue: 57152, p 2. Via Gale.
- "'Talk of blowing up Churchill statue'", The Times, Saturday, Jan. 13, 1968, Issue: 57148, p 2. Via Gale.
- "Colin Jordan gaoled for 18 months". The Times, Thursday, Jan. 26, 1967, Issue: 56849, p 9. Via Gale.
- Andrew Brons: the genteel face of neo-fascism, The Guardian, 8 Jun 2009
- National Socialist Movement United Kingdom (NSM), Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, accessed 9 Oct 2021