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Racism and immigration

As the issue of non-white immigration became increasingly important to the British far right during the 1950s, a burgeoning set of transatlantic links between individuals and groups concerned with the issue of race and immigration developed concurrently with those connections based on antisemitism and Holocaust denial. Some British racists and fascists found in ‘the defiant resistance of segregationists to civil rights reform a model on which to base their own opposition to non-white immigration’.11 With Nazism and fascism crushed on the continent, the segregationists of the American South provided ‘an alternative source of inspiration to British racists’.152 Many were convinced of the ills of postwar non-white immigration, so America was viewed as a worrying glimpse into the future of a multiracial Britain, with the unrest in the American South being the supposed logical conclusion of a racially mixed society. The 1958 pamphlet titled West Indian Immigration by the British Eugenics Society highlighted how ‘The United states has a much publicized example of the problems, social, emotional, genetic and otherwise, when an important minority happens to have another skin colour’.153

Increasingly, British racists felt common cause with their ideological kin in the American South. For example, a UM sympathiser H. Michael Barrett moved to the USA in 1954 and later became a leading member of the National Socialist White People’s Party, a successor to the American Nazi Party.154 Similarly William Simmons, a former BUF activist, became a leading member of the Mississippi

White Citizens’ Council.1” The Citizens Council was a loose confederation of state-wide segregation associations that originally emerged in 1954 to resist the implementation of the Supreme Court’s school desegregation ruling.1’'’ In 1955, with William J. Simmons as its editor, the organisation began publishing a newspaper, The Citizens’ Council.'”7 An Englishman and UM activist, LJ. Irving, regularly wrote to it to express his ‘complete sympathy’ with their cause. Irving was a steward in Mosley’s Union Movement who, angered at the arrival of‘African negroes straight out the jungle’and ‘Arabs, Chinamen, Hindus, Fuzzy-Wuzzies, South Sea Islanders, coloured kikes and a host of others in various stages of Stone-Age culture’ found inspiration from and common cause with the southern segregationists in America.18 As he put it in a letter to The Citizens’ Council: ‘Because the very thought of Europeans mixing their blood with the Mongoloid or Negroid races absolutely horrifies me, I am anxious to keep in touch with your activities’.159 Irving also wrote to thank IVhite Sentinel for a ‘very generous package of literature from your organisation’, which ‘will be most helpful to me and my fellows in the Union Movement (Europe’s leading anti-communist movement) in our struggle to keep the coloured races out of Europe’.160 The IVhite Sentinel, edited by John Hamilton, was the organ of the National Citizens Protective Association, a fiercely racist group led by Forest W. Wolf, in St Louis.

In addition to receiving information, resources and ideas from the American far right, some in Britain sought to emulate them. This resulted in a number of tiny copycat Klu Klux Klan groups popping up in the UK during the 1940s and 1950s. This was nothing new, with similarly oddball imitations existing before the war such as the Crusaders and the White Knights of Britain, though these groups focused their attentions against Jews. In the postwar period, as early as 1947, Barbara Gould, Labour MP for Hendon North, received threats from a group claiming to be the British section of the KKK.161 The episode was reported across the Atlantic, with the New York Tinies stating that the group was called the ‘Klavern Eight’.162 The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that the letter warned Gould that ‘mentioning or antagonizing the K.K.K. was likely to bring her trouble’. As a warning the letter then mentioned a ‘certain Jew’who ‘had a very nasty experience and received medical attention last week’.163 This was an apparent reference to a recent attack on Lewis Lipstein, a Jewish barber.

The 1950s, however, saw the emergence of more exclusively anti-black British Klan imitations. In April 1957 the streets and lampposts around the US Embassy in London were daubed with stickers replete with hooded figures and burning crosses. In the spring of 1958 more propaganda appeared on London streets, and in autumn of 1959 Dr David Pitts, a black physician, civil rights activist and Labour PPC, received death threats reported to be from a British Klan.164 While some contemporary press reports dismissed such incidents as a fraud, it is beyond question that there was a tiny handful of activists in the UK who identified with the Klan and sought to emulate them. One such example was the ‘one man show’ Klanvern operated by Ian G. Shaw, who had links with KKK Grand Wizard H. Sherman Miller, based in Waco, Texas. The American far-right newspaper Right

also applauded a Mr Joseph Cleveland for establishing a London unit of the Ku Klux Klan, describing his actions as ‘logical self-defence’.165 Similarly tiny imitation Klans continued to spring up in the UK for decades, and while not influential, they do show that some British racists were seeking to learn from and emulate American racism. That said, such activism deeply embarrassed some on the British far right; for example, Shaw had links to the Union Movement and Mosley and the UM issued a disavowal of this form of emulation.

While British racists looking to America is a phenomenon touched on in the existing historiography, the fact that American racists were also looking to Britain is much less studied. The American far right had long been interested in the arrival of black immigrants in the UK with groups such as the Citizens’Council reporting on the supposed problems being caused by West Indian immigration to Britain.1“’ One group that the Citizens’ Council applauded for its stand against immigration and miscegenation was the Birmingham Nationalist Club, a tiny organisation set up by Colin Jordan just after he left Cambridge University.167 Many segregationists in America saw the rise of racial disturbances in London during the 1950s as vindication of their position and chastised the British for what they saw as their hypocritical self-righteous sermonising about racism in America while ignoring the increasing racial division in Britain.16“ The Citizens’ Council newspaper stated, almost with a sense of glee, that, ‘Britons, long critical of America’s handling of its racial problem while having none themselves, are discovering with shock that they are rapidly acquiring a color problem of their own. . . . Signs of segregation are becoming more evident every day’.169 In a similar vein, following some disturbances in London in 1954, White Sentinel wrote that ‘The British, who were so free in their criticism of the South’s handling of the negro problem, are getting a taste of their own medicine’.17" Later in 1957, they stated that:

Englishmen were and are fond of criticising segregation in the United States and the Union of South Africa. . . . We trust that until England can handle its little handful of negroes, its Lady Astors and Marxists will refrain from condemning segregation in America.171

Meanwhile, The Cross and Flag, published by CNC leader Gerald L. K. Smith, was in accord regarding British hypocrisy, stating that ‘For years the British tended to take a critical view of how America handled their Negro problem. But that was before Britain’s Negro colonials began immigrating in large numbers to England’.172 They described how the English people were ‘very “green” concerning the problem of the negro’ and condemned British ‘do-gooders. Socialists and sentimentalists’ for criticising America.173 In addition to charging the British with hypocrisy they recommended that, ‘Britain should heed the advice from the States and return these negroes to their homes before they become a problem like they are in America’.174 American groups regularly drew parallels, believing that ‘what is happening in England is similar to the States’175 and warned of a ‘Negro fifth column’.176

To garner more information and to draw on the expertise of British racists Smith and his paper The Cross and the Flag turned to numerous British people and groups. On the topic of‘mongrelization’in the UK, Smith quoted the ‘courageous British patriotic journal’, Free Briton. In 1954 he published a long article taken from it, which sought to explain non-white immigration as the result of a conspiratorial ‘social experiment by UNESCO, which intends to use the British Isles for the stock raising of a mixed breed of people’.177 So important did they deem this article, which spread across three pages, that they reproduced it in tract form for sale in America.178 From then on they often turned to Free Britain for information regarding the ‘black and white issue’.179 Smith was by no means alone in looking to Free Britain for expertise on the race issue. The openly fascist National Renaissance Party, led by Madole,180 also turned to its pages for information about Jamaican immigration and its conspiratorial roots.181 The NRP were also interested in the work of British racist Arnold Leese. In 1952 they headed their newspaper, the National Renaissance Bulletin with a long quote from Race and Politics in which Leese explained why ‘the most striking illustration of the fatal effects of blood mixture is the condition of the United States of America today’.182 Describing him as ‘a noted English authority on racial questions’, they would quote him on issues of ‘racial mongrelisation in America’.183 Leese’s work on race was well appreciated across the Atlantic, with those at the Citizens Protective Association also describing him as the ‘noted British authority on the race question’.184 They printed articles by him, one on the ‘inequality of races’, which argued that the Asiatic race ‘were born to be slaves, not masters, and the correct treatment for them is Force, used justly’.185

Much of the information the American far right received about events in Britain was unsurprisingly received from British far-right activists. This was often the case in Right, a vociferously antisemitic newspaper started in 1955 by Willis Carto, (under his pseudonym E.L. Anderson), who was later to become a prominent American far-right activist and founder of the Liberty Lobby.181' Right was a non-aligned nationalist newspaper that sought to build links between segregationists, far-right conspiracy groups, Klan and neo-Nazi organisations.18' Those at Right had long been angered by the fact that Britain was supposedly ‘in the process of transferring great numbers of her Anglo-Saxon population overseas and replacing it with negroes’.188 Well before the 1958 riots, Right claimed that the American NAACP were ‘now eyeing England as a likely place to ply their trade due to the mysterious influx of Jamaicans to Britain’, and they reported on the formation of a UK branch of the NAACP.189 In the wake of the UK riots, Right mentioned John Bean’s National Labour Party, describing it as ‘dynamic’190 and a ‘two-fisted nationalist group’ and ‘a fearless spokesman for White Britain’ as well as advertising their journal Combat.191

Similarly, the American Citizens Protective Association and their organ White Sentinel were also kept up to date on the situation in Britain by correspondence from British racists. One such letter explained how ‘You may have some difficulty in believing that there is now in London a considerable negro problem’.192 In a refrain now commonplace among anti-immigrant groups, the White Sentinel

bemoaned the ‘influx of negroes from the West Indies’ and how ‘they will be kept by the British welfare state’.1” The paper took a special interest in how Black American G.I.s based in Britain were said to be causing anti-American feeling.194 In April 1957 the newspaper ran a large feature titled ‘Britain Gets a Taste of Integration’, which used the story of a siege in Notting Hill at which a police officer was stabbed by a black man as the starting point for an exploration of increasing racial tensions in the UK.1” Also quoted as part of the feature was Colin Jordan writing in Free Britain, the organ of the Britons, about how ‘The people of Birmingham . . . are opposed to the coloured invasion’.1*’ Later, in 1958, they again turned to Colin Jordan, this time filling a whole page with articles taken from his racist newspaper, Black and White News, including ‘Blacks Seek White Women’ and ‘Coloured Men Lazy’. The introduction read, ‘Black and White News is a well edited, hard hitting paper and very similar to The White Sentinel. ... It tells the truth, the truth that should be printed’.197

Jordan’s Black and White News encapsulates well the transatlantic cooperation of the period. As well as being lauded by American racists, it drew heavily on their work. While Britain had its own tradition of racial science, many on the British far right looked to America for the scientific justifications of their beliefs. Jordan, for example, was clearly looking at the racial science emanating from segregated America where he harvested most of his ideas on racial difference. As a result his publications of the period are littered with references to the work of racial scientists. He quoted the American psychologist Dr Frank CJ. McGurk, Associate Professor at Villanova University, who ‘says that psychological tests given to negros during World War I and since have shown them to be inferior to whites in the ability to learn’.198 He also cited Wesley Critz George, Professor of histology' and embryology, then based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who wrote that one of the consequences of miscegenation ‘will be the deterioration and probably destruction of the creative genius of our people’.199

In addition to being inspired by American racial science, Jordan clearly viewed the problems in the American South as a blueprint of what might occur in a multiracial Britain. Using statistics for the State of Mississippi, he declared, ‘Negroes Lead in Illegitimacy’;200 using statistics for the State of Virginia he stated, ‘Negroes Lead in V.D.’;201 using a report of the US Narcotics Commissioner he wrote of ‘Coloured Drug Addicts’,202 and referencing FBI crime rates he claims, ‘More negroes mean more crime’.203 There was clearly a transatlantic transfer of racist ideas and in the absence of British evidence; Jordan highlighted American research that he felt would act as a warning to his British readers.

One American racist organisation that actively cooperated with UK groups in the 1950s was the Defenders of the American Constitution (DAC). For a start their newspaper Task Force had a London correspondent, the Russian émigré and monarchist George Knupffer.204 However, in November 1954, Col. Eugene Cowles Pomeroy, Vice President of the DAC, visited England and France. Upon his arrival in the UK he was greeted by a telegram of greetings from the leading British far-right activist A.K. Chesterton and a cordial message from Mrs Mary Collingridge.

The latter, along with her daughter, Lady Wheeler, held a reception for Pomeroy at which he could meet members of the League of Empire Loyalists. As he saw it, ‘This organisation |The LEL] and our Defenders of the American Constitution have in common the driving force of the same ideology’.203 He was delighted to meet people ‘who are foremost in the battle against the same enemies within the British Empire that the Defenders are fighting in America’.206 It is for this reason that Pomeroy found his 1954 UK visit to be so encouraging due to discovering ‘at first hand there is a gallant and courageous legion of Anglo-Saxons waging war against the same enemies as we, and who regard the Defenders and Task Force as worthy co-fighters’.207 Both organisations were passionate believers in the existence of a Jewish world conspiracy towards one world government and thus were natural allies, with Candour and Task Force correctly being described by Macklin as ‘ideological mirror images’.208 Pomeroy was clearly impressed by Chesterton personally, with the front-page report of his trip to London describing him as ‘talented and courageous’,200 and it seems the admiration was mutual. Pomeroy wrote of it being ‘gratifying to find the interest in and approval of the Defenders’ and how ‘they | the LEL | had been so favourably impressed with the Defenders, and so heartily approved of our Task Force’.2'0 This is confirmed in the pages of Candour where Chesterton described the DAC as ‘a staunch supporter of the cause which the real people of America have in common with the real people of the British Empire’.2" This mutual admiration and common cause resulted in both journals syndicating articles by the other.212 Deeper cooperation was to follow when in 1958 the DAC and the LEL jointly launched a support campaign for the imprisoned antisemitic poet Ezra Pound.213

The DAC’s strong stance on Pound resulted in letters of admiration and support, with Michael Harald from London writing to ‘record my appreciation of your action regarding Ezra Pound’s right to freedom’.214 It is highly likely that this Michael Harald is the same as that who wrote regularly for Action, the organ of Mosley’s UM, in the late 1950s.21’ Another link between the DAC and Britain came via RJ. Huxley-Blythe, who had been involved in various British far-right organisations grouped around Mosley before the formation of the UM. However, he was later to split away and became an associate of the UK-based American Francis Parker Yockey, founder of the European Liberation Front (ELF). Huxley-Blythe subsequently became editor of the ELF organ Frontfighter. In 1954 he was part of the group that established the Nationalist Information Bureau (Natinform), an Anglo-German organisation. He later went on to help organise the far-right, panAryan Northern League with Roger Pearson.216 PA. del Valle reviewed a copy of Huxley-Blythe’s book Betrayal, for Task Force, in which he argued that a true anticommunist policy needed to be adopted by the West if World Communism was to be avoided. Del Valle was clearly impressed, describing it as an ‘excellent work’, a ‘courageous work’ and a ‘tremendous contribution’.217 So impressed were del Valle and Pomeroy by the work of Huxley-Blythe that in 1956 they took the unusual step of combining their August and September editions so as to ‘present whole one of the most important articles it has ever been our privilege to publish’.218 Spreadover six pages, Huxley-Blythe’s article claimed that the C.I.A. was treasonably inefficient and a risk to American security as it was actually funding known Communist groups while ignoring real anti-Communist groups.219 Huxley-Blythe is a further example of how the DAC not only had firm links with a range of far-right activists and organisations in Britain but also that it was looking across the Atlantic for ideas even concerning the state of their own country.

Huxley-Blythe was also held in high esteem by those behind Right. First mentioning his work Betrayal, published by Friends of Nationalist Russia in 1956,220 they then began to quote from his anti-communist report World Survey on a regular basis on issues ranging from the supposedly pro-communist actions of Dwight Eisenhower221 to his views on Suez.222 However, it was when they read his protracted article about the C.I.A., ‘Insecure Security’, published in the American newspaper Task Force, that they really seemed to take note of him.223 By 1958 his reputation on the other side of the Atlantic had spread, and in the words of Right, he was ‘no stranger to informed American patriots’.224 He contributed a guest article to the paper, which demanded that Western governments take the offensive against the Soviet Union, claiming that his contacts in the anti-communist resistance awaited support.225 In 1958, ‘Right’ informed it readers of the merger of Huxley-Blythe’s World Survey and a paper called The Northlander, issued by the Northern League.226 The merger saw two of the groups most lauded by Right join forces. Discussed at length in the next chapter, the Northern League - so venerated by Right — was in some ways the culmination of the burgeoning Anglo-American and transnational links that had been steadily increasing in the immediate postwar period.

 
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