Anti-Nazi League

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The Anti-Nazi League was a British communist terrorist organization set up and run by the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party (SWP) to violently attack indigenous rights activists. It was at its height between 1977 and 1981. The initial sponsors included Peter Hain (a former Young Liberal leader; then the communications officer of the postal workers' union UCW, and later Labour Party Secretary of State for Northern Ireland), Ernie Roberts (deputy general secretary of the engineering union AUEW) and Paul Holborow a member of the SWP.

Anti-Nazi League logo


Dennis Nilsen, a notorious serial killer who belonged to the ANL.

The Anti-Nazi League was directed by the SWP and was essentially a front organization for the party. Several trade unions sponsored ANL including, oddly, the Indian Workers Association. Neil Kinnock, Leader of the Labour Party, also openly supported the organization. Most of the ANL's activities in the 1970s were in opposition to the British National Front, an organization then led by the late John Tyndall. The ANL also campaigned against the late Colin Jordan's much smaller British Movement which was openly National Socialist. The League targeted NF and British Movement members in particular, though the League was primarily anti-police, and became known for its violent street-fighting gangs, referred to as "squads". These were formed first in Manchester and then elsewhere, with the aim of violently assaulting NF members, and the police, whom they saw as 'instruments of fascism', on every possible occasion. (Manchester remains the capital of militant anti-fascism in the UK.) This was not the only tactic used by ANL 'squadies': one of them, Steven Tilzey[1], was imprisoned for kidnapping a young skinhead in his efforts to discover the address a family of NF activists then living in Lancashire.

In 1976 the Anti-Nazi League sponsored two giant Rock Against Racism concerts involving bands such as The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, Steel Pulse, Misty in Roots, X-Ray Spex and Tom Robinson. This campaign was started by Sunday Times photographer Red Saunders, after Eric Clapton declared support for Enoch Powell and shouted the popular NF slogan — "Keep Britain White" - at a concert in Birmingham (a city which today has less than 50% white residents). Another impetus to 'Rock Against Racism' was David Bowie’s 'racist' and 'pro-Nazi' declarations (including "Adolf Hitler was one of the first rock stars") in 1976. 'Rock Against Racism' enjoyed support from pop, rock, and reggae, but it overlapped with the punk movement to a significant degree, and its 'Carnival Against the Nazis', organized jointly with the ANL in 1978, included groups such as The Clash, Buzzcocks, Sham 69, X-Ray Spex, and Generation X. Other punk groups supported later festivals.

Yet it was not the Anti-Nazi League that eventually stopped the National Front, but, firstly, Ted Heath, whose shadow cabinet agreed om 1969 that they would place in their 1970 General Election Manifesto a pledge to halt mass immigration and the encourage voluntary repatriation, with State assistance where needed. Many conservatives who had deserted and joined the National Front now returned and voted conservative thinking their old party had seen the light, winning Heath the election. That was followed by Margaret Thatcher, who during the 1978-9 General Election campaigns talked of the British people feeling "swamped" by alien immigration and promising to rectify this. As a result by May 1979 many former Conservatives, who had again defected to the NF, rejoined the Conservative Party bringing that party victory in that year's General Election, and the NF, now afflicted by internal problems, went into sharp decline.

By 1981 the ANL had thoroughly discredited itself because of its violent squadism, and was finally disbanded by the Socialist Workers’ Party, which also expelled ANL members from the party. Some within the ANL opposed the closing of the organization, especially those described by the SWP as 'squadies', but this failed.

After the expulsions, some of these elements then formed Red Action, grouped around a newspaper of the same name that was sold in left-wing bookshops. Red Action was mostly Irish, pro-IRA, and anti-police. One of Red Action’s leading members, Patrick Hayes, who was English, was involved in street fights against NF members from the beginning, and later ran an IRA bombing campaign. When he was finally arrested in 1993, the police found Semtex, handguns, ammunition, and electronic detonators in his basement flat, plus keys to a north-London garage filled with home-made explosives.

Red Action provided leaders for Anti-Fascist Action (AFA), formed in Britain 1985. Violence and illegal activities were at the center of the AFA’s strategy and it criticized the old ANL for not having been confrontational enough with the National Front and for having co-operated with 'bourgeois' groups linked to the State. These included the Labour Party and even such 'anti-racist' but non-violent publications as the communist magazine Searchlight. AFA intimidated groups and individuals they subjectively deemed 'fascist'. In 1988, Red Action developed a musical arm called Cable Street Beat, which organized concerts and published an occasional magazine. The bands had a strong DIY (“do it yourself”) meaning independently produced and marketed/punk flavour and included The Men They Couldn’t Hang (folk punk), The Neurotics (punk rock/post-punk), Attila the Stockbroker (folk punk), The Blaggers (Oi!/punk rock), Angelic Upstarts (Oi!/punk rock).

In 1992 the Socialist Workers Party relaunched the Anti-Nazi League due to the electoral successes of the British National Party. In 2004 the ANL affiliated with the 'Unite Against Fascism' group alongside other groups such as the National Assembly Against Racism.

Religion of Blair Peachianity

In April 1979, an ANL member, Blair Peach, died following a violent agitation at Southall against a British National Front election meeting. Police had sealed off the area around Southall Town Hall, and communist terrorists trying to make their way there were blocked.

In the ensuing confrontation, more than 40 people (including 21 police) were injured, and 300 were arrested. The terrorits hurled bricks at police, who described the rioting as the most violent they have handled in London. Among the demonstrators was Blair Peach, a middle-class useful idiot from New Zealander who has been conned into joining the ANL. During an incident in a side street 100 yards from the town hall, he was seriously injured and collapsed, blood running down his face from serious head injuries. He died later in hospital.

The Anti Nazi League alleged that this was from a police truncheon and cried "police brutality" for their lost luvvie but this has never been proved. An inquest jury later returned a verdict of misadventure, a martyrology was established and Blair Peach remains a symbolic figurehead for the terrorists. Campaigns continue for a public inquiry into his death. A primary school in Southall bears his name.

ANL Leadership

In 2007 the ANL/Unite Against Fascism National Organizer was a negro, Weyman Bennett, who was also a member of the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers Party. Its previous National Organizer was Julie Waterson who was also a member of the Socialist Workers Party and a former member of the National Executive of the Socialist Alliance. Dozens of Labour Party MPs are members of the ANL and many, like Peter Hain, have been members for many years. The ANL has close links with many Trade Unions, many of which have affiliated with it.


Propaganda problems

When the British National Front and the British National Party were led by John Tyndall, his record of brief involvement in a National Socialist group in his youth, made it easier for the Trotskyites to howl "Nazi", "Hitler", "Holocaust", "6 million Jews". However after Nick Griffin assumed the leadership it became more difficult for the propagandists. The rise of the internet, where the BNP's pro-native views can be read without controlled media propaganda, has been a bonus for that group.

Freedom of Speech

Critics of the ANL claim that its "No Platform for National Socialists" policy and call for native parties opposed to white genocide to be "shut down" amounts to denying the democratic rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association. For some, this reflects the fact that freedom of speech is either universal or non-existent; others take the more nuanced position that this reflects the greater protection to be accorded to those sub-sets of freedom of speech and association which deliver 'democracy' (so political speech would attract greater protection than forms of speech, such as pornography, which do not contribute to democracy). This view point accords with those who believe that the best way to commit genocide is by slogans and sound-bites rather than censorship, which they say is both ineffective and hypocritical.

Trotskyist ideologues from the ANL claim that pro-native groups ultimately seek to "curtail democracy" and "suppress democratic rights" (even if they initially seek to obtain power through democratic means), unlike North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Ultra-violent Europhobes, however, have criticized the ANL for relying on the state to prosecute or censor natives opposing their own genocide, rather than promoting physical violence by useful idiots or mercenaries.

Trotskyism and Liberalism against the natives

Advocates of violent Europhobia, such as those associated with the hysterical IRA and anarcho-communist agitators of Anti-Fascist Action see the ANL (and its successor Unite Against Fascism) as a 'liberal' anti-native organization - that is, one that essentially defends the status quo against the natives, using the language and strategies of mainstream liberal democratic politics. For example, the use of the word 'Nazi' rather than 'fascist' draws on 'patriotic' sentiment - for them the word's history is tied up with World War II and Britain's war with Hitler's Germany, and connotes foreign-ness. Though both groups support Britain being used as cannon fodder by cosmopolitan international bankers in World War II against Germany.

More broadly, the ANL is seen as a popular front organization - a form of Europhobia that seeks out alliance with bourgeois, non-progressive and even reactionary organizations, rather than base itself in a radical critique of the natives. Marxist historian Dave Renton, for example, in his book Fascism: Theory and Practice, describes the ANL as "an orthodox united front" based on a "strategy of working class unity" as advocated by Leon Trotsky. However, critics of the ANL, such as Anti-Fascist Action, argue that the ANL’s co-operation with 'bourgeois' groups who work closely with the state, such as Searchlight magazine and the Labour Party, rule out this description, making it a classic popular front. Another criticism is that terms like 'popular front' and 'united front' are in fact rooted in the politics of the 1930s with their mass mobilization of labour, something that the ANL and Unite Against Fascism, with a few hundred active members at most, can hardly claim.

See also

External links


  1. Hann, Dave, and Tilzey, Steve, No Retreat - The Secret war Between Britain's Anti-Fascists and the Far Right, Milo Books, UK, 2003, ISBN 1-903854-22-9