Official National Front

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The Official National Front was the leading movement within the British National Front during the 1980s and stood opposed to the Flag Group.

The ONF emerged in the late 1970s when young radicals such as Nick Griffin, Derek Holland, Patrick Harrington and David Kerr became attracted to Third Position ideas. Also known as the Political Soldiers because of the name they used for what they hoped would be a cadre of devoted nationalist revolutionaries, the ONF refused to contest elections, preferring to formulate strategies for a revolutionary change of society. Emphasising a strong anti-capitalist as well as anti-communist line, the ONF began to emerge as the most powerful group within the NF after the series of splits in 1979, and were largely supported by new leader Andrew Brons, who was keen to redefine the NF's ideology following the divisions. Their control was assured in 1983 following the expulsion of one of their most vehement critics, Martin Webster, whilst the Flag Group as a whole was expelled in 1986. During its period of ascendency the ONF produced two journals, the National Front News and Nationalism Today. The most notorious issue of NF News featured a cover extolling the 'new alliance' of the party with the Ayatollah Khomeini, Muammar al-Gaddafi and Louis Farrakhan, a previously unthinkable stance in the NF. [1]

The Political Soldier ideals of the ONF alienated many of the rank-and-file members of the NF, and the 1980s were hallmarked by divisions over the issue. The skinhead branch of the movement, which had been brought together in 1987 by Ian Stuart Donaldson and British Movement member Nicky Crane under the banner of Blood and Honour, abandoned the NF and took most of the White power bands with them, at the time the leading source of party funding. Membership was also reduced by the decision in 1986 to double the price of membership fees. [2]

Attempts to gain funding from a trip to Libya had resulted in only a consignment of copies of Qaddafi's Green Book, leaving the NF once again impoverished. In 1989 Harrington, who was by then effective leader of the group, approached The Jewish Chronicle with a view to opening dialogue with the Jewish community. The move proved unpopular with Griffin and Holland who broke off in 1989 to form the International Third Position (ITP), which advocated anti-capitalist Strasserite views, as well as continuing anti-Zionism. [3] With the ONF in disarray, Harrington (by then effective leader, although the ONF had eschewed an individual leader at their peak) wound up the group in January 1990 and reconstituted it, along with about fifty NF members, as the Third Way, which continued to offer a programme akin to that of the Political Soldier movement. The NF was left demoralized and disorganized, robbed of some of its deepest-thinking young members. The Flag Group, led by Martin Wingfield and Ian Anderson, had established itself as the sole faction within the NF, and sought to base itself on France’s increasingly growing Front National (FN).

References

  1. National Front News, No. 108, 1988
  2. N. Copsey, Contemporary British Fascism: The British National Party and the Quest for Legitimacy, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, p. 45
  3. N. Copsey, Contemporary British Fascism: The British National Party and the Quest for Legitimacy, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, pp. 45-46
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