- National Socialist League
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- See National Socialist Party (UK), for the left-wing organisation and National Socialist League (United States) for the Nazi-gay organization.
The NSL was formed in 1937 by William Joyce, John Beckett and John Angus MacNab as a splinter group from the British Union of Fascists. The leaders claimed that the League had been formed because BUF leader Oswald Mosley was too in thrall to continental fascism, although Mosley contended that the three had simply been sacked from their paid posts in the BUF as part of a cost-cutting exercise. The formation of the group was announced at 109 Vauxhall Brdge Road in south-west London.
Whatever the truth the NSL began fairly healthily as Joyce secured the financial backing of Alex Scrimgeour, a stockbroker, and soon the NSL was able to publish its own newspaper, The Helmsman, adopting 'Steer Straight' as the party motto. The party's ideology was based on a document published by Joyce entitled National Socialism Now in which he declared his strong admiration for Adolf Hitler but added that what was needed was a specifically British Nazism.
Connections were quickly established with the Nordic League, an influential secret society chaired by Archibald Maule Ramsay. Rising far right figure A. K. Chesterton would go on to speak at a number of NSL functions and write for their publications, after leaving the BUF in 1938. Anglo-German Fellowship member and Conservative MP Jocelyn Lucas also developed clandestine links with the NSL. However the NSL also attracted Vincent Collier as a founder member, a propaganda officer in the BUF who also functioned as an agent for the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
In 1938 the NSL became associated with the British Council Against European Commitments, a coalition group chaired by Lord Lymington. Although Joyce quickly tired of this unusual mixture of high society fascists and pacifists Beckett was closer to their ideals and before long he left the NSL to join the British People's Party. Beckett had also become less convinced of following the lead of Nazi Germany in the aftermath of the Munich crisis. Meanwhile Scrimgeour died in 1938 and surprisingly left nothing to the NSL in his will resulting in the main source of funding being cut off. Alongside this, as was the case for most rival groups on the far-right, the BUF Blackshirts saw the NSL as enemies and were known to attack their rallies and meetings.
Joyce became embittered and increasingly turned to alcoholism whilst politically his vision of a British National Socialism gave way to a more direct copy of German Nazism, with Chesterton stating that he started ending NSL meetings by shouting "Seig Heil". By 1939 the NSL had been re-registered as a drinking club rather than a political party and one of the group's final meetings in May 1939 ended in chaos as Joyce puched a heckler after the crowd had turned on him for his overtly pro-German speech. On 25 August he handed control of the NSL over to MacNab instructing him that it was his duty to dissolve the movement, which by that time had only 40 registered members. Joyce would depart for Germany just after this meeting and the NSL was wound up.
Towards the end of the Second World War some NSL members regrouped in the Constitution Research Association under Major Harry Edmonds although this initiative had no impact and quickly disappeared.
- Robert Benewick, Political Violence and Public Order, London: Allan Lane, 1969
- Stephen Dorril, Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley & British Fascism, London: Penguin Books, 2007
- Mary Kenny, Germany Calling - a personal biography of William Joyce, Dublin: New Island Books, 2003
- Richard Thurlow, Fascism in Britain: A History, 1918-1985, London: Basil Blackwell, 1987
Far right in the United Kingdom Pre-1945 political parties
Defunct post-1945 political
parties and groupsBritish Democratic Party · British Empire Party · British League of Ex-Servicemen and Women · British Movement · British National Party · Column 88 · Constitutional Movement · Flag Group · Freedom Party · Greater Britain Movement · League of Empire Loyalists · National Democratic Party · National Democrats · National Fellowship · National Independence Party · National Labour Party · National Party · National Socialist Action Party · National Socialist Movement · New Britain Party · New Nationalist Party · Northern League · Official National Front · Our Nation · Patriotic Party · Racial Preservation Society · Union Movement · White Defence League · White Nationalist Party
Active political parties
Blood and Honour · British National Party · British People's Party · Casuals United · Christian Council of Britain · Combat 18 · England First Party · English Defence League · International Third Position · League of Saint George · National Front · National Socialist Movement · Nationalist Alliance · November 9th Society · Racial Volunteer Force · Redwatch · Stop Islamisation of Europe
Pre-1945 peopleMary Sophia Allen · John Amery · A.F.X. Baron · Henry Hamilton Beamish · John Beckett MP · Hastings Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford · Noel Pemberton Billing MP · Brigadier-General R.B.D. Blakeney · A. K. Chesterton MC · Dr John Henry Clarke · Roy Courlander · Admiral Sir Barry Domville · Josslyn Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll · Major Sir William Evans-Gordon MP · Robert Forgan MP · Sir Reginald Goodall · Captain Robert Gordon-Canning MC · Group Captain Sir Louis Leisler Greig · Neil Francis Hawkins · Major-General J.F.C. Fuller · William Joyce · Arnold Leese · Rotha Lintorn-Orman · The Hon. Diana Mitford, Lady Mosley · The Hon. Unity Mitford · Lady Cynthia Mosley · Sir Oswald Mosley · Gerard Wallop, 9th Earl of Portsmouth · David Bertram Ogilvy Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale · Sir Alliott Verdon Roe · Alexander Raven Thomson · Lieutenant-Colonel Graham Seton Hutchison · Nesta H. Webster · Arthur Wellesley, 5th Duke of Wellington · Henry Williamson · Brigadier-General Sir Ormaonde de L'Epee Winter Post-1945 peopleIan Anderson · Richard Barnbrook · Derek Beackon · John Bean · Jane, Lady Birdwood · Eddy Butler · Jonathan Bowden · Andrew Brons MEP · A.K. Chesterton · Mark Collett · David Copeland · Mark Cotterill · Nicky Crane · Simon Darby · Sharon Ebanks · Richard Edmonds · Lieutenant Commander Andrew Fountaine · Nick Griffin MEP · Jeffrey Hamm · Anthony Hancock · Patrick Harrington · Ray Hill · Derek Holland · Tom Holmes · Colin Jordan · Arthur Kemp · John Kingsley Read · Richard Lawson · Tony Lecomber · Michael McLaughlin · Eddy Morrison · John Morse · David Myatt · John O'Brien · Denis Pirie · Kevin Quinn · Anthony Reed Herbert · Robert Relf · Simon Sheppard · Ian Stuart Donaldson · Keith Thompson · John Tyndall · Richard Verrall · Martin Webster · Martin Wingfield · John Graeme Wood Related articlesAnglo-German Fellowship · Battle of Cable Street · Candour · British National Party election results · Europe a Nation · List of British fascist parties · National Democrats election results · National Front election results · Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies · Political Soldier · Spearhead · History of British fascism since 1945
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