1964–2019: And then there were none. H&D editor Mark Cotterill examines the end of a nationalist era

Michael Salt the NF Elections Officer (and candidate for Battersea North) addresses the 1978 NF AGM (which was in fact held on 19th/20th January 1979) at the huge Seymour Hall, which was located in London’s West End. The AGM was the start of the NF’s 1979 General Election campaign in which it fielded 301 official candidates, including five of the seven on the top table: from left to right – Andrew Brons (Bradford North); Andrew Fountaine (Norwich South); John Tyndall (Hackney South & Shoreditch); Michael Cowley – meeting chairman; Martin Webster (Bethnal Green & Bow) and Richard Verrall – head of the Publicity Dept and editor of Spearhead magazine.

While out in downtown Preston earlier this week for lunch with a couple of H&D subscribers – one of whom had travelled up from Leicester on a family matter – the main matter of conversation was (of course) the General Election and whom we would – or should – be voting for. As none of us happen to live in a constituency with British Democrat or English Democrat candidates, our group was mixed with one going for ADF, another for UKIP, two for independents and three for Reform UK. The conversation got round to the fact that the once mighty British National Party (BNP) and National Front (NF) were not standing any candidates in this year’s General Election.

My colleague from Leicester – knowing I’m an “anorak” on such matters – asked: “Mark, how far back do you have to go to find a GE where neither the BNP nor NF (in any of its forms) had even a single candidate”?

Now even though I class myself as a “smarty pants” on movement history, I was not sure, but guessed at 1966. However, after “Googling” it, I found that I was wrong (shock, horror!). The start of the era of BNP and NF candidates turned out to be the election before in 1964 – where former H&D subscriber John Bean (now sadly deceased) contested Southall for the BNP (mark II), polling 3,410 votes – 9.1%.

At the 2019 GE, David Furness contested Hornchurch and Upminster for the BNP (mark IV), polling 510 votes – 0.9%, which will in all probability be the last time the BNP ever contests a GE.

Nationalist veterans at one of H&D‘s John Tyndall Memorial Meetings: (left to right) Pete Barker (former BNP and NF organiser in Rochdale); Dr Jim Lewthwaite (former Bradford City Councillor and now Chairman of the British Democrats); our US guest Martin Kerr (now leader of New Order); Keith Axon (former West Midlands regional organiser of the BNP); and Peter Rushton (assistant editor of H&D).

Fun Facts For Anoraks – from previous General Elections

In 1966, the BNP fielded three candidates: John Bean again in Southall, 2,768 – 7.4%; Gerald Rowe in Deptford 1,906 – 7%; and Robert Stanley in Smethwick 508 – 1.5%.

In 1970, when the NF contested ten seats, this was the last General Election when candidates appeared on the ballot paper without a party name. The best result being the Rev. Brian Green in Islington, who polled 1,232 – 5.6%.

In February 1974 the NF fielded over 50 candidates and so qualified for the first time for a 5-minute TV and radio broadcast. The best result was Gordon Bowen in West Bromwich West who polled 3,107 – 7.8%.

In October 1974, the NF increased their number of candidates to 90. The best result was Robin May in Hackney South & Shoreditch with 2,544 – 9.4%.

In 1979 even though the NF fielded over 300 candidates, they were still only given one five-minute TV and radio broadcast. The best result was John Tyndall in Hackney South & Shoreditch, who polled 1,958 – 7.6%.

In 1983 both the NF and BNP contested over 50 seats, so were given one TV and radio broadcast each. The NF fielded 60 candidates. Their best result was Ian Anderson, in Newham South, who polled 993 – 3.7%. The BNP fielded 54 candidates, their best result was Charles Parker (Tyndall’s father-in-law) in Walsall South, who polled 632 – 1.3%.

National Front activist Derrick Day addressing a party activity at Hoxton market in East London, alongside NF national activities organiser Martin Webster.

In 1987, both the NF and BNP decided not to contest the GE due to a shortage of both manpower (due to the recent splits) and funds (the cost of a deposit had recently gone up from £150 to £500). However, Mike Kingston still contested Bristol East for the NF Flag Group, and two BNP candidates – Mike Easter in Tonbridge and Malling, and Alfie Waite in Ravensbourne – stood, against the strict orders of John Tyndall, who expelled them both shortly after the election. (Though both Mike and Alfie were later readmitted, the latter working at the BNP’s bookshop/headquarters during the 1990s.)

In 1992, all fourteen NF candidates were from the NF “Flag Group”. The “official” NF faction had ceased to exist, and its few remaining members had joined the Third Way or the Third Position. The best NF result was George Cartwright in Dudley East who polled 675 – 1.2%. The BNP fielded thirteen candidates (just one fewer than the NF). The best result was Richard Edmonds in Bethnal Green & Stepney with 1,310 votes – 3.6%.

In 1997, nationalist votes started to increase for the first time in over twenty years. The BNP fielded 56 candidates. The best result being in Bethnal Green & Bow where BNP candidate, Dave King polled 3,350 – 7.5%. The NF fielded six candidates. Their best result was George Cartwright in Dudley North, who polled 559 – 1.2%.

In 2001, the BNP fielded 33 candidates. Their vote went up further with six candidates saving their deposits. The best result being Nick Griffin in Oldham West & Royton who polled 6,552 – 16.4%. The NF fielded five candidates. Their best result was Mick Shore in Birmingham Erdington, who polled 681 – 2.2%.

In 2005, the BNP fielded a record 119 candidates, 34 of them of saving their deposits, the best result being in Barking, where Richard Barnbrook polled 4,916 – 17%. The NF fielded thirteen candidates. The best result was Graham Kemp in Feltham & Heston, who polled 975 – 2.6%.

In 2010, the BNP fielded an incredible 338 candidates – the highest number ever – beating the NF’s 301/303 in 1979. 74 of them saved their deposits, the best result being again in Barking, where Nick Griffin polled 6,620 – 14.6%. This was the last election where the BNP beat UKIP, even though their average vote went down to 1.9%. The NF fielded seventeen candidates. The best result being Chris Jackson in Rochdale who polled 2,236 – 4.9% (failing to save his deposit by just twelve votes).

In 2015, the BNP only managed to field eight candidates (330 down from the previous election). The best result being in Charnwood where Cathy Duffy polled 489 – 0.9%. The NF fielded seven candidates. The best result being Kevin Bryan in Rochdale with 433 – 1%. This was the last GE the NF contested.

In 2017, the BNP fielded ten candidates. The best result being in Bishop Auckland, where BNP chairman Adam Walker polled 991 – 2.3%.

Young activists in the early 1980s NF: Joe Pearce (twice imprisoned for thought crimes during the 1980s) with then-comrades Richard Lawson, Nick Griffin and Steve Brady

Quiz Time

Finally, a quiz for those of you who think you are as smart as me on movement history!

In 1979 the NF officially contested 301 seats; however, a lot of the Mainstream Media always state it was 303.

The discrepancy of two seats is because the NF directorate (i.e. Martin Webster) disowned two of their candidates that year.

If you can (a) name those two candidates and the constituencies they were standing in; and b) tell me why they were disowned, you will win a free year’s subscription to Heritage and Destiny magazine – or if you are already a subscriber we will extend your current subscription for a further 12 months or 6 issues.
Please email your answers to – heritageanddestiny@yahoo.com

Please note that former members of the 1979 NF Directorate cannot take part as they will probably already know the answer – that is if any of them are still compos mentis! 🧐

Mark Cotterill – Editor/Publisher – Heritage and Destiny

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