Andrew Brons Tribute to John Tyndall

At the John Tyndall memorial meeting held in Lancashire on October 8th, Heritage and Destiny assistant editor and meeting chairman Peter Rushton read the following tribute on behalf of Andrew Brons MEP, who was unable to attend.  A full report on the meeting will appear on this site later today.

Peter Rushton reading a tribute to John Tyndall on behalf of Andrew Brons

Peter Rushton reading a tribute to John Tyndall on behalf of Andrew Brons

John Tyndall was not one of Nature’s authoritarians, despite his embrace of National Socialism as a young and not so young man. I worked with him on the National Front’s National Directorate of the National Front between 1974 and 1980 and he would listen courteously to the views of his colleagues and almost invariably accepted the majority decisions of that democratically elected body, even when they went in a direction that was not to his liking.

I say almost invariably, because there was one notable exception when he did not accept  the majority decision and that was over the decision of the Directorate to take no disciplinary action over an over- familiar letter that Martin Webster had written to a young member. He was so convinced of the rightness of his own view that he resigned as Chairman, in February 1980, and then, in the Autumn, led a break-away movement to form the New National Front. This became the British National Party in 1982.

He wrote a well-researched and carefully reasoned article in 2005 in which he argued that break-away parties nearly always failed and left the question open as to whether the British National Party had been the exception. In fact it was not an exception. Whilst the NNF/BNP break-away damaged the ‘parent party’, the National Front, it was not to overtake the National Front until the late 1980s when the NF had been irreparably damaged as the result of a needless split engineered by Patrick Harrington and one Nicholas John Griffin. It took more than twenty years for the Nationalist Movement in Britain to recover from the consequences of the 1980 split.

One of the legacies of that division was that it left the eventual winner, the British National Party, with a Constitution that placed virtually all of the power in the hands of one man, the Chairman. Despite the cosmetic changes made in 2011, the essence of that constitution survives to this day.

John Tyndall – or JT as we all called him affectionately – was undoubtedly a great orator, not simply a great speaker. There is no doubt that he modelled  his style on that of Mosley. He was at his best when addressing a large appreciative audience following a public parade. He was capable of inspiring the membership to new heights of  optimism, enthusiasm and activity. People went home after hearing him speak, determined to work even harder for the Movement.

It could be said that he was the epitome of the leadership cult and yet he was something of a paradox. Whilst his leadership qualities away from the public platform were not in doubt, he was not the strutting arrogant leader in the style of Mosley. When you met him he appeared almost shy and self-effacing. He had a quiet confidence but he was not self important or self-obsessed.

JT had become our Chairman in 1972 and I remember, in 1974, repeating the view of one of our Harrogate members, who had remarked that JT’s personality had not been projected by the Party in the way that other parties projected the personalities of their leaders.  He looked rather taken aback by this remark and his expression almost said, “But why would we want to do that”. Whilst JT had the oratorical skills of a Mosley, he had the humility of an Attlee.

John Tyndall was the product of a Grammar School education and of a period of  National Service that he completed with pride. The latter gave him a military bearing that never left him and gave an impression of a man who had spent  a much longer period in the forces. He did not go to university but then few did in his generation. He left school in the 1950s, before even the new universities of the 1960s had been established. Nevertheless, he had a fine mind and his grasp of economics was superb for somebody who had never received any formal education in the subject. His booklet, Beyond Capitalism and Socialism, was a masterpiece. It was said that civil servants from the Department of Industry had sought a copy for their Minister, one Tony Benn. It contained only one error that an economist would not have made – that elasticity of demand was naturally unitary. I do not think that a slight misunderstanding of elasticity of demand is a very serious crime on a scale of one to ten!

If I were asked to pinpoint a single quality of JT worthy of commendation, it was his honesty. I do not remember his ever telling a lie. When he had left the Party and formed a rival party, he made political criticisms of me and my colleagues and he made judgements of us that we did not feel to be deserved but I do not remember his saying anything untrue about me. He certainly did not engage in personal abuse and character assassination of the sort that we have seen in the Party in recent months. I met him on only one subsequent occasion and that was early in 1986 when a merger was discussed. Perhaps we should all have tried a little harder.

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