John Tyndall Obituary from H&D Issue 22 (Oct. 2005)

This Obituary appeared in Issue 22 of Heritage and Destiny, Oct-Dec 2005. We reprint it to mark the 10th anniversary of JT’s death.

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John Tyndall – founder of the British National Party, editor of Spearhead and chairman of the National Front during its most successful era – died on July 19th a few days after his 71st birthday. His shockingly premature death leaves the racial nationalist movement reeling at the loss of its most astute and courageous leader.

There could never be a good time to endure such a loss, but it seems particularly tragic that we have lost JT precisely at the moment when the ideas to which he devoted his life have been most thoroughly vindicated, while the party he created remains in crisis.

Born in Exeter on July 14th 1934, John Tyndall spent his childhood in the London area and was educated at Beckenham & Penge Grammar School. Devoting his earliest years to sport, he had trials as a fast bowler with Kent County Cricket Club before national service in Germany with the Royal Horse Artillery.

The Tyndall family was descended from William Tyndale, the pioneer translator of the Bible into English, who was a persistent irritant to the political authorities of his time and was burned at the stake in 1536. A more recent ancestor was JT’s namesake and great-great-uncle Professor John Tyndall, one of Britain’s greatest scientists.

JT’s political odyssey began in the Britain of the mid-1950s. The multi-racial experiment was in its infancy, and the racial nationalist movement was still in the shadow of the notorious Regulation 18b, which had jailed its most prominent leaders and activists without trial in May 1940. Sir Oswald Mosley had by this stage returned to the political arena with the Union Movement, but as he later wrote in The Eleventh Hour JT was put off joining this organisation by Mosley’s new ‘Europe a Nation’ policy:

I had certainly come to believe that the policies of the pre-war gang of British leaders leading to the division of Europe and then to war had been disastrously wrong …and that a more enlightened foreign policy would have been directed towards achieving a state of European harmony which would have spared us the 1939-45 conflict, at least in the West. Harmony among the nations of Europe remained, and still remains, a good thing – though it ill becomes the Common Marketeers to talk of the need to unite Europe now, when these people are the direct political descendents of the generation that divided Europe in the 1930s.
But a single European nation was, and is, out of the question, being wholly undesirable and not remotely possible. Any thought, therefore, of support for Mosley in respect of his post-war politics was killed at birth.

This rejection of Mosley’s European policy was an early indication of a lifelong element in John Tyndall’s political outlook – his insistence on the maintenance of the United Kingdom’s independence and integrity. Later in his career he firmly rejected the various regionalist and devolution schemes embraced by some self-styled nationalist ‘modernisers’ and ‘radicals’. In particular he was a staunch defender of the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Ulster’s unionists had no more loyal friend in British politics than John Tyndall – scarcely surprising given his family’s history. JT’s grandfather and great-grandfather were both officers in the pre-1922 Royal Irish Constabulary, while his Uncle Charles became Bishop of Londonderry.

This did not mean that John Tyndall was a blinkered ‘Little Englander’. Far from it. He was fully aware of the worldwide implications of our struggle, and maintained close links with activists worldwide who were dedicated to white racial survival. JT was a welcome guest at international racial nationalist gatherings, speaking in France, Germany, the USA and elsewhere. His American friends included Dr Ed Fields, Sam Dickson and David Duke, whose conference he addressed in 2004.
In 1956 (the year of Britain’s humiliation at Suez) JT joined the League of Empire Loyalists. It was as an LEL member that he made his first public speeches on street corners in East London, learning the art of political oratory, of which he was to become such an exceptional practitioner, in a hard school.

Though he continued to respect the LEL’s leader A.K. Chesterton, later the first chairman of the National Front, and was considerably influenced by Chesterton’s journal Candour, he soon found that the LEL as an organisation was inadequate to meet the rapidly escalating racial threat to Britain. Another young LEL member, industrial chemist John Bean, held similar views and in 1958 Bean formed the National Labour Party, with John Tyndall as a founder member. The NLP’s figurehead was Andrew Fountaine, a Norfolk country squire who had in a sense pioneered post-war British racial nationalism as a dissident Conservative candidate in Chorley, Lancashire, in 1950.

At this very early stage of his career in politics, JT committed himself to the idea that a political party was necessary for the advancement of racial nationalism, a commitment from which he never wavered, while others over the years have preferred to operate in pressure groups, believing that they could either influence establishment Conservatives (as Chesterton and the LEL sought to do) or cultivate revolutionary racial nationalist sentiment among disillusioned youth subcultures.
The NLP had two years of activity, recruited 500-600 members, and gained a very respectable vote in its one parliamentary contest in the north London constituency of St Pancras North at the 1959 general election, when William Webster took 1,685 votes (4.1%). It then merged with one of those racial pressure groups, the White Defence League, to create the British National Party. This 1960 BNP is not connected to the modern party of the same name. Fountaine acted as president, and Bean as deputy to its leader Colin Jordan, whose WDL was the heir to the pre-war racial nationalist tradition of Mosley’s rival Arnold Leese.

In effect this BNP was a doomed attempt to bring together different strands of racial nationalism under one umbrella. John Tyndall always believed in the absolute necessity of this strategy and successfully implemented it twice more with the National Front in the 1970s and the later BNP in the 1980s and 1990s. In this early BNP he found himself occupying a middle ground between the hardline national socialism of Jordan, who succeeded in grabbing significant media attention with a number of stunts as well as large scale public demonstrations, and the more ‘respectable’ ambitions of Fountaine and Bean, who were determined not to scare off potential voters in what would now be termed ‘Middle England’. Despite this moderate outlook, Fountaine and Bean were happy to endorse the nationalist camp held by the BNP in May 1961, which reflected continuing links with hardline racial nationalist and national socialist organisations in Europe and America.
The BNP had an early success at the 1960 London County Council elections, scoring 8.1% in south London’s Deptford constituency, but internal dissent soon exploded over the question of how the party should respond to the violence of its (mostly Communist and Jewish) opponents. From his earliest days as an LEL street corner orator, John Tyndall had been made acutely aware of these opponents’ intentions to shut down our activities by whatever means necessary. While it was all well and good to preach about our commitment to respectability and democracy, the ‘democratic’ rights of racial nationalists could only be sustained by physical force commensurate with the communist-zionist threat.

To this end BNP leader Colin Jordan decided that the party should create a disciplined self-defence force, and John Tyndall backed this decision. Fountaine, Bean and others felt otherwise and their faction launched a coup in the spring of 1962, expelling the Jordan-Tyndall faction and seizing the party’s membership files. In later years JT felt that they may have been right to oppose the formation of this self-defence force, but he could not forgive the underhand and probably illegal methods used by the ‘moderates’ to take control of the BNP, which were to be repeated several times in later years!

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John Tyndall (right) with Colin Jordan at the famous Cotswolds camp in 1962.

The rump of the BNP achieved good election results in parts of London in 1963-4 but then rapidly faded, struggling on for another five years before merging into the National Front at its creation in 1967. Meanwhile John Tyndall now made what he later regarded as his greatest political mistake. Along with Colin Jordan, he formed the National Socialist Movement which allied itself closely with George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi Party. In August 1962 the NSM invited Rockwell to a summer camp in Gloucestershire, England, and the resulting Cotswolds Declaration set up a World Union of National Socialists.

Looking back on this period, John Tyndall made the following assessment of his years with the NSM and WUNS:

Having made a thorough study of the forces dedicated to destroying my own country, and knowing that Hitler faced very similar forces in his, I have come to believe that many of his intentions were good ones and many of his achievements admirable. I do not propose to budge from that point of view, because to do so would be to be guilty of a dishonesty which I thoroughly despise in politicians. Of this dishonesty we have had far too much. If truth be known, there are probably millions of people in the world today, including many who gave their best years fighting Hitler, who now feel in their bones that in a great many respects he was right; they simply believe (and not without good reason) that it is not yet expedient or safe to state such views openly. But times will change, and yesterday’s heresy will become tomorrow’s truth.
But that does not mean that it is right for a British movement belonging to an entirely different phase of history to model itself on the movement of Hitler to the extent of adopting identical nomenclature and symbolism and acknowledging itself as being in direct line of descent. We are a different country, with our own proud past and traditions, and these – not the traditions of foreigners – should be our source of inspiration. We may indeed study reforming movements in all parts of the world and at all junctures of history, and learn something from their achievements as well as from their mistakes. But nothing in history ever repeats itself exactly. There was only one Hitler and only one National Socialism. They belonged to Germany between 1919 and 1945. Our task in this age is to build a 100 percent British movement that is its own original, not a photocopy of another.

While acknowledging this early political error, JT never apologised for seeking to defend racial nationalist meetings from violent opponents, who by this time had coalesced as the 62 Group and Yellow Star Movement. These attempts at self-defence via the NSM’s ‘Spearhead’ self-defence force led to the trial of four of its activists in October 1962. Colin Jordan received a nine month sentence and JT six months. NSM activity resumed in 1963 when a London rally at Caxton Hall was successfully defended against a 62 Group mob. However in the summer of 1964 JT’s reservations over the ‘un-British’ aspect of some of the NSM’s activities led him and his supporters (including a young Martin Webster) to break away and form the Greater Britain Movement.

Both the NSM and the GBM were very small organisations and for a couple of years in the mid-1960s the racial nationalist movement was in a parlous state, divided between Tyndall’s GBM, Jordan’s NSM, Bean and Fountaine’s BNP, Chesterton’s LEL and Mosley’s Union Movement. By far the most significant legacy of those years is Spearhead, the magazine founded by John Tyndall in 1964 and published for the next forty-one years without a break (other than that enforced by JT’s prison sentence in 1986). Spearhead was a shining beacon of truth lighting the way for many British and other English-speaking racial nationalists through four often dark decades. It is difficult to credit that the voice of John Tyndall’s Spearhead will not be heard with its pungent commentary on the next stages of our struggle.

JT was under no illusions that the GBM was anything more than a temporary stopgap solution to the leadership vacuum on the British nationalist scene. Throughout 1965 and 1966 he and his supporters maintained liaison with like-minded comrades in other groups with a view to reuniting as a credible political force. When the National Front was finally formed as a merger of the BNP and LEL under A.K. Chesterton’s leadership in 1967, it was to a large extent the result of negotiations instigated by John Tyndall, but the Tyndallites were initially excluded from the new party because of objections from some LEL ‘moderates’.

At the end of 1967, at Chesterton’s invitation, JT joined the NF. (The GBM had been wound up earlier that year.) Over the next few years it became obvious that he was the most credible eventual successor to Chesterton, whose health was not good. At the end of 1970 Chesterton resigned in despair at the activities of dissident elements in the party, some of whom JT suspected of being deliberate state-sponsored agents of disruption.

At the start of 1971 John Tyndall became deputy leader of the National Front, and during that year he struggled to keep the NF together. The new chairman John O’Brien was used as figurehead by a ‘populist’ faction which ultimately broke away from the Front in 1972, leaving John Tyndall as chairman.

Today’s BNP leadership contends that John Tyndall’s ‘extremism’ held our movement back, while their populism has allowed it to flourish. Were this argument valid one would expect John O’Brien’s populists, who formed the National Independence Party in 1972, to have succeeded at the expense of the NF under its new Tyndall-Webster leadership. The opposite was the case! The NIP made no impact and soon disappeared, while the Tyndall-led NF went from strength to strength.

Boosted by a massive public reaction against Edward Heath’s admission of Ugandan Asians, the NF’s John Clifton won 2,960 votes (8.2%) at the Uxbridge parliamentary by-election in December 1972. Martin Webster went on to take 16% at the West Bromwich by-election in April 1973, followed by huge NF votes in Leicester at the 1973 council elections and 11.5% for Mike Lobb at the Newham by-election in May 1974.

These successes built up exaggerated expectations among some NF members as to how well the party would perform at the two general elections which were held in February and October 1974. The elections were dominated by economic crisis coupled with the effects of strike action by coalminers, somewhat overshadowing racial issues. Moreover, the improvements to the party organisation set in motion after JT took over the NF in 1972 had little more than a year to take effect before the huge logistical challenge of fighting two general elections in one year. Undoubtedly many voters still saw the NF as a protest vote rather than a realistic challenger for power.

In these circumstances the NF was doing exceptionally well to contest more than fifty seats at the February 1974 election (thus qualifying for television and radio broadcasts) and ninety seats in October. Unfortunately the party was then stymied by internal dissent along the familiar pattern. This time the populists’ figurehead was John Kingsley Read, a recent ex-Tory recruit from Blackburn. Throughout 1975 the party was effectively crippled, as the Kingsley Read faction first succeeded in seizing the leadership, then failed in an attempt to expel the Tyndall faction altogether.

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John Tyndall (centre) with his wife Valerie and their NF / BNP comrade Kenneth McKilliam

In February 1976 John Tyndall regained the NF leadership (for the time being supported by his former and future rival Andrew Fountaine who became deputy chairman) and Kingsley Read and his supporters left to form the short-lived National Party, taking with them 29 of the NF’s branches. The NF rapidly recovered, again proving the populists and their modern equivalents wrong. At the 1976 local elections Leicester was again the most successful area, with the NF almost gaining a city council seat and polling 43,000 votes across the city. The 1977 Greater London Council elections saw arguably the most impressive racial nationalist election results in British history with the NF gaining more than 119,000 votes.

An NF march through Lewisham in 1977 attracted the biggest ever mob of leftist opponents, leading to a major riot. In retrospect this can be seen as one of two significant turning points in the late 1970s. Significant numbers of voters (and especially potential members / activists) were put off by the extreme violence displayed at Lewisham, even though this was instigated by the left not by the NF. They were thus ripe for picking by the new ‘right-wing’ leadership of the Conservative Party. In January 1978 Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher made her famous comments in a radio interview:
“People are really rather afraid that this country might be swamped by people of a different culture.”

Voters erroneously concluded that Mrs Thatcher’s Tories would reverse the multiracialist tide, and the stage was set for the Conservative success and NF failure at the 1979 general election. The NF managed to field no fewer than 301 candidates at this election, an achievement which no other racial nationalist party in Britain before or since has come close to matching. But the results disappointed those members who again had built up unrealistic expectations.

For the third time a populist faction challenged John Tyndall’s leadership, this time headed by Andrew Fountaine and the suspected MI5 agent Paul Kavanagh, and for the third time this faction was eventually defeated and dwindled to nothing, this time as the short lived ‘Constitutional Movement’. Yet another faction, almost entirely Midlands based, then broke away to form the even shorter lived British Democratic Party.

By now JT was convinced that the NF’s constitution, with its elected Directorate, was a standing invitation to factionalism which could be exploited by misguided or treacherous elements. He therefore presented an ultimatum to the Directorate in January 1980, demanding that the party’s internal democracy should end and a new constitution should be imposed which vested ultimate power in the leader. When the Directorate rejected this idea, he resigned the leadership, though retaining a position on the Directorate and hoping that matters could be resolved without a split.

Within a few months it became obvious that no reconciliation was possible and the Tyndall faction resigned, launching the New National Front in June 1980.

John Tyndall speaking to a nationalist gathering in the USA

John Tyndall speaking to a nationalist gathering in the USA

As most readers will know, the 1980s were a terrible decade for British racial nationalism. John Tyndall was forced to rebuild a movement virtually from scratch while the NF spiralled into a rapid decline with split after split. The NNF soon merged with members from several small racial nationalist groups to form a new British National Party in April 1982, the same BNP which continues to this day. After contesting 53 seats at the 1983 general election with negligible success, the BNP sat out the 1987 election but by the late 1980s was emerging as the largest of the several small racial nationalist parties.

At the height of the NF’s success JT married Valerie, the daughter of the NF’s Sussex regional organiser Charles Parker and herself an NF parliamentary candidate. Valerie and their daughter Marina provided a domestic haven of civilisation for JT amid the political chaos of the 1980s wilderness years and the challenges of the 1990s BNP revival. Racial nationalists should be grateful for the sacrifices made by the Tyndall family in supporting JT’s career through the years, even to the point of Valerie being attacked by communist barbarians outside a meeting in Stratford in 1997.

In 1986 John Tyndall and his ally John Morse, then editor of the BNP journal British Nationalist, were jailed after falling foul of Britain’s notorious race laws. They were convicted of having “conspired . . . to publish divers items of written matter which were threatening, abusive or insulting in cases where . . . hatred was likely to be stirred up against racial groups . . . .”

During their imprisonment, Messrs Tyndall and Morse were entertained by reading the ludicrous and paranoid attacks and counterattacks published by two of the main rivals in the latest National Front split, Nick Griffin and Martin Wingfield. Though these two are now back in the same party, namely the BNP, their squabbles can now be studied on the internet.

On the release of Tyndall and Morse the BNP found that at last there was fertile ground for the party’s growth. In particular, racial problems in East London were once again dominating local voters’ concerns. An exceptionally able local organiser, Eddy Butler, helped to mobilise these concerns and built up regular sales of British Nationalist.

At the 1992 general election John Tyndall won 1,107 votes (3.0%) in the East London constituency of Bow & Poplar, while in next door Bethnal Green & Stepney his national organiser Richard Edmonds won 1,310 votes (3.6%). This was the start of the BNP’s emergence as a serious political force, coinciding with the virtual disappearance of the NF. In October 1992 the 20% vote won by Barry Osborne at a local by-election in Millwall ward, Tower Hamlets, was the real breakthrough. Less than a year later Derek Beackon famously won the same ward for the BNP in a second by-election.

The BNP was now a nationally known political force, even though its organisational infrastructure was still far too weak to meet increased expectations. Yet again John Tyndall’s enemies attempted to subvert his party through internal division. Their first attempt failed when the Combat 18 organisation was proscribed from the BNP, though it caused serious damage in parts of London. This split distracted the party for much of 1994 and 1995, so that many organisers were incredulous when JT announced the ambitious target of contesting more than fifty seats at the 1997 election. That this target was met reflects great credit on John Tyndall and his principal lieutenants: Richard Edmonds, John Morse, Dave Bruce and John Peacock.

By now Nick Griffin, the former NF chairman and leader of the doomed ‘political soldier’ faction, had been recruited to the BNP and given paid employment by John Tyndall as assistant editor of Spearhead, where Griffin used the pseudonym ‘Tom North’.

As several of JT’s allies had warned, Griffin almost immediately began plotting to seize control of the BNP, but until early 1999 JT believed that the members would see off such a challenge, and he believed that the benefit of uniting the movement was worth the risk of Griffin indulging in his usual disruptive tactics. During 1998-9 JT devoted most of his time to the forthcoming challenge of contesting every English region at the 1999 European elections. His cause was also seriously weakened in this period by the premature deaths of Dave Bruce and John Peacock.
It became clear during the summer of 1999 that JT would lose the leadership, and he resolved that he would not launch or support any breakaway movement.

As previous Heritage & Destiny articles have documented, many of Nick Griffin’s most prominent supporters rapidly became disillusioned and regretted the change of leadership. It is highly significant that despite periods of considerable election success Griffin’s grip on the party was never secure.

Far from being able to dismiss John Tyndall as yesterday’s man, the Griffinites remained obsessed by the threat of a new leadership challenge. Purges of known or suspected Tyndallites began as early as 2001, becoming more paranoid with each passing year.

JT’s last great service to the party which he hoped and expected to lead once again in due course was the derailing of a concerted Griffinite bid to change the party constitution and make the BNP formally a multiracial party. Carefully crafted remarks to journalists about “salt in the soup” and “time to turn the tanker around” signalled Nick Griffin’s intention to alter the fundamental direction of the party. The most explicit calls for the adoption of multiracialist policies and non-white membership came from arch-Griffinites such as Colin Smith.

Through the columns of Spearhead and a network of allies across the BNP’s regions, JT fought back and denounced this outright betrayal. The new leadership backed away from the challenge of putting their views openly before the members and quickly dumped the proposed changes.

Afraid to conduct an open debate on policy, the Griffin-Lecomber leadership resorted to the time-honoured tactics of character assassination. Rigged tribunals twice expelled JT from the BNP. After being reinstated following court action on the first occasion in 2003, he was in the process of a second legal action at the time of his death.

The hypocritical obituary tributes from the current party leadership must be judged against the fact that JT was still officially proscribed from the party when he died. In other words BNP members were banned from associating with John Tyndall in any way, on pain of expulsion, though many courageously defied this ban.

As is well known, John Tyndall was also involved in a second legal action at the time of his death, namely a further prosecution under the tyrannical race laws, resulting from secret BBC filming of a speech at a private meeting in Burnley. JT was arrested on leaving a Christmas social in Blackburn organised by the Spearhead Group and Heritage & Destiny in December last year. He was confident of victory in both the criminal and civil cases.

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John Tyndall (far right) at his last meeting in Brighton in 2005, with (left to right) Tess Culnane, John Wood and Sid Williamson.

It was only to be expected that JT would still be in the front line at the time of his death, though no one expected it would come so soon. No doubt he would have been amused by the Guardian’s headline: “A racist, violent neo-nazi to the end”.

As British politics moves into the post-Tyndall era, it is becoming clear that events have thoroughly vindicated the political vision which he ceaselessly sustained for half a century. The July 7th bombings were the final confirmation that decades of propaganda have failed to integrate alien elements into British culture. Meanwhile the May 5th general election result demonstrated that the Conservative Party offers no solution to Britain’s crisis.

In one of his final Spearhead articles, John Tyndall described the party he hoped to see rising to this challenge:
“We must make the BNP a ‘broad church’ for nationalists. It must become capable of uniting under a single banner all those in Britain who, excluding a small number of misfits and undesirables, at present embrace the ideals of nationalism. At the moment it is not doing so. Such an aim calls for intelligent politics, as well as a decidedly ‘bigger’ attitude and outlook than is presently evident in the upper circles of the party, where the spirit seems to be one devoted to alienation and exclusion, and where the result is a tragic wastage of resources, dedication and talent that should be harnessed to the party’s cause.”

Can the BNP become such a party? Only time will tell – and time is running out! It has been an honour and privilege to have fought alongside John Tyndall as a friend and comrade in the frontline of British racial nationalism. Just a few weeks before his death, we spoke at a Friends of Spearhead meeting in Milton Keynes to an audience including BNP candidates from recent council, European and general elections. Most BNP members and activists are agreed on the core principles of our movement. We must now honour John Tyndall’s memory by moving forward together.

Peter Rushton, Manchester, England

This article was first published in the October-December 2005 issue of Heritage and Destiny magazine (#22). All back issues are still available – click here for more details.

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