Many happy returns – John Bean

Bill Baillie on the left (his position in the photo not his politics!); the late Paul Barnes (centre), who shared John’s views on racial-nationalism and John Bean (definitely on the right!). When John informed H&D editor Mark Cotterill that he and Bill only shared around 50% of the views expressed in the magazine, Mark replied that was very good, and slightly more than he did! Mark explained that unlike a party-political magazine, H&D is here to represent a very broad cross section of nationalist opinion, not all of which everybody will agree with.

The editor, assistant editor and all the staff at H&D Towers, would like to wish our oldest subscriber (by two months) – John Bean – a very happy 93rd birthday.

John was born on June 27th, 1927 in Carshalton, Surrey. The family moved to Blackfen, near Sidcup in Kent, where at the age of 13 he suffered the trauma of being bombed out of the family home in February 1941.

Aged 18, John began his National Service in 1945. He was largely apolitical, although he had briefly flirted with communism whilst at school, calling for support for the Soviet Union. Initially he was a trainee navigator in the RAF Volunteer Reserve.

Later as a sailor in the Royal Navy. John became a radar mechanic and was placed on HMS Bulawayo, a fleet supply ship which made several visits to Trinidad until the end of his naval service in June 1948.

He briefly lived in India during 1950, working as a chemist in a paint factory, although he failed to settle and returned to Britain six months later.

Upon his return, John began to attend meetings of the Union Movement, being attracted by the ‘Europe a Nation’ policy and by the time Oswald Mosley had spent in prison for his beliefs. John initially served as a member of the Special Propaganda Service, the main duty of which was to sell copies of the party’s newspaper Union.

Soon however he became a leading figure active on behalf of the UM in the East End of London, before being appointed to head a branch in Putney in 1952. Despite these advancements, John grew disillusioned of the UM’s chances of making any real headway and he left them altogether in February 1953. A brief stopover in the local Conservative Party in Barnes followed but lasted only two months.

After a spell on the side-lines he then linked up with Andrew Fountaine, who had been attempting to form his own party, the National Front, and began to produce a journal, National Unity.

His work attracted the attention of A.K. Chesterton and, with the National Front idea failing to get off the ground, he decided to join the League of Empire Loyalists, serving as its Northern Organiser and then in the HQ in London. Continuing to produce his paper, now called The Loyalist, John soon became frustrated at both the lack of political activity and the links to the Conservative Party that were the hallmarks of the LEL.

He left in 1957 to set up the National Labour Party with Fountaine. Fountaine, a Norfolk landowner from a rural landowning family, was officially President of the new group, but was largely a figurehead: control actually lay with John.

The NLP gained a few minor results in elections but was always destined to be a small fringe movement, and as a result John decided to merge his party with another LEL splinter group, the White Defence League in 1960 to form the British National Party.

John Bean was made leader of the party upon its foundation. Early in the group’s life, both John and former White Defence League leader Colin Jordan were approached by Oswald Mosley, who offered them roles in his Union Movement if they agreed to its subsuming the BNP, but both men rejected the offer.

Initially gaining some support in London, the party soon ran into trouble when it became clear that Colin Jordan was emerging as its spokesman. A journalist commented in 1962 that Jordan was becoming the British Adolf Hitler. John jokingly responded to the Daily Mail reporter that that made him “the British Joseph Goebbels”. Despite this, John soon clashed with Jordan over his extremism and before long Jordan had left to form the National Socialist Movement, taking emerging figures John Tyndall and Denis Pirie with him. Matters had come to a head at the party’s national council meeting in 1962 when John proposed a motion to condemn Jordan’s open support for National Socialism. It was passed 7 to 5, but the party immediately split as a result, albeit with around 80% of the membership remaining within the BNP. John had blamed the associations with National Socialism that Jordan and Tyndall brought for the party’s marginal position in British politics.

At the 1964 general election John Bean stood as BNP candidate in Southall and obtained 3,410 votes (9.3%), the highest post-war vote for a minority party at that time. Another BNP candidate picked up nearly 2,000 votes in Deptford. In 1966 he again stood in Southall, but his vote fell to 2,600. With BNP membership only marginally increasing, John felt the need to try to create a nationalist front with like groups and arranged, with the help of Ted Budden, a private meeting with his old mentor A.K. Chesterton and a spokesman of the Racial Preservation Society. The result of the meeting was the founding of the National Front in 1967.

John became something of a peripheral figure in the NF, as the BNP element was somewhat side-lined. He held the post of Deputy Chairman of the Executive Directorate, a body which was largely subordinate to the Policy Directorate and stood as second candidate for the Ealing constituency in the 1967 Greater London Council elections until resigning in 1968. Still an NF member, he was recalled to positions of minor influence from time to time until 1972 when he largely ceased active involvement. Retreating into political retirement, his membership lapsed in 1977

He emerged only briefly to lend some support to his old friend Andrew Fountaine’s NF Constitutional Movement and to take part in the Countryside Alliance March of 1st March 1998 – which was also attended by supporters of Nick Griffin, by then inside the BNP.

John eventually ended his retirement after the political fall of John Tyndall and joined the British National Party under the leadership of Nick Griffin. He became an active official of the BNP (mostly in administration) and was a candidate for the party in the 2004 European elections, where he was seventh on a list of seven candidates for the Scotland constituency.

He formerly ran his own website, but then wrote a regular column for the main BNP website, and served as editor of BNP magazine Identity until March 2010.

Due to dissatisfaction with his leadership, John demanded that Nick Griffin resign as National Chairman and focus more on representing the North West region as an MEP.

In May 2011, John endorsed Andrew Brons (the BNP MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber) in his challenge for the BNP leadership. He made significant contributions to the Brons team web site, including articles on ‘Genetics and Inheritance’ and ‘Nationalism and a European Confederation’. He subsequently became involved in Brons’s party the British Democratic Party, established in February 2013.

John lived in London, and later Suffolk, before retiring to Yorkshire to live nearer his expanding family – three grandchildren, and five great grandchildren (so far!).

During periods away from politics John wrote four books.

Ten Miles from Anywhere (Hedgerow Publishing 1995), looked at the changes in a Suffolk village from the beginning of the 20th century.

Many Shades of Black, (New Millennium 1999), was Bean’s political memoirs up to that date.

His first novel Blood in the Square, which fictionalized some of his political experiences in the 1960s.

And in August 2016 his historical novel Trail of the Viking Finger (Troubador Publications).

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