Nationalist veteran Ken Kelly dies aged 90

One of the most controversial nationalist activists in North West England has died aged 90.

Ken Kelly had been involved in British Movement, the National Front, BNP, and then NF again at various times since the 1970s, living in Bamford, near Rochdale.

Almost forty years ago he was implicated by Searchlight informant Ray Hill for his illegal dealing in guns and ammunition. Now that Mr Kelly is dead, H&D can confirm that on this occasion the ‘anti-fascist’ press was not lying!

Mr Kelly and his late BM comrade Pete Brawley did indeed have access to a surprising range of weapons, including former British Army kit that had been ‘deactivated’ but then ‘reactivated’.

He also played a part in the tragic series of events that eventually led to the death of a British Army veteran, the brave and intelligent nationalist Chris Barker, whose experiences on several tours of active service in Ulster led to what was eventually diagnosed as combat stress (PTSD), with consequent alcohol and drug problems.

Chris got himself into debt with an unscrupulous Manchester gangster who (knowing that he was an ex-serviceman) said he could discharge the debt by obtaining an untraceable firearm. The gun was duly obtained – from Ken Kelly – and was used in an internal gangland feud.

A consequence of all this was that Chris Barker had to flee across the Pennines to Sheffield, where he fell into further bad company and died aged 43 in 2001.

By this time Ken Kelly was active in Rochdale BNP and remained a supporter of Nick Griffin’s leadership for several years, though hated by Chris Barker’s family and friends who were also longstanding nationalists and opposed to Griffin. The very first event that H&D editor Mark Cotterill attended (with his then wife Jenny) after returning to the UK in November 2002 was with Ken Kelly and then BNP regional organiser Chris Jackson.

Eventually Ken Kelly left the BNP to rejoin the NF alongside his closest friend in the movement (during his last twenty years), eventual NF chairman Kevin Bryan. Throughout his time in nationalism Ken was a generous donor to nationalist causes, never afraid to put his hand in his pocket (putting some younger comrades to shame) and turning out for activities even as the movement’s numbers began another temporary decline about a decade ago.

Even in his mid-80s Ken Kelly travelled down to London to march to the Cenotaph with fellow NF members. His record in the movement will always remain controversial, but he was one of the last links to an earlier era when it was seriously believed that nationalists would need to arm themselves for race war – a far cry from today’s lunatic online posturing and autistic ‘terrorists’.

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