by Eddy Morrison
When at the end of 1977 we wound up the Leeds based British National Party and I advised in a final bulletin that members should join the far bigger National Front, I was pleased at the time that our organisation remained intact and that the BNP and the NF in the various towns and cities where we had a parallel organisation - the BNP and NF membership merged quite easily.
Our Sheffield organiser, John Wood told the Northern Press at the time. "We go into the National Front not because of a watering down of our principles, but to take our principles and tactics INTO the NF."
It was a few months before my own membership was accepted and for that short period of time - served to show the remaining "populists" in the NF that I could simply not just march back in, I spent my time speaking and editing the now independent "British News", the old BNP monthly which now supported the NF.
In 1978, I was accepted into the NF and shortly became Yorkshire Regional Organiser. This was a time of rapid growth for the NF and there were literally THOUSANDS of members pouring through the organisation. I had thought that after leaving a position of National Leadership, I would have an easy time of it with a lesser role in the NF, I had thought wrong. My days in the ever expanding NF were fuller than ever.
I was responsible for one of the strongest NF Regions in the country. Our strongest branches were Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Halifax, Sheffield, Hull and York. We also had active groups in Doncaster, Barnsley, Rotherham, Harrogate and quite a number of smaller towns.
Leeds for instance we had no less than three full and very active branches.
Leeds West, East and South. For a national London demonstration and especially
for the annual November Remembrance day march - we would usually take three
full coaches from Leeds sometimes four. Bradford would muster two. Members were coming in
at an unprecedented rate.
(Left: Former BNP activists on a NF demo' in Leeds)
We were also scoring well in local elections and national by-elections, very often pushing the Liberal Party into fourth place. Despite these successes, we still faced challenges from the Tory "patriot" wing of the party and this resulted in yet another split when John Kingsley-Read and others left the NF to form the short lived, but quite successful during it's time, National Party. Other tiny splits followed but these soon withered away and the NF was now a nationally known organisation (and beyond) and was giving the ZOG dominated System some real worries.
In Leeds, the BNP members in integrating themselves into the local Leeds NF, played a dominant part in getting the NF back onto the streets and hitting back at the equally fast growing Anti-Nazi League. Members of the NF vied with each other in "badge collecting". To get these, a White Nationalist had to physically remove a badge or badges from a red paper seller or anti-NF demonstrator. There was even a league (I believe) in who could get the most badges. No red's badge was safe. I once watched one of our members at a Hull activity tackle a red paper seller and come back with no less than five badges! Unfortunately he got arrested for this but I think he topped the unofficial league that week!
This was also the time when Punk Rock (begun in 1976) was becoming the dominant wave in the youth music scene. At first I was bewildered when I saw some of our once clean cut members wearing safety pins and dressing in ex-charity shop clothes. However, I could also see that Punk was becoming a powerful weapon for anyone who could turn it politically. The reds were already attempting to do this with their newly formed "Rock Against Racism", and many teenagers went to their concerts, not because they were anti-racist but simply to hear the music.
couldn't be allowed to continue. We either had to condemn Punk or use it.
I chose the latter option and started a spoof fanzine called "Punk Front"
which featured a NF logo with safety pin in it. To my great surprise, "Punk
Front" was a huge success and soon, especially in Leeds, NF members and
supporters were going to the biggest Punk Club around - the infamous "F
Club". I started to regularly go to the club and NF Punks were recruiting
(Right: Leeds 'Punk Front' members on a NF demo' circa 1978)
In a few months, the NF was the dominant political force on the big punk scene in Leeds. Music papers such as "Sounds" and "The New Musical Express" were taking an interest in us. Gary Bushell was sent up to look into the phenomena. We had pro-NF letters published in many music papers and other punks started bringing out pro-NF fanzines. We even started two bands - the Ventz and the Dentists. Both these bands were to feature later on in the start of "Rock Against Communism"
The reds in Leeds hit back by getting their own bands onto the stage of the club. They didn't last long. One of their bands "The Mekons" had a particularly rough time of it. I remember one night the BBC "Old Grey Whistle Test" with John Peel turned up at the club to film the bands (and the audience). The first band on was, as I recall, the Mekons, whose first song was "The National Front is a F*****g Nazi Front". Of course this went down as welcome as a pork pie at a Jewish wedding. The audience was about 80% NF punks and skins and the first lines of the song were greeted by a shower of beer glasses. Then the crowd stormed the stage and the evening came to an eventful end with the BBC crew scattering for cover as a pro-NF band took to the stage instead and a slightly punk version of "Rule Britannia" finished off the evening. I remember standing at the bar and surveying the scene. The reds and media had fled. The NF were triumphant amongst a litter of broken chairs, bottles and broken glass. In those days we considered that a successful evening!
PART 7 PART 9