Colin Jordan: Britain’s nazi godfather

Searchlight Magazine May 2009 by Gerry Gable | Tuesday, 26 May 2009

When Colin Jordan, who died last month aged 85, mounted the platform at a national socialist rally in Trafalgar Square on 1 July 1962, it was the high point of a political career on the extreme right. Behind him a massive banner bore the words “Free Britain From Jewish Control” and “Britain Awake”, echoing the slogans of Hitler’s Third Reich.

Colin Jordan 1962 When Colin Jordan, who died last month aged 85, mounted the platform at a national socialist rally in Trafalgar Square on 1 July 1962, it was the high point of a political career on the extreme right. Behind him a massive banner bore the words “Free Britain From Jewish Control” and “Britain Awake”, echoing the slogans of Hitler’s Third Reich.

Wearing the uniform of his National Socialist Movement’s paramilitary force Spearhead – brown shirt, military boots and pagan Sunwheel symbol armband – he spat abuse at some 5,000 people in the square. They consisted of around 800 nazis attracted by the NSM’s hatred for Jews and democracy and some 4,200 opponents.

By the time the police intervened to arrest the speakers a riot was under way. Many of Jordan’s supporters were injured and their military-style Land Rovers damaged.

Later that year Jordan and his core officers, including John Tyndall, who went on to lead the National Front and found today’s British National Party, were convicted at the Old Bailey under the 1936 Public Order Act for organising and equipping a paramilitary force for political ends. He was jailed for nine months.

The son of a postman, Jordan was educated at Warwick School and saw war service in the Royal Army Medical Corps. After he was demobbed he read history at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, graduating with second class honours. There he became attracted to the ideas of Arnold Leese, who had led the pre-war Imperial Fascist League. Leese, a vet and camel specialist, who as early as 1928 had advocated the gassing of Jews, had been in open conflict with Britain’s main fascist organisation, Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts. Leese called the BUF “kosher fascists” and Mosley’s followers attacked Leese’s meetings.

At Cambridge Jordan formed a “Nationalist Club” and after graduating set up the Birmingham Nationalist Book Club. In 1956 he collected his first conviction, for insulting words and behaviour during a protest by the League of Empire Loyalists. That year he formed the White Defence League, which he ran from a property in Notting Hill left to him in Leese’s will. The WDL was active at the time of the Notting Hill riots and the racist murder of Antiguan-born Kelso Cochrane 50 years ago this month.

Later Jordan merged his group with the hardline National Labour Party to form the original British National Party in 1960. In January 1962, after a disagreement with colleagues who felt Jordan’s open nazism was a bar to progress, Jordan and Tyndall stormed out, taking Spearhead. On 20 April, a date chosen because it was Hitler’s birthday, they formed the National Socialist Movement. The NSM’s broadsheet, The National Socialist appeared with a picture of Adolf Hitler captioned “His spirit lives on”.

That summer George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party, entered the UK illegally. At a weekend camp near Temple Guiting in the Cotswolds, attended by nazis from around Europe, Rockwell and Jordan hammered out the Cotswold Declaration, which led to the formation of the World Union of National Socialists. Its statement of the “modern national socialist world view” contained principles that have several similarities with the ideology of the BNP today. The presence of these would-be champions of the master race led to a vigorous, physical attack by local people who shot the swastika out of the flag flying over the camp.

Colin Jordan and his racist lunatics caused violence at a campaign rally in the 1965 Leyton by-election in which the former Labour Home Secretary Patrick Gordon Walker was trying to return to Parliament. Left to right: Danny Bartram, who had been detained in a military mental hospital during the war, Françoise Dior, then Jordan’s wife, and Jordan himself, whose psychotic profile prompted the police to provide armed protection for the candidates
Colin Jordan and his racist lunatics caused violence at a campaign rally in the 1965 Leyton by-election in which the former Labour Home Secretary Patrick Gordon Walker was trying to return to Parliament. Left to right: Danny Bartram, who had been detained in a military mental hospital during the war, Françoise Dior, then Jordan’s wife, and Jordan himself, whose psychotic profile prompted the police to provide armed protection for the candidates

Jordan made frequent court appearances during the 1960s and 1970s for his activities, including taking part in an antisemitic demonstration in support of Adolf Eichmann the architect of the Nazis’ “Final Solution”, who was executed in 1962. In the mid 1960s NSM “commandos” carried out 34 arsons against Jewish buildings in London. One attack on a theological college in Stamford Hill left one student dead and another seriously injured. Intelligence officers from the Jewish defence organisation, the 62 Group, uncovered the perpetrators after the police failed to find them. They included a serving Welsh Guardsman, a former Paratrooper, several youngsters with social problems and Jordan’s wife, the French heiress Françoise Dior, a niece of the fashion designer. Dior, engaged to Tyndall in 1962, married Jordan in 1963. The marriage was short-lived. Jordan was not charged over the arsons, despite having prior knowledge of at least one.

In 1967 Jordan was imprisoned for 18 months for peddling racist literature. In his absence the NSM was re-formed in 1968 as the British Movement (BM). After his release Jordan led the openly nazi BM but allowed some of his followers to form the National Socialist Group (NSG). Would-be terrorists, the NSG plotted to assassinate Prime Minister Harold Wilson, stockpiled weapons and obtained car bomb diagrams. After exposure the group dispersed.

In 1975, Jordan was convicted and fined for stealing three pairs of red knickers from Tesco. His credibility damaged, he passed on the leadership of BM to Michael McLaughlin, a Liverpool milkman and son of an Irish Republican and socialist who fought in the International Brigades in Spain.

Throughout his political career Jordan had developed his nazi ideology in a wealth of articles and a number of books. His first book, Fraudulent Conversion, appeared in 1955. It was an attack on what he called Jewish money power. In 1962 he published a pamphlet, Britain Reborn, in which he outlined the ideas behind the NSM.

Jordan resurrected Leese’s Gothic Ripples and the 1980s and during the rest of his life devoted himself to advocating the formation of an elite national socialist “Vanguard” to carry out “guerrilla activities” to “break down” the present system until the time was ready for “the physical seizure of state power by our people”. He condemned the BNP for contesting elections, although he had done so himself in the early 1970s.

In 1993 he published a short work of fiction entitled Merrie England – 2000, which depicted England under “alien control”. The book was one of 11 items of his literature for which he was charged under race relations legislation, but the prosecution was postponed indefinitely on the grounds that he was too ill to stand trial. He had exaggerated his heart condition because he was terrified of going to prison again.

A sequel, The Uprising, described a revolt against democracy in Britain. It was a poor version of William Pierce’s The Turner Diaries, the fictional account of a race war which inspired the Oklahoma City bombing. It contained thinly disguised characters who were to be assassinated or tortured ranging from the Home Secretary to the editor of Searchlight. To avoid arrest, Jordan had The Uprising published in the USA, from where it could be ordered through nazi channels.

More recently Jordan gave a video interview and made small donations to the tiny nazi British People’s Party.

Although Jordan had denounced other British fascist leaders as cowardly or corrupt he was widely revered on the far right as the godfather of British nazism.

  • John Colin Campbell Jordan, born 19 June 1923, died 9 April 2009
Jordan v Searchlight

Maurice Ludmer In 1976 Maurice Ludmer (pictured), the editor of Searchlight, faced Colin Jordan in a Birmingham Magistrates’ Court. It was the first and last time that Britain’s nazi godfather was to get Searchlight into court. He was trying to sue Maurice and the magazine for criminal libel. It was a decade after we had helped send his synagogue arson squads to prison followed shortly by his wife at the time, Françoise Dior.

The hearing by a stipendiary magistrate well known for his rightwing views ended in farce after two hearings when despite his partiality he had no choice but to throw Jordan’s case out.

He did however attack the magazine from the bench, describing it as a scurrilous publication because it had given notice of when groups such as Jordan’s British Movement and the National Front were to appear on the streets of Birmingham.

Maurice, as president of Birmingham Trades Council, the largest such body in western Europe, was able to mobilise large numbers of workers and students whenever the fascists reared their heads. Far from this causing uncontrolled violence, the Deputy Chief Constable of the West Midlands thanked trade unionists for making legitimate protests and halting the fascists without mindless violence against the police.

The term scurrilous was used against the great tradition of British pamphleteers who wrote in support of a free press and democratic society. The journalist Paul Foot said we should bear the magistrate’s words with pride rather than in sorrow.

The funniest scene in the court was when the magistrate tried to stop us producing a photo of Jordan, Dior and a gang of men, who included a number of the synagogue arsonists, all giving Hitler salutes outside Marylebone Magistrate’s Court in London.

The magistrate in his wisdom suggested they could be a group of friends waving off a couple who had just married. A stage whisper could be heard across the court: “not at my bloody wedding they didn’t”.

How Maurice would by proud today of the massive HOPE not hate campaign and especially the huge support from his beloved trade union movement.

All the Searchlight team hope that, if there is any life after death, Maurice knows about Jordan’s futile attempt last year to sue Gerry Gable, our publisher, and the magazine for describing him as a terrorist for his role in the synagogue arsons. When it was made clear to his lawyers that we had documented evidence to prove our words and would fight him every inch of the way, we never heard another word from him.

Maurice Ludmer, 1926-1981

Lotta Continua, Maurice


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