Bloom had been a very minor figure during the Junta years, now he was the last true loyalist
“Following the Junta’s disintegration, the New Nationalist Party (NNP) was formed by Godfrey Bloom in 2005. The NNP made a more conscious effort to appear less radical and more respectable as time went on. There is debate over the extent to which this softening was ‘window dressing’. A pamphlet produced by NNP hierarchy supports the window dressing thesis, and that their attempted image change was a PR stunt and not a lot more. The growth of Civil Assistance in the 2000s, who described themselves as a ‘protest group’, led to mass media coverage. Many have compared Civil Assistance with the NNP but, as Civil Assistance has no coherent political programme they should not be compared on the same terms. Moreover, Civil Assistance's leader, Paul Golding, possessed a street credibility that Bloom did not.”
- The Radical Right in Transition Britain, Matthew Feldman (2013)
It was a weird time to be a fascist in Britain. These days if you attempt to overthrow the democratically elected government you get arrested and thrown in jail - political correctness gone mad! With Hague trying to distance National from the far-right and many leading members of Civil Assistance in prison, there was a great deal of real estate on the fringe of British politics. Three organisations would dominate on team far-right. The first was the New Nationalist Party, led by Godfrey Bloom. Bloom had been smart enough to stay out of the August coup but several leading members of his party, including his Deputy Gerard Batten had been caught up in the events of August, landing them in jail.
Despite Batten’s arrest, the NNP was polling at an all time high of 2%, in previous elections the NNP had never cracked 1%, and it’s vote was spread across the country. Now Bloom was trying to concentrate the party’s resources in the East London and South Yorkshire where the party was strongest. In the Outer East London provincial elections the party won 8% of the vote, if they could repeat that in a general election they had a chance of winning a seat. There was also Civil Assistance, several members of CA had been sent down, either for directly supporting the coup, or for inciting riots on that August night. To fill the void left by the imprisoned members several younger members of Civil Assistance would rise to leadership positions.
Civil Assistance moved from a "restorationist" counter-revolutionary force to a populist anti-establishment protest group
Many of the new Civil Assistance leaders were women, including Jayda Frasen and Anne Waters. Under their leadership Civil Assistance would remain just as violent but would shift its focus away from democracy activists and instead became a more overtly Islamophobic organisation. As well as it’s usual operations such as starting fights in left-wing neighbourhoods, Civil Assistance members would engage in “patrols” through Muslim and South Asian neighbourhoods and “Mosque invasions” where they would target local mosques on days of prayer. The organisation would now claim to embrace democracy, looking to protect British freedoms from radical leftists and Muslims. Civil Assistance also began to operate openly on social media, with “honeytrap” posts on sites like Facebook receiving thousands of likes and shares.
“Civil Assistance has attempted to paint itself in a more pro-democratic light after it's Leader Paul Golding was charged for taking part in the August coup. A dark-web Civil Assistance website boasts that money is flooding into its campaign headquarters. They organisation claims it received 10,000 new members following the passage of the defence white paper. In emails to supporters acting leader Anne Waters claims almost £300,000 has been stumped up by supporters to help fund the group. It claims the apparent groundswell in support is down to the "British public waking from the long, deep sleep".
- The Ugly Face of Civil Assistance, Jamie Doward, The Guardian (2009)
The newest pillar of the British right was the new National Defence Association or NDA. The NDA was a pressure group made up of former military officers who had resigned or been sacked during the reforms to the military. Whilst officially a non-partisan organisation devoted to drumming up support for the military and British defence, the NDA took a strong line against “socialism” and the SDP in particular. NDA leaders, including it’s chairman, Colonel James Cleverly would often take to the airwaves to condemn Johnson’s weakness on national defence and terrorism. Cleverly in particular was seen as having strong connections to the NNP and other far-right political parties.
Cleverly played the party of the patriot, betrayed by his government
The NDA had over 30,000 members and was incredibly well funded, allowing it to run a slick, media savvy operation. Where Civil Assistance was the hammer of the British far-right, the NDA was it’s human face. The NDA would reach the forefront of British politics when Colonel Cleverly was invited onto the BBC’s flagship Question Time
programme. Cleverly’s invite sparked outrage among many on the left, in the days following the coup the BBC had committed not to offer a platform to anyone opposed to democracy or the Cardiff Accords political settlement. An interview with the imprisoned Tommy Sheridan had not been broadcast a few weeks prior out of fears it would break this pro-Cardiff pledge. Yet here they were inviting a man who headed an organisation of soldiers who refused to accept democratic military reforms. The invitation stung of hypocrisy, and it was a perfect soapbox for those on the anti-democratic right.
Cleverly’s invitation had to expect result Anti-fascist groups like Searchlight mounted massive protests outside Colchester Town Hall, where the episode was to be filmed, met by counter-protesters from civil assistance, violence flared, spilling out onto the streets. Meanwhile the charismatic Colonel Cleverly put on a show, Cleverly denied he or the NDA were anti democratic, instead seeking to give British service people the respect they deserved. He slammed both the SDP for turning on the military and William Hague’s National Party for “betraying British service people”. Whilst the British far-right had very little political presence, Cleverly’s appearance on Question Time certainly grabbed headlines and showed Mountbattenite sentiments were still very much active in British society, bubbling below the surface.
“Whilst Britain is still a country of net emigration the migration gap is rapidly closing as more people arrive from overseas and the incentive to move abroad is lessening. However, the influx of migrants thus far has not produced any significant xenophobic parties. With the British far-right failing to make any electoral gains, instead operating via extra-parliamentary means. This makes the UK an exception to the norm in many other EU countries The far-right NNP won a mere 0.3% of the vote in the 2009 general election. There are few French style banlieues or US-style ghettos in the UK. Many British families have relatives who emigrated, helping them to view today’s migrants with understanding.”
- UK at the Crossroads, Lecture by Nicola Banks, Manchester University (2009)
Despite the far-right's protests, opinion polls showed British attitudes to refugees remained overwhelmingly positive, many of them had been refugees once