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Swinton Circle Spat

An interesting Diary piece by Hugh Muir in the Guardian:

Back with discomforting news about discord within the Swinton Circle, the group that inhabits the murky ground between the crazies on the far right and the outer reaches of David Cameron’s Conservative party…There was, it seems, a furore about the alleged infiltration of the meeting and of the group itself by NF/BNP types who only serve to lower the tone. Bad blood between Alan Harvey, the London chair, and Gregory Lauder-Frost, the former political secretary of the Monday Club, appeared to sour everything – reflecting what one web poster described as “scenes more redolent of a bear garden than a meeting of a respected Conservative organisation”…

Both Harvey and Lauder-Frost have appeared on this blog in the past: Harvey is a former National Front (NF) activist who used to edit SA [i.e. South Africa] Patriot magazine, and he maintains that examples of racism in the magazine only slipped through because he didn’t realise what they meant. As well as chairing the Swinton Circle, he also runs the Springbok Club, which agitates for a return for imperialist rule over Africa. As I noted last year, the Club came under journalistic scrutiny when journalist Johann Hari noted in the New Republic that right-wing historian Andrew Roberts had spoken to the group (Roberts, inevitably, made noises about “libel”). Harvey also has links with WorldNetDaily‘s South African correspondent, Anthony LoBaido.

Lauder-Frost has also been involved in a number of groups: in the mid-1980s he helped to found the British branch of Western Goals (see here), which had links with the World Anti-Communist League and with the John Birch Society. After the demise of the US parent organisation in the wake of the Iran-Contra scandal, this British branch became the Western Goals Institute, and it became increasingly controversial, forging links with Jean-Marie Le Pen and with Clive Derby-Lewis of the Conservative Party of South Africa. More recently, Lauder-Frost took part in the Right Now! conferences held at the Mark Masons’ Hall in central London; Searchlight reported in December 2006 that

The usual suspects were there in force. They included Allan Robertson (London Swinton Circle), Gregory Lauder-Frost (Traditional Britain Group)…[and] Dr Sean Gabb (Libertarian Alliance)…There was a large British National Party contingent too, numbering around 20. (1)

The British National Party attendees included the absurd Rev. Robert West, whom I blogged here. One BNP member

…sat in from his colleagues nestled between Mike Smith of the Conservative Democratic Alliance (CDA) and Right Now! columnist Robert Henderson…

Many delegates were extremely well disposed to the BNP contingent, who in turn were clearly delighted to be hobnobbing with figures such as Gregory Lauder-Frost and an array of individuals from the Freedom Association and UKIP, all of whom knew exactly whom they were talking to.

Mike Smith is better-known as Mike Keith-Smith, and he was the victor in a 2006 libel case which I blogged here. He shares Lauder-Frost’s enmity towards Harvey, which he expresses on a discussion site:

Personally I don’t see this as seriously damaging the Tories but Harvey is a loose cannon. If I were Cameron I would expel him.

Lauder-Frost adds:

Not being a Guardian reader I did not see that article. But it should be on record that I said nothing at that meeting. Absolutely nothing. My behaviour was impeccable.

It is certainly wise to be as accurate as possible when writing about these kinds of groups; discussing one blog which had written something negative about Lauder-Frost, Keith-Smith warned that if the site concerned ever mentioned him he would “leave them without a pot to piss in.”

(1) David Williams, “Right Here, Right Now!“, in Searchlight, Dec 2006 pp. 14-15.

7 Responses

  1. […] Circle Spat Sequel Posted on August 28, 2008 by Richard Bartholomew Last week I did a posting on the London Swinton Circle and the Springbok Club, giving a bit of background to a diary piece in […]

  2. […] Guardian has a third diary piece concerning members of the Swinton Circle (see my previous entries here and here for background): … They have looked at their group as led by Alan Harvey, a former […]

  3. […] Alan Harvey, who is British but who formerly lived in South Africa. However, a few months ago, as was noted in the Guardian, some of Harvey’s political enemies on the right showed up a public meeting […]

  4. […] Club (more on Harvey, who longs for the return of “European rule” over Africa, here). The Northern Ireland Springbok Club is now apparently defunct. Possibly related posts: […]

  5. Postings in which anonymous members of the two Swinton Circles attack each other have been removed. The reasons: (a) I don’t want to be liable for any comment that “crosses the line”; and (b) there have been allegations of impersonation. Members of the two groups are still welcome to provide information about their activities that either adds to or clarifies anything I have written.

  6. […] Democratic Alliance (who has featured on this blog several times previously, for example here and here) described him on a forum in 2007 as a “personal friend for […]

  7. […] career (she became correspondence secretary to John Major), and that she subsequently dated Andrew Roberts. The word “perhaps” before “personal rejection” is an indication that the […]

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