• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Swinton Circle Schism Saga

I’m sure everyone is riveted by my continuing efforts (see here) to note developments in the “London Swinton Circle”, a right-wing British organisation dedicated to “traditional Conservatism and Unionism”. I first came across the group a couple of years ago when I was researching a related outfit called the “Springbok Club“, which campaigns for causes such as the return of white rule over Africa (“We want our countries back, and believe this can now only come about by the re-establishment of civilised European rule throughout the African continent”). Both groups are (or were, depending on perspective), run by 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 of the Swinton Circle and there was some unpleasantness. Certain members of the Swinton Circle objected to Harvey’s conduct, and a meeting was held at which it was decided to remove him from his position and to suspend his membership. Harvey’s response has been to ignore this and to carry on as chairman – and as he appears to be the only person with access to edit the original Swinton Circle website he would seem to be de facto unassailable, at least for now.

Harvey’s perspective on all this is given in a comment he left on my blog here. His enemies, meanwhile, have established a rival London Swinton Circle website, with a better domain name and swishier graphics (Harvey’s website uses a dated 1990s-era template). This new website features a letter addressed to Harvey about the decision to remove him:

The meeting was informed that your behaviour was almost without precedent in the history of the Swinton Circle. We say ‘almost’ as you caused a serious incident after the Simon Heffer meeting in September 2005 when you engaged in a furious and public row with Mike Smith…You are further requested that within one day of the receipt of this letter you remove from the web any pages or web pages which purport to represent the Swinton Circle or pretend to be the Swinton Circle, that you cease to refer to the Swinton Circle when advertising Springbok Club meetings and that you do not pass yourself as acting on behalf of the Swinton Circle or allow anyone else to do so.  Should you fail to take these steps the LSC committee will look at recommendations coming from within the committee that you be permanently expelled.  We will also take formal advice as to any steps that need to be taken beyond expulsion.

I have an idea for a happy compromise: Harvey should continue to run the London Swinton Circle, while the opposing camp should take the name “Swinton Circle of London”.

4 Responses

  1. […] that he is now in charge of the “official” London Swinton Circle. A few weeks ago I noted that the Robertson faction’s website included a message directed at Harvey, berating him for […]

  2. […] in part apparently facilitated by this blog’s recent entries on the Springbok Club and the London Swinton Circles (sic). It’s somewhat bitty, so I’ve divided the post […]

  3. 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.

  4. […] each of which has anathematized the other; I have blogged on the subject a number of times (e.g. here).  According to Lobster magazine, back in the 1980s Taha was employed as a researcher by Andrew […]

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