None of the Above: Floating Voter considers famous fringe candidates from elections past
No 2: Colin Jordan
Colin Jordan was a stalwart of British fascism during its post-war doldrums, and over the following decades he was involved in most of the right-wing parties that subsequently emerged and dissolved.
As one of the White Defence League, he was synonymous with the ‘KBW’ graffiti (‘Keep Britain White’) that was daubed on London walls during the late 1950s.
At an international conference in the Cotswolds in the summer of 1962, Jordan and George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party, established the World Union of National Socialists and declared Jordan its World Führer.
When he married, it was not a traditional C of E job. Jesus, in Jordan’s view, was ‘the counterfeit Christ of the Christians’. Jordan was literally a Hitler-worshipper, declaring Der Führer a ‘messiah” and a ‘saviour’. He married the fiancé of fellow Hitlerite John Tyndal while he was in prison, leading to a falling out between the two men. Françoise Dior, was Christian Dior’s niece, and a die-hard national socialist herself. The marriage ceremony involved mingling their Aryan blood over a copy of Mein Kampf.
While leading the paramilitary group Spearhead, he was raided by police, who seized Nazi memorabilia, guns, blades, uniforms, and a container of weed killer, relabeled ‘Jew killer’. He was jailed for this, and then jailed again in 1965, under race relations laws.
That year, Jordan led a dramatic intervention in the Leyton by-election, which involved a Labour candidate, foreign secretary Patrick Gordon Walker, who needed a safe seat after losing Smethwick at the general election after a racist campaign by the Conservatives.
Socialist Review has more on that:
Conservative candidate, Peter Griffiths, defeated the sitting Labour MP, Patrick Gordon Walker, in the 1964 general election. As a Tory councillor, Griffiths had run a vicious anti-immigrant campaign for several years. Gordon Walker’s response all too quickly moved over into the territory occupied by the racists. His local party’s eve of poll leaflet pleaded with the electors of Smethwick:
‘Be fair. Immigrants only arrived in Smethwick in large numbers during the past ten years–while the Tory government was in power. You can’t blame Labour or Gordon Walker for that. Labour favours continued control of immigration, stricter health checks and deportation of those convicted of criminal offences. Labour will give local authorities greater power to help overcrowding. Labour will provide new and better housing.’
Labour’s surrender to Griffiths’ campaign to halt immigration explains why Gordon Walker lost.
Tory candidate Peter Griffiths, a local Black Country headmaster, was reported to have circulated the slogan, “If you want a nigger for a neighbour – vote Labour.”
Griffiths refused to disown it: “I would not condemn any man who said that,” he told the Times during his election campaign. “I regard it as a manifestation of popular feeling.”
It was a big news story. The BBC reported:
The US political activist Malcolm X visited Smethwick, in the West Midlands, just nine days before he was assassinated. The civil rights campaigner visited on 12 February 1965 because at the time Smethwick was considered a hotbed of racial tension. The previous year, Conservative MP Peter Griffiths had won the Smethwick seat from Labour on the slogan: “If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour”. Some residents of Marshall Street were calling for the council to buy up empty houses and make them available to white families only.
Jordan revelled in it.
Jordan attempted to storm the platform during Gordon Walker’s public meeting, only to be ejected by force. Watch the clip closely and you will see Denis Healey (Secretary of State for Defence) checking his knuckles after delivering the decisive blow.
Jordan’s run-ins with the authorities continued. In 1975 he was fined for stealing three items of women’s underwear from Tesco in Leamington Spa. His defence rested on three claims: that they were intended for his 89-year-old mother; that he had stuffed them in his trouser pockets because it was ‘embarrassing’ carrying them round the shop; and that he was the victim of a Jewish plot.
Postscript: Patrick Gordon Walker lost the by-election to the Tories by a couple of hundred votes but won it back at the general election the following year.
By ‘Floating Voter’