There’s an increasing concern about neo-fascist infiltration of school playgrounds today – so it’s worth a quick glance back to what the situation was like in the late 70s and early 80s when neo-Nazis were very active among school pupils.
Football terraces were good recruitment grounds for the far right but schools were another arena of activity. In one report, there was a quote from a fascist group:
We welcome young people. We make or break them. Many are coming to us with the rise in unemployment. Skinheads are prime material – raw and aggressive. They need an identity. The whole point of getting children is to indoctrinate them. We are building a Nazi society through the youth of today.
Chilling stuff. The British Movement and National Front were particularly active. I recall one pupil from my school returning from a BM conference (from memory in Brussels in 1980) replete with skinhead cut and a perma-snarl. He walked up to me in the school library and informed me that I was a “pinko…leftie…etc”. John Tyndall, chairman of the NF in the 70s said that “until children reach an age at which they are able to determine their own values, some sort of values have to be instilled into them”. According to the 1974 NF manifesto, schools were to be segregated on the basis of race and liberal studies – or “academic Marxism” as they called it – would be banned.
The NF’s youth wing took over the magazine Bulldog and that became its main recruiting tool in schools. It included a campaign to remove “red teachers” from the classroom. They sometimes found themselves competing with other far right groups like Viking Youth, led by Paul Jarvis – who was also looking for recruits in the Scout movement! The BM produced a publication called Fact Finder, which included a “Lie Detector”. According to this, the heroes of the Nuremburg Trials were those on trial! Needless to say, holocaust denial featured highly.
Reported incidents in 1980/81 included:
- May 1980 – black pupils at a Camden school attacked by skinheads from the National Socialist Party of the United Kingdom
- October 1980 – BM recruiting at schools in Dartford, Kent
- October 1980 – Young National Front campaign against a teacher at a Dover school
- February 1981 – Manchester school daubed with swastikas and NF symbols
- March 1981 – 33 pupils, mostly Asian, leave a classroom at a Birmingham school before a fire-bomb explosion – racist attack suspected