You may not have heard of the Swinton Circle (SC), and that is because it is not the sort of organisation to advertise its presence too openly, preferring to operate behind the scenes to achieve its goals. But its nature can be put directly: the SC was formed by those on the Powellite right of the Tory Party, and it is both nationalist and racist in character. It rails against the EU. It advocates forced repatriation to North Africa.
The SC describes non-white citizens of the UK as “Colonists”. It also characterises those people as “ethnics”. It rails against all human rights law. Those it considers of acceptable stance are “Patriots”. It has particular aversion to followers of The Prophet. Yet, despite all of this, the SC enjoys the patronage of a number of Tory MPs, all of whom, not by coincidence, are advocating that Britain leave the EU.
There are, as with so many fringe groups on both right and left, two Swinton Circle groupings, the original SC and the London Swinton Circle (LSC). We need not trouble ourselves further with the distinction between the two, as both are equally racist and bigoted. What can give cause for concern is the list of Tories associated with them.
Back in 2011, Tory MP Philip Hollobone, who represents Kettering, addressed the SC. But he’s a relatively small fish. There is, though, his neighbour in Wellingborough, Peter Bone, who addressed the LSC in 2008 (not long after, the LSC entertained UKIP MEP Tom Wise). And far more senior Tories than those are involved with these groups.
The Guardian recently revealed that two former cabinet ministers have also addressed the LSC, both in late 2014. The first of these was Owen Paterson, and the second none other than former Defence Secretary Liam Fox, still highly thought of by many on the Tory right, and still - implausibly - being spoken of as a future candidate for the leadership. The LSC has also hosted Tory bullshitter extraordinaire Philip Davies. And, to no surprise at all, observers of UKIP will not be surprised that the LSC has also hosted Nigel Farage.
It gets worse: when William Hague departed the Tory leadership, the SC threw its weight behind Iain Duncan Smith, who has also been linked to a series of organisations on the far right. And it gets worse still: as Pride’s Purge has discovered, the LSC is claimed to be a sister organisation of the Springbok Club, another far-right organisation, and both are in turn part of an umbrella group called the Patriotic Forum.
One of the earliest subscribers to the Springbok Club’s newsletter was a man called Thomas Mair, who lived in Batley, West Yorkshire. That’s the same name as the man who has been remanded in custody on suspicion of murdering Labour MP Jo Cox last Thursday, and who is appearing at the Old Bailey today.
All those anti-EU MPs and MEPs, all with links to a particularly nasty racist fringe group, which in turn is linked to other nasty racist fringe groups, one of which has a singularly unfortunate following. I’ll just leave that one there.