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Paul Barnes was born in London in September 1946 and died following a motor accident in Essex in July 2012. He leaves a wife and three grown up daughters.
Paul was the son of Bill Barnes, a pre-war Blackshirt who never gave up the struggle. Bill took us to meetings of Mosley’s Union Movement at Trafalgar Square and Kensington Town Hall in the late Fifties. In 1959 we were in Trafalgar Square when John Bean held a meeting of the National Labour Party.
This was before Colin Jordan’s NSM rally of April 1962. After that the Reds denied free speech to their opponents while the state looked on.
Paul and I wanted to join the BNP immediately but Bill insisted that we wait a while. As Paul was 13 and I was 14 this was not unreasonable. In 1960 we counter-demonstrated at an anti-Apartheid rally in Trafalgar Square. John Bean wrote in “Many Shades of Black”:
The biggest meeting was in Trafalgar Square on Sunday February 28th, with the BNP not yet a week old. BNP members turned up with posters and leaflets proclaiming “Stand by White South Africa,” whilst a BNP loudspeaker van toured round the square with a similar message. Also in attendance were many Mosley supporters and Sir Oswald in person, with Bill Webster from St Pancras North standing by his side. BNP and Mosley’s Union Movement were soon forced to become allies for the day, as fierce fighting took place after members of the anti-fascist Jewish 43 Group pointed out known right-wingers to the meeting stewards. Skirmishing continued all the way down Whitehall and then Victoria Street as Mosley led his men back to their HQ at Vauxhall Bridge Road.
Mosley dominated the press and TV coverage of the event, but the BNP was also mentioned. We felt quite satisfied at the publicity gained within our first week. However, it led to a bitter attack upon me personally, by Jeffrey Hamm, Mosley’s loyal lieutenant, in their paper Union. The message was clear: there was to be no co-operation among the radical right as far as they were concerned.
But instead of joining UM or the BNP we joined the League of Empire Loyalists. The LEL was led by AK Chesterton who had broken away from the British Union of Fascists in 1937. We spent about two years in the LEL heckling other people’s meetings and getting bashed up for our trouble; this included Harold MacMillan’s Tory Party Conference at Llandudno in October 1962. The LEL magazine Candour reported on a CND meeting held at the Royal Albert Hall in November 1962: “You don’t speak for the people of Britain,” roared out the scornful voice of Austen Brooks from a seat a few rows in front of the platform. “Well, except for one or two cranks in the League of Empire Loyalists…” Collins began, but he got no further. From a box on his right appeared a Loyalist banner reading: “Keep Britain’s Bomb. Defend Britain from Red Attack,” while the voice of Rosine de Bounevialle, amplified by a loudhailer and supported by those of Peter Bray, Paul Trevelyan and others repeated the message with embellishments to the startled priestly politico. Nor did he find his comfort on looking to his left, for there he encountered another “Keep Britain’s Bomb” banner supported by the combined voices of Moyna Traill-Smith, Lorna Angelo, Stan Edwards, Sue Evelyn, Bob Huxtable, Elizabeth Massey, Angela McCrone and Phyllis Raffin.
Finally Collins repeated: “On behalf of the people of Britain,” and in the arena Avril Walters, Bill Baillie, Paul Barnes, Geraldine Brown, David Carter, Jimmy Magee and Kathlene Sweet took up the cry: “You don’t speak for the people of Britain.” As Collins attempted to continue the organist added to the confusion by trying to drown the Loyalist hecklers with deep bass groans from the organ and succeeded in drowning the voice of Collins himself.
In August 1962 we attended the BNP camp at Andrew Fountain’s estate at Narford in Norfolk. This was a peaceful interlude but a few weeks later we were ambushed by the Reds at the “Battle of Balls Pond Road.” Paul and I escaped injury but Bill Barnes was amongst the wounded.
We took part in the election campaigns in Deptford and Southall and held lively street corner meetings in Bethnal Green, Earls Court and a spot outside Brixton Library now known as Windrush Square.
In those days the Reds were trying to smash us off the streets but we confused them by holding meetings as far afield as Birmingham. Peter McMenemie reported in the BNP newspaper Combat in July 1965 that Paul Barnes had opened the meeting in Hitchen market place. This period came to an end in 1965 when I took off to South Africa and Paul got married, for the first time.
Paul was never an active member of the National Front but he supported them until the collapse of 1979. He also supported the Front National when he lived in France and took part in the presidential campaign of 2002 when Jean Marie Le Pen frightened the Establishment by beating the socialist candidate in the first round.
His philosophy was simple and never changed. He believed in race and nation and hated communism and finance capitalism.
Paul had a career in local government before buying a pub restaurant which he ran successfully until his retirement. He was a great traveller who visited Asia and Africa.
He enjoyed Mediterranean culture, especially the food and wine and he lived for many years in France, Spain and Italy. But his first love was England where he walked the green fields of East Anglia with his faithful lurcher Sally.
Paul was opposed to Third World immigration but he was not a bigot or a reactionary. He maintained that immigration was all about cheap labour and he never blamed the immigrants themselves. He told me after a trip to Kenya: “we will never stop Africans and Indians coming to Europe until we improve their conditions of life at home.” He was opposed to exploitation and thought it wrong for Africans to be growing out-of-season vegetables for our supermarkets instead of growing food for themselves.
He was a supporter of agricultural self-sufficiency but an opponent of the EU which he considered to be a bankers’ racket.
He was an admirer of Enoch Powell and he even had a soft spot for Margaret Thatcher but he had a sense of fair play that distinguished him from most right-wingers.
He was sympathetic to the Arabs and condemned Dave Cameron and the Tory Party for supporting the Zionist occupation of Palestine by the state of Israel. But his indignant letters to the Daily Telegraph were never published.
I knew Paul Barnes since we were at St Mark’s Church of England primary school together sixty years ago. We grew up together and hitch hiked around Europe and the Britain as teenagers.
We didn’t always see eye to eye on politics; I believed in Europe a Nation and he believed in a Europe of the Nations. When I returned to the UK in 1970 I gravitated to Union Movement and Paul stayed with the NF. But we shared the same basic principles and we had the same enemies. I valued his friendship and admired his loyalty and courage. There was no better man to have on your side. The following article appeared in Nation in April 1974. Although it was written 38 years ago, when Paul was 28 years-old, it still gives an impression of the man and his political priorities.
Social Issues by Paul Barnes
“Centrepoint Occupied by the People” ran the headline in The Sun; “The squatters consisted of a Bank Manager, Doctors, Architects” – all members of that elusive quantity “The People”.
Thus we watched a major coup by the international left, well organised, well executed, guaranteed to receive maximum publicity with maximum public sympathy and approval; sympathy and approval for whom; the ratepayers of Camden who have subsidised and suffered the dealings of Harry Hyams and company for so long? The young house buyer who has watched the cost of a basic essential – the need for housing – rise out of all proportion to his income? Or was it for Ron Bailey and his team of professional demonstrators, who far from caring for the problems of the indigenous population of Central London see it as a convenient bandwagon upon which they can expound the doctrines of the revolutionary left?
Surely if ever there was a cause célèbre for the radical right this was it; but where were we? On the very night of the occupation some 3,000 of us marched through Central London protesting against the Common Market. To say that is not to suggest that the issues of the Market are not of desperate importance but to state that the social conditions of millions of our fellow Britons, and the struggle against the usurer, are of equal importance to the fight against the Council of Europe.
Any right thinking person must cringe when reading the Evening Standard headline: “Peter Hain to Lead The Fight Against The Motorways”, what does this invidious little school ma’am know of the misery of living next to the major motor routes through London, or once again, is the motivation behind community politics a convenient bandwagon from which to peddle international socialism? The fight against non-European immigration is of national importance but the fight against the money-motivated road lobby and aviation lobby is of almost equal importance. I see little advantage in living in a racially desirable society in conditions of technological madness.
Who is better equipped to lead the fight against the destroyers disguised as progressives than those who love and understand their national heritage – the radical right? We must involve ourselves in the social issues, it is the right who should lead the fight against alien usury in housing; it is the right who should lead the fight against technological destruction. Too long have the Marxists made the running in the field of social issues, we are involved in politics, why give the left all the good tunes?