Key figure in the postwar British fascist movement
When Colin Jordan, who has died aged 85, mounted the platform at a "National Socialist Movement" rally in Trafalgar Square on 1 July 1962, it was the high point of his career on the extreme right. Behind him, a banner proclaiming "Free Britain From Jewish Control" and "Britain Awake" echoed the slogans of Hitler's regime.
Uniformed in the mode of what the NSM termed its "paramilitary force", Spearhead - brown shirt, boots and pagan sunwheel armband - he regaled some 5,000 people with abuse. This crowd comprised around 800 supporters, attracted by the NSM's hatred for Jews and democracy, and some 4,200 opponents. By the time the police arrested the speakers, a riot was under way. Many of Jordan's supporters were injured and their military-style Land Rovers damaged.
Later that year Jordan and his core officers, including John Tyndall, who went on to lead the National Front and found today's British National party, were convicted at the Old Bailey under the 1936 Public Order Act for organising and equipping a paramilitary force for political ends. Jordan was jailed for nine months.
The son of a postman, he was educated at Warwick school and saw war service in the Royal Army Medical Corps. After the war he graduated with a second in history from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. There he became attracted to the ideas of Arnold Leese, who had led the prewar Imperial Fascist League. Leese, who as early as 1928 had advocated the gassing of Jews, had been in open conflict in the 1930s with what was then Britain's main far-right organisation, Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists. Leese labelled the BUF "kosher fascist".
At Cambridge Jordan formed a "nationalist club", and after graduating set up the Birmingham Nationalist Book Club. In 1956 he collected his first conviction, for insulting words and behaviour during a protest by a fascist front, the League of Empire Loyalists. He formed the White Defence League, which he ran from a Notting Hill property left to him by Leese, who had died that same year. The WDL was active at the time of the Notting Hill riots and the racist murder of the Antiguan-born Kelso Cochrane, 50 years ago next month.
Later Jordan merged his group with the "National Labour party" to form the original British National party in 1960. In January 1962, after a disagreement with colleagues who felt Jordan's open nazism was a bar to progress, Jordan and Tyndall stormed out, taking Spearhead. On 20 April, Hitler's birthday, they formed the NSM.
That summer George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi party, entered Britain illegally. At a weekend camp, near Temple Guiting in the Cotswolds, attended by Nazis from around Europe, Rockwell and Jordan produced the "Cotswold Declaration", which led to the formation of a "World Union of National Socialists". Its statement of the "modern national socialist world view" contained principles that are echoed by the British far-right parties today. The presence of these would-be members of the master race in the vicinity led to a vigorous, physical attack by locals.
Jordan made frequent court appearances during the 1960s and 70s. These included taking part in an antisemitic demonstration in support of the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, who was executed in 1962. In the mid-1960s NSM supporters carried out 34 arsons against Jewish buildings in London. One attack on a Stamford Hill theological college left one student dead and another seriously injured. Members of the Jewish defence organisation, the 62 Group, helped the police uncover the perpetrators, who included a Welsh Guardsman, a former paratrooper, several youngsters with social problems and Jordan's then wife, the French heiress Françoise Dior, a niece of the fashion designer. Dior, engaged to Tyndall in 1962, married Jordan in 1963. The marriage collapsed in mid-decade. Jordan was not charged over the arson.
In 1967 Jordan was imprisoned for 18 months for peddling racist literature. In his absence the NSM was re-formed as the British Movement (BM). After his release Jordan led the openly Nazi BM but allowed some of his followers to form the would-be terrorist National Socialist Group. The NSG plotted to assassinate Harold Wilson, the prime minister, stockpiled weapons and obtained car bomb diagrams. After exposure the group dispersed.
In 1975, Jordan was fined for stealing three pairs of red knickers from Tesco, which did little to boost his credibility. He passed on the BM leadership to Michael McLaughlin, a Liverpool milkman.
In later life Jordan devoted himself to advocating the formation of a "vanguard" to carry out "guerrilla activities" against the state until the time was ready for "the physical seizure of state power by our people".
He resurrected Gothic Ripples - a publication Leese had begun in 1945 - and wrote two novels on the theme of a violent takeover of society. More recently he gave a video interview and made small donations to the tiny nazi British People's party.
Conforming to far-right tradition, Jordan denounced other British fascist leaders as cowardly or corrupt. He was, meanwhile, hailed by people sharing his inclinations as the godfather of British nazism. He is survived by his partner Julianna Safrany.
John Colin Campbell Jordan, agitator, born 19 June 1923; died 9 April 2009