Jan 25, 2016

A Review of "The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement"

via Western Spring

It is always a source of great interest and pleasure for me when someone I am acquainted with, and have built up some degree of friendship with, surprises me by doing something remarkable and something that makes them stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons, as a person of substance, and it has therefore been with keen interest that I have recently devoured the kind of book that I would not normally have paid much attention. The book to which I refer is the newly released, ‘The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement UK & USA 1979-1993’, co-written by one, Robert Forbes and a man who insulted me the first time we met, but who I have come to regard as a friend, one of the ‘bad boys’ of British nationalism, the greatly misunderstood, Eddie Stampton.
The first impression one gains of this book, is that it is not a cheaply produced ‘skinny’ volume of the kind that is so often characteristic of books produced by the publishers of dissident material, particularly those associated with the skinhead music scene. This book has been published by Feral House, an apparently well-healed boutique publisher specialising in counter cultural material that will normally only be of interest to a specialised clientele, or academics researching such material. The book is a sizeable tome extending to over six-hundred pages and is available through all of the normal mainstream sources (ISBN 978-1-62731-024-6), and can be found on sale for example, through Amazon or at Waterstones for £24.99. Also, a limited number of books signed by both authors are available via the following email address: better-off-crazy@live.co.uk.

It should be understood that this book is not a political testament or nationalist call to arms, but a documentary history of the white nationalist skinhead movement; the culture; the politics; the characters and the music. It is written objectively, and the authors have skilfully crafted a vast amount of historical and biographical material, with literally hundreds of vignettes and anecdotal accounts, into an evocative and readable history that will both inform the academic reader and provide a feast of nostalgia for anyone who was there and lived through those times at the heart of the Skinhead music scene.

The introduction begins in typical punchy style with an account of a young skinhead, simply referred to as ‘Colin’, but presumably the ‘Colin H’ referred to in the acknowledgements at the rear, who was set upon by a mixed race gang while on his way to visit his girlfriend, kicked unconscious, and left for dead.

The introduction concludes: “This book is the story of Colin and like-minded nationalists who were involved with Rock Against Communism between the years 1979 and 1993, the story of those who played in the bands, the story of those who produced fanzines and, last but not least, the story of those who went to the concerts.”

Skinhead 3

Eddie Stampton tells of his childhood and his introduction to political activism in 1977-78 when with a few mates he pelted Anti-Nazi League demonstrators with empty milk bottles from the walkways of the multi-storey flats in Stockwell where he lived.

One aspect of Eddie’s past which struck a chord with me was the account of his father; who was a Bren-gunner during World War Two, just as my father was; who suffered serious injuries during that war, just as my father did; and who had understandably acquired a visceral dislike of National Socialism as a result, but who came realise later in life that he and his comrades, many of whom gave their lives or suffered lifelong disability as a result of their injuries, had fought on the wrong side, and would have cheerfully welcomed Hitler if they could have foreseen how Britain would change for the worse as a result of the Allied victory.

Much of the book deals with the history of the archetypal skinhead rock band, Screwdriver, and their charismatic leader and founder of the Blood & Honour skinhead movement, Ian Stuart Donaldson, and among the many songs whose lyrics are published in this book, are those of the Skrewdriver anthem, ‘White Power’ released by White Noise Records:

White Power
I stand and watch my country going down the drain
We are all at fault, we are all to blame
We’re letting them take over, we just let them come
Once we had an Empire, and now we’ve got a slum

White Power! For England!
White Power! Today!
White Power! For Britain
Before it’s too late

Well I’ve seen lots of riots, we just sit and scoff
We’ve seen a lot of muggings, and the judges let ’em off

Well we’ve gotta do something, to try and stop the rot
And the traitors that have used us, they should all be shot

Are we gonna sit and let them come?
Have they got the White man on the run?
Multi-racial society is a mess
We ain’t gonna take much more of this
What do we need?

If we don’t win our battle, and all does not go well
Then it’s apocalypse for Britain, and we’ll see you all in hell.

Skinhead 2

There are lots of anecdotes featuring Eddie Morrison and his ‘Punk Front’ fanzine; extensive references to bands like the Dentists, the Ovaltinees, Screwdriver, and the amusingly named Splodgenessabounds. The friendships between Suggs from Madness and Ian Stuart; and between Ian Stuart and Joe Pearce of NF Bulldog magazine, are all covered, as is the role played by Gary Bushell in the promotion of Oi music that came to supersede punk, and much, much more.

This volume ends in 1993 in the aftermath of the death of Ian Stuart in a car crash on A38 near the Toyota factory at Burnaston after night out in Burton-on-Trent, and there will obviously be a second volume to be published at some time in the future to bring this history up to the present day.

This is a ground-breaking book in that sense that its production is a recognition that there is developing a legitimate White subculture with such wide appeal that it can no longer be completely ignored by the mainstream media.

The authors’ success in getting a book of this kind published and distributed through mainstream channels, lies in the skilful way in which they have presented the material covered in an engaging and readily readable form and not as a political testament or polemic, but as a cultural history, documenting for the first time the musical genres and sub-culture that have had widespread appeal in many countries, extending back over two generations. They have produced a product that will prove highly marketable and therefore profitable for the publishers and distributors with whom they have collaborated, and both Robert Forbes and Eddie Stampton are to be congratulated.

The skinhead music scene isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and to be honest it isn’t really mine, but I appreciate the role it has played in many people’s lives and if you were involved in the skinhead music scene between 1979 and 1993, and retain a love of that subculture and the music of those times, richly imbued as it is with the politics of White survival, then this encyclopaedic historical record of ‘The White Nationalist Skinhead Movement’, will be something you will not want to miss and I recommend it to you.

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