Image: Patriotic Alternative: Into the dustbins of history
Last weekend Mark Collett’s pretence of promoting “nationalist unity” collapsed. He was only able to keep up the facade for a few weeks, and now trouble is brewing. PA’s split with Collett’s former number three man Kenny Smith is now bitter and permanent. And to make matters worse, PA is now falling out with other smaller rivals whom Collett had hoped to turn into allies against Smith and his new Homeland Party.
Inage: Yerbury in Leeds on 10th June 2023
The latest row is over PA’s failure to support two cross-party events, in Leeds on June 10th and Elgin on June 17th. Collett deliberately withheld PA backing from these rallies due to his dislike of another former ally, Alex Yerbury, who was the main speaker at both.
With most of the British far right confused and depressed, Alex Yerbury sees himself as the man of destiny. Where others see defeat and division, Yerbury sees opportunity. Cometh the hour, cometh the man.
An Australian-born former soldier, Yerbury first drew Searchlight’s attention as one of the most active members of Patriotic Alternative. In March this year he broke off from PA to start a new group with the grand title National Support Detachment of which he styles himself “Commanding Officer”. NSD’s very title shows Yerbury’s insistent focus on a military style. But while most British nazis in 2023 keep that sort of thing in their bedrooms and hope their parents don’t discover their browsing habits, Yerbury aims to take back the streets.
This month was meant to be Yerbury’s big chance. He calls for Britain’s fascists to put aside ideological and personal disputes, and like many an ex-soldier imagines that the British people are looking for authoritarian “common sense” solutions. For Yerbury, these solutions would be obvious if we could get rid of establishment traitors, trendy leftwingers, trade unionists, etc. In fact, if we got rid of everyone who disagrees with Alex Yerbury, he thinks Britain would be a much better place.
To give him credit, while his views are repellent, Yerbury is (unlike most other leaders of British far right groups) neither a conman nor a sexual predator nor an obvious thug. He’s just a lower-rank version of the various colonels and brigadiers who thought they could sort out 1970s Britain by shooting trade unionists and conscripting longhaired students into national service.
What everyone else bar Yerbury can see is that his supporters are mainly drunks and hooligans, with a handful of the usual hardcore nazis hanging around still waiting for a putsch. On June 10th in Leeds he was expecting a serious mobilisation. But although Yorkshire is one of PA’s main strongholds, Collett gave the order not to cooperate with Yerbury’s motley crew.
The only serious player on the far right scene who (for now) works with Yerbury is Katie Fanning, a former UKIP official who has fallen on hard times. Fanning’s speech in Leeds was on the theme “Demography is Destiny”. Looking at her paltry audience, she must have wondered what eugenic disaster could possibly have produced the movement that she and Yerbury now seek to lead.
In Elgin on 18th June, Yerbury cooperated with Highland Division for what we were again told was going to be a mass demonstration. The result was again pathetic – this time fewer than a dozen, even including those who hid their faces in the background.
Image: Yerbury at Elgin on 18th June 2023
Highland Division members also work with the Mosley tribute act calling itself New British Union, but even NBU’s tiny event recently infiltrated by the Mail on Sunday had about twice the attendance that Yerbury & Co managed at Elgin. The event was such a disaster that some of Yerbury’s closest friends have been suggesting he should reduce the number of events that his NSD promotes.
Their idea is that support is spread too thinly because there are too many rallies, marches and demos. Which does give away the “secret” that Searchlight already knew. These are mostly events with hardly any local support, and even the few dozen who do attend include activists who travel a great distance.
Yerbury has rejected the naysayers and insists he will continue with a busy agenda travelling up and down the UK trying to turn local discontent into a nationwide movement. We hate to say it but Yerbury has a point. Reducing the number of events wouldn’t help. Because the problem is that British fascism is chronically divided and poorly led, with Yerbury being a prime example.
Collett’s attempt to promote unity is already dead. As well as Yerbury, several other ex-PA activists now see themselves as leaders of their own online fan clubs. Especially when alcohol is involved (and across most of the nazi scene it usually is) these online gangs are not slow to fall out with each other.
Among the most active keyboard warriors is Chris Mitchell, host of the “Patriotic Talk” podcast and once regional organiser for Eastern England. Mitchell is another of those “independent nationalists” who resented Kenny Smith’s attempt to professionalise PA.
But that doesn’t mean he’s yet prepared to bury the hatchet with Collett. After Saturday’s disaster in Elgin, Mitchell couldn’t restrain his anger, posting on his Telegram channel:
“Despite Highland Division having a planned demonstration for a few months now and the also attended the so-called ‘unity’ meeting with PA a few weeks ago, PA decided not to promote a demonstration to help the lads get more numbers for the plight of our people and instead got together to stuff their faces at a restaurant. We will never succeed as Nationalists when behaving in such an egotistical manner.”
PA leaders have been privately complaining about the way that some fringe groups are still able to operate on Twitter despite their open use of fascist symbols, while Collett, Towler and others from PA remain banned. Perhaps Twitter’s decision has something to do with the PA connections of certain people presently facing terrorist charges? Searchlight will report further about these matters once we are legally permitted to do so.
Some young nazis who are sick of the squabbling but who are still too scared to show their faces, have been drawn to Vanguard Britannica, another openly fascist group specialising in stickers and propaganda stunts such as banner drops. Mitchell and his “independent nationalists” openly promote Vanguard Britannica, and while PA tries to keep a public distance, some of Collett’s main allies are also involved, including the convicted hooligan Joe Marsh who was recently promoted to be PA organiser for Wales.
Colin Jordan’s National Socialist Movement was doing this sort of thing sixty years ago. As with Jordan’s nazi thugs, anti-fascists should be careful not to treat the entire scene as a joke, ludicrous though some of their antics and pretensions might seem to us.
These grouplets are not heading for power, but with many young people alienated from society and struggling financially, there’s a serious risk that some will be radicalised by marches, stickers, and especially online extremism.
Once their darker fantasies seem validated by superficially articulate ranters, some of these individuals will move beyond social media filth into violent action.
Jordan’s movement produced synagogue arsonists; the 1990s BNP and Combat 18 produced the London nailbomber. In these and numerous other cases, fringe neo-Nazi hate propaganda led to terrorism and murder.