Traditional Britain emerges from the shadows

By Searchlight Team

by Richard Pembroke

The Traditional Britain Group has seen some significant changes over the last 18 months, with expanded internet activity, including a strategic refocus on social media – probably overdue considering the increasing use of the internet by other far-right and extremist groups. These moves can, perhaps, in part be attributed to some significant changes in the leadership of TBG, brought about not by the kind of fractious and factional jostling that has plagued, for example, the Conservative Party, but rather by the more routine depredations of the Grim Reaper.

The deaths of first the group’s founder and president Lord Sudely and then vice-president Sam Swerling (a former Monday Club president and serial far-right party member), made September 2022 to September 2023 what some sympathisers have lamented as an ‘annus horribilis’ for TBG. (Though one wag on the left recast this as an ‘anus horribilis’ on the not unreasonable grounds that ‘they were both arseholes’).

We referred above to “other far-right and extremist groups”, and this raises the question of which of the two descriptions best fits Traditional Britain. Despite the government issuing, in March, a redefinition of the term ‘extremism’, this is at present unclear, as no official list of extreme organisations has been published as we go to press. Our guess is that TBG will be left off the list, when it belatedly arrives, and be classified by the Tories as ‘respectably’ right-wing.

However, TBG does appear, over the last decade, to have acted as a hub and host for other organisations and individuals that might easily be described as ‘extreme’, for example Generation Identity, Patriotic Alternative and various members of the US alt-right – all of which have been represented at the group’s annual conferences and other related events.

The most contaminating of these relationships is arguably that with Patriotic Alternative (PA) which, pending an official ‘extremists’ list, the government has already identified as a group that is very much in the counter-extremism spotlight. The Traditional Britain Group has both voiced support for PA, through social media, and provided a platform for its leaders. At their annual Christmas Social in 2019, Laura Towler was invited to speak on the newly created Patriotic Alternative, of which she was co-founder and second among equals behind Mark Collett (who himself attended the 2017 Annual Conference).

There appears to have been some disagreement, however, among the TBG leadership regarding forging such a direct and obvious link, and all references to Towler’s invitation and speech have now been removed from the Traditional Britain website. Though despite Patriotic Alternative coming increasingly under scrutiny from various state agencies, TBG has continued to support the organisation in recent months through its various social media platforms, as data clearly shows.

For example, in respect of the prison sentence handed down to Laura Towler’s husband – former National Action member Sam Melia, who was found guilty of intent to stir up racial hatred – Traditional Britain has shared posts by both Towler and Collett on their Telegram channel.

TBG purports to champions free speech and truth, but it’s a claim that feels a bit thin when mapped against the group’s support for Putin and his repression of dissident voices. On social media, a post was recently shared apparently presenting the ‘true’ facts behind opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s arrest, and some unevidenced (undoubtedly bogus) claim that Navalny was a CIA agent. Another shared post was in relation to the 2018 Salisbury nerve agent poisonings, the implication being that these did not really take place.

It’s never in-your-face or outright advocacy for Putin, but a steady trickle of counter-information indicating a form of veiled support. As recently as March 2024 the group was posting statements from Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, in relation to leaks of Nato military conversations. It’s perhaps worthwhile quoting this comment by the group published on their website to provide further context to these recent Russian social media postings:

“We at the Traditional Britain Group wish the sad pathetic Cold War warriors, here and in Washington, would shut up and get on with something constructive. Russia is NOT ‘the enemy’ nor are we at war with Russia. We should be making supreme efforts to be friends with Russia which has overthrown communism and restored Christianity.”

TBG founder Gregory Lauder-Frost

This position becomes even clearer when examined against the context of the group’s annual conferences and invited speakers with pro-Russian leanings, alongside connections between Traditional Britain founder and vice president Gregory Lauder-Frost and Putin advisor Alexander Dugin (Lauder-Frost was until recently listed as the UK head of Arktos, publisher of works by Dugin, and has contributed to a website run by Dugin).

One is reminded of the support for Hitler by various individuals and groups in the 1930s, especially Oswald Mosley and Unity Mitford. It is perhaps relevant in this context to bring things full circle and to highlight a recent comment posted by Lauder-Frost in relation to a number of online posts on a genealogical web site, highlighting the well-documented Nazi sympathies of Unity Mitford. “The ‘sources’ on this page are almost obscene,” Frostbite barked. “Totally non-academic and axe-grinding”. A subsequent icy dialogue confirmed that he was indeed mounting a defence of Mitford.

Despite the clearly acknowledged support for Putin on its website and indirectly through speakers at its conferences, Russia-oriented posts on its social media pages are sporadic relative to the constant stream of posts related to migrants, Islam and gender identity issues. It’s possible that this could be part of a broader strategy on the part of Traditional Britain to use social media to attract bigots who may be less inclined to become followers and supporters of Putinism.

Such context provides an indication of both the current and future direction of Traditional Britain alongside its various formal events, the most recent and high profile of these being the 2023 annual conference which followed their well-established pattern of high-status venues and a programme of speakers who are ideologically aligned with the views of those on the far-right yet embedded within the political cultural or academic establishment.

Crystal Ballroom Gazing

The October 2023 conference was held in the plush surroundings of the Crystal Ballroom of the four-star St Ermin’s hotel in Central London. Along with a panoply of high-profile speakers, this suggests an organisation in good health considering the potential cost implications. However, despite having a seating capacity of 180 the conference attracted far fewer attendees than this, and one can only assume therefore that the source of its income to finance such conferences comes from its various levels of membership and donations.

The line-up of speakers for the conference included political figures from Germany and Austria – Stefan Korte of Alternative for Germany (AfD) and Johannes Hübner of the Austrian Freedom Party – complemented by some homegrown British provocateurs including the misogynistic, openly racist podcaster Carl Benjamin alongside academic Neema Parvini, artist Alexander Adams and demographer David Coleman. With respect to the European speakers in particular, one can detect a quite clear anti-Nato bent, significant during these times of Putin’s continued aggression.

That Lauder-Frost is pro-Putin is clear from statements put out by him on the TBG website as well as his contributions to Geopolitika, a Russian site administered by Dugin and subjected to US sanctions in 2022. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that some of Traditional Britain’s visiting speakers have been scrutinised by the authorities when entering the UK.

Take for example, John Laughland, a pro-Russian apologist and commentator, who addressed both the 2019 and 2022 conferences. In relation to the latter, Laughland was questioned by counter-terrorism police and border control when entering the UK in October of that year, and had all his electronic devices confiscated.

It was a similar tale with the 2023 conference. One of those who had difficulties with border control was Stefan Korte who, when travelling by car from the continent, was stopped at Dover and taken in for questioning. Korte has worked for and with AfD regionally, nationally and at European level, and his pro-Russia/anti-Nato stance was most likely the reason why he attracted the attention of the UK Border Force.

Stefan Korte – the West provoked Putin

Korte’s conference speech covered several areas, but the primary thrust was that an eastward expansion of Nato had precipitated Putin’s actions in Ukraine. The message conveyed was that any nuclear deployment against Ukraine would therefore be the responsibility of the US and its allies rather than Russia – though according to Korte an alliance of conservative patriots will ultimately prevent such an outcome.

We have seen Korte networking with various European far-right political factions over the last few years. In 2019, for example, he travelled to Lithuania on behalf of the AfD and spoke as a guest speaker at an event organized by the right-wing radical association Lietuva yra čia (“Lithuania is here”). His speech was not a success and drew criticism from the Lithuanian conservative politician and former defence minister Rasa Jukneviciene, who accused AfD of being a puppet financed by Russia.

In respect of Traditional Britain, as recently as 2021 both Korte and Lauder-Frost were invited by a group of Lithuanian MPs to attend an anti-vaccination rally in Vilnius.

If proof was needed regarding the official Traditional Britain position on Russia, the following was published in a TBG newsletter distributed in 2023, several months prior to the October conference…

“The TBG remain completely opposed to any involvement whatsoever in eastern European affairs and the eternal and complex squabbles there, especially when it rebounds upon our people, as it is currently doing economically. Our government are responsible for the economic crisis in the UK, not Russia.

“Our people have been completely brainwashed by USA/NATO propaganda in this matter, a demonstration of the preparatory ground work governments make before going to war. The BBC in particular, produces brazen anti-Russian propaganda 24 hours a day similar to the old Soviet Cold War propaganda which the Americans have maintained to the present day as though the communists were still in power.

“Our government has done its best to close down or block as many alternative news outlets, agencies, reports and opinions, so there is no chance of anyone getting the full story and the full facts.”

The Russian connection with speakers invited to address the 2023 conference continued with Johannes Hübner of the Austrian Freedom Party, who has also spoken at previous conferences. Hübner is of special interest in respect of a series of e-mails leaked in February 2023, connecting him to a Kremlin-linked lobby group that was offering financial incentives to a number of European politicians to promote pro-Russian policies.

According to reports from European sources Hübner was offered €20,000 to deliver a speech in the Austrian parliament arguing against the imposition of sanctions against Russia, plus a €15,000 bonus should the vote go Russia’s way. Details of the group’s activities came to light via hacked and leaked emails belonging to its coordinator, Russian parliamentary staffer Sargis Mirzakhanian, who ran the International Agency for Current Policyin the years following the annexation of Crimea.

It remains unclear whether the sums referenced were to be paid directly to the two politicians or were budgets for the entire project. In one of the leaked letters, Mirzakhanian reports that he received information “regarding the price tag for the vote” from an unnamed European politician.

Whatever the real details may be of the financial deal, Hübner and a politician in the Italian parliament, Paolo Tosato, did go on to present resolutions against Russian sanctions on their respective parliament floors, though neither was adopted. Hübner has denied all allegations against him, although he recently declared on the floor of the Austrian Parliament: “This policy of the European Union against Russia has caused considerable damage to the economy of the Republic of Austria.”

At the very outset of his somewhat rambling TBG conference address Hübner stated he was speaking as a private individual and not as a representative of the Austrian Freedom Party. Despite this his speech focused on many of the fears perpetuated by his party and in particular the tired trope of Europe being ‘invaded’ by economic migrants, many of whom ended up in the UK.

Hübner castigated Austria for failing to deal with the problem and suggested that his party would resolve the issue at the next Austrian election, where it is expected to gain a substantial number of seats, and indicated a strategy similar to that implemented in Hungary. 

The ‘fear of the other’ was a theme further developed by Professor David Coleman – advisor to Migration Watch and a member of that one-time promoter of eugenics the Galton Institute. In his conference address he revisited his 2013 assertion that declining birth rates and increased immigration would result in indigenous white Britons becoming a minority by 2066, an argument which appealed to the politely respectable and generally xenophobic throng.

Coleman’s presentation was very much as to be expected, namely a defence of an insular Britain, its traditions and culture under attack from immigration and the failed policies of successive governments. How could anyone argue with an academic with the status of the elderly and slightly bumbling professor, who came equipped with a supportive PowerPoint toolkit of graphs and numbers and a collection of ‘ums’ and ‘ers’ peppering his verbal flow, which endeared him to his captive audience.

One can only suppose that such characters – essentially wolves in sheep’s clothing – are a vital component of a ‘Traditional Britain’. As is Lauder-Frost, as were Sam Swerling and Lord Sudeley. It all appears to be part of the grand strategy of the faux-respectable wing of the far right.

An injection of the contemporary into this strategy came in the form of the predictably counter-intuitive narrative of podcaster Carl Benjamin (aka Sargon of Akkad), whose ‘edgy’ reputation in far-right circles rests on a track record of conspiracy theory, anti-feminist, anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish effluent. Despite being in denial and self-identifying as a ‘classical liberal’, his alt-right credentials are very much intact. Let’s not forget his input to a Day of Freedom rally in support of Tommy Robinson back in 2018, after Robinson was banned from Twitter for hate speech.

In May 2019, it was Benjamin himself who was suspended from Twitter and YouTube. Which lent him all the social media credibility necessary for him to be invited to speak at a Traditional Britain conference. His address demonstrated an almost paranoid fear of what Benjamin described as, “a communist insurrection against liberalism to destroy our country”.

One hopes that he will soon undergoing therapy, because he went on to describe practically every aspect of our society as being under attack from some unevidenced “anarcho-tyranny”, all underpinned by Benjamin’s personal brand of omniphobia embracing race, gender, religion, sexuality and political parties.

A depressingly skewed view of contemporary art, in respect of both its practice and funding, was provided by the artist and critic Alexander Adams, not a name known to many aside from viewers of GB News, where he has expressed similar views to those expounded at this conference, along with the occasional piece in Spiked and the Telegraph.

Culture warrior, Alexander Adams

The Arts Council, university departments, galleries – all became targets in Adams’ rather personalised attack on a progressive culture which positively embraces inclusivity and access for all. Several of the references in his speech were names from the history of twentieth century art and culture with associations with fascism: Ezra Pound, the Vorticists, Wyndham Lewis. Perhaps Adams sees these as cultural antecedents to his own work.

More recently, on his social media platforms, Adams has celebrated the birthday of Gabriele d’Annunzio, the Italian poet of the early twentieth century, commonly seen as closely associated with fascism. The work of novelist Knut Hansum, the Norwegian Nazi supporter, has also recently been highlighted on Adams’ new website. It must be a lonely dark corner that Adams currently occupies for himself in the generally radiant, inclusive world of modern British art – despite his work being exhibited in several major UK galleries including the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Neema Parvini was the remaining speaker, and he introduced his new book The Prophets of Doom, a reflection on “eleven thinkers who contradict the dominant linear and progressive view of history”. An academic who associates himself with the dissident right and is prone to quote Julius Evola, notorious for his Fascist-oriented philosophy, in the same way that Adams celebrates artists and writers with similar inclinations.

Neema Parvini – a stream of dissident right consciousness

Parvini was released from his academic role at the University of Surrey due to his far-right associations. He is published by the dissident right publishing house Imperium Press, owned by Michael Edward Maxwell, who was interviewed by Patriotic Alternative leader Mark Collett in 2022. The publisher is also associated with some explicitly white nationalist characters.

In his Traditional Britain presentation Parvini’s stream of dissident right consciousness embraced many pseudo-intellectual themes and predictably associated multiculturalism with grooming gangs, riots in Paris and supposedly out of control crime in US cities, perpetuating that ‘fear of the other’ encountered with other speakers at the conference.

2 responses on “Traditional Britain emerges from the shadows

  1. We Remember

    “Russia is NOT ‘the enemy’ nor are we at war with Russia.” says the TBG website. This arrogance and cynical sneering re-write of History with this Pro-Russian position by The Far Right, also typical of Irving’s Revisionism, is simply disgusting. Hitler’s Nazis murdered 27 Million Russian souls in World War Two. Was Hitler and this ‘Detail of History’ (The Mass Murder of 27 Million people) wrong then? Not at all: It is a thrill and power-trip to re-write History for The Far Right, with a new ‘Pro-Russian’ policy. The Reality is of course that we KNOW why Nazism went East for these killings: Namely to provide ‘Lebensraum in The East for The Ethnic Germans.’ (Hitler’s own words). Confront The Far Right with this, the truth about Hitler’s policy in The East, is to watch them fold.

  2. Gullon

    The Traditional Britain Group allowed Emil Kirkegaard to speak at one of their events last year:

    Kirkegaard is an infamous far-right activist for legalising child porn who wrote an essay defending child rape if children are drugged and unconscious:

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