Rock Against Communism made its 1977 debut under the guiding hand of the Britain’s National Front. The concert was planned in reaction to the 1976 Rock Against Racism concert organized by photographer Red Saunders and hosted by Britain’s Anti-Nazi League- a belligerent communist gang founded by the Socialist Workers Party. Rock against Communism debuted with success achieving the party’s goal of advertising and raising awareness for the National Front and their political agendas. Unfortunately without a strong musical corner stone the project quickly faded from public view as the National Front moved on to other projects. It wouldn’t be until two years later that Ian Stuart would attempt to revive Rock Against Communism. 1979 was a year struggle for the National Front, under a constant barrage of harassment from England’s red menace. Neo-Liberals such as Margaret Thatcher of the “revitalized” Conservative party would continue to defame the group in the media while Britain’s Anti-Nazi League headed a barrage of physical attacks against the NF and other perceived fascists. One of such occurrences is commonly referred to as the Battle of Lewisham - riots kicked off when an awareness march held by the National front was attacked by communist and anti-fascist organizers. During the riot 270 policemen and 70 supporters of the NF were injured by the armed thugs. Similar activities have been linked to so-called “anti-fascist” groups throughout history. One such attack which is particularly commemorated is the murder of NF supporter Albert Mariner. The old-age pensioner was headed off by anti-fascists while walking to a National Front election meeting. Mariner was then smashed in the head by a cinder block that had been thrown by the group. Police refused to investigate the incident which caused Mariner’s death. Musician Ian Stuart first got involved with the National Front in 1979 through their Blackpool branch after London playing bans and police pressure on venues forced Skrewdriver to disband. With Skrewdriver gone Ian was left to focus his attention on Britain’s ideological struggle with the National Front. When Ian Stuart revived Skrewdriver in 1982 to take on centre stage of the famous 100 club it would act as a saving grace and second wind for England’s Nationalist movement. The band would take the stage of their triumphant return dressed wholly in black, bright red braces framing union jack patches that were stitched to the group’s backs. With the raising of his hand Ian would announce the title of his next song - Tomorrow Belongs to Me. At the time no one could have foreseen how accurate that statement would become.
Blood and Honour Skins
On December 11 1985, shortly after the recording of the Blood and Honour LP Ian Stuart and friend Des Clarke were attacked in the street by members of an African gang who had taken up issues with Ian’s choice of politics.
‘Ian and I were sentenced to prison for twelve months. Ian's "crime" was defending himself from attack by a group of blacks who presumably didn't like his hairstyle. Needless to say the police, in their wisdom, refrained from prosecuting the blacks who instigated the attack - Joe Pearce, Skrewdriver: The First Ten Years, 1987
It wouldn’t be until Ian’s release from prison 12 months later that the LP would be performed live. The release of Blood and Honour would become one of the largest and best received albums of Skrewdriver’s career, sending shockwaves through the skinhead subculture. People calling themselves “Blood and Honour Skinheads” began to saturate the English underground, quickly overshadowing the Last Resort subgroup of the skinhead cult. Two years later in 1987, Skrewdriver would launch the infamous White Rider LP, the album title and art depicting a member of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) on horseback. The album’s release would cause a backlash and controversy within the already largely unpopular BNP. In an attempt to keep their party in the running for the coming elections, the BNP confronted Ian threatening to drop him and Skrewdriver if they did not tone down their musical content. The new policy of the BNP would prohibit bands from making any reference to “niggers” or the black immigration problem in Britain, as well as forbidding the straight armed “Sieg Heil” salute. This would prove to be the last straw in the already rocky relationship between Ian and the British Nationalist Party. The result of the censorship would bring Skrewdriver along with such bands as No Remorse, The Blackshirts, Chingford Attack, Skullhead and Razors Edge announced their decision to leave the BNP and White Noise Records in favour of starting their own organization- Blood and Honour. To correspond with the launch of Blood and Honour, the group put out their own magazine titled Blood and Honour – the Independent Voice of Rock against Communism. The magazine was a huge hit publishing articles on bands, culture and politics in Europe. The magazine boasted the organization as being completely independent of political parties and run by people involved in the music scene. With the support of the skinhead movement behind them, Blood and Honour exploded onto the scene with revolutionary force and a certain future gaining drastically in popularity both on the Island and the European main land. Germany was particularly supportive of the group, boasting a huge Skrewdriver fan base both in the west and the newly liberated east. In 1991 the loyalty of the fans would be put to the test when the band was arrested in relation to a stabbing. The arrests would prompt over 300 German skinheads to attack the police station where Skrewdriver band members were being held. Following the attack on the Cottbus Police station Ian would return to Britain and begin work on his album, Freedom for the Cottbus Six.
What Price Freedom?
1991 also saw the birth of some more aggressive forms of activism, most notably with the founding of the infamous Combat 18- a group founded by racial activist from the Chelsea Head-hunters, a UK football firm known for their violent tendencies and various security elements from the National Front. In March of 1992 Combat 18 began publishing Red Watch Magazine, an exposé on communist and anti-fascist activists throughout the United Kingdom, publishing photos, names and addresses with the slogan, oderint dum metuant translating to “Let them hate, as long as they Fear”. Only 3 months after the release of Redwatch, Gerry Gable’s Searchlight magazine released an article accusing C18 organizer Harold Covington of being a double agent in attempts to depict Combat 18 as a police run organization to limit its growth and cause dissention within the group. Despite attempts from Searchlight at discrediting Combat 18, Ian and other activists continued to vocally support C18, encouraging the group to continue being active. By 1992’s “Battle of Waterloo” an estimated 300 supporters of Combat 18 were in regular attendance at Blood and Honour Events. Combat 18 would later be officially recognized as the armed wing of the Blood and Honour movement. Combat 18 became publically recognized for their role in the Blood and Honour movement by Ian who voiced his momentous support of the group during a concert in Derbyshire England only short months before his death. On September 24 1993, Ian Stuart was pronounced dead in hospital after his car spun out on a Derbyshire road. The accident, while considered suspicious by the investigating police force, was never proven as being foul play and no charges were ever laid. The accident took the lives of both Ian and his friend Stephen Flint (commonly known as “Boo”) leaving only Robert Sherlock who was driving the vehicle that night, to tell the tale.
Shove the Dove
1995 broke the silence of mourning like a gun shot when Combat 18 again entered into the lime light for planning and instigating a riot at a football match on Lansdowne Road, Dublin. The February 15th game between England and the Irish Republic was disrupted when riots broke out injuring well over 70 people and again making it clear to the world that Blood and Honour held no sympathies for scum like the IRA. The riots ended when the Irish Armed Forces escorting all English attendees from the stadium to the Dublin border. 1997 proved to be a year of great potential and great disappointment when a letter bombing campaign targeting left wing activists and celebrities in interracial relationships was uncovered making international headlines. Former Olympic swimmer, Sharon Davies; heavyweight boxer, Frank Bruno and left wing newspaper The Morning Star were all made targets rather than victims of this campaign when modified VHS tapes rigged to explode were shipped to their homes and the homes of their immediate families. This failed attack was more than made up for only two years later when on April 30th 1999 when David Copeland (a member of the Combat 18 splinter group “The White Wolves”) planted nail bombs in England’s Gay, black and Bangladeshi communities. The attacks killed three and seriously injured 129 people.
This Little Piggy
in 1998 the British M15 launched a two year campaign against Combat18 raiding dozens of houses across the United Kingdom. The offensive kicked off shortly after the conviction of disgraced ex-member Charlie Sargent. Sargent was convicted and sentenced for the 1997 murder of family man Chris Castle. During the attack Sargent and crony Martin Cross stabbed Castle in the back in an attempt to put Sargent back in good standing with the Blood and Honour movement. Sargent claimed that Castle- a good standing member of the Blood and Honour movement, had gone to his home to steal cash and tools and was stabbed during an attempted robbery. It was later uncovered that Castle had gone to Sargent’s home to return tools left behind after a flooring job, and to collect money owed to the organization. The money was to be gifted to Cross’s family for help with the burial of Martin’s father. The M15 operation finally ended neck in neck with the 20th century marking a close to a series of brutal police raids and turning the page of the New Year on to a better but far from ideal chapter for the movement. For Blood and Honour/C18 the much celebrated Y2K would be scarred by court and legal battles as numerous members and associates of the Blood and Honour movement were dragged across the docket and through the mud. The year 2000 also saw the banning of Blood and Honour in Germany following the bombing of a Dusseldorf train platform which resulted in the serious injury of 10 foreigners, six of which were of Jewish origins. With all the legal troubles surrounding the Blood and Honour movement certain members had grown weary of Combat 18’s involvement in the Blood and Honour movement and what benefits the group was bringing to the table. In a short amount of time questions from those few turned to outright dissent as attempts to separate Blood and Honour from Combat 18 grew bolder.
“The piss-artists of the dishonourable roadshow left the true Blood & Honour because they couldn’t take the pressure that follows with real political activism, and they saw no quick road to fame and fortune among political soldiers and streetfighters. For them the scene was in fact just that, a scene to play on (in both senses) and a safe place to gain quick but cheap fame.”
Max Hammer Blood & Honour Scandinavia. Oct. 22nd 2004
It wasn’t long before the rumours were traced back that their source and the small section of trouble makers officially withdrew their memberships from Blood and Honour in an attempt to avoid any confrontation that could rise from their grade-school antics.
Power for Profit
The gossip queens quickly went out to garner support for themselves. Hipkins and Sweany along with a handful of musicians got to organizing a small concert under the banner of “Rock Against Communism”. The concert was unimpressive when compared to many of the shows Blood and Honour had come to be associated with, however marked a rather important turn in the history of the Blood and Honour movement. With a police induced silence still lingering over their former comrades at Blood and Honour/C18, the revived Rock Against Communism announced that it would be carrying on the legacy of Ian Stuart as the new Blood and Honour- a Blood and Honour void of Combat 18’s brand of activism.
“If it weren’t for the music, Blood and Honour wouldn’t exist. If you don’t have the music and bands, what’s the point?” – Avalon (B&D band), Televised Interview
The “new” Blood and Honour- commonly referred to as Blood and Dishonour by those knowledgeable enough to make the distinction, is an unfortunate twist to the Blood and Honour legacy and a disgrace to the memory of Ian Stuart. The ranks of B&D are characterized by the lax standards and cowardice of the founding body- the gossip queens. While legitimate activists do exist within the B&D membership, they are rare and often outshined by those poofs who (as quoted above) are only in it for a sense of belonging, or for a chance at the stardom associated with the fast growing nationalist music scene. Another shining example from the Blood and Dishonour ilk can be found in Chile, South America where a gaggle of Indians now proudly flies the name and banner of the Blood and Honour movement. It’s really not surprising that a sect referring to itself solely as “the musical resistance” could have sunk so far below their origins, though perhaps the continued mishaps like those stated above will cause the genuine activists interested in getting involved to think twice before allowing themselves to be swept away by the glamour and complacency of the rockin’ revolution.
After the Fire
From law suit to national bans, the Blood and Honour movement has faced and fought heavy government opposition, adapting to overcome the increasingly oppressive policies in Europe and her former colonies. Now largely operating autonomously, Blood and Honour Divisions around the world have come a long way from the days of skinhead firms and football hooligans to create a consistent and sustainable structure that will help our people and our movement flourish as a united front. Blood and Honour’s Canadian divisions gained their permission to fly the banner late in the summer of 2010 from Blood and Honour USA. The project took nearly two years to establish properly but was well worth the wait as it provided the opportunity and experience necessary to create a division worthy of the name and legacy of Ian’s Blood and Honour movement.
Battle Beyond Stardom – Bart
Diamonds in the Dust, The Ian Stuart Biography
White Riot: The Violent Story of Combat 18 by Nick Lowles
Skrewdriver, Live in Derbyshire, 1993