top of page

League of St George

Updated: Apr 4

Insurgency Overview

The League of St George was founded in 1974 by former members of a group called Sir Oswald Mosley’s Union Movement. (1) This movement was launched in 1948 and was an amalgam of 51 right-wing organizations, most of them being right-wing book clubs. (2) The League of St George’s website states: “like [the] Union Movement, the League was to dedicate itself to Mosley’s concept of a united Europe … Europe a Nation. The League has never aimed to be a political party but more of a lobby group to influence and encourage established nationalist parties to embrace the Europe a Nation philosophy.” 

The League’s website also states that they believe they are the first British group since Mosley himself to establish links with other European nationalists. It is led by a President who is supported by a League Council in an advisory role. Full membership of the League of St George is by invitation only, and prospective members must answer the question: “what can you do for the League?” Among its activities, the League of St George publishes a quarterly publication called The Sentinel, and according to the League’s website: “articles on Mosley, National Socialism, History and the Holocaust have been featured in the past along with dozens of other subjects of interest to the European Racial Nationalist.” As well as this quarterly newsletter, the League of St George has a commercial arm called League Enterprises/ Steven Books, (3) which offers publications “not normally available through mainstream outlets, on Folk-culture, history and politics.” (1) However, when accessed for this piece on 20 February 2024, the Steve Books website stated that “[d]ue to unforeseen circumstances we are currently unable to accept new orders. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause and hope to be back to normal soon.” (4) Though the League of St George is ostensibly still in existence, it has seemed largely inactive since about 2016, when it was noted by the charity Hope Note Hate to be mostly irrelevant.

History & Foundations

The League of St George was started by former members of Oswald Mosley’s Union Movement. Mosley (1896-1980) was an English politician who founded and led the British Union of Fascists (BUF) from 1932 until 1940, and then founded its successor: the Union Movement, which he led from its founding in 1948 until his death. Both groups were known for distributing anti-Semitic propaganda, wearing Nazi-style uniforms, and holding hostile demonstrations throughout Jewish neighborhoods in East London. Mosley also served in the British House of Commons from 1918 until 1931: he served successively as a Conservative, an independent, and a Labour Party member, holding a Labour ministry 1929-30. Following this, he attempted to form a socialist party in 1930, but was defeated in his campaign for reelection to Parliament. The year after, he founded the BUF, garnering enthusiasm for the group with his considerable oratory skills and additional support from the newspaper publisher Viscount Rothermere, who created popular journalism in the UK and, along with his brother, built the most successful journalistic empire in UK history. (5)

The BUF modeled its ideology on the Italian Fascist regime and Nazi Germany, and both of these movements financially supported Mosley’s British iteration. In fact, the BUF largely owes its founding to a trip Mosley took to Italy, where he became enamored with the system created by Benito Mussolini, and the Union was founded on his return to England. Mosley also had his own bodyguards, known as the ‘Biff Boys’, who expanded into what later became known as the Blackshirts, enforcers reminiscent of Mussolini’s national militia which had the same name. In addition to the Blackshirts, the BUF held demonstrations where Mosley displayed his oratorical skill, while he cultivated relationships with similar figureheads such as Mussolini himself, and Adolf Hitler. For instance, Mosley had Hitler present at the intimate 1936 ceremony held to marry his second wife, Diana Guinness – a fascist socialite – and the wedding ceremony itself took place at the house of the Nazi Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels.

By 1936, the BUF was already a rather spent force politically, but still, the group garnered support from fascists for the march that would lead to the famous Battle of Cable Street in this year. In this march, 5,000 British Blackshirts marched through a Jewish community in the East End of London – then the largest Jewish community in Britain. Instead of heeding the call from local police to stay in their houses and allow the march to take place, 20,000 protesters took to the streets to prevent it. They were met with 6,000 uniformed police, who attempted to break their blockade and allow the BUF march. While underreported, there remain accounts of the neighboring Irish community fighting alongside Jewish protesters, despite tensions between the two communities in the past. (6)

 In 1940, Mosley was incarcerated along with other leaders from the BUF. The incarceration was made under wartime defense regulations in Britain that allowed the Government to arrest and detain enemy sympathizers, and eventually a total of 750 BUF members were interned. By July of 1940, the group’s activities had therefore ceased. On his release in 1948, Mosley attempted to resurrect the BUF, and his founding of the Union Movement is in large part a response to the futility of this attempt – unable to bring back the street presence of the Blackshirts, Mosley settled for drawing together a network of book clubs and other right-wing groups. The Union Movement was later renamed as the Action Party, and was active until about 1994; meanwhile, the League of St George was founded in 1974 as a splinter group of the Union Movement/Action Party, and took over the mantle of fascist book distribution. The founders of the League, Mike Griffin and Keith Thompson, made this split to follow what they saw as a purer form of Mosley’s ideology than that being proffered by the Union Movement.

Ideology & Goals

The ideology of the League of St George is drawn from Mosley’s own political philosophy. This centered on the creation of a ‘corporate state’, in which industries would be organized as corporations that operated as partnerships between employers and workers. Representation in Parliament would be occupational as opposed to geographical by constituencies, and members of particular occupations would therefore vote for candidates to represent their chosen industry. The system would be overseen by what Mosley dubbed a “modern dictatorship”, and in addition to favoring a highly planned economy under this system, Mosley was virulently anti-Semitic, an ideological cornerstone sustained in the BUF, Union Movement and League of St George respectively. (2) Perhaps more influential in the League’s ideology as a whole however, is another of Mosley’s political tenets: that of “Europe a nation” or European nationalism. 

European nationalism at first glance seems incongruous, given that nationalism is inherently linked to a single nation’s patriotic identity; furthermore, the European Union (EU) has mostly been posited as a prevention tactic against nationalism, and is seen as mostly a-national, anti-national or supranational. This mode of thinking about the EU originated as early as the 1950s, when the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and then the European Economic Community (EEC) both emerged as ideas for preventing the oppressive nationalism that had led to the two world wars. (7) The followers of Oswald Mosley, both within the Union Movement and outside it, seem to have viewed the European Union as a defensive strategy against ‘Russian Communism’, and an antidote to loss of empire, ‘given away by the mad folly of politicians’. There was also an argument for them, that National Socialism could not prevail within one contained bastion of a country, namely Britain. Instead, it was necessary to look further afield to build this world. (8)

Set against this backdrop, Mosley’s own European nationalism was centered on halting what he saw as the descent of the West into permanent decadence, by creating a ‘fascistized’ Europe which he proposed should be based on the ‘Four Power Bloc’ of fascist-run  Britain, France, Germany and Italy. His vision was not shared among other fascists. (9) The League of St George has continued Mosley’s ideas and mainly concentrated efforts on distributing the figure’s writings, along with other Nazi and fascist leaflets and propaganda. While other right-wing British groups have focused on specific issues, such as immigration or anti-Islam policies, the League has maintained its original philosophy, though it may simply appear that way as the group’s online footprint has remained the same, while its members have abandoned it for other ventures. Another facet to Mosley’s views that has lingered less so among his followers, is that he was a staunch supporter of Irish independence, with this view sitting uneasily alongside his determined positivity towards the idea of a British Empire; his Blackshirts included many Irishmen. Mosley’s views on Irish nationalism were what led to his split with the Conservative Party: he criticized the violence of the Black and Tans auxiliaries in the Irish Civil War, eventually quitting the Party over it. (8) Over time, this may have added to the distance between the League and other far-right groups, which were often more focused on English nationalism specifically, and had a tenser relationship with Irish politics, as seen in the 2021 visit of Tommy Robinson, aka Stephen Yaxley Lennon, to Ireland. However, also evident in this visit was some extent of tactics sharing between Irish and English far-right movements, and contacts, so this relationship is a complex one. (10)

Approach to Resistance 

The League of St George has always mainly concentrated on distribution of fascist texts, particularly the writings of its figurehead Mosley, as well as other notable figures such as Hitler himself. In previous iterations of Mosley’s ideology, a street presence was always quite important, however the League have remained closer in methods to the Union Movement, which in its succession of the BUF concentrated on literature as opposed to demonstrations or the intimidation tactics of Mosley’s Blackshirts. This may have been in part due to a 1936 law passed banning political uniforms in Britain, which was aimed at preventing the Blackshirts from carrying out their hostile street fights and protests. (11) 

In addition to stocking a collection of fascist texts, the League also created a sound library on the Steven Books website; this is now defunct with the files inaccessible, but used to act as host to a variety of political talks, such as ‘Mosley - Earls Court’, and a musical file titled “BUF Marching Song.’ (12) Along with the sound library, there is a YouTube video from the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival of the League of St George’s skinheads performing a song entitled ‘Argy Bargy.’ (13) It is notable that the League used more traditional tactics compared to the far-right groups that would succeed it in the UK. Groups like the British National Party, National Front and the later National Action would all generate more of a street presence and community than the League, likely in part due to it being founded and primarily run in a pre-internet time when social media could not be utilized for garnering popularity or organizing in-person demonstrations.

International Relations & Potential Alliances 

As posited on the Steven Books website, “the most important job within the League’s structure is that of Overseas Officer for it is his task to establish the links, first in Europe and later worldwide, with like-minded Folk-Nationalists.” (3) The BUF enjoyed considerable support from other fascist states, namely Italy and Germany, during its founding and throughout World War II; furthermore, Mosley and his followers were committed to an idea of European nationalism that allowed for wider coordination and large-scale economic planning, and therefore alliances with their European neighbors were welcomed. 

However, during the emergence of the Union Movement and then successively the League of St George, this European nationalism began to exist less formally and more as a network of distributing fascist leaflets, books and audio recordings. This is likely simply due to a change of political environment: with the ending of World War II, the shift of Germany and Italy from fascism to democracy, and the advent of the first European economic union relationships, there was less traction available for a fascistic European identity and less financial or formal support on offer for British fascists wanting European ties. Rather than forming political ties with other groups, the League of St George seems to have faded into an obscure book and pamphlet publisher, with its members presumably folding into one of the many later iterations of far-right political organization in Britain.

Works Cited (Chicago)

(1) - Homepage. League of St. George website. Accessed 19 February, 2024. 

(2) - Wallenfeldt, Jeff. ‘British Union of Fascists’. Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed 19 February 2024. 

(3) - Homepage. Steven Books. Accessed 20 February, 2024. 

(4) - Publications. Steven Books. Accessed 20 February 2024. 

(5) - The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. ‘Harold Sidney Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere’. Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed 20 February 2024. 

(6) - McNamara, Martin. ‘The day Irish and Jews joined forces against British fascists.’ The Irish Times. 2018. Accessed February 26 2024. 

(7) - Chebel d'Appollonia, Ariane. The Idea of Europe: From Antiquity to the European Union. Chapter 8, European Nationalism and European Union. Published online 14 July 2009. Accessed 20 February 2024. 

(8) - ‘Policy For Europe’. Accessed 26 February 2024. 

(9) - Love, Gary. Abstract. ‘“What's the Big Idea?”: Oswald Mosley, the British Union of Fascists and Generic Fascism’. Journal of Contemporary History. Volume 42, Issue 3. 2007. Accessed 20 February 2024. 

(10) - Gallagher, Conor. ‘Tommy Robinson’s visit is a symptom of co-operation between Irish and British far-right movements.’ The Irish Times. 2023. Accessed 26 February 2024. 

(11) - Cobain, Ian. The Guardian. ‘Britain's far right in 2016: fractured, unpredictable, dispirited … and violent’. 2016. Accessed 19 February  2024. 

(12) - Sound Files. Steven Books. Accessed 20 February 2024. 

(13) - ‘League of St. George - Argy Bargy’. Posted by @Royan F. 2014. Accessed 20 February 2024. 

Additional Resources


bottom of page