Many observers have commented on UKIP’s anti-establishment credentials and found them wanting. Farage’s “People’s Army” is a top-down party, which while claiming to be a grassroots movement full of ordinary people, is run by the same vested interests that control the Conservative Party and share close ties to the unseen hand of Britain’s security services. Those ordinary voters who believe that by supporting UKIP they will, somehow, effect great change on Britain’s political landscape are in for a surprise. With UKIP, it’s business as usual but with an extra dose of Thatcherism. We already know that a number of aristocrats and ex-public school boys fill the top positions in the party. We also know that many of their MEPs are former Conservatives and a few, like Jeffrey Titford, were members of extreme right-wing parties. Prominent Kippers like Malcolm (Lord) Pearson and Roger Helmer are also members of the Orwellian-sounding Freedom Association (TFA). TFA, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere on this blog, is not concerned with freedom per se but with protecting the freedom of the ruling classes. TFA, through John Gouriet, was heavily involved in strike-breaking, the Grunwick Dispute being a notable example. TFA were also supportive of the apartheid regime in South Africa.
UKIP, as Another Angry Voice points out, is not an anti-establishment party, it is an establishment party. This article from The Socialist discusses the establishment position of UKIP . Unfortunately, neither article discusses how deeply UKIP is rooted in Britain’s ruling class. These are roots that go deep and wide, and stretch back to the early 19th century.
A couple of days ago, I saw a Facebook status update that linked to an article which reported that Robin Birley, ‘businessman’, son of hospitality industry mogul, Mark Birley, and stepson of James Goldsmith, has been funding UKIP. Birley was previously involved in his stepdad’s Referendum Party, which folded shortly after Sir Jams Fishpaste (qv. Private Eye) died. Add the names Goldsmith and Birley to the name of John Aspinall and chuck in his zoo and the Clermont Club and what do you have? Britain’s reactionary establishment. So reactionary were the group that gathered at Aspinall’s Clermont Club to gamble and hobnob with others of their class that they formed GB75 with a few disgruntled Army officers with the intention of fomenting a coup against the Wilson government. This subject has already been covered at some length in Adam Curtis’s BAFTA award-winning, The Mayfair Set and by the para-politics journal, Lobster. These paranoiacs seriously believed that Harold Wilson was a KGB spy. Seriously. Is this the Harold Wilson, who sucked up to big business and turned a blind eye to US involvement in Vietnam? Yes, it’s that Harold Wilson. He was hardly a socialist and barely a social democrat. Wilson was a massive disappointment to the Labour left, who had hoped for better things after years of Tory rule.
The Clermont Club boasted no less than five dukes, five marquesses, twenty earls (including the infamous Lord Lucan) and two cabinet ministers. Colonel David Stirling, the founder of the Special Air Service (SAS) was also a prominent member as were James Bond author, Ian Fleming and Peter Sellers. Stirling was the son of a Brigadier General Archibald Stirling and Margaret Fraser, the daughter of Simon Fraser, the 14th Lord Lovat (his uncle), who was a descendant of Charles II. Lord Lucan was also a member of the Clermont Club. Because of his charisma and charm, he was considered for the role of James Bond, though he had no acting experience or clear talent. Lucan disappeared in 1974 after killing his nanny, Sandra Rivett. If anyone knew the whereabouts of Lord Lucan, it was Aspinall. Lucan was, himself, a notorious fascist and I’m not using that word pejoratively. Lucan actually sympathised with fascists and even supported the creation of a British fascist state. He was also a rotten gambler and was used by Aspinall to bring a “touch of class” to the club. In 1972, Aspinall was forced to sell the Clermont to Playboy, who in turn disposed of the club. However, Aspinall remained in the gambling business and you can see one of his clubs, called “Aspers”, at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford, East London. Aspinall died in 2000. His son, Damien, runs the business.
Robin Birley had his face mauled by a tiger at Howlett’s Zoo in 1970. Aspinall, an eccentric as well as a reactionary right-winger, believed that people should be able to interact with animals at zoos, which he referred to as ‘animal parks’. Even the most dangerous of animals, like the big cats, were considered harmless and people were encouraged to stroke, pet and even play with lions. So even when the bones on the left side of Birley’s face were crushed, Aspinall stuck to his guns and refused to change his zoo’s policy. There was no falling out between the families and no legal suit for damages was filed. Aspinall also stood as an unsuccessful candidate for The Referendum Party in 1997.
George Osborne’s grandfather, Sir George Francis Osborne, was married to Mary Grace Horn, who was previously married to Robert Stavali Aspinall, an Army surgeon. They had a son, John Victor Aspinall and yes, that’s the same Aspinall who owned the Clermont. In effect, John Aspinall is Gidiot’s step-uncle. But Aspinall’s real father was apparently an unnamed soldier. The rich have trouble keeping it in their pants, but are quite happy to lecture the working class about their sexual habits. Surprised? No? Neither am I.
Robin Birley was also involved with fellow UKIP donor, Paul Sykes, in the anti-EU pressure group Democracy Movement that was founded by his mother, Lady Annabel Goldsmith (the daughter of the Marquess of Londonderry and mother of Ben, Zac and Jemima) as a continuation of the Referendum Party. Sykes also financed the project. Birley was also president of the Mozambique Institute which supported RENAMO, a reactionary conservative party in Mozambique that was also supported by the apartheid regime in South Africa in its struggle against the anti-colonialist FRELIMO during the Mozambique Civil War. As a leading member of Chilean Supporters Abroad, he also supported the Pinochet regime in Chile, and complained bitterly at Pinochet’s detention in 1998 telling the press “It’s a case of rank hypocrisy. It’s also an abuse of hospitality to ambush an old man when he has come to this country year after year. He has done an immense amount for Chile. No one is supporting him and I have sympathy for the underdog”. Birley also financed Pinochet’s luxury house in Wentworth, Surrey.
When Mark Birley was confined to a wheelchair following a stroke, he handed the reins of Annabel’s (named after his ex-wife) to Robin and his sister, India Jane. However in 2006, he dismissed Robin after discovering that he’d hired a private detective to conduct a background check on his sister’s boyfriend. The private eye turned out to be a fraudster and Birley had actually paid £200,000 for false information. There’s no sucker like a dim posh sucker. Mark Birley died in 2007 after suffering a massive stroke. India Jane and Robin remained estranged to this day.
So how does the Peterloo Massacre figure in all of this? Robin Birley’s great- great-grandfather, Hugh Hornby Birley was a prominent Manchester Tory and businessman, who led the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry in the fatal charge against unarmed men, women and children at St Peter’s Field on 16 August 1819. According to reports, the yeomanry were drunk and spoiling for a fight. 15 people were killed and hundreds were injured, many of them seriously. Birley had been previously involved in violent confrontations with workers in 1818. Birley and the yeomanry had, according to Spartacus Educational, a “deep hatred of reformers”. It seems as though little as changed since then. This is what UKIP stands for.
A vote for UKIP is vote for the same old tired system. A vote for UKIP is effectively a vote for Britain’s aristocracy. A vote for UKIP is a vote to sign away the hard-fought rights that we take for granted today. If it ever got anywhere near real power, UKIP would take us back to the past. It is a party that concerns itself with nostalgia and its idea of freedom is the continuation of a system that brutalizes workers and represses progressive forces through the use of violence and intimidation. UKIP is a party of anti-intellectuals, nationalist romantics, bullies and reactionaries. A vote for UKIP is a vote for your own enslavement – unless you happen to be a member of the establishment.
PS Robin Birley should not be confused with the archaeologist, Robin Birley, of the Vindolanda Trust. They are, however, cousins.