It promised to be a good night (or two even). A pre-Christmas home coming gig, celebrating the very recent release of perhaps the band's finest album 'That's Life'. However, it was not to be and at least the first night ended up in another violent shambles as a small faction of British Movement skins did their darnedest to derail the gig.
Garry Bushell took up the story in his review that appeared in the 9th December issue of Sounds.
Beware the British Movement
In recent months London gigs, notably those of The Lurkers and especially last week’s Sham gigs at the Electric Ballroom, have been prey to the anti-social, anti-music activities of a very small gang of kids lead by members of the British Movement. Who are they?
Putting things in perspective the British Movement are tiny. Where they do exist it is in miniscule pockets in a lunatic limbo to the right of Britain’s ‘respectable’ racialists of the National Front. In other words they make no attempt to conceal their Nazism.
The BM was formed in 1968 by leading British Fascist Colin Jordan, fresh out of jail for offences under the Race Relations Act. He was a veteran of such ‘crusades’ as the paramilitary group, Spearhead (for which he, alongside present NF leader Tyndall were jailed), the British National Party, the National Socialist Movement and the Synagogue Arson Gang. Excluded from the newly formed NF for personal rather than political reasons (Tyndall, Pirie, Fountaine and many others shared similar overtly Nazi backgrounds) Jordan formed his own party which by 1975 had a grand national active membership of less than twenty. At this time Jordan decided to take a ‘leave of absence’ (shortly before being convicted of stealing three pairs of red knickers from the Leamington Spa branch of Tesco’s) and the mantle of leadership fell to Michael McLaugglin.
Messrs Tyndall and Webster had realised long before that in order to gain any degree of mass acceptance at all they’d need a populist veneer to their politics but this often makes them appear to the hardcore, or arguably more stupid Nazis, as softies, hence the ‘real’ Nazis join the BM, the League of St George, the Leeds based British National Party or the even tinier underground paramilitary Column 88, none of whom have such scruples about image.
And so in miniature amongst kids who superficially identify with the NF, a smaller number superficially identify with the ‘harder’ BM. Their actual London membership could be counted on a normal Aryan’s fingers especially after just being further depleted by the latest BM edict – that every member should have BM tattooed on their arms.
The problem of fascist violence at gigs is new to Britain but it does stem from their inability to make any headway at all amongst the majority of kids. Their decision to turn on punk groups can only serve to isolate them even further from rock fans, a fact which when it eventually finds its way into their ‘brains’ (and we use the word reluctantly) might persuade them to turn to some more rewarding activity.
So did Sham bring this problem down on themselves? I fully understand Jimmy Pursey's genuine desire to engage and dissuade those that turned up at the band's gigs hell bent on trouble, but as Bushell pointed out in his Electric Ballroom review, that element of the audience were not open to his liberal approach to the situation, "They’re a problem that won’t walk away and can’t be talked away." If anything, I guess that the approach was naïve, but at the same time I don't really know how it could have been handled when the targeting of 'political foot soldiers' at punk gigs seemed to be a deliberated policy decision for the leadership of Britain's prominent far right organisations of the day. In contrast.... Sham 69 were a band of four musicians facing this shit every time they set foot on a stage.