Written by Student Rights on 12 August 2013 at 3pm

The Traditional Britain Group's student connections

Following the revelations that Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg had spoken at a dinner organised by the Traditional Britain Group (TBG), Student Rights has been investigating the organisation’s cultivation of student members.

With a specific section entitled ‘Students’ on its website leading to a page encouraging organising a local chapter or university group”, it is clear the group targets young people, and a number of students can be seen in pictures from the 2013 Dinner.

In May 2012 committee member Henry Hopwood-Phillips wrote that students had been directly approached when the group was founded, stating that:

Gregory Lauder-Frost was willing to offer [a new political movement] to a number of university students, including myself, who were enthusiastic about forming a group for the politically disaffected in 2007”.

Prominent amongst current student members is Calum Heaton-Gent, a former committee member of TBG and a member of the University of Sheffield Conservative Society.

In addition to this, the group’s Blog Editor is named as Olivia on the website, which appears to refer to Olivia Auxley, a student at the University of East Anglia who links to the TBG website in her Facebook contact details.  

Jonathan Carradice-French, another student member currently at UEA, was challenged by other students on his attendance of the 2013 Dinner and replied “...yes, I will remain loyal to the Traditional Britain Group...I don’t need to justify anything to the enemy”.

The involvement of students and the targeting of young people when founding the group should be of concern given the damage that the deep seated intolerance the TBG is built on can do to campus cohesion.

However, more worrying than this are the clear links between the Traditional Britain Group and Jack Buckby, founder of the now-defunct National Culturists student group set up at the University of Liverpool in 2012 and exposed by Student Rights.

A member of the TBG’s North West Group, Buckby was invited to attend its Northern Launch in November 2012, accepting the invitation before telling members he would be unable to make the event.

TBG Vice-President Gregory Lauder-Frost is also friends with Buckby on Facebook, despite the fact that Buckby has met with the BNP’s Nick Griffin on a number of occasions and has called him his favourite British politician of all time”.

Buckby attempted to target students when running the National Culturists, and made no attempt to hide that fact that the organisation was a cover for nationalist political parties, stating at an assembly of far-right figures in July 2012:

I thought, if we could utilise a word like this [culturalism], an ideology which is so important to nationalism anyway, then there’s perhaps a better chance that we can get young people involved with movements like the British National Party”.

He also wrote following this that “it is my intention to bring the nationalist position to the forefront of student politics”.

This included direct contact with the BNP, with a keynote speaker at a National Culturists event named as “Richard Brodowski from the British National Party”, attending a meeting of the far-right Alliance of European National Movements (AENM) in July 2012, and defending the EDL.

The National Culturists also exhibited high levels of anti-Muslim bigotry, writing that “Islam is racist, Islam is sexist, Islam is homophobic – we must oppose these ideals in our ensure that our culture does not become contaminated”.

That Buckby is connected to the TBG is further evidence of the nature of the organisation’s deeply unpleasant views, which have been detailed extensively elsewhere. It also highlights the use of student activism by the extreme right, which has been little studied in the past.