‘Britain First’: Telegraph recycles fascist slogan with terrible history

This is a good lesson in how not to debate the European Union


It’s not every morning you see political extremism of a kind the prime minister often warns about plastered on the front of a newspaper.

Yet this morning’s Telegraph manages to serve up a slogan straight from the 1930s in today’s gripping headline:

Telegraph 9 10 15

‘Britain First’ is not only the name of a neo-fascist group of ex-British National Party types currently filling the market hole provided by that party’s implosion.

It also featured in the masthead of The Blackshirt, a newspaper produced by Oswald Mosely’s Nazi-supporting British Union of Fascists in the 1930s.


The slogan was later nabbed by the America First Committee in the United States, whose spokesman Charles Lindbergh famously accused ‘the Jewish’ of trying to drag America into World War II.

It’s worth noting that the phrase ‘Britain first’ or ‘Time to put Britain first again’ does not appear anywhere in the Telegraph’s story – not in the quotes, nor in the related article by Joe Foster, co-founder of Reebok and funder of the ‘Out’ campaign in the coming EU referendum.

Yet there it is in the Telegraph’s front page headline, in quotation marks.

One hopes the paper was not aware of its sordid historic and present associations.

As the prime minister meets with German chancellor Angela Merkel today to discuss EU reforms, campaigners on all sides should take note:

Recycling a fascist slogan, consciously or otherwise, is the worst possible way to debate membership of the European Union.

And if this is the only way to express your argument, perhaps there is something rotten about it.


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Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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26 Responses to “‘Britain First’: Telegraph recycles fascist slogan with terrible history”

  1. GhostofJimMorisson

    MediaWatch: taking barrel-scraping to new levels.

  2. screaminkid

    Our Veterans must b horrified and our dead WWI&II defenders must b spinning in their graves at the Telegraphs ultimate BETRAYAL of encouraging this FASCISTS reemergence from the primordial Slime?

  3. Cole

    Not at all. It shows how dim and uninformed Telegraph journalists must be. Or they’re just insensitive.

  4. Dark_Heart_of_Toryland

    Would you care to explain precisely how is it ‘barrel-scraping’ to point out that the Telegraph is echoing fascist sentiments?
    Why do you think this is not worthy of comment?

  5. GhostofJimMorisson

    If you honestly think the Telegraph is echoing genuine fascist sentiment, or is in any way, shape or form, a fascist newspaper, then you are delusional beyond help. Because, obviously, when the Telegraph decided to put the two words ‘Britain’ and ‘first’ together, they should, of course, have remembered that particular article from Blackshirt magazine, written over 70 years ago. How silly of them!

Comments are closed.