ABSTRACT

The rationale for this study will be outlined in this chapter. It will first briefly discuss the continuing salience of Empire in contemporary British politics. It will then be argued that, given the significance of imperial themes in far right publications and rhetoric, understanding their response to imperial decline reflects an important element of twentieth-century British history. For all far right movements examined, the British Empire was presented as the nation’s greatest achievement in dire need of a revitalisation only they could provide, and imperial decline was decried as proof of a global conspiracy and an impotent governing elite. Thus, Empire’s significance lies in its ability to be used as a lens for crucial aspects of far right ideology, such as race, conspiracy theory, anti-liberalism and anti-socialism. Following a brief engagement with the literature on fascism and the far right, the chapter will then outline the historiographical context for this study. It will show that while scholars have been examining the relationship between fascism, the far right and Empire for decades, this approach has never been applied to the British case. Furthermore, within a rich vein of recent scholarly studies of the British far right, a comprehensive overview of the role played by Empire in far right ideology and discourse has not been attempted, which this study aims to rectify.