Robert Blatchford was a pioneer of the British labour movement in the late nineteenth century. In his book ‘Merrie England’ (published in 1893) he outlined his vision of a communal, cooperative, and ethical society as an alternative to capitalist individualism. The book was Influenced by the ideas of William Morris, and in it Blatchford emphasized the importance of the arts and the values of the countryside.
The book was a huge success, with the low-cost edition selling over 2,000,000 copies. It was translated into several different languages.
In 1902 the English writer Robert Blatchford coined the term ‘Britain For The British’ as the title of a book he published that year. Blatchford upset many of his socialist supporters by his nationalistic views on foreign policy.
Robert Blatchford, was born in Maidstone in 1851. Roberts father died when he was aged just two and at the age of fourteen he was apprenticed as a brushmaker. He hated the work and ran away to join the army. He eventually left the service in 1892 with the rank of sergeant major.
Blatchford was a socialist but he was not a Marxist. Many on the left today describe him as a ‘Tory Socialist’. This is unfair on Blatchford, whose concern for improving the welfare and living standards of the working class was backed up by his patriotism.
British to the core, he had no use for suggestions of a internationalist workers movement nor for class war. In this he was similar to Hillaire Bellock and GK Chesterton, who wished to see the lot of the working class improved rather than dragging the middle classes down to the level of the poor working class as the marxists wanted to do.
The famous British socialist journalist who coined the term ‘Britain For The British’ also rejected militant, class-conscious Marxism.
He advocated a patriotic socialism which he believed should serve the needs of our nation, protecting the independence and self-determination of our people, and he can rightly be described therefore as a national socialist.
Furthermore, Blatchford’s brand of national socialism, formulated at the turn of the 20th Century, demonstrates the fallacy of the common assumption that all forms of national socialism have a foreign origin and are therefore, by implication, ‘un-British’.
“I now ask the reader of this book, to remember the unmerited miseries, the ill-requited labour, the gnawing penury, and the loveless and unhonoured lives to which an evil system dooms millions of British men and women. BRITAIN FOR THE BRITISH: that is our motto”.
Britain For The British Page 20.
Robert Blatchford died on 17th December 1943.