The Angry Brigade
The Angry Brigade was a small British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

The word militant, which is both an adjective and a noun, usually is used to mean vigorously active, combative and aggressive, especially in support of a cause, as in 'militant reformers'. It comes from the 15th century Latin "militare" meaning "to serve as a soldier"...

 group responsible for a series of bomb attacks in Britain between 1970 and 1972.


During the summer of 1968 there were a number of demonstrations in London against the American involvement in the Vietnam War, centred on the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square
Grosvenor Square
Grosvenor Square is a large garden square in the exclusive Mayfair district of London, England. It is the centrepiece of the Mayfair property of the Duke of Westminster, and takes its name from their surname, "Grosvenor".-History:...

. One of the organisers of these demonstrations was the well known radical left wing LSE
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

 student Tariq Ali
Tariq Ali
Tariq Ali , , is a British Pakistani military historian, novelist, journalist, filmmaker, public intellectual, political campaigner, activist, and commentator...

. He recalls being approached by someone representing the Angry Brigade who wished to bomb the embassy, he told them it was a terrible idea and no bombing took place.

The group were strongly influenced by anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

 and the Situationists, and decided to launch a bombing campaign with small bombs to maximise media exposure to their demands while keeping collateral damage to a minimum. The campaign started in August 1970 and was sustained for a year until arrests were made the following summer.

Their targets included bank
A bank is a financial institution that serves as a financial intermediary. The term "bank" may refer to one of several related types of entities:...

s, embassies, the Miss World
Miss World 1970
Miss World 1970, the 20th annual Miss World contest, was held on November 20, 1970 at Royal Albert Hall, London, United Kingdom. 58 contestants competed for the Miss World. Jennifer Hosten from Grenada won the crown of Miss World 1970...

 event in 1970 (or rather a BBC Outside Broadcast vehicle to be used in the corporation's coverage) and the homes of Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

s. In total, 25 bombings were attributed to them by the police. The damage done by the bombings was mostly limited to property damage
Property damage
Property damage is damage to or the destruction of public or private property, caused either by a person who is not its owner or by natural phenomena. Property damage caused by persons is generally categorized by its cause: neglect , and intentional damage...

 although one person was slightly injured.

Although the group purported to represent "the autonomous working class", when the police arrested nine suspected member of the group, only one, (Jake Prescott, who was arrested in Notting Hill) came from the working class; the other eight, four men and four women (arrested together in Stoke Newington
Stoke Newington
Stoke Newington is a district in the London Borough of Hackney. It is north-east of Charing Cross.-Boundaries:In modern terms, Stoke Newington can be roughly defined by the N16 postcode area . Its southern boundary with Dalston is quite ill-defined too...

) were middle class student drop-outs from the universities of Cambridge and Essex.


Jake Prescott, a Scottish petty criminal, was arrested and tried in 1971 and given 15 years imprisonment, mostly spent in maximum security jails. Later he said he realised then that he 'was the one who was angry and the people [he] met were more like the Slightly Cross Brigade'. The other members of the group from North East London, the 'Stoke Newington Eight' were prosecuted for carrying out bombings as the Angry Brigade in one of the longest criminal trials of English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 history (it lasted from 30 May to 6 December 1972). As a result of the trial, John Barker, Jim Greenfield, Hilary Creek and Anna Mendleson
Anna Mendelssohn
Anna Mendelssohn , who wrote under the name Grace Lake, was a British writer, poet and political activist...

 received prison sentences of 10 years. A number of other defendants were found not guilty, including Stuart Christie
Stuart Christie
Stuart Christie is a Scottish anarchist writer and publisher. Christie is best known for being arrested as an 18-year old while carrying explosives to assassinate the Spanish dictator General Franco. He was later alleged to be a member of the Angry Brigade, but was acquitted of related charges...

, who had previously been imprisoned in Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 for carrying explosives with the intent to assassinate the dictator Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

, and Angela Mason
Angela Mason
Angela Margaret Mason CBE is a British civil servant and activist, and a former director of the UK-based lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lobbying organisation Stonewall...

 who became a director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights group Stonewall and was awarded an OBE for services to homosexual rights.

In March 2009, British family care activist and a best-selling novelist Erin Pizzey
Erin Pizzey
Erin Patria Margaret Pizzey is a British family care activist and a best-selling novelist. She became internationally famous for having started one of the first Women's refuges in the modern world, Chiswick Women's Aid, in 1971, the organisation known today as Refuge...

 reportedly declined to comment on the temporary withdrawal by its publishers of the book Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain
Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain
Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain is a 2007 BBC documentary television series presented by Andrew Marr that covers the period of British history from the end of the Second World War onwards...

following her complaint it had falsely linked her to The Angry Brigade.

Cultural influence

The group is parodied in Doris Lessing
Doris Lessing
Doris May Lessing CH is a British writer. Her novels include The Grass is Singing, The Golden Notebook, and five novels collectively known as Canopus in Argos....

's The Good Terrorist
The Good Terrorist
The Good Terrorist is a 1985 novel by Doris Lessing. The story examines the events in the life of a well-intentioned squatter, Alice, who is drawn into organizing acts of violence.-Main characters:...

, in which a group of naive, young, communist squatters splits over whether or not to join the IRA
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...


The group and trial feature in Jake Arnott
Jake Arnott
Jake Arnott is a British novelist, author of The Long Firm and other novels. Most of his works are crime novels, and include homosexual characters...

's 2006 novel Johnny Come Home.

See also

  • Black Mask
  • King Mob
    King Mob
    King Mob was a radical group endeavouring to contribute to worldwide proletarian social revolution, based in London during the 1970s.It was a cultural mutation of the Situationists and the anarchist group Motherfuckers. They sought to emphasize the cultural anarchy and disorder being ignored in...

  • Movement 2 June
    Movement 2 June
    Movement 2 June was a West German terrorist organization that was based out of West Berlin. Active only from 1971–1980, the anarchist group was one of the few violent groups at the time in West Germany. Although Movement 2 June did not share the same ideology as the Red Army Faction , these...

  • Weather Underground

Further reading

  • The Angry Brigade 1967-1984: Documents and Chronology, Bratach Dubh Anarchist Pamphlets, 1978. Available online (see below)
  • Anarchy in the UK: The Angry Brigade, Tom Vague, AK Press, 1997, ISBN 1-873176-98-8
  • Granny Made me an Anarchist
    Granny Made me an Anarchist
    Granny Made me an Anarchist: General Franco, The Angry Brigade and Me is the 2002 autobiography of Scottish anarchist Stuart Christie. Christie recounts his radicalization through the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Committee of 100, and his eventual imprisonment over his involvement in a plot...

    : General Franco, The Angry Brigade and Me
    , Stuart Christie, Scribner, 2004
  • The Angry Brigade: A history of Britain's first urban guerilla group, Gordon Carr, John Barker, Stuart Christie, 1975 (reissued 2005) ISBN 0-9549507-3-9

External links

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