Right wing extremists and groups

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Right wing extremists and groups

William Kendall (KV 2/2779-2781)

The larger than life figure of (William) Dennis Kendall, MP for Grantham and Cleethorpes from 1942 to 1950, has now almost disappeared from popular memory. In 1942, however, when he won the by-election in Grantham and Cleethorpes standing as an independent, he merited a lengthy interview in Picture Post with accompanying action pictures and the eye-catching quote "I won't sit down and I won't shut up". A managing director for the British Manufacturing and Research Company in Grantham, he had controversial views on war production, which he took every opportunity to publicise.

These three files reveal that Kendall had come to the attention of the Security Service well before his election. KV 2/2779 (1939-1941) shows how Lord Beaverbrook (then Minister for Aircraft Production) had raised concerns about Kendall's activities, and the file investigates the real fears that he was planning to smuggle secret plans for an aircraft cannon out of the UK to America. KV 2/2780 (1941-1948) continues to watch his activities, and includes concerns that he was carelessly revealing wartime production figures in his election hustings speeches in a way that breached the Official Secrets and the Defence of the Realm Acts (serial 44a).

The files cover Kendall's election in 1942, including copies and summaries of his speeches. His victory was a surprise. He had initially been supported by the local Labour Party, which then withdrew support on orders from headquarters. A file minute of 14 September 1944 summarises the low opinion in which the Service held him: "The…not very satisfactory Member of Parliament is said to boast that he can get his own way on everything." A copy of the Picture Post featuring the interview is included.

This file goes on to record speculation about his presumed post-war gun running and smuggling activities in India, Holland and Palestine, involving Kendall's boat, which had a double hull for concealing illicit items.

Interest in him appears to have declined by KV 2/2781 (1948-1953), and Kendall ceased to be an MP at the 1950 election. The file contains summary reports of his ongoing activities, and a career summary from 1950 concludes that "during the war he was involved in the Black Market and there is in fact little doubt that he is a currency smuggler." The file records his close association with leading right-wing extremists throughout.

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