December 8, 2023

The 70s 80s 90s Blog

Three Decades of History with TV historian Tony McMahon

School Kids Against the Nazis (SKAN)

2 min read
School kids against the Nazis, or SKAN for short, was a schools-based campaign against racism and fascism in the late 1970s

This is a SKAN leaflet I was handed at school in about 1978. The Anti-Nazi League (ANL) had launched the year before and Rock Against Racism before that. This was a time of enormous concern about the growing support and even votes being swept up by the National Front – an extreme Right party.

School Kids Against the Nazis (SKAN) was the naughty young cousin of the Anti-Nazi League. In one of its bulletins it used the F-word and a number of celebrities decided to pull their support for the ANL. Similar to the way certain celebs have turned their backs on Black Lives Matter for being too radical.

To be honest, most of us didn’t care if chat show host Michael Parkinson supported the ANL or not – although Brian Clough’s decision to pull his support caused a ripple. The highly opinionated football club boss was a revered if controversial figure.

If there was an organisational structure to SKAN, then it passed most of us by. I don’t recall every being a “member”. And I kind of assumed it was linked to the Socialist Workers Party but wasn’t massively bothered by that. The key thing was that SKAN opposed racism and had very impactful leaflets.

The message on this one was that if the NF ever got into power then a lot of our favourite pop stars would be deported for being black, Asian or having one or both parents from outside the UK. It was a simple theme but resonated at the time.

At some point, SKAN disappeared off our radar – around 1979 I would hazard a guess.

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