Far right in decline-not on a rise to power

Matthew Collins - 23 09 14
Now you see it: The EDL last week

Now you see it: The EDL last week

We have never judged how dangerous the far-right in Britain is merely on account of its size. The ten year growth of the British National Party (BNP) between 2001 however, was a major cause for concern.

Little seemed to dampen the BNP’s rise. They had a representative on the Greater London Authority, a smattering of councillors and two MEPs at its peak. They were a sizeable fringe party of just under 15,000 members by the end of 2009.

The rest of the far-right was moribund. The National Front (NF) faced (again) extinction, British Movement rarely left the house and even the hard-line Nazi rockers of Blood & Honour seemed content to play quietly in the background without drawing too much attention to themselves.

The catalogue of events that led to the BNP’s demise began not long after Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons were elected as MEPs in 2009. Those who had said it was better to ignore their party suddenly sprung to life. By 2010, with almost the world (or at least, Barking and Dagenham council) at their proverbial feet, the BNP was near to collapse. Few people seemed aware of this.

Also in 2009 sprung like a rather knackered old salmon given a shot of some Class A’s, the English Defence League (EDL). They said they were not Nazis, they believed they were not racist. They were however, very, very nasty. Oh yes, and they were very racist and just a little bit Nazi. Many a car-park that has hosted one of their rallies can testify to as much.

The EDL and the BNP played a see-saw game of who could be the most nasty in public. As the BNP went to war with themselves, the EDL went from super strength lager to super strength lager and inevitably to prison after prison after prison. They also split, like the BNP, into many different warring factions along the way and also, eventually, went into decline.

The shocking and brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby on the streets of south London last year did little to revive the fortunes of either the BNP or the EDL. Yes, the EDL managed to add some 100,000 extra “likes” on their Facebook page and hold two well attended and angry demonstrations in the immediate aftermath, but even their decline could not be arrested. Mosques were attacked and both BNP and EDL supporters went to prison for some of the attacks, but even the EDL’s leader called it a day not long after.

Since the decline of both the BNP and the EDL, Britain has seen some eight or nine groups emerge to try and fill the vacuum. In most parts, they are just the same people as before but the groups are smaller and the members are interchangeable. More second rate Fuhrers have been thrown up than any real tangible increase in numbers. However, the approval of their anti-Muslim ranting increases almost daily on their Facebook pages.

The EDL is now just a symptom of the problem in this country with Islamophobia and racism in general. Not every racist attack, not every racist or disgusting tweet is done by an activist of any group. You don’t have to even leave the comfort of your home, or even be fully dressed these days to cause offence.

Because we now have some 100-150 hateful, spiteful and bordering on illegal websites and Facebook pages purporting to represent groups with genuine interests in this country’s political and social direction, there is a growing scaremongering that the far-right is somehow bigger and more dangerous than it was five years ago.

Because we have public outrages in places like Rochdale and Rotherham, people want to believe that there is a growing backlash that only people with allegiances to Adolf Hitler can profit and gain from. This is simply not the truth. In terms of people actively engaging in hateful activity, out in the community, on doorsteps and on high streets, there is no greater increase in the number of activists or activities. Their numbers are dwindling, their numbers have dispersed. But it has never stopped.

Are they more dangerous and more angry than they ever have been? Well, could they be more dangerous and angry than David Copeland was in 1999, when the BNP could feel themselves on the cusp of something great?

The far-right has always been dangerous. Their voters come and go/came and went as did/do most of their members. Their mouths spew great words of hatred and bile about their true sick intentions and desires and that is what drives away many of those people who join them on Facebook every time something awful happens that leaves people feeling isolated.

This morning, the police began kicking the doors in of Britain First activists. For the last month, the uniformed group have been in free-fall. They’ve lost their office, their phone lines, their leaders. Perhaps the authorities think this is when they are at their most nasty.

Their votes have gone. Their leaders’ are divided. Their numbers have dwindled. The far-right are just as dangerous as they have ever been.


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