A Hater At Heart

Matthew Collins - 17 06 16

A clearer profile is beginning to emerge of Thomas Mair, the man police have arrested for the murder of Batley and Spen MP, Jo Cox. A man in his 50s who apparently struggled with mental illness for many years, Mair was also a long time far-right sympathiser.

Overnight our colleagues at the Southern Poverty Law Centre released information that showed Mair had bought manuals and other materials linked with terrorism from one of America’s (and the world’s) most virulent neo-nazi movements, the National Alliance (NA).

In 1999 Tommy Mair bought a manual from the Alliance which, among other things, included instructions on how to build a pistol.

Over a number of years from the late 1990s until the mids, invoices from National Vanguard Books, the NA’s printing imprint, show that Mair spent over $600. These included manuals instructing readers on the “Chemistry of Powder & Explosives,” “Incendiaries,” and a work called “Improvised Munitions Handbook.” Under “Section III, No. 9” (page 125) of that handbook, there are detailed diagrams on constructing a “Pipe Pistol For .38 Caliber Ammunition” from materials that could be purchased from general hardware stores.

That Mair purchased this material in 1999 is probably indicative of his mindset and suggests that he was far more politically-hardline and calculated than a man driven to a violent act through mental illness alone.

Neo-Nazi Britain

The neo-nazi scene in Britain in 1999 was very different from what it is now.

Throughout the 1990s the dominant ideology had been one of confrontational race war, with the State itself being far more of a target than minority communities. While Combat 18 (C18), a hardline neo-Nazi group that had emerged in 1992, was on the decline, its violent rhetoric and anti-State stance had permeated throughout the far right here and in much of Europe.

Fuelling C18 ideology were the teachings and materials from the National Alliance, whose leader, William Pearce, wrote The Turner Diaries, a fictional account of a race war in the US which quickly became a bible for violent neo-nazis. The book acted as an inspiration for the Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh and the London nailbomber David Copeland.

The book and associated writings by the likes of Louis Beam, inspired people linked to the British National Party (BNP), Combat 18 and the National Socialist Movement (NSM) – to which London nail bomber David Copeland belonged – in this country.

Bringing much of this literature into the UK was a British branch of the National Alliance, led by Paul Jeffries and John Cato, which ran a nazi booklet called Life Rune Books.

Certainly while Mair was ordering material from the National Alliance in the US, Jeffries was living no more than a couple of miles away.

Mair appears to have left little identifiable footprint in the UK that we are currently aware of. He was linked to a number of small groups on the very periphery of the extreme far-right, including the Springbok Club, which served as pro-Apartheid outlet for South African ex-patriots and their supporters. It has also been claimed that Mair has attended meetings of the ultra-Conservative Swinton Circle/London Swinton Circle.

More will no doubt come to light as investigations continue into a man described as a “loner” by those who lived near him.

‘Britain First’

In the immediate aftermath of the murder and arrest of Mair, a number of witnesses have claimed that the shouted ‘Britain First’ or ‘Put Britain First’ at the time of the attack. As far as we are aware, Mair is not a member of Britain First, the far-right militant Christian group run by Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen. But we are also acutely aware that few people on the periphery or even active in such circles actually take out ‘memberships’.

What we do know is that Jo Cox was a brave and principled MP who was opposed to the politics and hatred of Britain First. When the group marched through Dewsbury in West Yorkshire in January this year, she tweeted of how proud she was of the people of Dewsbury and Batley (part of her constituency) for facing down the “hatred and racism of the extreme right with calm unity.”

We also know that Britain First has been targeting public officials, MPs and councillors, which it deems to be “occupiers”. Ostensibly this was in reference to Muslims, but there is no doubt that pictures of Cox with a shawl around her head and in celebratory company of Muslim constituents on the night she was elected would have infuriated Britain First. In a press release the group issued in May, it promised to “track down” and take “militant action” against those it did not approve of.

And we also know, that in preparation of some kind of ‘Holy War’, Britain First was out in Wales only last weekend dressed in military clothing and training with combat knives.

Britain First

Britain First

Across the far right, Cox’s murder appears to have been welcomed, with many believing disgustingly that she got what she deserved. Many of these online statements, plus some other threats to MPs, have been passed on to the police.



Nick Griffin, the former leader of the BNP, shared a post on social media last night that described Cox as a warmonger who was somehow responsible for immigration and crime. It finished by extolling people to ‘Vote Leave’ with very little regard for the misery, hurt and suffering this murder and those words cause.

Showing sensitivity

Showing sensitivity

And National Action have just weighed in again, on Vote Leave’s behalf.

Jo Cox stood for everything decent in society. The reaction of the British far right to her murder shows that there is still a lot of work to do.


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