Dwindling far right turns more violent

Matthew Collins - 29 11 16

Not since David Copeland terrorised London with a series of bomb attacks in 1999 has so much attention been paid to what goes on inside the minds and bedrooms of British far-right extremists.

The reality is that the far right in the UK is very small, and in incredible disarray. Their heyday was the late 1990s when Nick Griffin took over the volatile and violent British National Party. He took it as far as two MEPs and one million votes in 2009 — but it is now administered from a small room above a convenience shop in Cumbria and no other party has been able to take its place.

Neo-Nazi or extreme right-wing activists consider democratic politics to have failed them and have abandoned it. As a result, their cause is represented by a collection of small and extreme organisations, fighting each other for survival.

Some of these groups are so small they barely even exist away from social media. They are fighting to be heard, fighting to stay relevant but are struggling to do either. Their hinterland is the north of England, where they attempt to gain support in deprived white working-class areas.

National Action is the remnant of the BNP’s old youth wing, disillusioned with the political process and clinging to the extreme vestiges of hatred on which the BNP was formed in 1982: that there must be a race war for them to succeed.

Groups like these desperately want people to fear them, and love the headlines and attention they receive. They will achieve notoriety and fear not with their stickers and leaflets but by walking like terrorists, talking like terrorists and, sometimes very nearly, acting like terrorists.

In our State of Hate 2015 report we made clear that the size of the British far right is not the problem. The real danger is that their vile words can become deeds. As the British far right becomes smaller, it shows signs of becoming more violent than ever.

Matthew Collins is the head of research at HOPE not hate @MattHopeNotHate

(This article first ran in The Times 28 November 2016)


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