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Report finds that the Far Right is shrinking

16 January 2015

DEMOTIX

Situation control: police surround English Defence League protesters on the corner of Parliament Square and an Occupy Democracy site, in October

Situation control: police surround English Defence League protesters on the corner of Parliament Square and an Occupy Democracy site, in Octob...

THE Far Right in Britain is today at its weakest point in two decades, an anti-fascist monitoring group has said. The authors of the report State of Hate, published for the organisation Hope Not Hate, nevertheless suggest that the potential for a revival in new forms is still there.

State of Hate, published this week, suggests that, despite the propaganda opportunities in 2014 created by the rise of extremist Islamic fundamentalist groups, and a series of child sex-exploitation cases involving Asian men, splits in the Right have left them unable to capitalise.

"In the public mainstream, this should be time to make hay," the authors, Matthew Collins and Carl Morphett, write. "But the Far Right is shrinking, divided, and increasingly leaderless.

"The British National Party hardly exists, and its electoral effort is in tatters. The English Defence League (EDL), which has provided a street option for a new generation of anti-Muslim activists and fringe nationalists over the past five years, has dwindled, split, and split again.

"The British Democratic Party, formed by former BNP organisers, has not got off the ground, and Britain First, which looked most likely to fill the void left by the others, ends the year in painful and slow organisational decline."

The report suggests that one reason for the decline - certainly of the BNP - is the rise of UKIP, "which has steamrollered through their previous heartlands and stolen their voters", the report says. "While UKIP is not the BNP, and Farage is not (Nick) Griffin, (the BNP's disgraced former leader), it is clear that most former BNP voters feel quite at home in the UKIP stable."

The report warns of a rise in the numbers of teenage neo-Nazis, centred on the group National Action, whose followers instigated an anti-Semitic Twitter campaign against the Labour MP Luciana Berger, including 20 death threats, and more than 2000 hate tweets.

There is also a concern about "lone wolves" - individuals who act independently, such as the serving soldier Ryan McGee, from Manchester, who was sentenced last year after a nail bomb and a cache of weapons were found at his house.

But the biggest fear is the possible emergence of a charismatic figure who could unite the opposing factions. One person who could fill that position, the authors of the report say, is Stephen Lennon, also known as Tommy Robinson, the EDL founder who is on licence from prison after being jailed for 18 months for mortgage fraud.

The report concludes that he "has the charisma, following, and media savviness to reignite the British Far Right if he chooses to return to frontline activity. And he knows it."

 

British Jews fear for future

ALMOST half the British public sympathise with at least one anti-Semitic opinion, a survey for the group Campaign Against Antisemitism suggests.

And a second survey of Jews in Britain by the group suggests that they increasingly feel threatened. More than half believed that anti-Semitism was on a par with the 1930s; a similar number feared that Jews had no future in Britain; and a quarter had considered leaving.

"The results of our survey should be a wake-up call," the group's chairman, Gideon Falter, said. "Unless anti-Semitism is met with zero tolerance, it will continue to grow."

Reports of anti-Semitic incidents reached record numbers last year, sparked partly by the fighting in Gaza in July between Israel and Hamas.

The first poll by YouGov of a cross-section of 3411 British people found that one in eight believed that Jewish people use the Holocaust as a means of getting sympathy, and a quarter thought that Jewish people chased money more than other British people.

The second survey, of 2230 British Jews, showed that 45 per cent of them felt that their family was threatened by Islamist extremism.

The two polls make up the campaign's annual anti-Semitism barometer.

Mr Falter said: "Some anti-Semitic views may be totally unintentional, but are no less offensive for it. Many people in the UK have simply never met Jewish people. Jews will increasingly question their place in their own country. Britain's Jews must be shown that they are not alone."

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