The invasion of right-wing rhetoric, catalysed by the Brexit debate and permeated by the current Conservative Government, has led to the festering of extreme right-wing views and has led more people down the path of radicalisation.
The past few weeks have presented a damning insight into the world of the radical right in the UK. 6 members of the neo-Nazi terrorist group ‘National Action’ were found guilty and charged for a host of offences under the 2010 Terrorism Act. Outside their home, the two main ringleaders of the group, Adam Thomas and Claudia Patatas, were seemingly normal and unassuming. Mr Thomas worked as a security guard and Mrs Patatas worked part-time as a wedding photographer who also worked in retail. The confines of their home, where they were raising a young child, showed a twisted caricature, walls adorned with swastikas and rooms filled with ceremonial blades, with many engraved with Nazi iconography and a wardrobe containing Ku-Klux Klan uniforms. The couple were sentenced alongside a cybersecurity worker, and a van driver, all of whom formed the Midlands ‘cell’ of National Action. The West Midlands Police called the group a ‘dangerous, well-structured organisation’. This is the new face of terrorism, the face of right-wing terrorism.
Despite National Action’s listing as a banned organisation, its influence on the vulnerable to radicalisation is still being assessed and realised. The group was made by two University Politics Students who were heavily involved in the Online “Alt-Right” scene and created the group with a direct focus on the ‘core-supporters’ of the British National Party- beliefs based directly on Neo-Nazism and racial hatred.
In response to last month’s charges, the Secretary of State Sajid Javid remarked that the UK Government is ‘Committed’ to tackling the threat posed by right-wing extremism, by halting terrorist activity and through the Prevent Program, which was originally created in the early 2000s to combat Islamic Terrorism in response to the 9/11 attacks. Prevent aims at rehabilitating those at risk of terrorism by intervening and providing support from social institutions and community-led projects. However, this fundamentally fails in effectively combating the various ideological factors and apparatuses that lead to right-wing terrorism.
The ideological and political climate that leads to greater instances of right-wing terrorism is straightforward to grasp. The earliest reports of modern Right-Wing terrorism in Britain rose directly out of the popularity found in the British National Party, where at one time it held over 50 seats of power in the UK government. One of the most famous right-wing terrorists of this era, David Copeland, planted a series of nail-bombs in 1999 aimed at Bangladeshi and gay communities in London. In his own words: “My aim was political. It was to cause a race war in this country. There’d be a backlash from the ethnic minorities, then all the white people will go out and vote BNP”. After BNP’s fall back into obscurity in 2008 and 2009, reports of Right-Wing terrorist incidents also fell out of the spotlight.
It wasn’t until 2012 that the Home Office once again warned of significant activity among far-right groups, where a spokesperson mentioned there was ‘persuasive evidence’ that there was potential danger resulting from the far-right activity. The following year, the United Kingdom Independence Party gained 12% of the country’s election votes, a record for the anti-immigration party. 2013 also saw the Home Office, under Theresa May, switch towards the heavy anti-immigration stance it has today, with the release of her controversial ‘Go home’ billboards aimed at illegal immigrants, a scheme that angered politicians and the public on both sides of parliament, and famously reported to have only contributed to 11 successful deportations, with even criticism being filed at Theresa May from the United Kingdom Independence Party, and which prompted Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary at the time, to accuse May of using ‘The language of the National Front’.
The tragic murder of the progressive MP Jo Cox by Thomas Mair for her views on the European Union and her pro-immigration stance in 2015 quickly catapulted right-wing extremism back into media reports and on the desks of policymakers in the UK. Thomas Mair, who claimed to have gained the inspiration for the attack from David Copeland’s terrorist acts a decade and a half prior, also had several links to both the British National Party, and the English Defence League, whose leader at the time now advises the inner-circle of UKIP on criminal justice, an ironic position.
In a confession almost directly mimicking Copeland’s in 1999, Mair called Jo Cox ‘A traitor to white people’. While Mair’s views may seem extreme, his pathway into radicalisation was clear. He believed that all mainstream media outlets were ‘corrupted’ by the liberal left, and this is what led to the problems faced by society, causing him to reject all forms of mainstream media, and to collect his perceptions on world issues through radical underground media sites, that routinely exaggerate or downright lie about their content.
Just last month, the BBC uncovered a group of white-supremacists using the popular gaming chat software Discord. The group modelled off a far larger militant white-supremacist group in the United-States called Atomwaffen. The ‘Sonnenkreig Division’ uncovered by the BBC also highlights the grassroots nature of right-wing terrorism, further aided by the rise in new forms of social media, especially in the growth of ‘private’ social networks- and software that can mask traces of internet activity. These new social networks provide sheltered communities that bring users direct contact with other radicalised individuals, allowing extreme views to be propagated easily.
The future doesn’t look bright. Theresa May’s pilot scheme in 2013 now sings in synchronicity with radicalised enclaves of the British public as fascist values are now idolised and migrants are now met with patrol frigates after their perilous journey to safety, instead of the helping hand and decent treatment they deserve. With the left of politics still seemingly in disarray from the gains of conservatism and the new right on both sides of the Atlantic in Western Society. More and more disenfranchised members of the public will become enveloped in the contradictions and simplicity of right-wing rhetoric, leading them further into the underworld of extreme politics and the intolerance of white-nationalism, that festers in almost all western countries now. While most far right-wing organisations barely amass more than 100 members, as the 2017 Las Vegas Shootings and the Manchester Arena Bombings in the same year have shown, it only takes one extremist to cost many innocent lives.