Internet platform for studying Xenophobia, Radicalism and Problems of Intercultural communication.

Radical Political Parties and Groups

Radical Political Parties and Groups Coat of the political right-wing party "English Defence League".

The main British neo-Nazi and radical far-right factions are British National Party, English Defence League, British Freedom Party, National Front (UK), and England First Party. There are also several small neo-Nazi groups like National Action, South East Alliance (SEA) and North West Infidels (NWI). UK Independence Party could also be considered relatively nationalistic, but after the victory in the referendum on Brexit (2016), the Party practically curtailed its activity, saying that its goal was achieved

“British National Party” (BNP) was formed in 1980s from “National Front” (UK) Party. The party gained public support in 1999, after Nick Griffin had become the chairman. After defeat in 2014 elections, Nick Griffin was forced to leave BNP.

The far-right “English Defence League”, founded in 2009 by football fans from Luton, positions itself as a “rights organisation” against radical Islamism and for Muslim rights. However, in October 2013, EDL leader Tommy Robinson left the organisation, saying that the organisation has become extremist. On the other hand, EDL’s attempts to expand support by attracting Jewish and LGBT people have been called “cooperating with Zionism”.

Currently, EDL is split. United British Patriots is a new organisation consisting of former EDL members, however their actions have so far been limited to a few demonstrations.

The National Front (UK) is the oldest existing far-right radical political party (1967), which was in its prime in 1970s and 1980s. The party supports “white family values” and “Fourteen Words” – a white nationalist slogan that says: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children”. The party openly collaborates with racist and neo-Nazi websites like Stormfront. National Front Party treats history rather critically and tends to deny Holocaust, yet attempts not to use anti-Semitic rhetoric openly. The party claims that mainstream mass media and mainstream parties (including BNP) are a part of the “Zionist Occupational Government”.

The “England First Party” (EFP) is a small nationalist English party. In the period from 2006 to 2007 two EFP party members were elected as Blackburn and Darven region councillors.

UK Independence Party is moderately nationalistic. It stands for England leaving EU, drastic immigration restriction and the creation of jobs for British citizens. Eastern European immigrants in London have set up their own branches of neo-Nazi organisations. Polish group “United Emigrants of London” consists of 200 members with unflattering reputation. There is also the Nationalist Revival of Poland, which cooperates with the British nationalist organisations. Hungarian Jobbik party and the Greek Golden Dawn also have branches in London.

BNP is decisively anti-immigration. Environmental section of its manifesto states that cutting immigration would reduce the stress on the green environment in the UK. Immigration was also called the main threat to the British identity. In terms of foreign police, BNP proposes agreements with Muslim countries to return all British Muslims to their homeland in return to non-intervention in these countries. BNP also proposes extra assistance to countries who agree to take their nationals back.

British Freedom Party proposes to abolish the Human Rights Act, which benefits only immigrants and criminals and prohibit immigration into the UK for the next five years. BFP advocates for deporting immigrants who committed any crime, Muslim nationals and illegal immigrants. The party wants to abolish institutions engaged in multiculturalism and equality.

National Front advocates for deportation of “non-whites” from Britain. In the elections to the European Parliament the ultra-right United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) got 27.5% of the vote, beating the leading Labour Party (25.4%) and conservatives (24%), and getting 24 seats in parliament. The competing British National Party only got 1.1% of the vote did not get seats in the European Parliament. The election results suggest the existence of a significant layer of voters demanding xenophobia (even if only a "soft" version thereof).

On November 10, 2014, it was reported that neo-Nazi activists are training for a “race war” in underground camps across Great Britain. They were trained in hand-to-hand combat and given lectures glorifying Adolf Hitler.

Local elections in May 2014 were unsuccessful for radical nationalists. Candidates from BNP did not manage to get more than 5% of votes, with two exceptions. British Democratic Party managed to pass one candidate and one nationalist, formally from the BNP, passed as an independent deputy. National Front did win any seats. These results are explained by UKIP’s success with nationalist voters.

However, there is evidence of informal influence at this level. For example, the PAP conference, which was supposed to be held in one of the schools in Bracknell Forest. Local council was very reluctant to cancel the conference after the story went public. The trend towards the decline of the popularity of the far-right continued in 2015. In elections to the House of Commons on May 7, the far-right once again demonstrated a drop in popularity - the British National Party (BNP) on average failed to get more than 1% of the vote, and the National Front (NF) – 0.4%.

Nevertheless, UKIP was impressively successful in 2015 elections, becoming the catalyst for Brexit a year later. In 2015, the party won 12.64% votes, which is 4 times more than in 2010. This indicates an increase in right-wing supporters in the British population. At the same time, UKIP’s success in 2015 elections was also largely due to it becoming a less racist, more populist party.

After Brexit the Party leader Nigel Farage resigned and party's vote share heavily declined. In general, the party fulfilled its program task.

Hope not Hate’s annual State of Hate report for 2016 “saw mixed fortunes for Britain’s far right.” Those groups of the traditional extreme-right have not fared well, despite what many think should have been very propitious circumstances. At the beginning of the year at a four-hour protest in Dover where fascist and anti-fascist fought a four-hour clash over a march attempted by the extreme-right National Front. This resulted in around fifty militant fascist activists being arrested and imprisoned, which was a huge blow to the movement. This rendered their extant small group of activists even further curtailed, with the result that the National Front (NF), South East Alliance (SEA) and North West Infidels (NWI) groups became effectively inert as their leaders and key activists were behind bars. Hope not Hate state that at the end of the year the NF had less then 300 members, the NWI had no more than 30 members, and the SEA had around 15-20 members.

The leader of the fascist Britain First - who gained wide attention after a crafty social media strategy resulted them in netting over one million likes on Facebook - ended the year in a poor state after their leader was imprisoned after he broke a court injunction against him gaining entry into Mosques. Hope not Hate state that at the end of 2016 the group had approximately 1000 active supporters, although their massive web presence belies this modest number of activists.

The older and more established neo-Nazi group, Combat 18 (C18), actually experienced something of a resurgence in the UK across 2016 after a period of relative inactivity. This has been in large part due to the spread and growth of C18 branches and groups throughout Europe, in particular Hungary, Germany and Sweden. A particularly large and successful neo-Nazi music event held in Switzerland - which at 6,000 attendants was the biggest white-power music event in history - which the English group were heavily involved with organising did a great deal to enlarge their profile. The group has also benefited from an influx of Polish C18 members to London, who regularly hold events with the English activists. Hope not Hate estimate that their total membership in the UK at the end of 2016 was between 30 and 50.

The radical-right United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP) exerted most of its energies on the Brexit campaign for the UK to leave the European Union. Their success in this endeavour has been a strong contributing factor in the rest of the far-right’s failures, as they have managed to subsume a lot of their former rank-and-file activists and supporters. Former giant of the British fascist and far-right scenes, the British National Party (BNP), spent 2016 watching its former supporters ebb away towards the more respectable and successful UKIP, with the result of the BNP ending the year with 300 members - a disappointing development for a party who gained 800,000 votes in the 2004 Parliamentary Elections. However, the support that Ukip managed to generate in the process of its highly visible support for the Brexit campaign quickly began to ebb away after the Leave Campaign won the referendum, as “some of its voters obviously feel "the job is done" while others believe that Theresa May's government has assumed much of the UKIP agenda." Further, the party has also lost a significant amount of its financial backing since the referendum and is struggling to make up for this shortfall. The party was also ordered to repay more than €172,000 to the European Parliament when it came to light that they misused €500,000 on European grant funding. Nevertheless, with a membership of 32,757 at the end of the year UKIP are without a doubt the most successful and significant party on the far-right by a wide margin.

In November 2016, Paul Nuttall replaced Nigel Farage as the leader of UKIP. Nuttall is a former Conservative Party member and lecturer, having joined UKIP in 2004 after unsuccessfully standing as a Conservative candidate for the local government elections in Liverpool. Nuttall has been on record as being for a ban on people wearing the Burqa in public, and also opposed “Labour’s plans to tackle homophobic bullying in schools”, describing the move as “politically correct nonsense”. The prominent millionaire and financier of UKIP, Aaron Banks, had declared that he would withdraw his support for the party if Nuttall’s rival for the leadership, Diane James, did not become leader – however, in the event Banks continued to give his support to the party. Banks – a successful businessman - is a well-known benefactor to right-wing groups such as UKIP (he is one of the biggest financial donors to the party), for whom he attempted to stand as a potential parliamentary candidate but ultimately lost out to UKIP member Russ Martin. Nevertheless he has stated that he wants to stand as the UKIP parliamentary candidate for Thanet, the only place that the Party has ever had an MP.

According to the Electoral Commission, the independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK, other than Aaron Banks the top donors for UKIP in 2016 were: Growth Financial Service, a London-based management and financial consultancy company, that donated £359,000; Techtest Ltd, a company that designs and manufactures transmitters, that donated £100,000; Mr Patrick Barbour, the chairman of Barbour Index plc and Microgen plc and activist for the TaxPayers’ Alliance, who donated £100,000; and Mr Ko Barclay, son of billionaire Daily Telegraph-owner Sir Frederick Barclay, who donated £180,000.

Interestingly, the near-defunct British National Party (BNP) received several large sums due to being bequeathed them in former supporters’ wills. The party received over £382,000 from the wills of Dennis Stanley Radmore, John Christopher Lintill and Barbara Swift.

In terms of radical Islamic extremism, the picture is much murkier than with the far-right due to the extremely clandestine nature of their operations. Further, domestic Islamist groups in Britain have tended to be more interested in raising support - financial and feet-on-the-ground - for international organisations working in primarily Muslim countries, such as Isis. One indication that the Islamist movement is losing what little popularity it has ever enjoyed in Britain is the fact that the Crown Prosecution Service has reported that there has been a decline in numbers of British Muslims leaving the country to become jihadists in other countries. However, rather than indicating a drop in approval this development could be tied to the incarceration of Anjem Choudary (the most prominent and skillful leader of the Islamist movement in Britain) and many of his closest comrades. It could also conceivably reflect improved tactics in would-be jihadists’ attempts to leave the country. There is, however, some small anecdotal evidence from Muslim communities who are worried about the radicalization of their youth that Isis is growing in population to some degree.

The new group and most recent group in this re-emergence on the British radical nationalist scene from the ballot box to the streets is the Football Lads Alliance. Formed in June 2017 by property manager and Tottenham Hotspur fan, John Meighan, the movement successfully hosted its first demonstration on 24 June 2017 in the immediate aftermath of several UK-based terror attacks – mobilising nearly 10,000 supporters to its first London protest. At its subsequent 7 October 2017 protest, the group managed to mobilise again in central London – turning out nearly 30,000 activists marching under the banner of ‘uniting against extremism’, and lobbying for a harder line against Islamist terrorists. At the group’s protest on 24th March 2018, another estimated 7,000 people demonstrated in Birmingham against terrorism and extremism – with the emergence of a splinter group, the Democratic Football Lads Alliance. On 16 April 2018, it was announced that John Meighan had left the FLA. The most recent protest was on 19 May 2018 – one year to the day after the 2017 Manchester arena bombings – although the number of activists was only in the hundreds, rather than the thousands seen previously.

In general, however, the United Kingdom is often viewed as an exceptional case when it comes to the success of radical right-wing parties. One of the key points in the British literature on right-wing extremism is its complete inability to have any discernible impact on British electoral politics. For example, in his 1996 chapter in a jointly edited book on the "failure of British fascism," Roger Griffin compared the British radical right to an "ugly duckling" compared to some of their European brethren. Constrained by the First-Past-the-Post electoral system and political consensus on "moderation, hatred of bigotry, aversion to demagoguery, uniformitarianism, and overt racism," , the radical right in Britain - in Griffin's words - has moved to the left. They "swarm endlessly, but they fail to swan." So it was recognized that the postwar anti-fascist consensus and a strong civil society gave Britain and its political institutions immunity from all forms of radical right-wing extremism, acting as a firewall against extremist representation in the British parliament and in municipal elections.

However, this anti-fascist consensus and exclusivity vis-à-vis radical nationalist groups and parties has been severely tested over the past two decades, although the trend is still broadly the same. During the 2000s, the neo-fascist British National Party (BNP) began to soften its ideology, shifting from a more extreme form of palingenistic nationalism (that is, national revival after a period of moral decline) to a radical right-wing populist position expressing nationalist skepticism on immigration, social security, and the European Union. This was typical in the 2005 British general election, when the BNP manifesto included promises to leave the EU, bring back grammar schools, reduce immigration, and improve security. The result of this moderation was considerable electoral success for the party - it won more than 50 local council seats, two seats in the European Parliament and one seat in the Greater London Assembly. Largely because of financial struggles and the divisive nature of its chairman, Nick Griffin, the party's electoral bubble burst after it failed to gain parliamentary representation in the 2010 general election, returning the party to electoral wilderness and quickly losing its relevance. In the 2017 general election, for example, the party failed to garner more than 4,500 votes, up from just over 500,000 seven years earlier. Moreover, in the 2019 general election, the party was even more disappointing - losing its only retired Lancashire councillor and fielding only one councillor in North East London, who received 510 votes and thus came in last place.

In 2020, the emergence of two British factions on the racial-nationalist end of the far right spectrum was reported. One of those that gained notoriety was the racist Patriotic Alternative, whose activities were largely limited to stickers, video blogs, and survivalist-style outdoor events about "white marginalization" and "white life" discourse. Another, more sinister group, Hundred Handers, also engaged in similar activities, but with a neo-Nazi ideology. The use of Telegram to coordinate actions that are autonomous and anonymous to the leadership of groups (mostly teenagers) is something that interested researchers, politicians, and practitioners should expect in the future.

In addition to this, and in terms of other developments on the racial-nationalist side of the radical right scene, there have been several high-profile trials and arrests of National Socialist-inspired individuals planning to carry out solitary forms of terrorism. For example, in December 2018, two neo-Nazi teenagers affiliated with the now-banned Sonnenkrieg Division were arrested for stating their intention to kill Prince Harry.

Moreover, in September 2019, a Nazi-obsessed teenager from High Wycombe, who said it was his dream to plan a terrorist attack and bleed the streets of London, was jailed. Such attempts have not stopped lately. In October 2020, for example, a man was accused of a terrorist plot by right-wing extremists to kill a lawyer for a law firm that represented migrants. Moreover, in November 2020, a teenage neo-Nazi Satanist was given a suspended sentence for confessing to attempted terrorist crimes. It is not surprising, therefore, that right-wing radical groups outnumbered Islamist extremists in the period under review.

The latest group to revive the British cultural-nationalist scene from the ballot box to the streets is the Football Lads Alliance. Formed in June 2017 by property manager and Tottenham Hotspur fan John Meighan, the movement successfully held its first demonstration on June 24, 2017, immediately following several terrorist attacks in the UK, mobilizing nearly 10,000 supporters for its first London protest. In a subsequent protest on October 7, 2017, the group managed to mobilize again in central London, fielding nearly 30,000 activists marching under the banner of "uniting against extremism" and lobbying for a harder line against Islamist terrorists. During the March 24, 2018 protest, about 7,000 more people in Birmingham demonstrated against terrorism and extremism - with the appearance of a splinter group, the Democratic Football Guys Union (DFLA). On April 16, 2018, it was announced that John Meighan had left the FLA. The group's last protest was on June 13, 2020-a demonstration protesting the demolition of statues as part of this summer's BLM protests-though the number of activists numbered in the hundreds.

Turning to what some see as a mirror image of far-right nationalist groups in Britain, radical Islamist groups have also been a problematic feature of the extremist scene in Britain over the past two decades.

Mobilizing a critical response to Western foreign policy interventions abroad, perceived illiberal security interventions at home, and in some cases demanding the overthrow of democracy itself, several such groups have been banned by the British government for their encouragement and support of domestic and international terrorism. Prominent examples are Al Qaeda and Al Muhajirun, which were implicated in the 2007 saltpeter terrorist plot, the May 2013 case of domestic terrorism against a member of the British Army, the June 2017 London Bridge truck bombing and the 2019 London Bridge stabbing attack. As with National Action, al-Muhajirun attempted to change its name to circumvent the bans-under the names "Islam4UK," "Need4Khilafah," and "Shariah Project." However, such attempts were largely thwarted by Britain. The government, the Home Office, bans further iterations of these groups.

Another key group noteworthy on the radical Islamist scene in Britain is the more tactically moderate Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) group. Part of the broader transnational pan-Islamic movement for the restoration of an "Islamic caliphate" and finding its ideological basis in a desire to restore an "Islamic caliphate" and finding its ideological basis in radical criticism of Western democracy, Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain was created to mobilize young Muslims into its "movement," a radical but so far nonviolent Islamist movement on university campuses in the early 1990s. Because of its "anti-Semitic, anti-Western, and homophobic views," HT was considered for prohibition several times in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2015. However, and largely due to successful ideological moderation and counter-tactics after the 2005 London bombing, the organization was never banned by the British government.

It is the non-violent nature of groups like Hizb-ut-Tahrir that reduces the legal grounds for closing them down, despite the significant number of normative grounds for doing so - many ministers hesitate to ban HT UK because of its largely non-violent nature. This is all the more impressive against the backdrop of news that Indonesia (2017) was the last of thirteen Arab and non-Arab countries to ban HT for threatening "national unity."

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