09/03/2012 08:22 GMT | Updated 09/03/2012 08:24 GMT

BNP Supporters Believe Planning For Violence Justifiable, Finds Survey

A "striking" 64% of BNP supporters believe violence may be justifiable to protect their group from threats with a hardcore group who believe violence is always acceptable, according to a study.

The report, From Voting to Violence? Rightwing Extremists in Modern Britain examined the attitudes of more than 2,000 supporters of far-right and radical right groups, looking at BNP, EDL and UKIP supporters' attitudes to violence.

Co-author of the research Dr Matthew Goodwin emphasised the report was exploratory and said not every person surveyed was involved in violence,

"There are quite striking levels of endorsement within our sample who view preparing for conflict and engaging in conflict as a justifiable course of action," he told The Huffington Post UK.

"There is always between 10-20% in the BNP group who always view these actions as justifiable. Those that that are involved members of the party are most likely to justify violence."

The responses indicate there is a "tranche" of BNP supports who believe preparing for and engaging in violence is always justifiable, the study said.

"One out of every five BNP supporter in our sample said that preparing for conflict is always justifiable, and one out of every 10 considered armed conflict to be always justifiable.

"One question that remains unanswered, however, and which we address below, is whether these findings suggest there is an inner 'hardcore' of right-wing extremists who are more willing than other types of supporters to endorse violence and conflict."

Goodwin said the study was important as many BNP supporters are "active" within the UK's democracy.

"I think some of the results are quite striking when we consider that this [BNP] is a group that has renounced violence and are active within a democracy," he said.

"For the past 10 years we've focused almost exclusively on trying to understand what drives people into religious-based forms of extremism, not the factors that drives people into extreme right organisations and drives them into violence. We're trying to shed light on the corner of the far right that has remained in the dark. It's a warning but what we found raises some very interesting questions. "

In a forward to the study Nick Lowles of anti-racist group Hope not Hate said the organisation had "repeatedly voiced its concern at the failure of the authorities to understand the link between right wing rhetoric and violence."

"Surely, when a political party repeatedly talks of racial conflict and the threat of Islam in apocalyptical terms this will inspire some of its supporters to take more violent action. They might act alone but they have been inspired by more mainstream right wing ideology."

A BNP spokesperson, responding to the report, said the party did not believe in violence: "We don't believe in violence - we believe in a democratic political system. The whole idea of being involved in the BNP is to provide nationalists with a democratic platform," they told Channel 4 News.

The report comes a month after the Home Affairs select committee noted that there appeared to be a "growth" in "extreme and violent forms of far-right ideology."