Britain's far right parties have suffered a "dreadful" year with their supporters drifting towards Ukip, a report from a leading anti-fascist group said today.
The State of Hate report from HOPE not hate (Hnh) said that what appeared to be an increase in the number of far-right groups, like Britain First, British Voice, British Unity and the British Democratic Party, were actually just a symbol of how weak the organisations were as they splintered into ever smaller pieces.
As well as the well-documented decline of the British National Party, the report's authors also claimed the Islamophobic Britain First are in decline, after the departure of its founder Jim Dowson, who left in disgust over its "mosque-invading antics".
The English Defence League has only tiny numbers attending its demonstrations, but there is a risk that founder Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Lennon, will return to frontline political activity once he is no longer on licence from prison, despite his well-publicised and coordinated departure from the EDL.
"He is the one person currently around who could transform the fortunes of Britain's far right and anti-Islam groups," Hnh's director Nick Lowles. "We are aware that many people are actively encouraging him to return and we feel there is a real possibility that he will."
Other new splinter groups with tiny memberships include:
• British Unity - Nick Griffin's personal "vanity project", described as a "non-membership organisation with around two thousand followers on Facebook."
• British Voice- "yet to get a website and has locked down its Facebook group as paranoia about inﬁltration seems rife."
• British Democratic Party - set up by BNP defector and former MEP Andrew Brons but has not leader, and acts as "a talking shop for retired and retiring activists"
• National Front - Ian Edward runs an active Twitter account but little else, and the party is "consumed by the faction fight with NF North," a splinter group
• The Inﬁdels - John “Snowy” Shaw has reined in his activities, the report said, and individuals remain active but have gravitated elsewhere
• Blood&Honour - a far-right music label, but attendance at gigs has dramatically declined
• British Movement - limited activities apart from a couple of demonstrations
• Racial Volunteer Force - a splinter group of around 25 people from Blood&Honour
• Britannica - A BNP splinter which registered with the Electoral Commission
• National Action - the womb that spawned Garron Helm who was sent to prison for antisemitic tweets he sent to Liverpool MP Luciana Berger, and one of the few predicted to grow
• New Right - a "think-tank" with semi-regular meetings in London pubs
• Iona London Forum - a think-tank with a better prospect for growth, according to researchers, and it has hosted controversial US anti-war activist and antisemite Ken O’Keefe
• Traditional Britain Group - Not a fascist group but one for those for whom Ukip is too left-wing, Godfrey Bloom spoke at their dinner
• National Liberal Party- Stood candidates in the EU elections, got 0.4% of the vote
• Patriotic Socialist Party - Formed from the disintegrated remains of the United People’s Party, tiny membership
• An Independence From Europe - Farage's thorn in his side, the group has managed to get itself on ballot papers and only won votes (probably) because people thought it was Ukip and it was top of the alphabetical list
Most worrying is not the co-ordinated groups, but online hate and the threat from lone wolves, the report said.
Serving soldier Ryan McGee, who had links to the EDL, was jailed in late 2014 after a nail bomb and a cache of weapons were found at his house.
"Our report reveals that, despite otherwise favourable conditions, far-right hate networks are really struggling at the moment," Lowles said. "For that we should all be thankful, though of course we must not rest on our laurels. As we have seen with events in France in recent days, the situation can change very fast."
Lowles said he believed that "the rise of Ukip as well as [BNP leader] Nick Griffin's own narcissistic downwards spiral" was to blame for the party's dismal electoral prospects. "We must continue to scrutinise whether Ukip can truly distance itself from the ugly racism of Griffin's former party," he said.
"Just like their compatriots in jihadist hate groups, we must also remain on watch for the lone wolves, those who would vent their violent fantasies upon the rest of society."