An emerging younger generation of far-right activists has “repacked traditional racism” and shunned the “nazi baggage” that historically held back the British far right, an anti-fascist campaign group has said.
Hope Not Hate has warned of the changing “look” of extremism in the UK in a report it says lays bare the growing far-right threat in the country from both terrorism and online radicalisation.
Its report, State of Hate 2018, comes after the UK’s most senior anti-terror police officer, Mark Rowley, this week revealed four far-right plots and 10 Islamist-inspired schemes were thwarted last year.
It also warns rhe outlawed National Action group are subverting government bans by operating under a new front.
His remarks underline the authorities’ mounting concern over the far-right threat, illustrated by the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in June 2016 and the Finsbury Park attack a year later.
It profiles right-wing groups in the UK and argues that far-right inspired extremism is on the rise, despite the collapse of support for British groups such as the BNP.
It warns of a “new and younger generation of young far-right activists” that has “repacked traditional racism as cultural politics”.
“They are extremely tech savvy, avoid a stereotypical far-right ‘look’ and do not carry the traditional nazi baggage that has hampered the British far right in the past,” it continues.
“Support for these groups will rise in 2018 and they will become increasingly active on campuses.”
Hope Not Hate says while UKIP is “dying” there remains a “large potential for a nativist populist party in the UK”.
It identifies the group Generation Identity, which has a British and Irish arm, that last year crowdfunded over $200,000 to hire a ship to track refugee rescue vessels in the Mediterranean.
It goes on to argue that the world’s five most “high-profile far right social media activists and online warriors” are British.
They are, it says, ex-Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars and Stephen Lennon, founder of the English Defence League, also known as ‘Tommy Robinson’.
Each has more than one million followers on social media.
Nick Lowles, chief executive of Hope Not Hate, urged the police and the Government to “do more to crack down on the peddlers of hate and those pushing a civil war rhetoric”. He said:
“This rising terrorist threat is the consequence of the increasingly confrontational tone of online far-right rhetoric, combined with the almost universal extreme-right belief that a civil war between Islam and the West is coming, as well as the growing influence of hardline European nazis living in the UK.
“These are people who believe they are at war with society, at war with Islam, and in the last 18 months they have put this desire for war into action.
“Coupled with the collapse of the British National Party, which has convinced some hardliners that there is now no parliamentary route to fascism, and the Islamist terrorist attacks last year which led directly to four terrorist attacks or attempted attacks in response, and a worsening public perception of British Muslims and Islam generally, we must be prepared for more terrorist plots and use of extreme violence from the far right for the foreseeable future.”
Last year saw successful Islamist-inspired attacks in Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge and Parsons Green, with one successful far right-inspired attack in Finsbury Park, north London.
Hope Not Hate highlights the case of Finsbury Park Mosque terror attacker Darren Osborne, 48.
He was jailed for at least 43 years after ploughing a hire van into a group of Muslims after becoming radicalised by far-right material within just a few weeks, his trial heard.
Speaking two weeks before his retirement, Rowley said on Monday that the threat from far-right groups was “significant and concerning”.
He warned the overall terror threat is “considerable” with over 600 investigations encompassing Islamist, extreme right-wing and other motivations at any one time.
The probes are focusing on more than 3,000 subjects of interest, while security agencies must also keep at least 20,000 individuals who have previously featured in inquiries under review.