State of the far right

Criminality is on the rise among far right groups, reports James Perkins

Hero image

The North West is home to the most “obnoxious and criminal group” on Britain’s far right, according to Hope Not Hate.

In its annual assessment, the anti-racist group’s The State of Hate 2015 report concluded that although there is highly limited political power in the far right currently there is an increasing tendency towards violence and crime.

The group most embroiled in criminality and violence, the report claims, is the North West branch of the Infidels group, led by Blackburn-based Shane Calvert, who is also named as the fifth most influential fascist in the UK.

This is despite the North West Infidels (NWI) having a membership numbering somewhere between 50 and 100.

A rally in Preston, which Calvert claimed would attract over 600 people, brought in less than 10 per cent of that number, who paraded with Nazi salutes, smoke bombs and violence.

Matthew Collins, head of research at Hope Not Hate, said the number of people who attend rallies does not equate to power or danger.

“You should never judge the far right on its size or electoral capabilities. The far right is pretty stagnant but it has become, over the last 18 months, far more violent and active.

“It’s like a spider in the bath – it does nothing until you turn the tap on and then it runs around going crazy.”

NWI, which often attaches itself to National Front demonstrations, was also involved in violence towards anti-fascist protests in Dover and attacks on mosques in Blackburn.

NWI has claimed that violence is used in “self-defence” against anti-fascist protesters, and that the members had smoke bombs thrown at them at the Dover march in late January.

But Hope Not Hate warns that it expects violence surrounding NWI activities to escalate during 2016, stating that if there is “another year like this [2015]” then people will get “seriously hurt”.

Collins warned that the threat that groups like the NWI pose should not be under-estimated.

“They are very dangerous. Someone could quite easily get killed,” he said.

“In Blackburn there have been five or six really extreme attacks on mosques and Muslim centres.

“If there are far-right groups going around, that’s fine – everyone has the right to assemble – but these people are hell-bent on violence.”

Hope Not Hate describes the national Infidel movement as a “network of regional fascist gangs”, which divided from the English Defence League (EDL), and operate with a “far more confrontational and violent agenda”.

The report claims that individuals associated with the group are embroiled in criminal activity, citing examples of one member who is on bail after robbing a children’s day centre, while others have been involved in the drugs trade.

In the report, Hope Not Hate called on the police to intervene, as the NWI is showing “no signs of curtailing its hatred”.

Nick Lowles, chief executive of Hope Not Hate and the report’s co-author, predicted increasingly violent behaviour and urged the government to act.

“The rising militancy of Britain’s far right will lead to greater violence in 2016,” he said.

“The government needs to understand the changing nature of the British far-right threat and get to grips with the growing threat posed by far right violence.”

If you liked this article, we think you’ll enjoy these:

Interact: Responses to State of the far right

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.