This weekend’s events show that the far right is in resurgence – and the blame is at the government’s door.
On Saturday, over 2000 far-right activists and football hooligans descended on central London, described by the Metropolitan police as ‘intent on confrontation”, they pushed through police lines, throwing missiles at emergency services workers, all whilst shouting “there ain’t no black in the Union Jack” and “Allah is a paedo”.
Myself and the HOPE not hate team were on the ground, following and infiltrating far-right groups, tracking their every move. Despite Suella Braverman’s attempts to pull the focus onto Pro-Palestine demonstrators – we identified the risk of far right violence days before and reported our findings to the Met Police and counter-terrorism.
Just 10 days earlier, these far-right groups weren’t enraged by the conflict between Israel and Palestine. But a series of events quickly mobilised them in a way we have never seen before.
Right-wing commentator Douglas Murray helped sow the seeds further in a tweet that read: “They plan to defame our war-dead and desecrate the Cenotaph itself. This is the tipping point. If such a march goes ahead then the people of Britain must come out and stop these barbarians.”
On Monday, Tommy Robinson was reinstated to X giving him the perfect platform to share his hateful message. In both videos and in emails to supporters he urged all British men to come into London to make a stand.
By Thursday, the Daily Mail had run a front page planting the idea that the Cenotaph was under threat and then-home secretary Suella Braverman had branded the Pro Palestine demonstration as a “hate march”.
Unfortunately, the far right appeared to answer that call.
Suddenly, thousands of people were joining football hooligan Whatsapp groups with messages exchanged about buying weapons including crossbows and declaration of war.
These football hooligans in no way tried to hide their identities, leaving voice notes talking of murder and sharing films of young girls from Yorkshire singing racist chants. Even as an antifascist with 30 years experience following and infiltrating groups like these – I was shocked by the open and violent racism shared in these chat groups.
But the reality is — when politicians and the media are throwing round the accusations they are — the far right will feel emboldened and were intent on trouble.
Our team witnessed groups in balaclavas arriving from 9am clearly gearing up a fight. By 3pm, a group of far right activists were confronting pro-Palestine demonstrators whilst screaming “there ain’t no black in the Union Jack” and “Allah is a paedo” and throwing punches and missiles.
HOPE not hate have reported over 1500 people to the police for membership of these hateful Whatsapp groups and much of the content shared in these groups will lead to arrests and prosecutions under the Terrorism Act.
Suella Braverman might be out of a job but the government’s shift to the radical right has long been confirmed; it has emboldened the far right to come back onto the streets in the numbers last seen in 2013. Rishi Sunak’s reshuffle might be an attempt to bring the Conservative Party back to the centre but the genie is well and truly out of the bottle.
Politics.co.uk is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.