What’s next for the radical right-wing street protests in the UK?


Dr. Craig McCann predicts where the radical right-wing street movement is heading.

Jayda Fransen and Paul Goulding, leaders of the far-right group Britain First, at a rally in London on November 4, 2017 (Associated Press)

Dr Craig McCann is a former senior counterterrorism police officer with extensive experience in preventive counterterrorism tactics. Based on his doctorate. research, he is the author of a book exploring how prevention strategy has been applied to right-wing extremism. He is Policy & Practitioner Fellow at the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right.

We know that the threat profile of the radical right is increasing and one need only follow the announcements of the main security actors to see that this form of terrorism poses a problem. Major and evolving threatens. While it must be recognized that the predominant threat in the UK continues to emanate from Islamist terrorism, groups such as the Prohibited National Action remind us of the need to respond to “”all forms of terrorismIn our series of responses to this national security problem.

However, if we look to the street protests of the radical right, primarily the actors who have traditionally operated on the sidelines of the English Defense League (EDL) and Britain protests first, and who use these protests. events as an opportunity to spot talent. for their cause, it is here, especially since the high-profile counterterrorism investigations, that we find the most difficult and comparatively neglected area of ​​operational activity to counter the radical right.

In 2018 I wrote for CARR on how, although the EDL’s street activities reduced to a motley group of local activists with the departure of Tommy Robinson as their leader, the constituency of supporters who gathered in the tens of thousands between 2009 and 2013 was still very much alive and had only gathered that year a “Free Tommy Robinson” of 15,000 men expression in response to his arrest for contempt of justice. I thought about the time; “What if an individual not tainted with membership or affiliation to a radical right-wing group came on the scene and could galvanize broad public support and was able to express his opposition to Islamist extremism while not being no more anti-Islamic? “

Zoom into the present and I wonder what the future holds for radical right-wing street-based movements. The main challenge they face is the critical absence of a leader who has appeal to the general public. As a charismatic and media savvy figure, Tommy Robinson was adept at galvanizing mainstream opinion, but as he shifted from his stance in opposition to Islamist extremism to adopting a broader anti-Islamic stance in which he focused on the inherent incompatibility between Islam and “the West”, it was the beginning of the end for the glory days of the EDL. Robinson, like his counterparts in Britain first, now has a string of criminal convictions that prevent them from garnering support beyond their immediate circles. They are a depleted force, so what does the next chapter of leadership look like?

My prediction is that this leadership will be less characterized by its stance on Islamist extremism, which while being an important aspect of the narrative, will likely be relegated to a secondary and reactionary stance in favor of strong opposition to the cultural threat posed by far left – winged groups that have increased their activities in the UK The stream of videos capturing Antifa’s activities in the US city of Portland, for example, is circulating in social media circles and precipitating a very clear narrative that this cannot happen here. This, coupled with the perception that our police service is intimidated by political correctness, leads to the same sense of urgency that we have seen in response to the Al-Muhajiroun protests in Royal Anglian Homecoming March in Luton in 2009 which ultimately gave birth to EDL.

While I am not suggesting that anyone who opposes the activities of the far left be portrayed as the far right (which would be absurd), we cannot ignore that protests and counter-protests can and have acted as pitches. recruiting for the radical right (and the same is probably true of their ideological counterparts). These flashpoints or ‘moments of stress’ for local communities (which refers to the submission of a local authority representative I interviewed in support of my PhD and delivered on EDL) present opportunities for extremist groups to capitalize on the polarized nature of our discourse and have been used to recruit and gain support for more extreme positions.

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There is a real opportunity for an individual (or group) to exploit and arm the social discord we see as a result of protest activity aligned with the far left narratives unfolding on the protest scene. and bring to life the latent constituency of supporters of the EDL and Britain First. This manifestation of direct “anti-awakening” action by the radical right will be able to articulate the cultural threat, real or perceived, posed by the drift of political correctness, illiberal liberalism and the rise of left-wing extremists and will be more adept at articulating implicit and explicit links between widely peddled radical right-wing tropes, such as the assemblage of “Great replacement“theory with the scale of demographic changes we see in 2021 Britain in a compelling narrative that reinforces the perception of the threat facing less economically mobile white communities left behind through social change.

I am not making this prediction based on a desire to achieve parity in how we respond to different types of terrorism. There is no “fairness” in a risk-based approach, there is only risk. I see the collective failure to discuss the specter of threats presented through the street protest scene and based on our very recent experience concluding that where there is action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, its physique.

Any security player knows that the end of UK lockdowns marks the start of the protest season and that pent-up rage across a host of social issues will be unleashed over the coming months.

The environment created by the limited protests that took place last summer in London give us a disturbing insight into the forces at play on the street protests scene and present a deeply polarized and increasingly violent set of actors. Over the past decade, the radical right has demonstrated how disparate groups who often disagree vehemently (often in the sense of clashes between leaders) are prepared to rally against what is perceived to be a clear cultural threat and imminent. The soil is fertile for new leadership. Who will it be?

This article is brought to you by the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). Through its research, CARR intends to conduct discussions on the development of radical right-wing extremism around the world. Rantt has been a CARR partner for 3 years. We have published over 150 articles from the CARR network of doctors, historians, professors and experts analyzing extremism and combating disinformation.

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