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Bloody Nasty People: The Rise of Britain's Far Right

The rise and fall of the British National Party and the English Defence League

The past decade saw the rise of the British National Party, the country’s most successful ever far-right political movement, and the emergence of the anti-Islamic English Defence League. Taking aim at asylum seekers, Muslims, “enforced multiculturalism” and benefit “scroungers”, these groups have been working overtime to shift the blame for the nation’s ills onto the shoulders of the vulnerable. What does this extremist resurgence say about the state of modern Britain?

Drawing on archival research and extensive interviews with key figures, such as BNP leader Nick Griffin, Daniel Trilling shows how previously marginal characters from a tiny neo-Nazi subculture successfully exploited tensions exacerbated by the fear of immigration, the War on Terror and steepening economic inequality.

Mainstream politicians have consistently underestimated the far right in Britain while pursuing policies that give it the space to grow. Bloody Nasty People calls time on this complacency in an account that provides us with fresh insights into the dynamics of political extremism.

Reviews

  • “Racism and the rise of the far-right in Britain are often discussed but rarely understood. Daniel Trilling is an exception … his voice must be heard.”
  • “Daniel Trilling is a serious reporter who is not afraid to get close to a difficult subject and ask awkward questions.”
  • “An instructive account of white extremism in Britain.”
  • Bloody Nasty People is pure pavement-pounding journalism.”
  • “Trilling traces the rise of the radical right in the United Kingdom and condemns establishment figures for not taking it more seriously.”
  • “Chronicling the rise of anti-immigrant, ultra-right-wing parties in the United Kingdom and the changing fortunes of the British National Party (BNP), Trilling's book offers a compelling analysis of the racist fringe… Trilling insightfully rebuts the most common claims made by far-right activists, offering neat refutations of such myths as the idea that white people are the victims of institutional racism in the U.K.”
  • “Trilling does not let Labour off the hook … [he] takes on those who mask concessions to racism as concern for the "white working class".”
  • “The BNP is in electoral decline thanks in the main to the activities of anti-fascist campaigners outside the main political party structures but the conditions on which it thrived are still there—poverty, poor housing, unemployment and racism in the Establishment media. For those reasons alone this is a very timely book.”
  • “A passionate plea for us all to be vigilant.”
  • “Trilling is an experienced journalist who knows his material, gets close to his sources, and writes in a readable and convincing style.”
  • “A cracking book that respectfully weaves together testimonies and stories – of people and places – with national political formations, examining them alongside the deeper economic and cultural questions posed by globalisation.”
  • “A compelling narrative ... Trilling challenges much conventional wisdom.”
  • “Trilling provides fascinating interviews with key political figures, arguing that far-right extremism remains a dangerous force in British politics today.”

Blog

  • Vote, or reinvent politics?

    In this column from Le Monde, philosopher Alain Badiou argues that voting only reinforces conservatism. He instead advocates "reinventing communism." Translated by David Broder.


    20 March French presidential debate. 

    A lot of the electorate is still undecided about the presidential vote. I myself can understand. It is not so much that the programmes of the candidates considered eligible are somehow in the dark, or confused. It is not so much — to pick up on a turn of phrase I once applied to Sarkozy, which enjoyed a certain success — that we have to ask ourselves "what they are the name of." Rather, all this is only too clear.

    Marine Le Pen is the modernized — and thus feminized — version of what the French far Right has always been. A tireless Pétainism.

    François Fillon is a Pétainist in a three-piece suit. His (personal or budgetary) philosophy can be reduced to "saving every penny." He is not all that attentive to where his own pennies come from, but he is filthy miserly, intransigent, when it comes to fiscal spending and in particularly the money meant for the poor.

    Benoît Hamon is the timid, rather limited representative of "left-wing socialism"; something that has always existed, though it is harder to identify or to uncover even than one of those characters we never see.

    Jean-Luc Mélenchon — certainly the least disagreeable — is nonetheless the parliamentary expression of what we today call the "radical" Left, on the precarious boundary between the old ruined socialism and a spectral communism. He masks his programme’s lack of boldness or clarity with an eloquence worthy of Jean Jaurès.

    Emmanuel Macron, for his part, is a creature brought out of nothing by our true masters, the latest capitalists, those who have bought up all the papers as a precaution. If he believes and says that Guiana is an island or that Piraeus is a man, it is because he knows that no one in his camp has ever been committed by what they said.

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  • Post-fascism: a mutation still underway

    This interview with Enzo Traverso was first published in L'humanité. Translated by David Broder. 


    June 2015 press conference of far right 'Europe of Nations and Freedom' bloc within European Parliament. 

    In his Les Nouveaux Visages du Fascisme, historian Enzo Traverso analyses the mutations of the European far Right movements that have emerged from "the fascist matrix."1 According to Traverso, the Left has to "offer political perspectives again" in order to occupy "the immense void" that is today being filled by both jihadism and a "post-fascism" that excludes Muslims.

    Are Europe’s far-Right movements (the AfD in Germany, the Front National in France, Jobbik in Hungary…) adopting the same codes as fascism or Nazism?

    Enzo Traverso: First of all, these movements do share common traits, including their rejection of the European Union, their xenophobia and their racism, in particular in its Islamophobic dimension. Beyond these markers, we can see notable differences. There are clearly neo-fascist or neo-Nazi movements, like Golden Dawn in Greece, Jobbik in Hungary, etc., whose radicalism is often linked to the extent of the crisis, even if in Greece the rise of Syriza did put a lid on this dynamic. As for France, the Front National does have a fascist matrix, and there are certainly neo-fascists in the party, but its discourse is no longer fascist. After all, it has made a considerable effort at ideological mutation, and that is one of the keys to its success. If it still advanced neo-fascist arguments it would not get a hearing, and could certainly not hope to reach the second round of the presidential election.

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  • Mutations of Fascism: an interview with Enzo Traverso

    In Les Nouveaux Visages du fascisme, Enzo Traverso and Régis Meyran discuss the continuities and discontinuities between the fascist movements of the twentieth century and the "post-fascist" far right of today. Olivier Doubre spoke with Traverso for the 16-22 February 2017 edition of Politis. Translated by David Broder. 



    You use the term "post-fascism" to characterise today’s far Right movements. What does this term mean?

    Enzo Traverso: The idea of post-fascism firstly serves to characterise a political movement that is shot through with contradictions, and which has an evident fascist matrix — for that is its history, where it comes from — and in the Front National’s case a dynastic line of descent. There is an undeniable fascist hard core in the FN apparatus, its activist base, composed of neo-fascist militants of all generations. They are very active in the FN and hold onto a good part of the organisation. So there is a rift between the organisational reality of this party — or even its anthropological fabric — and Marine Le Pen’s discourse in the media or the public sphere, which is of a xenophobic, nationalist, anti-neoliberal tenor but also comes out of a social Right. Yet if the FN were a neofascist sect, or even a neofascist party, I do not think that it would be considered likely to appear in the second round of the presidential election, or even capable of being France’s biggest party. This party is thus clearly transforming, and it is trying to operate a process by which it dialectically transcends its fascist character — but without entirely rejecting it. So in order to fight this party, we have to understand what it has become.

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