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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

  • 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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  • One Day Without Us—A Migrant Solidarity Reading List

    Today, the petition to rescind President Trump’s state visit to Britain signed by 1.8 million people will be debated in Parliament. Stop Trump demonstrations are planned for this evening across the country and are expected to draw more than 10,000 people to stand together in solidarity with migrants and against racism and Islamophobia.

    Trump’s racist, Islamophobic, anti-refugee and anti-immigrant politics are the same driving forces as those behind the Brexit vote to leave the EU. In the context of the rise of reactionary and xenophobic politics worldwide, the Stop Trump programme of opposition is a joint effort with the One Day Without Us movement, staging its first day of action today. Tens of thousands of migrants and their supporters are staging a walkout from workplaces and places of education to celebrate the contribution migrant workers make to British society. In particular, the action aims to highlight their importance to the British economy: withdrawing their labour for a day would cost the UK £328m – 4% of the country’s GDP.

    The British government is not just complicit with Trump's agenda: Theresa May has been a trailblazer in ramping up anti-migrant measures for years before her ascent to the premiership in her role as Home Secretary when she notoriously brought in 'go home' vans. While it debates the terms of Brexit, the government continues to run a brutal and inhumane detention system; demonise and deport migrants; refuse refugees, and extend the border regime deeper into British society, into our hospitals, schools and workplaces.

    Verso presents a reading list of books that challenge and expose right-wing narratives about migrant workers and refugees by contextualising crises rooted in the violence of capitalism, legacies of colonialism and war waged by the West. This selection includes books that provide us with histories of resistance from which we can draw strength and inspiration for the fightback ahead.

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