Britain’s enduring fascist heritage

Juliet Samuel at the Telegraph – yes really – says the murder of Jo Cox is far-right terrorism.

The Quilliam Foundation, one of Britain’s foremost anti-extremism think tanks, has been the first major organisation to call this dreadful event by its name: an act of nationalist far-Right terrorism.

Why does it matter what we call it?

Because calling it by its name shakes us out of our complacency and it helps us to understand how we should react. There’s a tendency to think of Britain as a moderate, sensible, reasonable place. Until yesterday, we had been spared the horrifying extremist attacks that have recently been taking place in other western countries. And Britain is mostly a safe and moderate place.

No you hadn’t, not entirely. She must have forgotten the London bombings, and the foiled plan to bomb a London nightclub, and the attack on Glasgow airport, and the slaughter of Lee Rigby…Or she’s defining “recently” as the last couple of years or so.

But our society is not immune from extremist hatred, whether it’s Islamist or fascist. There is an ongoing and energetic discussion about Islamic extremism. There is very little discussion of our enduring fascist heritage. Yet Britain has been home to fascist groups for decades. There was a strong vein of support for Adolf Hitler in this country before the Second World War. The first lists of banned speakers drawn up by university student unions were populated by hateful fascists, not Islamist hate preachers or mildly controversial Right-wingers.

Those lists still don’t include Islamist hate preachers. Those are mostly welcomed and fêted.

Mr Mair might be a mentally ill loner. But he is also a loner who took inspiration from neo-Nazism, just as other mentally ill loners have been inspired by Isil propaganda. It seems increasingly clear that Mr Mair belongs to a vile tradition of the murderous far-Right that includes Anders Breivik and Timothy McVeigh.

It’s interesting how much they have in common with the Islamist brand.

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