The fragmentation of the far right could spark a new wave of political violence and Anders Breivik-style lone-wolf acts of terrorism, according to the head of the UK’s first research centre into contemporary fascism.
The warning comes as new figures reveal that there have been nearly 500 anti-Islamic attacks since March, with more than half linked to supporters of far-right groups. Professor Nigel Copsey told The Independent that the electoral decline of the British National Party (BNP) and the splintering of street-based protest organisations such as the English Defence League (EDL) had created a potentially dangerous political vacuum on the far right.
He said the relative success of right-wing groups in recent years had radicalised thousands of people online who could seek new and more violent ways to express their opposition to Islam, immigration and economic stagnation.
“We have disturbing levels of hate crime in this country which gets under-reported, and we need to know more about the level to which the far right is involved in this,” he said. “This fragmentation and disintegration of the far right could increase the potential for political violence from small aggressive groups or lone-wolf or sole-actor terrorism.”
Speaking to mark the launch of the new Centre for Fascist, Anti-fascist and Post-Fascist Studies at Teesside University, he said there was no room for complacency: “We ignore them at our peril because the demand for and the causes of the far right are still with us – they haven’t gone away and in some cases are getting worse.”