On 20 September, a 16 year old from Bradford was found guilty and detained for five years for seriously attempting to build a powerful bomb filled with shrapnel.
Although the eventual target is unclear, the court heard “he searched for and watched videos about the English Defence League, attacks on Muslims”. He also praised Adolf Hitler, telling friends “gas the Jews”.
This 16 year old was not just desensitised to the horrors of Nazism or far-right racism. He was ideologically convinced by them.
In Britain there is a growing threat of far right ideology. Only a tiny few will make the jump to neo-Nazi terrorism. But those who do are not in a vacuum but in an environment where far right ideas are gaining wider ground.
Dave Renton's new book Convergence on the Right (reviewed in Solidarity 516) discusses a convergence between the outer fringes of white supremacy and sections of hitherto mainstream conservatism.
The Daily Express, Nigel Farage, Tommy Robinson, and full on neo-Nazis like National Action all share the idea that migrants and Muslims are a existential threat to “traditional British identity” (or “Christian Europe” or “the white race”). They also share the idea that this threat is facilitated by a “cultural Marxist”, “globalist”, “liberal left” plot. Often Jews are often seen or assumed to be at the root of that plot.
Sometimes Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg and the more respectable Tory press will paddle in the shallow end of this noxious ideological pool too. Thus we hear the far right now chanting their support for a Tory Prime Minister.
Even if we were much better organised, the socialist and labour movements probably could not have won over that particular 16 year old in Bradford. But we can battle against the broader organised right and the anti-migrant, anti-Muslim politics which feed the violent fantasies of its outer fringe.
This is not just about violent street racists or guys with white power tattoos. It's not just about a hate filled fringe, but about political ideas you hear in your workplaces, at family get-togethers and can see on the news-stand in the corner shop.
Not all or most Leave voters are convinced that migrants provide an existential threat, but the Arron Banks and Farage wing of the Leave campaign of 2016 clearly framed the Leave vote as a vote against what they memorably portrayed on a poster as a brown horde of migrants.
Our movement also need to drop any equivocation that might suggest migrants are to blame for austerity or low wages.
The language of the Socialist Party and Morning Star when they talk of social dumping puts a fig leaf over anti-migrant politics in our class rather than face the more worrying truth that rightwing ideology has sunk roots within our class.
We must fight to defend and extend free movement and support migrant workers. We also need to rebuild a combative workers' movement more generally and a socialist movement that is organically rooted in our class. In estates and small towns as well as big cities.
We know our movement that can unite both white and Asian working class youth from Bradford. It has happened before. In 2010 the EDL were sent packing from the city.
That was down to many hundreds of working-class young people — mainly Asian but also many white and black — who joined the mobilisation called by trade unionists and socialists.