Thankfully it is extremely difficult to find a genuine fascist in the UK. We have no fascist MPs, no fascist presence in our university faculty rooms, no fascist newspapers, radio or TV stations. In most of the UK fascism is automatically thought to refer to last century’s black shirted strutting strong men, a dead letter in practical terms today.
Yet Britain has a flourishing anti-fascist industry. According to the cries of alarm from campaign groups, media, political figures and inter-faith and minority advocacy organisations it would seem that the UK teeters on the verge of a fascist putsch.
Fascist is never actually used with reference to a specific political philosophy. The word is usually shorthand for organisations such as the British National Party and the English Defence League, groups promoting hostility towards Muslims and other minority groups.
The anti-fascist groups are, however, usually as unwelcome to most reasonable British people as the supposedly fascist groups they oppose whilst sharing many of their methods.
Unite Against Fascism, the UK’s main anti-fascist group, was created at the instigation of the Socialist Workers Party an extremist Marxist group dedicated to the overthrow of liberal democracy and the imposition of totalitarian Marxism.
The SWP (which refused to condemn 9/11 merely saying they ‘understood why it happened’) supports such extremist organisations as Hefezat-e-Islam a Bangladeshi coalition advocating the death penalty for ‘atheists’ and any who ‘defame Islam’. The BBC reports that: ‘It has traditionally not sought power through elections, but looks to use its street muscle to change Bangladesh’s traditional secular culture and politics through the imposition of what it believes are proper Islamic ways.’
The UAF mimics its parent organisation’s stance on Islamic extremism. UAF Vice Chair, the self-proclaimed anti-fascist Azad Ali, opposes: ‘Democracy, if it means at the expense of not implementing the sharia’. Ali is Senior Member of the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe — a far-right fundamentalist group constituting the British branch of Jamaat-e-Islami, the violent Bangladeshi Islamist party responsible for attacks on Hindus, Buddhists and Ahmadiyya Muslims.
UAF’s Assistant Secretary is Martin Smith. A leading figure in the SWP, Smith has been found guilty of violent assault on a police officer following a street brawl at a demonstration. He is also a vocal supporter of Gilad Atzmon a self described ‘Jew who hates Judaism’ and Holocaust denier who has argued that burning down synagogues is a ‘rational act’.
Responding to the murder of Lee Rigby by Islamist terrorists in Woolwich, the UAF staged a demonstration called ‘Don’t Let the Racists Divide Us’. This featured as a speaker Shakeel Begg, an imam at the Lewisham Islamic Centre where the Woolwich murderers worshipped.
Begg is a well-known hate preacher who claims jihad is the ‘greatest of deeds’. Whilst Muslim chaplain at Kingston University in London Begg advised Muslim students, ‘You want to make jihad? Very good… Take some money and go to Palestine and fight, fight the terrorists, fight the Zionists.’
The UAF and other anti-fascists are as violent as their ideological opponents. Peter Tatchell, a man of personal integrity and no small physical courage, has noted: ‘UAF commendably opposes the British National Party and English Defence League but it is silent about Islamist fascists who promote anti-Semitism, homophobia, sexism and sectarian attacks on non-extremist Muslims.’
The Institute for Race Relations outspokenly opposes fascism. This organisation practices a one-sided condemnation of bigotry whilst ignoring supposedly acceptable extremism. The Institute has promoted the work of extremists such as Moazzam Begg, described by human rights activist Gita Sahgal as ‘Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban’. Whilst denying being a terrorist Begg has admitted to spending time at two Islamic training camps in Afghanistan, supporting militant Muslim fighters, buying a rifle and a handgun, and being acquainted with persons linked to terrorism.
In reality anti-fascism is little more than a fig-leaf for extremist political groups whose supposed principled anger against their ideological opponents serves to decontaminate their own vitriolic views. Unfortunately main-stream politicians, media and human rights groups, connive at this.
Eager to demonstrate their right-on ethics, they voice support for the anti-fascism industry as evidence of their opposition to political views considered socially and morally unacceptable. Despite its connections to hate preachers and extremists, UAF is supported by scores of MPs including founding signatory Prime Minister David Cameron.
In their futile hunt for moral credibility politicians and community organisations issue warnings of the threat posed by fascism. Against all the evidence they resolutely refuse to acknowledge that some anti-fascist groups are at least as destructive as their ideological opponents. These same politicians, trades union leaders and community organisations, however, consider warnings about other strands of political or religious extremism to be hysterical hate speech.
Most mainstream organisations seem to regard the issue of counter-extremism as an opportunity for posturing, rather than as a broader threat to be seriously challenged. When political spin is more important than principle we can expect little else.