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radical right

There is new research out by Dr Matthew Goodwin based on the leaked BNP membership list. Published in the journal Party Politics, it looks at the areas in England that contain larger clusters of BNP members.
To summarise some of its key findings (and heavily paraphrasing a summary by Matthew himself):
  • The local authorities that contain the highest number of members include Pendle, Burnley, Melton, Charnwood and Barnsley.
  • Key regional areas of ‘membership strength’ are Yorkshire, and the Midlands
  • Far right members tend to concentrate most heavily in areas that are urban, characterised by economic insecurity and where average education levels are low. Far right membership is particularly likely in areas where there are large numbers of residents employed in the manufacturing sector. For every one unit increase in wards of those who are employed in manufacturing, there is a 43% increase in membership (while controlling for other social and economic conditions). The results also suggest that long-term unemployment is not a key driver of far right membership, but rather it is citizens who are employed and in financial precarious positions that are the most susceptible to join far right groups
  • In terms of ethnic diversity, the findings confirm those of earlier studies: membership is correlated with the presence of large Muslim communities in the local area. This is consistent with findings on far right voting, and suggests that perceived threats from culturally distinct and economically deprived Muslim communities is an important factor to explaining support for the far right. However – and also consistent with work on far right voting – it finds that the presence of non-Muslim Asians has no significant impact on membership while membership is lower in areas where there are large numbers of Black British citizens. At broad level, this is further evidence that anti-Muslim prejudice has become a key driver of support for the far right, and that simply describing these groups as ‘anti-immigrant’ glosses a more nuanced picture.
  • Membership is significantly higher in local authorities where the BNP succeeded in winning a council seat, and has established local branches since 2000. While the BNP is now in decline, this suggests that where the far right is active and establishes a local presence its recruitment efforts are more successful
  • There is evidence of a ‘legacy effect’ – membership of the contemporary far right is significantly higher (17% higher) in local authorities where the old National Front (NF) was active in the 1970s, and while holding other social, economic and political factors constant. This would suggest that the modern far right has continued to draw on older networks of supporters within specific areas of the country, and that specific local areas in England are providing a context that is more favourable than others toward anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim campaigns. It might also suggest that areas where the far right is currently most active (for example the EDL), are likely to provide favourable conditions for the far right over coming decades.
This is a great piece of research and essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the far right in England.
Matthew also wrote a piece for ISD on the rise of the far right in Europe a few months ago, which can be downloaded from our website.
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Last week I was helping to run an international conference in Copenhagen run by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue on de-radicalisation and disengagement. We were working with the Danish Ministry for Integration as part of the Danish Presidency of the EU.

Bringing together a mix of policy makers, politicians, practitioners and former extremists, we looked at best practice in helping extremists to exit from their movements and ways in which policy and mainstream services, such as prisons, probation and welfare services, can assist.

I wrote a paper for the conference setting out what we know about de-radicalisation and disengagement, latest thinking, and a series of examples of good practice.

The Norweigan Central Evaluation Commission has published its review into police handling of the violent attacks of 22 July 2011 in Norway, which resulted in 77 deaths and many injuries. The English translation of the summary can be found here.

The main findings and recommendations are:

  • Notification by red alert: The police need to review and improve their alert system.
  • Situation reporting: The police need to improve situation reporting skills, focusing on verifying information, making sure the information is relevant for the superior lead, and highlighting information that is new since the last situation report.
  • Organisation, direction and coordination: There is mixed capability from area to area to respond to an event of this kind, and some areas had not updated their response plans. There is a need to consider introducing requirements as to minimum police staffing and skills, and there should be more attention on district-to-district peer support. The police needs to introduce a nation-wide emergency communications system due to communications problems experienced during the event, and several other IT and communications systems should be revamped. Police need to provide more training in incident management. There was good coordination between police and other partners on the ground. Overall, the Commission finds that the police carried out their duties as promptly as possible under the circumstances.
  • Management of evacuees and family/friends: Family and friends have been positive about the support they received from police in the immediate aftermath of the event, and centres for evacuees and family/friends were rapidly set up. But confusion was caused because several hotline numbers were released, people were confused about which one to use, and cooperation with the public health services caused frustration.
  • Public relations: There was confusion about which police district was handling press and media enquiries, and the Commission recommends that where more than one police district is affected by an incident the National Police Directorate should play a greater role in coordination. More user-friendly software is needed for posting information on the public police website, and insufficient attention was devoted to public relations challenges in the restoration-of-normality phase.
  • Health and safety: The Commission recommends that local Health and Safety plans be developed further.

I have co-written a piece in a new report about the ‘new radical right’ in Europe, which analyses latest trends among violent and non-violent right wing movements. There are excellent pieces by Vidhya Ramalingam from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and Dr Matthew Goodwin of Nottingham University. The piece I have co-written pulls out some of the key policy recommendations.

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