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The far-Right won’t rise again Working-class areas are not 'vulnerable' to extremism

Our country is not a sewer of despicable racism. Credit: Jack Taylor/Getty

Our country is not a sewer of despicable racism. Credit: Jack Taylor/Getty


November 4, 2021   4 mins

Here we go again. Another day, another attempt to paint Britain’s working-class communities as brooding cesspits of hatred and bigotry, ready to be seduced by a secret army of fascists. This time it arrives in the shape of a report published by the anti-racist group Hope Not Hate, which identified 52 local authority areas in England and Wales as being ripe for exploitation by the far-Right.

These “vulnerable” areas are comprised largely of the nation’s neglected post-industrial and coastal communities, as well as some of our grittier provincial districts with sizeable working-class populations. Think Rochdale, Great Yarmouth, Thurrock… According to the report, these sorts of places could soon become hotspots of far-Right activity resulting in “the election of far-Right politicians, spikes in hate crime or one-off flash points spiralling out of control”.

A dramatic warning indeed. So, what exactly prompted the group to draw these conclusions? Had a hidden network of neo-Nazi cells been uncovered? Was a clutch of modern-day Lord Haw-Haws transmitting fascist propaganda to impressionable listeners via community radio stations? Was there a sudden surge in support for far-Right political parties?

Well, no. Nothing of the sort. Hope Not Hate appears to base its conclusions on two prevailing factors. First, and not inaccurately, the identified areas have taken the hardest hit, economically and otherwise, from the covid pandemic. Second, those residing in these districts have — heaven forbid! — “less liberal than average” attitudes to multiculturalism and migration.

So there we are. Any place that displays “less liberal than average” — for which read “less liberal than our own” — views on multiculturalism and migration is, so far as these oh-so-enlightened progressives are concerned, effectively worthy of being placed in special measures.

It is an attitude dripping with contempt and illiberalism. It is a tactic designed to marginalise anyone who voices opposition to, say, open borders or contends that state-sponsored multiculturalism has, all things considered, not been entirely to the good.

Of course, these opinions are common currency outside of our nation’s fashionable cities and university towns. But these are places where our high-minded political and cultural elites — including those who run our leading think-tanks, charities and advocacy groups — seemingly rarely venture. If they did, they would find communities which are, in fact, overwhelmingly fair-minded and decent. Most are populated by residents who are decidedly not opposed to immigration per se; they merely expect the system to be managed properly (as it plainly has not been in recent times) so that their neighbourhoods and local economies are not subjected to rapid and profound change.

Similarly, they will respect the right of their fellow citizens to live the life they wish within the law, but question whether the particular model of multiculturalism foisted on society by their rulers hasn’t served to fragment communities and push people apart rather than bring them together. (They also wonder how it can be right that they are constantly chivvied to celebrate the culture of others when their own is looked upon with such disdain by those doing the chivvying.)

To our liberal establishment and its outriders, these opinions are so beyond the pale that those who hold them must be considered outside the boundaries of mainstream politics and, in some cases, deserving of high surveillance. It is a mindset that sees anyone holding patriotic, communitarian, small ‘c’ conservative views as being motivated by an inherent xenophobia and narrow provincialism — and thereby some kind of threat. And if that means perpetuating a false narrative that portrays such opinions and those who hold them as being driven by “hatred”, so be it. Anything deemed to be out of step with modern progressive thought must be crushed under foot in the crusade for “tolerance”. Diversity, as ever, in everything but thought.

One thing this shows us is that many among our liberal class still haven’t learned the lessons of Brexit. Millions — including significant numbers living in exactly the types of places identified in the Hope Not Hate report — voted Leave in large part because they felt demonised and misrepresented by the type of people now painting them as incipient fascist foot soldiers. Their votes were not a demonstration of innate racism and bigotry; they were instead a demonstration of anger at constantly being denounced as racist and bigoted. See the difference?

The attitude of contempt towards our working-class Brexit-voting communities still prevails among our elites. It is as though they inhabit a different country altogether. They show no recognition of the great strides Britain has made in the fight to eradicate discrimination and prejudice, nor of the fact that our record in that regard is far superior to that of most other nations.

Indeed, it could be argued that Britain is an exemplar when it comes to tolerance and understanding. For example, a 2019 study by US academics found that prejudice against migrants and minority ethnic or religious groups was lower in Britain than in most other European countries, with 85% saying they would be happy to have a foreign worker as a neighbour and 95% someone from a different religion. “There are many ways in which Britain is known to be ‘exceptional’ in the European context,” said the study’s co-author Dr Jonathan Kelley, “but prejudice against immigrants is clearly not one of them.”

Of course, none of this fits the caricature propagated by those insistent that our country is a sewer of despicable racism and must engage in regular bouts of self-flagellation for its wickedness. We witnessed this attitude in the aftermath of this year’s European football championships, when a handful of vile social media messages directed towards England’s black players were presented as evidence that our nation was caught in a rising tide of prejudice and bigotry — no matter that most of the messages were sent from abroad.

That the far-Right has never been a serious force across our land, even during periods when circumstances were arguably more conducive to it, doesn’t prevent our liberal class from routinely trotting out hysterical predictions of a new dark age just around the corner. Their prophecies are hocus-pocus, an insult to fundamentally decent and tolerant working-class communities. They should be seen as such.


Paul Embery is a firefighter, trade union activist, pro-Brexit campaigner and ‘Blue Labour’ thinker

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Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

Good luck Paul.

The way things are going, you’ll be branded Far Right soon enough.

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
2 years ago

humour like that is just a Far right dog-whistle

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago

Another excellent piece from Paul Embery. A man of experience who knows what he’s talking about. As opposed to the self-indulgent, narcissistic twerps who lazily accuse the working class of every ‘ism’ and phobia under the sun, and then come election time….

Last edited 2 years ago by Karl Francis
Mirax Path
Mirax Path
2 years ago
Reply to  Karl Francis

Al Guardian just lapped up this report uncritically. I read it several days ago and my eyeballs are still rolling.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
2 years ago
Reply to  Mirax Path

Forgive my laziness but..seeing as you have actually read it – well done on that, by the way:
Does the report have a section on the extremism exhibited demonstrated during the turbulent Batley & Spen by-election?
Or the recent slaughter of an MP with sympathetic ties to Friends of Israel and Iranian dissidents? I am assuming so as I recall from the past that it’s predecessor Searchlight has roots in anti-semitism.
Does it have suggestions which offer “hope” to the youth they accuse of being far-right?
Can it name a single far-right MP? (because I’d struggle to name more than 20 Conservative ones right now).
Can it name another society that has a better record of integration and assimilation than the UK without an active far-right political pressure group? If so, what can we learn from that society?
Does it offer any solutions to the growth of “parallel societies” – white, brown or black, becoming evident all over the country?
Or more simply, is there any reference outside white people, or constructive actions recommended, at all in it?

Last edited 2 years ago by Dustin Needle
Richard Parker
Richard Parker
2 years ago

Thank you Paul. I grew up around Hull and can relate to your points: somehow I doubt they’ll wash with the politicos, though. Good luck all the same and keep on keeping on. Somebody needs to say these things and you say them well.

Terry Davies
Terry Davies
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

Yes, I’ve lived in and around Hull for over 30 years, and a much maligned place it is! I worked with some very marginalized sectors of society and can testify that much of the article really resonates. Thanks, Paul.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
2 years ago

The working class, along with farmers and other rural people, also know that mammals cannot change sex.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago

A sensible article by Paul rebutting the idea that there is a vast underclass of rampant bigotry that arises from sheer ignorance of the sentiments of those the elite liberals don’t socialise with.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

Well said Paul. I had a discussion with a left wing Remainer the other day who was adamant that Brexit is a wholly racist endeavour by racist people. His argument ‘maybe not everyone who voted for Brexit is a racist – but all the racists voted for Brexit, it was just about ‘getting rid of all the bloody foreigners”. Not much nuance, not much recognition of the many varied reasons to leave the EU. My argument back was that it’s irrelevant, that doesn’t make Brexit wrong. For example if I asked ‘do you think child rape is ok?’ You’d answer ‘no’ of course. Tommy Robinson thinks it’s bad too (and of course Tommy is the boogeyman for the left so the very thought of being associated with him is beyond the pale) so that must mean you support Tommy Robinson right? You don’t like that do you. Being lumped in with Tommy. Well that’s how Brexiteers feel when they’re accused of being stupid racists and Nazis just because they don’t want to be part of the EU superstate.
I thought I made a good point but the light bulb didn’t go on. Some people are so caught up in their own pious self righteousness they can’t see beyond it

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Not only did the light not go on, but he now has you tagged as a Tommy Robinson supporter.

Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
2 years ago

This is too moderate. Hope Not Hate is a hate group.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

Excellent article, some minor quibbles. First, it might be helpful to define “far Right,” which, of course figures prominently. May I submit a proposed definition: any thought or position that is not far left?
Second, the reference to “anti-racist group Hope Not Hate.” Is this really an “anti-racist” group, or is this just their false name? I went to their website and it seems a bit like UK version of the US Southern Poverty Law Center, which is a sort of industry for the woke, where they judge the racism of people and groups. They promote hatred and division where none exists to justify their existence, drum up money.
I submit that we, the non-woke, should not play their game and use their language. Anti-fa? Why call them that, when they are extreme nutters and fascists? Progressives? Why call them that when they are extreme nutters, communists, socialists. BLM–is it an organization that seeks to aid blacks or it is a scam (3 multimillion dollar houses) that is, quite openly, intent on imposing Marxism and destroying the nuclear family in America.
Excellent piece, but let’s not use their language.

andrew harman
andrew harman
2 years ago

I suspect I disagree with Paul on a number of issues but I always enjoy his pieces which I find well written, lucid and uncluttered in their prose. He is the left anti-Guardian.
On the content, he certainly has it right. The woke, middle class left likes nothing better than to superciliously patronise those they consider to be less enlightened by them. I agree with Paul that there is little to no chance on a nascent far right surge in these areas but it will push them more firmly into the Conservative camp. These groups are too dim to realise this.

Last edited 2 years ago by andrew harman
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago

Maybe “Hope not Hate” have been watching the BBC’s Ridley Road fantasy 
.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Supply and demand I guess. Not enough fascists to go round, so they invent some for the heroic anti fascist time-travellers to fight.

GA Woolley
GA Woolley
2 years ago

There’s nothing ‘elitist’ about Hope Not Hate; it’s an Islamist propaganda front, which inflates claims about ‘Islamophobia’, and runs scare stories about the supposed ‘far right’ to deflect attention from the far worse, and much further right, activities of the interests it serves.

andrew harman
andrew harman
2 years ago

Further thought. In the 1930s with economic and social conditions far worse than today, neither far left nor far right politics made any real headway. Oswald Mosley was generally regarded as a bit of a joke. This country has never tended to turn to extreme solutions.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
2 years ago
Reply to  andrew harman

Mjssolini was seen as respectable between the wars. Several labour supporters Mosley’s New Party, like him from the Labour Party.

andrew harman
andrew harman
2 years ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

Yes but the Black Shirts never really got any traction here. FDR did send people to Italy to see how their corporate state worked but it quickly became clear that Il Duce was a ludicrous figure/

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
2 years ago
Reply to  andrew harman

Well said. Mosley and his gang were indeed seen as a bit of a joke – lampooned by P G Wodehouse as the “black shorts”. Admittedly, though, a fair number of Conservatives in the 1930’s were sympathetic to Germany.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Gourley

This was due to the numbers who had died in WW1 and the horrors of Paschendale. Vera Britain had her fiancee, the next man she was to marry her brother and her brothers best friend killed.
The thought of young soldiers having to go another Paschendale horrified people. Life expectancy for junior officers was down to 6 weeks at times.

D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago

This year over 21,000 coloured people have crossed the Channel illegally to reach this smouldering, sulphurous hell of rampant racism.
Does this mean that France is somehow even worse?

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

You mean ‘people of colour’?
As well as the ‘Indigenous’ ones of course.

Last edited 2 years ago by Roger Inkpen
D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger Inkpen

I’m interested in this distinction. The same words, in a different order, meaning the same thing.
Why is ‘people of colour’ the permissible word order, and who made the rule? Did it come from a sociology department? Which university?

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

Isn’t there a difference between a Man of Kent and a Kentish man? The Medway being the defining line.
I’ve no idea how this subtle change of words came about – possibly to catch anyone insufficiently woke out! Didn’t the FA boss get into trouble over it?

D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger Inkpen

Thanks for a courteous reply.
Isn’t there something odd about new arrivals in a country telling the indigenes how to speak the native tongue?

Bernie Wilcox
Bernie Wilcox
2 years ago

Yet another spot on article from Paul but why does the accompanying image show a UKIP sticker. Are you not supporting this narrative by comparing UKIP to the Far Right ?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernie Wilcox

UKIP might not have started as far-right, but it moved that way over time.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

Yes, but into total irrelevance in so doing, though, which rather sustains the drift of Paul’s article.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I don’t disagree, but I was just pointing out that UKIP did become a more right-wing group. The fact that they lost support when they shifted too far made me happy, for I’m glad to see that my fellow Britons are not, on the whole, extreme right-ists.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago

Hmm not sure.
I think the picture is a perfect choice.
If the worst we have currently in mainstream politics is a bit Ukippy we’re doing ok. They are hardly FN or AfD whatever your political persuasion.
And as Jon points out, any lurch to the right post-brexit (post-purpose?) has meant they are no longer as supported as before.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago

The further to the right they’ve drifted, the less of a political force they’ve become. Sort of backs up the point of the whole article actually

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

Anybody around who isn’t “far right”?

Clara B
Clara B
2 years ago

Thanks, Paul, a really interesting read. Isn’t it also the case that working class people have quite high rates of ‘mixed’ marriage/partnership? (Around 10% of couples were ‘inter-ethnic’ in the 2011 census. I’d imagine a high proportion are working class couples). My experience of growing up in a working class family is that people are (generally) wary of anything too extreme, so would find the far right problematic. My mother would not have approved!

Frederick B
Frederick B
2 years ago
Reply to  Clara B

”Inter-ethnic” means a relationship between two people from different ethnicities as defined by the Census authorities. Most of these relationships are invisible – White British/White Irish, White British/White Other (meaning of any European origin), Indian/Pakistani, Black African/Black Caribbean and so on.
The total percentage of “mixed” relationships, invisible though most of them are, was 9%. Relationships in which one partner was White British and the other was non-white amounted to 1.38% of all relationships.
Despite the tiny proportion of White British involved in mixed race (as distinct from mixed ethnicity) relationships, the media predictably went over the top: “racial barriers melt away as mixed relationships blossom” gushed the Telegraph, disingenuously or otherwise.
Still,I have no doubt that the results of the 2021 census will further encourage those who favour the dismantling of our traditional identity.

Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
2 years ago

Hope not Hate is using the same naming formula that Orwell was on to and recognised back in 1948 when he wrote 1984.

The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.

Frederick B
Frederick B
2 years ago
Reply to  Samuel Gee

I prefer to call them “Hate not Hope”.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

Do the authors of articles have no say in the wording of the title and sub-title or sub-header bars? The author of this article correctly hyphenates in the second sentence of the piece, “working-class communities”, as “working-class” hyphenated makes it a compound adjective.

Yet the sub-header line has “working class areas”. Someone bright and new to English might think that “class areas” is a noun like “common room”, or “safe spaces”, with the adjective “working” preceding it: as in busily-engaged areas comprising different classes of people.

And yet the assumed headline formulators seem to copy the author in spelling the far Right as “far-Right”. Does that mean the extreme Left should be spelled as “extreme-Left”? By rights, “extreme” and “far” are so tied to the Left and to the Right, respectively, that the far-Right should be spelled the Far-Right, and likewise, the extreme-Left, the Extreme-Left.
Buildings have signs up saying “Smoke-Free Premises”, or the like, but always “Smoke-Free”. But it should be a small “f” as in “Smoke-free”, its compound adjective status turning it into effectively one word. Would I write at the start of a sentence “Smoke-Free buildings are, you know, all the rage.”?
“Smoke-free buildings are, you know, all the rage” is correct.

Thus how far-Right and extreme-Left should be spelled is “Far-right” and “Extreme-left”, if hyphens are going to be used at all.

Perhaps the activities and attitudes of the extreme Left and the far Right are so removed from much of the not-so-extreme Left and the not-so-far Right that these groups or parties at the far ends of the political spectrums necessitate hyphens, as stand-alone groups or nouns. But according to the rules of good English, you should then spell ‘em the “Extreme-left” and the “Far-right”. Far better that their extremist ways are highlighted in tandem than the colour of their politics.

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
2 years ago

Blimey! What was that all about? I think you need to get out-more, mate

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
2 years ago

Pity the article headline about the far right was illustrated with a picture of a UKIP sticker!

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
2 years ago

Brave and interesting article, thank you Paul.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dustin Needle
Frederick B
Frederick B
2 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

Interesting yes, but why “brave”?

Dean G
Dean G
2 years ago

Thses people form these opinions because they don’t live with us , work with us go where we go , they look at us through a plate glass window like gorillas in a zoo whilst making all sorts of assumptions on what we think , in fact the working classes got over racism first , immigration happened in our areas schools , workplaces , way before it reached the rarified atmosphere of 6th form , universities, offices etc , even now I have Muslim customers in Beaconsfield who suffer far more inverted snobbery casual racism than Northolt, , its still new to those areas , this being tarred by these clowns get right on my tits, and it’s really because we never had the opportunities they had , we are a bit rougher , bit more course , our humour bit near the mark , not Liberal do we must be racist, truly sickening

Last edited 2 years ago by Dean G
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

Brilliant. Paul, the people you describe who are villified, battled for and built Britain. The freedom and quality of life we enjoy are built on their sweat, bones and blood. Not only only should we remember those those who died in battle but all those who died and were maimed in industrial accidents or were lost at sea.
The Channel Tunnel costs the lives of six workers, at least three were killed on Carsington Reservoir and how many on the M25? The death toll in shipping especially trawlers and mining up to 1939 were horrendous. Many of the fishermen also provided crew for RNLI Lifeboats; all who are still volunteers.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

But the good thing about the anti working class bigotry of these people continuing is that we won’t get Labour elected to government.
So I can tolerate their stupidity as long as it keeps being reported by the media, so that the public will never be persuaded to vote for these bigots.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

But the good thing about the anti working class bigotry of these people continuing is that we won’t get Labour elected to government.
So I can tolerate their stupidity as long as it keeps being reported by the media, so that the public will never be persuaded to vote for these bigots.

William Hickey
William Hickey
2 years ago

“Danger on the Right!” is the fixed idea of leftists and liberals in both the UK and the US. It makes the educated feel tough.

William Hickey
William Hickey
2 years ago

“Danger on the Right!” is the fixed idea of leftists and liberals in both the UK and the US. It makes the educated feel tough.