The ‘National Action’ group — which identifies as nationalistic and socialist — is scheduled to be classified as a terrorist group as the government attempts to portray its activities as being on the “right” of British politics.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd justified the move, calling National Action “a racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic organisation” — charges that can also be levelled at other groups such as those run by the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain which have not yet attracted Ms. Rudd’s ire.
The group is being billed as the first “right wing” group to be banned under the Terrorism Act 2000, though the group has scant ties to conservatism or right wing philosophy.
“National Action is a racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic organisation which stirs up hatred, glorifies violence and promotes a vile ideology, and I will not stand for it,” Ms. Rudd said, adding that the group had “no place” in Britain.
National Action is comprised mostly of young people openly supportive of former Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. The group organize rallies and have stirred controversy with various stunts including a beauty contest for their female members called “Miss Hitler 2016.”
The proscription will make being a member of the group illegal as well as organizing meetings supporting the group and wearing clothing or articles which police may suspect are expressions of sympathy or support for the group. National Action will join a list of around 70 terrorist groups which are mostly linked to radical Islam like the Islamic State and Boko Haram.
Professor Matthew Feldman claims the group has around 150 members who participate in rallies at which they often give speeches and throw up their arms in the Hitler salute, almost always covering their faces with bandanas.
“At demonstrations, there may only be a couple dozen people. But they are unashamedly neo-Nazi,” Feldman said adding, “here’s a growing appreciation that the far-right has not had the same attention that jihadi Islamist groups have had in the last 10 years.”
But the claim that the group is “far-right” can be defined as a political trope, rather than a reality.
Conservative philosophy and right wing thought scarcely encompasses the hard-line socialism espoused by groups like National Action or the defunct British National Party.
‘Small-c’ conservatives are also far more inclined to be supportive of the State of Israel, far less likely to be anti-Semitic than their left-wing counterparts, and far less likely to embrace corporatism or fascism than those on the left or centre-left.
The website of National Action makes clear the group’s neo-Nazi sympathies, featuring various Nazi-era symbols from the Totenkopf to the double Sieg Rune which was used as the logo for the Schutzstaffel or SS. The motto on the site says, “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain,” the same words used by Jo Cox MP’s murderer Thomas Mair.
The motion for proscription will be debated later this week and is expected to come into force on Friday. If caught breaking the law, activists and supporters could face up to ten years in prison and unlimited fines.
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at firstname.lastname@example.org