Do far right extremists operate as lone wolves or a pack?

16 April 2011

Some political organisations chase the news agenda, others just plough their own furrow
driven by the overriding morality of their cause.

The work of Gerry Gable and his anti-fascist organisation Searchlight has never been fashionable, but his tireless monitoring and exposure of the
extreme-right has acted as an important check on violent racism over four decades.

His latest report, “Lone Wolves: Myth or Reality?”, was commissioned by John Denham when he was
Communities Secretaries and it is an extraordinarily detailed examination of the history of right-wing extremist violence.


His conclusion is that it may be convenient for the police and the media to think of right-wing terrorists as “lone wolves”, but the reality is that they almost always have connections
with organized fascist activity.

The work emerged out of an examination of the nail bomber David Copeland who attacked gay, black and Asian targets in Soho, Brixton and Brick Lane in 1999. Copeland was described as a crazed
maverick, a classic “lone wolf”.

The reality was that Copeland was indeed schizophrenic, but he was also a member of the fringe National Socialist Movement and a former BNP member. When police arrested him, they found swastika
flags, a copy of Mein Kampf, but also a membership card of the NSM, which grew out of ultra-right group Combat 18.

The report has serious resource implications for the police because it suggests that so-called lone wolves could be stopped if we had better intelligence about the organized extreme right. The
document contains an exhaustive list of convictions of extremists with links to right-wing organisations and profiles of key right-wing “lone-wolves” who turned out to be nothing of the

This is depressing and sometimes terrifying stuff. But it is also an important warning. One appendix, for example, contains an investigation into Patriots of the White European Resistance (POWER) a
viciously anti-Semitic skinhead organisation that attracts more than 200 people to its internet forum. The report provides useful pen-portraits of some of these repellent people. Lone Wolves?
Hardly. They may be sad, mentally unstable racists, but the internet means they also have a community.

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  • rndtechnologies786

    Nice thought.

  • Patricia Shaw

    Tom B. If I used the term wolf pack to refer to Jews, i apologise.

    I refer to the AIPAC lobby, and its UK images, which are known to hunt down their victims in every bit as ruthless a way as a wolf pack.

    I think you will agree on that point.

  • Joe De Mocritus

    I think that the threat from violent islamofascist groups is far more real than these BNP nutters.

  • Manxman

    Or even an extremist hypocrite!

  • Manxman

    Gerry Gable appeared as a speaker at Communist Party of Great Britain events much more recently than 1962. He is also a convicted burglar. As others have pointed out he conveniently ignores the fact that the vast majority of racist attacks in Britain are committed by ethnic monorities against white victims as documented in the British Crime Survey 2006. He also ignores the fact that communism has been responsible for many millions more people slaughtered than Hitler could ever have imagined. Hardly an impartial messenger is he and yet both the Labour Party and the Tories are happy to pay Searchlight and the UAF for the violence and harassment their members subject anyone who disagrees with them to. To call Gable a hypocrite is an understatement.He is an etremist hypocrite

  • skydog

    Wiki:As a youth, Gable was a member of the Young Communist League and the Communist Party of Great Britain, and worked as a runner on the Communist Party’s Daily Worker newspaper, leaving after a year to become a Communist Party trade union organizer.

    He stood unsuccessfully for the Communist Party on May 10, 1962 at Northfield Ward, Stamford Hill, North London.[1]

    In 1962, after 10 years’ membership, he left the Communist Party to “concentrate on anti-fascist work and because the party had begun to adopt an anti-Israel line”

    The one constant regarding Gable is ‘Communist/ism’ A failed entity. Do communists change their spots? I think not.

  • Coeur de Lion

    The left-right diathesis refers to a tennis court in Paris. The axis now is between liberty and oppression. See you in the Gulag.

  • Andy Gill

    I’m all in favour of exposing the racism of the far-right, but Searchlight seem to ignore the Muslim dimension.

    Far-right Islam is just as virulent as white supremacism, and in virtue of its numbers, arguably the greater threat. Searchlight needs to take on the Islamic hate-groups as well if it is to fight fascism effectively.

  • RocketDog

    So people whom you don’t agree with should be denied free association?

    Nicholas is correct. Left is Left, Right is Right and it is no good taking refuge behind revisionist definitions of terms such as ‘fascist.’ I prefer ‘totalitarian’ as it doesn’t carry the same baggage

    New Labour were ‘totalitarian’ in their approach by any definition. A significant difference between them and the Nazis, in my opinion, is that they let a client media do much of their dirty work for them, instead of enlisting thugs on the street

  • Tom B

    I note that Patricia Shaw uses the word “wolfpack” to describe Jews. Ugh.

    I think the Far Right and Far Left have more in common than either will admit; there is a long and dishonourable history of Marxists who sometimes played to anti-Jewish prejudice or indeed prejudice against anyone considered to be “inferior” in some way. Marx wrote about the “idiocy of rural life”, a fact that explains, perhaps, the murderous hatred of peasant life by Stalin and his lot.

    But although some far right parties may have changed, donning smart suits and ditching the skin-head and leather jackets, they are still a potential problem. Some of these guys try for a certain respectability, but scratch hard enough, and the attitudes are still there. They often, for example, call themselves “race realists” rather than “racists”.

    I don’t think the threat of the far right has gone away. It is not a phantom menace, even if some on the left use it to avoid talking about problems such as the issue of unchecked immigration from Muslim countries, for example.

    We need to remain vigilant.

  • Brad

    I think Labour and the left should realise most of these far-right are your former voters. You can only go against the people for so long until they have enough.

  • Mark Shillaker

    Why are the Left so obsessed with a few nasty but perennial misfits and frothers? Oh I know – it’s easier than admitting the intellectual, moral and political bankruptcy at the heart of your own movement.

  • Alexander Pelling

    Nicholas – I agree. Cameron was wrong to come into government in 2010. He should have stepped back and let the Left take us into the abyss. That’s the only way of teaching the very stupid electorate the error of its ways.

    As it is he’s being blamed for both the recession and the cuts, while Ed Balls ponces about asking questions like: “Was unemployment rising or falling when Labour were last in power?” Ed will be at the helm before very long. I predict that he will be the one to take us over the edge.

  • escapedRoger

    Is that lone wolf as in Herr Wolf the NSDAP leader.

  • Frank P

    Gerry Gable is Jewish and has a long and distinguished history of seeking out and exposing anti-Semitic thugs who have employed violence against innocent Jews and perpetrated serious damage and arson to synagogues. I met some of them in my day and they are very dangerous bastards indeed.

    I remember Gerry as a very good investigative journalist who exposed serious Organised Crime (including that perpetrated by some successful Jewish crooks) under the aegis of the LWT’s ‘The London Programme’ in conjunction with Godfrey Hodgson, John Shirley, Barry Cox and Martin Short. In those days, when investigative journalism played an important part in exposing the underworld, before the newspaper barons withdrew resources for in-depth probes and opted for lurid celebrity scandals instead (aided and abetted by phone hacking apparently), the London Programme did some sterling work – in the mid to late 1970s and if I remember correctly into the 1980s after I retired (until LWT was shafted in fact). There is no current programme to match its journalistic excellence. It was a boon for straight cops who were not only fighting OC barons but also the corruption inside the force.

    In dealings with him ‘on the coal face’ I found Gerry to be a man of integrity who did not operate from a political stance – except inasmuch that some of the crimes he investigated had a political motivation (subversive activities, anti-Semite attacks, etc.). He was of considerable help to Scotland Yard in Organised Crime investigations before the Yard became politicised; the Old Grey Fox – gangbuster Bert Wickstead – rated him very highly. I’m pleased to hear that Gerry is still extant. Last I heard, about three years ago, he was undergoing surgery for cancer. Glad to hear he came through it and I hope his book sells well. He never got rich as a sleuth, that’s for sure, but many benefited from his expertise and dedication. I trusted him implicitly in my interface with him. Left or Right was irrelevant in those times – crime was the focus. Would that it were still so.

  • Hugh

    “The work of Gerry Gable and his anti-fascist organisation Searchlight has never been fashionable…”

    Why write something so obviously untrue? Anti-facism has rarely been out of fashion for half a century, as witnessed by the celebrity supporters of Searchlight’s “Hope not Hate” campaign. Fortunately, it’s possible to be both fashionable and correct.

  • HairyNoddy

    Do Search-lite take any interest in the threats towards gays and women from muslims in East London?

    Do left wing journalists have brains of their own or do they let the NUJ do all their thinking for them?

  • Sarah AB

    I’m (vaguely) on the left, though I did think Jonah Goldberg had at least half a point in Liberal Fascism. But there are so many ghastly far left groups as it is – so I’d prefer to stick to the convention of describing the BNP etc as far right!

  • Patricia Shaw

    “Some political organisations chase the news agenda, others just plough their own furrow driven by the overriding morality of their cause”.

    You know the score, Martin.

    Tell us a bit about the Jewish Lobby here and in the States.

    Tell us about its alliances, supporters, fund raisers and threats.

    Tell us how they organise themselves into the most efficient wolf PAC on earth.

  • starlight

    Nicholas I read your comment and am full of admiration. You are so absolutely right and so well put. I hope you are in a position of power because you should be.

    I agree with you without reservation

  • Kenulf

    Nicholas, spot on. When will any mainstream media hack ever pluck up the nerve to deliver this analysis of what new labour did to our country?

  • call me dave

    Mein Kampf a hit on Dhaka streets

    Booksellers touting their wares amid the heavy traffic in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, have discovered an unusual best-seller.

    Adolf Hitler’s autobiography manifesto Mein Kampf is selling as well as Dan Brown’s latest novel, The Lost Symbol.

    Last week, Mein Kampf did unusually well because many bought the book to give it away as an Eid present.

  • Frank Sutton

    What this article does show is that the terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ appear to have no fixed meaning, and “fascist” has become just a high-minded expression of condemnation.
    In the one example cited – the nut-bomber David Copeland – there is no apparent connection with fascism in any definable form.

    Why are the 200 members of the POWER forum “sad” and “mentally unstable” – is it because they are racists?

    Come to think of it, wasn’t denouncing those you disagreed with as “mentally unstable” a habit of the fascists? Or was it just the commies?

  • ndm

    — One appendix, for example, contains an investigation into Patriots of the White European Resistance (POWER) a viciously anti-Semitic skinhead organisation that attracts more than 200 people to its internet forum.

    The toxic ultra-right posts by Melanie Phillips routinely seem to attract 200 people. The only real difference in content is the replacement of “Jews” by “Muslims.”

  • Nicholas

    “The convention in academia is certainly that fascism and Nazism are of the Right, and communism and Marxism of the Left.”

    That doesn’t surprise me because by and large British academia is in the hands of the left. The excesses of communism are either deplored as not being part of the project or excused by ommission whilst the right is conflated from the extremes of fascism to the “foaming racism” of ordinary conservatives. The Left, even the moderate Left, seem to have a blind eye to this.

    I don’t agree that the Right just promotes national or racial supremacy. They do, in a way, but I think there are other, equally important aspects of their beliefs which I touched on in my earlier post and which are reflected very well by the “character” of New Labour. It is quite hard to define, but lies I think in the collective dogma identified by Rhoda. The racism stems from this almost tribal approach and rather than being about supremacy I think it is more about demonising and scapegoating those considered inferior – extending to those who disagree with them. This may be two sides of the same coin. Without Aryan supermen the despised Jew might not have initiated the same hysteria. New Labour did this, not with racism (although their approach undoubtedly led to increased racial tensions), but by casting similar grotesque simplicities about “good” and “bad”, heavily propagandised, and still do it. They have an undoubted arrogance and sense of moral superiority which makes them presume too much on behalf of a mythical “public”. The Nazis did this too. And it attracts cronies and creates cliques which are powerful (q.v. Common Purpose maybe?).

    The individualism of those drawn to the Right is often more defensive, against the collective rather than adhering to a narrow and definable creed to be advanced by any means, but I think that makes them more vulnerable. The Right seldom mount the same ideological attacks as the Left but tend to appeal to a reason sadly lacking in most of the population and cerainly absent in the media. The true Right are beleaguered, and there is a romance (and true under dog insurgency) to this which has not been exploited or caught the public imagination. Unfortunately the Left created cachet that those of the Right are just rich toffs feathering their friends beds has taken root and is hard to counter. I have thought much about this and drawn the conclusion that the only way for the Right to ultimately prevail is to create revolution and the only way to that end is by letting socialist excess run its course as it did in Eastern Europe. Not a pleasant prospect but perhaps a necessity.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Tiberius, I see the distinction as being between collective and individual approaches. Fascists were collectivist nationalists, although they did not require ownership of national assets, only control. Communists have a internationalist view, and do require ownership of all resources by the state. But both are collectivist. And totalitarian.

    None of which has much to do with race. IMHO the racism of the Nazis was incidental to the fascist aspects of the creed. Italian fascism did not have a racist element beyond the prejudices of the times. Oh, it had white supremacy, but so did the UK, the USA and the rest of Europe.

    The groups which Martin posted about merely retain the racist aspects of Nazism, I really do not think they get together to discuss the role of private capital in the service of the state.

  • Tiberius

    I have wrestled with Rhoda before over this issue (and hope we have agreed to differ), but I would be interested to hear your response, Nicholas, to my view.

    I was fortunate to find political science was one of the elements of my degree. The convention in academia is certainly that fascism and Nazism are of the Right, and communism and Marxism of the Left. While all have common features (because they are totalitarian forms of government), typically the Left pursues a class struggle while the Right promotes national or racial supremacy. Islamism, to my mind, is a far Right creed because it purports supremacy of a supposed religious grouping and doesn’t want to murder just the property owning class.

    I think of myself as of the liberal Right (a term I first heard used by Boris Johnson when editor of the magazine), and I have no hang ups about being supposedly closer to fascism than communism because; a) I believe in the nation state, b) I hope I would never cross the line to totalitarianism, and c) they’re both as bad as each other.

  • normanc

    Nicholas said everything far better than I ever could.

    It is fascinating that the 1933-45 period in Germany is always portrayed as right wing, or far-right. One of the most centrally controlled, illiberal, repressive regimes in the history of the world and about as far away from actual liberal ‘far right’ doctrines e.g. US founding fathers, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, et al, as it’s possible to be.

    Here’s a handy cut out and keep guide. The more a state wants to control and repress the further left the government is. A government that provides an unseen police force, standing armed forces only to be used in defence and very little else could fairly be characterised as far right. I don’t think any fair minded person could say that bears any resemblance to Nazi Germany.

  • Victor Southern

    Why are these groups classed as Far Right? The basics of right wing thinking are capitalism, personal freedoms, religious freedoms, low tax, small state.

    Fascits governments such as the Nazis, Mussolini and Franco nurtured not a single one of those ideals. All totalitarian regimes become virtually indistinguishable including, as they do, the cult of the Leader and the absence of free elections.

    It has been said that if political affiliations were plotted around a wheel the Fascists and Communists would be right next to each other, even merging.

    It is convenient for the left and the liberal-left to paint all political extremists right-wing but that does not make it true.

  • teledu

    I wonder how many of the violent fruitcakes in the recent student-loan protest and “cuts” rallies consider themselves “right-wing”?

  • Jeremy

    Who guards the guards? And who searches Searchlight? And what is their political agenda?…their ideology? And on whose behalf, and to what ends, do they pump out their propaganda? Who, really, are they?

  • Nicholas

    Matthew Blott I suggest you read the posts more carefully before making your own smug and pompous comments. It matters not that the left and right collide at the point of extremity but that leftist writers persist in characterising it as purely right wing extremism. That is the point. It is neither silly nor a conspiracy theory but a fact of modern media journalism. It lets the Left off.

    And the right are sullied, every day and in every way. Just watch any BBC “comedy” programme. Of course you would say that suggesting fascist organisations are left-wing is “petty minded and not really important”. That is ever the cry of the Left when things get too close for comfort. Suddenly it is petty and unimportant, unlike the heated passions that stir them to condemn when conservatives or the right-wing is involved. Many standards pertain in the Leftist tent and the many inconsistencies and hypocrisies are always airily dismissed as “petty and not really important”!

    Too predictable Matthew Blott, just too predictable.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    Matthew, my comments are based on what is happening now. There are hardly any ‘right-wing extremist white fascist’ groups. There really are not. It does however suit left-wingers to raise them as a spectre. Most recently Vince Cable in his silly response to the Cameron speech.

  • Matthew Blott

    Rather silly comments so far. I don’t think Martin Bright would deny the importance of fighting the Islamist threat – he’s already upset some of his fellow travellors on the left by rightly exposing Ken Livingstone’s links to Islamic demagogues. And Bright also voices his concern at the far-right’s anti-semitism. As for the suggestion that fascist organisations are left-wing, this is rather petty-minded and not really important. The inference seems to be that Martin Bright is trying to sully conservatives which certainly isn’t true. Far-left and far-right organisations are both full of the same ideologically driven fruitcakes and both need to be tackled appropriately. And if fascist organisations really have so much in common with other leftwingers why were some of the first people rounded up in the 1930s communists, trade-unionists and left-wing intellectuals? Equally fascists got a lot of support from the middle class precisely because of their hard line on industrial relations. I suggest some of those commenting on here study history a bit before lazily posting their conspiracy theories.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    In search again of the dreaded right-wing white backlash. Cos if they are racist, that makes them right-wing. Yet the mass movement never materializes, because they are all nutters and the supply is in fact limited. Meanwhile what part of the spectrum do the actual rioters come from? Poppy burners? Synagogue defilers?

    I’ve always understood that if you took out all the anti-terrorist undercover agents provocateurs from the meeting of these fringe groups there would be no-one left.

  • Shazza

    Nicholas – spot on.

  • Nicholas

    The only reason I can think that leftist writers keep insisting on describing these movements as “right-wing” is to distance themselves from the discomfort of acknowledging that whilst they might be “fascist” in application they are most definitely socialist in ideology. Another benefit to leftist propaganda from this wilful delusion is to slur the right-wing generally by association. Of course it might be just lazy journalism or derivation where a consensus is repeated ad nauseum even when factually incorrect but one can’t help suspecting a degree of glee that such a misleading belief has been established.

    The clue is in the title national SOCIALIST – Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National SOCIALIST German WORKERS Party). The Nazis set out to level society to a socialist pattern but with a cynically imposed, non-aristocratic elite established through tribal party loyalties, cronyism and nepotism, establishing a “common” code of behaviour and thought for “good” citizens whilst demonising those who dissented or were “not acceptable”. At the same time as doing this they cynically accommodated German capitalism and exploited it. One of their most important weapons was propaganda which they used ruthlessly and skillfully to divert attention from the essential hypocrisy and malevolence of their ideology. This seems all too familiar and is in fact the political character that New Labour adopted – with somewhat less extreme purpose and consequences.

    Tribalism, manufactured hysteria and outrage, an elite living it up whilst telling others what to do, how they should think, what they cannot write or say, the easy accommodation with the worst excesses of capitalism in order to fund the expansion of the state, the transformation of state media into tools of propaganda, the proliferation of petty bureacracy controlling all aspects of peoples lives, the politicisation of state security forces, the atmosphere of suspicion and paranoia where individual motivation has to be proven rather than presumed. All New Labour traits. And the most chilling of all – Blair’s declaration that New Labour was “nothing less than the political arm of the British people as a whole” – the single party state.

    These dog whistles about the “far right” may be useful for diverting attention from the deprecations of the Modern Left in Britain and for tarnishing the right-wing by association, but you need to look closer to home, to the aspirations of the left, for the real danger to freedom, tolerance and understanding. You won’t – but you should.

  • Johnnydub

    So there are 200 sad losers accross Europe that congregate on this supposed POWer website. Frankly who cares…

    When MI5 are trackign 3000 potential Islamic nutters just in the UK we have far bigger problems.

    I would also say tghat the violence committed by the UAF is a far bigfger threat than the EDl.. yet its the EDL that get blamed (and I personally think the EDL are idiiots anyway)

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