Far-right extremism is much more than a political irritant

Following on from his appearance before the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee yesterday, Matthew Goodwin has a piece at Comment is Free in which he emphasises the central point that he made to the MPs:

The simply reality of post-9/11 politics is that we have focused almost exclusively on tackling only one form of extremism. In the aftermath of New York and the attacks in Bali, Madrid and London, the emphasis on tackling al-Qaida marked a logical response to the priorities of national security. Today, however, the landscape has changed. We need to adopt a more holistic approach to challenging extremism and sharpen our understanding of its different branches. Most importantly, we need to overhaul the traditional view of the far right that claims this movement is nothing more than a minor political irritant.

Sir Norman Bettison, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, also gave evidence to the Home Affairs Committee. He told them that the English Defence League’s main purpose was to be “provocative” and that, even though police had sought to liaise with the group, this had “absolutely no effect in terms of ameliorating their behaviour”.

In contrast to the views of DCS Adrian Tudway, the National Co-ordinator for Domestic Extremism at Scotland Yard, or the reluctance of the Metropolitan Police to stop the EDL’s proposed march though Tower Hamlets, Norman Bettison has taken the threat posed by the EDL seriously. After consulting with the local community he did not hesitate to apply for a ban on the EDL marching in Bradford last year, under Section 13 of the Public Order Act, and when they turned up in Dewsbury in June for a static demonstration he used his powers under Section 14 to prevent them entering the town centre and instructed them to hold their rally in the station car park instead.