Rise of Ukip leaves support for far-right groups at 20-year low
Hope for Hate says BNP and EDL are 'struggling' despite Rotherham scandal and rise of Islamic State
Support for far-right groups such as the British National party and English Defence League is at its lowest for 20 years, according to researchers.
Hope Not Hate, an advocacy group that has been monitoring far-right groups for more than a decade, attributes the decline to internal splits and the rise of Ukip.In its annual report, Nick Lowles, chief executive, and Matthew Collins, a researcher, say that the rise of Islamic State and discovery of widespread child sexual abuse by mainly Asian men in Rotherham might have worked in the favour of far-right organisations – but instead they are "really struggling".Lowles and Collins stress that Ukip is not on the far right, but that it has poached voters from BNP, which weakened after its leader Nick Griffin was ousted."While Ukip is not the BNP and Farage is not Griffin, it is clear that most former BNP voters feel quite at home in the Ukip stable," says the report.BNP, which once laid claim to 58 councillors and two MEPs, now has just two councillors and no MEPs. The party is "in a deep hole and unlikely to get out of it anytime soon", says the report.Meanwhile, EDL has become fragmented between regional factions, with total support of only 200 to 400 people, reports The Guardian.Hope Not Hate, which also monitors much smaller fringe organisations such as the South East Alliance, National Action and the Nazi-sympathising Racial Volunteer Force, found that a small but committed number of young people are still being drawn to extremist views. It warns of the risk of a "lone wolf" attack and says anti-Semitic incidents remain alarmingly common, with an increase in reports during the Gaza campaign in July last year.
"The rise of Ukip, as well as Nick Griffin's own narcissistic downwards spiral, has certainly put paid to any hope the BNP had of electoral success," Lowles said. "We must continue to scrutinise whether Ukip can truly distance itself from the ugly racism of Griffin's former party."