The attractiveness of the British army to the far right continues to be a threat | The extreme right
The attractiveness of the armed forces to the far right is as old as the earliest incarnations of British fascism.
During the periodic resurgences of the post-war far-right, groups such as Oswald Mosley’s labor movement and later the National Front also coveted recruits into the army.
Yet in a time of concern over a new far right – technologically educated and at its extreme less focused on political activity than violence – the lingering threat is underscored by files revealing multiple investigations of military personnel in as part of the UK counterterrorism program, Prevent.
No less than 14 investigations were carried out in 2019, including 11 stemming from potential far-right concerns, while there were more this year and last year. What is missing is the number of referrals to Channel, the discreet de-radicalization process under Prevent, which is voluntary.
Nonetheless, the figure is striking at a time when concerns about the penetration of the far right into armed forces in democracies have increased around the world – particularly in the United States and the United States. Germany.
It is clear on some levels why the far right, often with a love of quasi-military performative traps, would be drawn to men and women in uniform. For those who present themselves as patriots, any association with British defenders gives ultimate credibility. One need only remember the smile on Tommy Robinson’s face in a 2018 video the English Defense League founder posted about himself surrounded by a group of young infantrymen.
There is also the obvious appeal, especially for groups with individuals with violent intent in mind, of tapping into military training, if not tightly guarded weapons.
In all of this, we can pay tribute to the Defense Ministry for its approach to far-right activities within its ranks, in terms of public statements and measures such as the internal directives it released last year were being used. by officers to spot “far-right attitudes” among the soldiers. The activists were also expelled when identified.
But images such as those that emerged in 2019 showing British paratroopers used photos of then Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn for target practice are among those which suggest there is work to be done.
What is also not in doubt are the concerns – expressed in particular by the Service Complaints Ombudsman – about racism in the armed forces. Any assault on the far right, no matter how small, would aggravate these fears.