Matthew Goodwin and Jocelyn Evans have polled members of the BNP and UKIP to see what the state of opinion is among the parties. Their interest seems to be focused on the question of whether supporters of the “far right” are losing what faith they’d had in the electoral system and becoming more inclined towards a belief in the inevitability of violence. It’s worth investigating. As the BNP declines – or, at least, stagnates – its members will look elsewhere and as unpalatable as Griffin and the rest may be there could be worse alternatives. They’ve found that large majorities agree that “violence between different ethnic, racial and religious groups is largely inevitable”, and that many think it will be needed to “protect [their] group from threats”. This has inspired comments about their supposed belief in “race war”.

Hrmm. I’m sure a lot of members of the BNP do think race war is on the way but I’d have liked the questions to probe deeper into the kinds of violence that the respondents might believe is coming. It could be all-out warfare between the whites the blacks, the Christians and the Muslims or whatever, or it could be localised skirmishes between gangs and grouplets who’ve defined themselves by their race or religion. And what kinds of violence are they be preparing for? Preemptive assaults on the ethnic and cultural targets of their ire, or a survivalist-seasoned defence of homes and neighbourhoods? There are clear differences, which lead me to feel that while it’s an important question and worth raising I’m not sure we’re any closer to drawing firm conclusions as to its answer. (And, by the way, throwing UKIP into the mix seems rather unfair. I doubt that their responses to many of the questions would differ to any great extent to those of the general public.)

As a gang are tried for an organised assault on a Mosque in London, though, one can’t ignore the threat of violence from militant racial and cultural supremacists. Daniel Trilling, writing for the Guardian, has an intriguing response to it, though…

The greater danger remains where it always has done: in the elements of far-right propaganda that overlap with mainstream political sentiment. Few people in Britain would agree that race war is on its way, but how many would agree that immigration has gone “too far”; that multiculturalism has failed or that the west is locked in a “clash of civilisations” with Islam?

A huge majority believes that immigration is too high, and large amounts of people offer similar responses to other points as well. You’re entitled to disagree and, indeed, to feel that such opinions are disreputable or disgusting. (I don’t but I’ll grant that the fact that a majority adopts a view gives little cause to feel that it’s a valid one. Cf. Homer Simpson on the case of Proposition 24.) But if you’re prepared to demonise such popularly held beliefs your campaign against the “far right” is liable to become a campaign against much of the public. If that’s one Trilling and like-minded souls are gearing up for that’s their business but, among other things, it risks leaving them short of tools with which to locate real thugs and short of allies when it comes to facing them.

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