“We come here every week, this is outrageous” and out into the sunshine went another Nazi brandishing his collection of Nazi books. He was shuffling in desperation, waiting for someone or something to come to his aid. Thankfully, he didn’t compare his predicament to that of some kind of deemed “anti-social” element living in Nazi Germany in the bygone days he ideologically longed for. The pub had called the police to help throw them out.
Out on to the pavement in Praed Street in Paddington London, they gloomily filed. For nearly two hours their secret phone number had been blocked by antifascists and their secret meeting plans ruined. From across Britain and Europe a whole host of Nazi sympathisers had travelled for the secret meeting. While they moaned and complained, the Hope Not Hate team sat inside the pub with their European colleagues, blogged and kept an eye on them.
The staff at the Fountains Abbey pub were apologising and protesting their innocence. They were apologising to the dozens of angry antifascists and locals who were dialling the pub’s telephone and also to the “New Right”, the collection of Nazis fanatics and Holocaust deniers whose secret meeting we had ruined. The Nazis protested and even begged, but despite having been regulars, this meeting, billed as their biggest and best ever, was off. We’d even sat in the pub where their meeting was supposed to be and watched their great plans come crashing down.
We’d followed them from across the country and then across London for two days. We had a fair idea where the meeting was going to be, we knew they’d been there before but we had in fact overestimated them. They were as predictable as the stiff right armed salutes that greeted some of them as they arrived at the airport on Friday and at Paddington train station on Saturday. Strange men, as they always are; heads constantly burrowed into books dwelling on and supposedly debunking genocides, or reading books suggesting and encouraging further genocide.
The “New Right” are not the Boys from Brazil and nor are they some kind of secret ‘Odessa’ organisation either. They’re mainly ageing Jew Haters, Holocaust deniers and Hitler admirers who either never quite made the big time in the British far-right, or if they did, they were thrown out once it became impossible for them to stop their stiff right arms shooting up into the air when it was least opportune. But at least they’re honest. They may not have had an original political idea between them since they first began worshipping that dreadful Austrian artist, but under the stewardship of ‘young’ Jeremy “Jez” Bedford Turner who likes to hang around at Pall Mall’s Army Club, they have begun to recruit vulnerable young men under the wings, filling their heads up with hatred at meetings becoming too regular for comfort.
For the “New Right”, open anti-Semitism, Hitler worship and Holocaust denial is somehow classier than the Mosque burning, flag waving and rampant racism of the EDL and the BNP. And that’s the way it was always supposed to be in the good old days. No wonder employees of Iran’s Press TV have been made so welcome at previous meetings.
Elsewhere, the “crack” goons who make up the EDL splinter group the “Infidels” were threatening to hold another one of their almost phantom demonstrations, this time in Bolton. We doubted they were. On the case was our team in the North West who were in contact with our friends in Scotland who were monitoring the movements of a contingent of fascists while a good crowd of antifascists were gathering in Bolton. And then, not long after the pubs opened in Hyde, Tameside, the usual fascist faces appeared there. They were also showing up in and around Heywood while a few of the bizarre ‘Combined ex-Forces’ (cxf) were being arrested on their way into Bolton.
We rung the local antifascist group in Bolton who were planning to have a march, to tell them that it looked like the Infidels were dispersing across the North West. Not by plan, but simply by their usual poor organisation. No-one who actually spends anytime following the Infidels around was surprised by this. A good dozen EDL/BNP members arrived drunk not long after midday in Hyde not even sure where they were supposed to be! Infidel leader John “Snowy” Shaw was for some daft reason elsewhere when he read that we had posted his daft plans on our blog. Thinking that we are as thick as he is, he then issued a public statement on his group’s Facebook page an hour later saying that he was actually planning to go Bolton after all. But he was actually in Heywood and a tiny number of his followers were in Hyde and another number were in Bolton having a rough old time of it on their own. Another inexplicable schoolboy error for Shaw. Poor “Snowy”, one does wonder what induces him to get it so wrong all the time. Needless to say, by the time his dwindling, drunk and confused supporters were being arrested in Bolton, Hyde and Heywood a lot of other people were asking the same question.
Down in London, as a crestfallen Jonathan Bowden (formerly of BNP fame) stood miserably in the street and a collection of European fascists mingled with angry English skinheads, “Jez” Turner was desperately trying to save face in front of his European guests and find another venue. Given that there is a split in his organisation, it was the sort of day he could have done without. Had the “other side” tipped us off? And what with him promising that there would be a second hand book stall at his meeting, was he going to be lumbered with a few dozen soiled copies of Mein kampf. He was shaking with rage.
Having blogged from inside the pub for most of the afternoon and it having been made clear that their meeting was now ruined, it was time for us to leave. It was still a lovely afternoon and what with drunken fascists being locked up and humiliated (as usual) up north and forty odd (very odd) Hitler worshippers standing around looking very upset in London, the occasion dictated a hot curry and a warm pint of English beer. The angry Nazis, finally realised that we had been there the whole time and wanted to get frisky with our photographers. No luck there either, gentlemen.
It rounded off a good couple of days work by everyone on our excellent team. Curry tastes even better when you know some racist is having a terrible day. We recommend eating a lamb madras at a table and not on your lap in a car park in Kent.
Later, someone asked why we did not allow these Nazis to have their meeting. After all, it is a free country and a democracy, isn’t it? And why did we not go and debate with these nasty Nazis instead of harassing them. Why did we not try and convince them of our way of thinking? Had we never heard of Voltaire, that witty French philosopher who spoke of dying to allow others to say things he didn’t like.
Yes, we have. But he would never have said it if he’d seen the gates at Auschwitz.
Head of Intelligence
Matthew Collins has been the focus of two BBC documentaries, 'Life Etc' in 2001 and the BBC3 film 'Dead Man Walking' (2004). His autobiography is 'HATE: My Life in the British Far Right' (Biteback) and he is also author of 'Nazi Terrorist: The Story of National Action' (HOPE not hate). He is a regular contributor to news & broadcast media.Twitter