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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The State of Hate 2021 is the definitive review of the far right in the UK, and the context for their activities and impact. In this year’s report – our biggest to date – we cover a range of issues, summarised below.

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GENERAL

a cartoon graphic full of people wearing face masks
  • COVID-19 has quickened the demise of many traditional far-right groups while younger, more tech-savvy activists have thrived.
  • 2020 has continued the move to a ‘post-organisational’ far right, as traditional groups declined but more fluid online networks and individual ‘citizen journalists’ grew in number.
  • The outbreak of the pandemic was met with a surge of anti-Chinese violence and racism.
  • Journalists are increasingly being targeted for harassment and violence by the far right.
  • The Government’s ‘hostile environment’ and inflammatory language has led to dozens of anti-migrant protests & targeting of immigration lawyers.
  • Nazi terrorism remains a threat, increasingly involving teens: 12 people were convicted last year.

CONSPIRACIES

A side profile of David Icke sitting down
  • There has been an explosion in conspiracy theories during the lockdown.
  • British conspiracy theorists generated massive online followings: before being deplatformed, David Icke had 780,000 Facebook followers, 900,000 on YouTube and 230,000 on Twitter. Stand Up X, an energetic conspiracy street movement, had 40,000 Facebook followers before being deplatformed and self-styled “truthpaper” The Light claims a 100,000 print run. 
  • Between 15-22% of Britons believe the main COVID conspiracies are true.

QANON

A graphic which says the letter 'Q'
  • The UK is the most significant country for QAnon support outside the US. 
  • One of the most important QAnon advocates is UK-based Martin Geddes, who had 250,000 Twitter followers. Another QAnon advocate is Simon Parkes, whose YouTube channel jumped from 50,000 subscribers to 670,000 by the US election.
  • Support for QAnon has dropped substantially in the last six months. In autumn 2020, 3.2% of British people strongly supported QAnon, while a further 2.5% declared themselves soft supporters –today, it is 1.2% strong support and 2% soft.
  • Our report reveals that Berlin-based artist Sebastian Bieniek is the creator of a strange new religion targeting QAnon believers.

BLACK LIVES MATTER AND RACIAL JUSTICE

A protestor wearing a mask at the Black Lives Matter protest, 2020.
People from different culture and races protest on the street for equal rights – Demonstrators wearing face masks during black lives matter fight campaign – Main focus on mask
  • Our polling highlights the true extent of racism: 40% of BAME Britons have experienced or witnessed racial violence in the past 12 months; 45% have experienced or witnessed racial abuse.
  • Over half (54%) think Britain is institutionally racist, but 45% still believe that Britain is one of the least racist countries in Europe (26% disagreed).
  • Two-thirds (65%) agreed that the debate around tearing down historical monuments has distracted from important discussions on racism in Britain.
  • While most BAME Britons have seen little change in the lived realities of racism, many have seen BLM’s messages taken up by white friends & colleagues.

RACIST BACKLASH

Counter Black Lives Matter protestors clashing with the police near Parliament Square in London, June 2020.
Police are confronted by protesters in Whitehall near Parliament Square. Credit: PA Media
  • There was a racist backlash to the BLM protests, with overt racial nationalism replacing previous far-right attempts to moderate their language. 
  • Patriotic Alternative organised 66 events under the ‘White Lives Matter’ banner.
  • Football hooligans and far-right activists organised 26 anti-BLM protests.

NAZI TERRORISM

3 swastika's have been graffitied onto a wall. The word 'youth' written below the nazi symbol
  • 12 far-right activists/sympathisers were convicted of terrorism during 2020 (six teenagers). Another 11 far-right activists/sympathisers are awaiting trial.
  • A teenager from Cornwall, who was convicted of terrorism last year, was Britain’s youngest known terrorist.
  • There is concern about the leniency of sentences handed out to convicted nazi terrorists.
  • We expose the National Partisan Movement, an international nazi group made up of 70 teenagers drawn from 13 countries.
  • Telegram is still the platform of choice for nazi terrorists.

ONLINE HATE

  • There has been a major effort by many social media companies to deplatform extremists, but this has led to far-right activists and conspiracy theorists moving to unmoderated “alt-tech” platforms.
  • HOPE not hate’s reporting was responsible for the removal of 75 QAnon Twitter accounts, with a combined 1.1 million subscribers.

GREEN NATIONALISM

A huge tree with a swastika symbol painted on it
  • We are witnessing a worrying growth of “Green” nationalism, which – far from denying climate change – is co-opting it for a racist agenda.
  • Eco-fascists are promoting violent direct action, drawing influence from a terroristic style of extreme-right politics that has proliferated online.

THE UNITED KINGDOM

  • In exclusive polling, most people believe that Brexit makes Scottish independence more likely, while in Northern Ireland many people think that Scottish independence will make a referendum on whether to leave the UK more likely.
  • There is growing ambivalence among the English towards a possible break-up of the UK, including among Conservative voters.
  • Support for the Good Friday Agreement remains fairly strong in Northern Ireland, though most people think it is not perfect.

STOP THE FAR RIGHT IN THEIR TRACKS

State of HATE 2021 would not have been possible without the support of our HOPE Action Fund members.

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