|Leadership||Ben Raymond, Alex Davies, Wayne Bell, Ashley Bell, Mark James, Kevin Layzell|
|Online||Website, Twitter, Facebook, VK, Iron March|
|Areas active||London, Bath, Berwick, Birmingham, Cardiff, Dundee, Dover, Bolton, Castleford, Leeds, Liverpool, Glasgow, Cambridge, Newcastle, Manchester, Swansea, Swindon, Wakefield, Widnes, York|
Alex Davies: Recently removed from Warwick University, Davies has become a public figure for the group mainly as result of a sting operation carried out against him by the Daily Mirror.
Ashley Bell: more commonly known as Tommy Johnson, appears to have made his way into the far right via the “Straight Edge Movement” which refuses to take drugs, tobacco or alcohol whilst listening to punk music. Around the same time, he is rumoured to have tried his hand as a Hunt Saboteur in Yorkshire. Based in Leeds, in the last few years he has fallen in with both the British Movement and the National Front (NF), though he is currently persona non grata with the NF after accusations were made against him of theft from the movement. He has been referred to as the leader of National Action and is thought to be one of those behind its founding document.
Benjamin Raymond: aka Benjamin Noyles is one of the main activists in National Action. He previous far right activity was the Integralist Party which also called itself the Green Shirts. Has also spent time in the comical New British Union. Returned to the UK in January of this year after living in the United States. A huge fan of the American Renaissance Party of North America, Raymond/Noyles is the moderator of some of the more obscure nazi internet forums too.
National Action (NA) was the most notorious nazi group operating in the UK during 2016 but, by the end of the year, found itself banned by the government as a terrorist group. It was the first time since WWII that a British far right group had been outlawed.
NA was regularly in the headlines, because of its provocative demonstrations, regular stickering and its slick and confrontational videos and social media posts.
2016 was also a year of setbacks for the group. In January 2016, HOPE not hate broke the story of how one National Action member was a predatory child abuser. While NA leader Ben Raymond quickly tried to spin it as a proof of the group’s supposed revolutionary potential, the case became a useful excuse for the rest of the far right to distance itself.
Even the National Front, itself hardly a paragon of nazi virtue and already burdened with a troublesome tie-in with the diminishing drug gang, the North West Infidels (NWI), tried desperately to untangle itself from NA after lurid stories of paedophilia within the group began to surface.
During 2016 NA was physically humiliated, most notably in Liverpool in February where, for the second time, its louts stood petrified under the glare of militant opposition.
In May, five of the group were arrested after a twenty- strong flash mob descended on York to make nazi salutes. Raymond had been under the impression in the runup to the demonstration that dozens of activists were on their way to join in but few materialised leaving him dejected.
In the same month, the group’s deputy and front man, Alex Davies, was the subject of a humiliating video that went viral after a mixed-race teenager in Bath confronted him while out leafleting.
NA member Lawrence Burns from Cambridge was convicted of inciting racial hatred in December. He had recorded himself wishing for a “real Holocaust”. The NA unit in London was of particular concern. In East London, Mark James, also known as Mark Jones, who does the group’s stylish graphics, began training half a dozen young men in a park on Sunday mornings with input from older, more seasoned Polish nazis.
In south-east London, young NA member, Alfie Stevens, tried to join the Army and Territorial Army.
In similar vein, in the north of England, the group takes instruction from a mixed martial arts instructor from Rochdale who organises romps in the country with “airsoft” rifles.
In the North West, a couple of dozen NA members meet regularly with their Polish counterparts to discuss actions. Radziu Rekke, a gun-toting Pole living in Manchester, leads late night expeditions into Manchester’s Jewish areas where he and others stalk Jewish buildings, leaving leaflets and stickers from a variety of other European far right groups.
However, similar to C18 in years gone by, not everyone has bought into this increasingly confrontational approach. While NA leader Ben Raymond would often pull back from advocating violence, there are others in the group who are less shy. This growing militancy, shown graphically when NA members celebrated the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, eventually caused the authorities to act.
It is too soon to know if NA will get around its ban by reforming under a new name but even if it does many on the group’s periphery will drift away.
HOPE not hate’s concern is that the group, or more likely individuals within it, might take an even more confrontational and violent path.