The somewhat violent demonstration in London this weekend in support of jailed right wing extremist Tommy Robinson was foreshadowed by figures released under three months ago by the Home Office.
The figures come from the highly controversial Prevent programme which most people see as a plan to catch young people being radicalised by so called Islamic State and Al Qaeda before they commit atrocities.
What is not as well known is that the Prevent programme also tackles people radicalised by racist and Fascist organisations who aim to commit violent acts against Muslims, Sikhs and other ethnic minorities, including Africans and East Europeans.
Just over two months ago the Home Office published a reportand analysis of the latest figures of who is being targeted.
These are people who if one follows the official guidanceare those who have “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.”
The disturbing fact is that the latest figures for 2016-17 reveal there has been a RISE in the number of young people radicalised by right wing extremism while there has been a FALL in the number of people radicalised by perversions of Islam.
The report says: “There was a 28% increase in the number of extreme right wing referrals in 2016/17 (968) when compared with 2015/16 (759); whilst referrals for concerns related to Islamist extremism decreased by 26% over the same time (2015/16, 4,997; 2016/17, 3,704).
The proportion of panel discussions [ most serious cases] regarding extreme right wing related concerns has increased by 44%, from 188 in 2015/16 to 271 in 2016/2017. Similarly, the number of individuals receiving Channel support for extreme right wing related concerns has also increased over the same time period by 27% (2015/16, 98; 2016/17, 124).
This is in contrast to individuals receiving support for concerns related to Islamist extremism,which has decreased by 30% between 2015/16 (264) and 2016/17 (184).”
The right wing extremists were almost exclusively male ( 902 out of 968) while only 77 per cent of those monitored for Islamic extremism only 77 per cent were men.
The largest proportion in both groups were teenagers aged between 15 and 20 with right wing extremists being almost exclusively male.
There was also a considerable variation between regions for the two groups.
“Of the 3,704 individuals referred for concerns related to Islamist extremism, the largest proportion was from London (1,039; 28%), whereas of the 968 individuals referred for concerns related to right wing extremism, the largest proportion was from the North East (171; 18%).
Of the 760 individuals discussed at a Channel panel for concerns related to Islamist extremism, the largest proportion was from London (214; 28%), whereas of the 271 individuals discussed at a Channel panel for concerns related to right wing extremism, the largest population was from the West Midlands (47; 17%).”
This suggests a considerable divide in the country – with multi cultural London having fewer right wing extremists than the deprived North East and the West Midlands where there have been racial tensions.
The general message is that Britain is becoming more divided and that racism and Fascism among the young is rising, particularly in areas where there are fewer people from ethnic minorities.
This was born out by a chat with a person at the Race on the Agenda conference on mental health reform in London last week who was dealing with the Prevent programme in Dorset. Here it was in the rural areas where young poorly educated men who had seen few immigrants appeared to be attracted to right wing extremism. The issues raised by Brexit had also been a factor in highlighting tensions.
Whatever it is this is a deeply disturbing trend and it suggests that focus on the rise of all types of extremism should concentrate equally on right wing racists as much as Islamic extremists.