It is rare to recommend a book that makes one’s flesh creep but this is what I find myself doing in the case of Daniel Trilling’s forensic account of the political slugs who have crawled from under their stones in — as his sub-title puts it — The Rise of Britain’s Far Right.
Trilling, who is assistant editor of the New Statesman, has provided a lucid dissection of the repellent politics of the BNP (British National Party), NF (National Front), the EDL (English Defence League), and a host of other forgettable acronymic movements. They are united only in their hatred of minorities and characterised, fortunately, by a tendency to implode and fight among themselves.
Those who assume that the Jewish community is not under threat from the right wing need to read this book and then re-read it, line by worrying line. From John Tyndall to Martin Webster, from the “rivers of blood” speeches of Wolverhampton MP Enoch Powell, all the way through to BNP leader Nick Griffin and the EDL front-man Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon), Trilling provides a horror story cast-list worthy of Hammer Films.
It would be a mistake to dismiss these people as stupid, malodorous thugs — they may well fall into that category but still possess the rat-like cunning to reinvent themselves, over and over again.
One oddity in the index is that neither Jews nor Judaism are itemised, though Trilling certainly notes the antisemitism of the far right in his text.
And, in his scalpel-like unpeeling of Griffin’s challenge to Labour MP Margaret Hodge in her Barking constituency, Trilling fails to identify Hodge as Jewish — not, in this instance, a mistake made by Griffin.
But that is a minor carp: Trilling has it bang to rights in his title. Bloody nasty people, indeed. We ignore them at our peril.