Teesside University expert contributes to debate on the far-right

05 September 2017 @TeesUniNews


Events in Charlottesville should act as a wake-up call for the potential growth of far-right extremism in the UK, warns a prominent Teesside University Professor.

Professor Matthew Feldman.
Professor Matthew Feldman.

Professor Matthew Feldman, a specialist in fascist ideology and the contemporary far-right, also says groups are increasingly using sophisticated social media to increase visibility and move away from the more stereotypical face of the far-right.

Following events in Charlottesville on 12 August 2017, which saw a woman killed and dozens more hurt at a white supremacist rally, BBC Radio 5 Live has been examining the reach of the far-right in the UK.

Just yesterday, four serving members of the British Army were arrested under terror laws on suspicion of being members of banned neo-Nazi group National Action.

BBC Radio 5 Live spoke to various experts about the potential reach of the far-right, starting on 5 Live Breakfast on Wednesday morning, a national show hosted by Nicky Campbell and Rachel Burden.

One of those experts to feature extensively was Professor Matthew Feldman, a Professor in Teesside University’s School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Law and Co-Director of the University’s Centre for Fascist, Anti-fascist and Post-fascist studies (CFAPS) – a unique research unit dedicated to the study of the far right and its opposition.

Professor Feldman has published widely on fascist ideology and the contemporary far right and has been cited in national and international news outlets, providing expert commentary and analysis.

Fascist and racist ideas are becoming more acceptable here than they have been for years, and that has to be a concern.

Professor Matthew Feldman

He believes the events in Charlottesville should be a wake-up call to the UK, both in terms of potential violence and in terms of uniting different kinds of far right extremism – from reactionary neo-confederates to revolutionary fascists – around key ‘mainstreaming’ issues of ‘white rights’ and incitement to hatred of minorities.

Professor Feldman featured in BBC Radio 5 Live’s coverage, with the story also featuring on other programmes across the station.

Professor Feldman said: 'More visible and more emboldened is how I’d describe the far-right in Britain today – but not necessarily more in terms of numbers. Fascist and racist ideas are becoming more acceptable here than they have been for years, and that has to be a concern.

'Like a putrid old wine in newer bottles, we’re seeing a concerted attempt to move away from older ‘faces’ of the far right - like stereotypical skinheads and football firms – in favour of flash demos and more flashy social media. 'Where these updated forms of activism will lead is anyone’s guess, although after Charlottesville’s ‘unite the right’ chaos in the US and the rise of slicker far–right parties on the European continent, the direction of travel is pretty troubling indeed.'


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The reach of the far-right
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Professor Matthew Feldman comments on arrests of members of far-right group National Action