On 9th November, ITV showed a documentary, Undercover: Inside Britain's New Far-Right. It no longer seems to be on ITV's website, but is available at various points online, for example here.
Documentaries of this type were the staple of an earlier era - remember World In Action in the 1990s? The attempts to convince a sceptical public that a far-right terrorist machine was being established in Britain, via the group Combat 18? The security services, under pressure from cuts in an era that was post Soviet but pre 9/11, were needed to save us from this terrible menace. Similar programmes appeared on animal rights activists, and even the far-left. They did not age well.
Politically, this documentary was much more ambitious. It was about resisting Brexit and seeking to garner support for further controls on social media. My colleague Larry O'Hara explains this fully in his article here (17,000 words long so not suitable for people who can only deal with Tweets/sound-bites/You-tube videos)
Larry summarises his case thus:
The coverage of groups like Britain First, the National Front and Generation Identity (GI) was hardly convincing. For example, there was a lot of focus on GI “military style camps” which are a joke. What wasn’t mentioned were actual military-style camps that have taken place in the UK recently: the Siggurd camps (later rebranded as Legion camps).
1) the rather sad and isolated figure of failed UKIP leadership contender Anne Marie Waters is shown as having poor political judgement by consorting with fascists and, er, saying in private about Islam what she says in public
2) long term Searchlight/Hope Not Hate infiltrator Peter Rushton (whose card I marked back in 1994) is shown twice saying Brexit was about ‘Rights for Whites’. Not only do I disagree, I take strong exception to viewers being manipulated by a prepared script in this way. So strong was my exception I have taken the unprecedented step of quoting from one of many intelligence reports in our possession concerning various assets: in this instance one written about Rushton by his handlers in 2002 when he was under fire for being an infiltrator, though supported by the rather naive John Tyndall.
3) I reveal for the first time the amounts paid to Hope Not Hate personnel by pro-EU group Better for Britain, especially interesting given HNHs charitable status and feigned neutrality during the EU referendum and since. HNH are far from neutral commentators on Brexit - they are players central to preventing its implementation.
The second strand of the show was about whipping up hysteria concerning social media. Which explains why an irrelevant group like Britain First had their strength and support exaggerated, and a group like Generation Identity, who barely exist in the UK, were given such prominence. What a coincidence (Not) that since the article was written it has transpired that both Britain First and Generation Identity have had their Twitter accounts suspended.
All this overlaps with the pro-Remainer conspiracy theories peddled by especially Carole Cadwalladr of the Guardian/Observer regarding Russian influence on the EU Referendum. I merely dip my toes into the seething whirlpool that is this debate, which I will return to elsewhere.
In any event, I trust the above has whetted the appetite of those of you interested in referenced argument on the important matters to alluded to above. I did raise many of these issues with the documentary-makers prior to publication, in emails to David Henshaw of Hardcash Productions, but they declined to reply.
They can dish it out, but can’t take it.