Verso, £14.99 Order at a discount from the Independent Online Shop

Bloody Nasty People, By Daniel Trilling

Media support for racist extremism has helped to make legitimate the new politics of hatred

Daniel Trilling has written an instructive account of white extremism in Britain. For this immigrant Muslim, reading it felt like a trek through a lightless jungle with fierce beasts and unseen, stalking, implacable tribes. The intimations of savagery produced a psychic shakiness I've not experienced before.

Neo-Fascist racism is getting more brazen and popular. Its reach is misread by the left, tolerated by liberals, excused and even encouraged by the right-wing political classes and the media, ignored by apolitical citizens, and denied by the deluded many who still believe members of the BNP, English Defence League and other organised belligerents are just loonies with deviant hobbies. Trilling incisively cuts through all that: "the far right has often been portrayed as an aberration, a foreign malady imported into an otherwise tolerant milieu," he argues. "This has had great strategic value for its opponents: highlighting the Hitler-worshipping tendencies of the National Front's leaders during the 1970s was an easy way to discredit a supposedly patriotic movement. But this obscures the home-grown intellectual traditions on which parties like the BNP draw." He notes that Enoch Powell once remarked "The life of nations... is largely lived in the imagination," and concludes that "If that is so, then the BNP takes us into the darkest corners of this national fantasy."

The book's historical, action-packed narrative is underpinned by moral outrage: very unfashionable, very necessary. Though there are frequent implosive power struggles within crypto-Nazi groupings, their adherents are, with remarkable efficiency, managing virally to spread their hate-filled messages. They scrub up well, de-litter neighbourhoods, offer help, distribute lies about migrants and welfare, stir up aboriginal disaffection, spur poorer white families to loathe "outsiders" and even hurt them. That hostility is today considered "understandable" by many with power and influence, some of whom have spun and a new theology of "reasonable" bigotry.

The dispossessed of all races are victims of government policies, the worst being the curtailment of public housing, with cheap, immigrant labour pulled in to facilitate globalised capitalism, an insatiable beast. Yet every PM since Thatcher has shuffled off responsibility for native misery on to incomers. In the middle of the recession, Cameron made a speech attacking multiculturalism; Nick Griffin was elated at his party's "huge leap" into mainstream politics. They're in it together. From slum to suburb, diversity, Islam and immigration are now demonised without a flush of guilt.

Vitally, the author locates Fascist racism within key British traditions. Rural idealists, gentlemen like Hilaire Belloc and GK Chesterton and island poetics inspire Anglo-Saxon chauvinists. Most supporters of the EDL and BNP are not crazies or demons, but solid, sane Brits with babies and grocery lists and a love of picnics. Some have become councillors and MEPs; recruits include lecturers, millionaire, ballerinas, civil servants and Oxbridge students. I once interviewed an EDL fanatic who looked like Kevin Costner and wore Paul Smith shirts.

The worst happened under New Labour, which capitulated to the extreme right while pretending to denounce it. Trilling provides evidence of joint, populist attacks on outlanders by the Blairite clique and tabloids, and of all mainstream parties "borrowing" BNP rhetoric. Once the liberal consensus between the BBC and conscientious post-war leaders like Roy Jenkins and Michael Heseltine kept this barbarism in the swampy fringes. Since 9/11 it has been brought into civil society. Why, Griffin was even asked on to Question Time by the dilettante BBC.

My only big criticism is that Trilling avoids any censure of separatist Muslims or migrants who live by outdated codes, exploit and despise white people. Self-censorship is unhelpful and unwise in a book of such passion, power and urgency. Read it and be afraid, very afraid. As with militant Islamicism, a worldwide web now connects white extremists. We could get our own Anders Breivik, the Norwegian who massacred innocents to punish his progressive, multiracial nation. Perilous laxity and official appeasement have fertilised fanatical British racism. And now it seems unstoppable.

Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
books
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
books
Arts and Entertainment
The man with the golden run: Daniel Craig as James Bond in 'Skyfall'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Waving Seal' by Luke Wilkinson was Highly Commended in the Portraits category

photography
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering