National Action (UK)
National Action's logo
|Headquarters||Within the United Kingdom|
|Membership||60–100 (2016 estimate)|
|Part of the Politics and elections and Politics series on|
National Action is a neo-Nazi and British nationalist youth movement. The group is secretive, and has rules to prevent members from talking openly about the organisation. The group was banned as a terrorist organization in December 2016 following concerns members may commit violence following the Murder of Jo Cox.
A member known as "Tom", who was 18 years old at the time, was interviewed by The Huffington Post in March 2014. He named José Antonio Primo de Rivera of the Spanish Falange, Alexander Raven Thomson and Oswald Mosley of the British Union of Fascists, and writer Wyndham Lewis as inspiration for National Action. The group's strategy document twice quoted Adolf Hitler, which "Tom" called "a bit dodgy". He explained it by saying "What has been a successful nationalist movement? Oh it was [the Nazis]...That's why we're using [the Nazis]. They used it and they were able to gain power...Gottfried Feder, who was an economist and a member of the NSDAP, he had some good ideas".
Due to the secretive nature of National Action, it is not clear as to whom the leader of the organisation is. Former National Front member Ashley Benn (pseudonym Tommy Johnson) has been referred to as the organisation's leader, and is thought to be one of a number of activists behind National Action's founding document. However, an investigation by the Daily Mirror found Benjamin Raymond, age 25 in June 2014, to be the leader of National Action. He is a former double-glazing salesman who graduated in Politics from Essex University in 2013, and has been keen on getting university-educated people involved in the British far-right. A strong critic of multiculturalism, Raymond told BBC News in 2015 that "The source of all of the conflict in society is all the different racial groups that have been brought here. They have been brought here to create a people who are deracinated and easier to control". He also rejects notions that he is a hate preacher, stating instead that he is "a love preacher ... if you love something, you hate whatever is a threat to it".
Another member was found to be 19-year-old Alex Davies of Swansea, who withdrew from a first-year course in philosophy at Warwick University in June 2014 after his involvement in National Action was revealed. A university spokesman said to the Mirror "Any such allegations are taken seriously." Davies had joined the Young BNP at 16, but found the group to be in "disarray". He describes the difference between the two groups as: "We're targeting universities regularly. That's something the BNP never had. We've built something in a few months the BNP didn't have in 20 years." A current senior spokesperson for the organisation is Jack Renshaw, a former Youth BNP activist currently facing criminal charges over incitement to racial hatred.
Policy and actions
Davies described the group as "like the BNP but more radical". National Action self-styles itself as a "revolutionary nationalist" organisation which grew out of a failed offshoot within the youth wing of the British National Party and has made effective, large-scale use of social media and blogging platforms.
National Action also wanted to reintroduce Section 28, which prohibited the "promotion of homosexuality" in schools. On immigration, "Tom" says "With coloured people we'd say big no to them coming over. But with [white people] we'd be a bit more lenient".
While remaining non-violent, National Action distributed propaganda on at least 12 university campuses. In an interview with The National Student, an anonymous organiser for National Action explained why they target universities: "very soon they are going to find out just how hard the system has screwed them – if they knew what we know now we would have an army. The last Labour government aspired to send 50% of 18- to 21-year-olds to university and the total student population has grown exponentially over the past decade. That is 50% of youth who are going to be very angry burger flippers." He also promised "This year will be a reign of terror", and described people who are in interracial relationships as "pathetic internet nerds who can't get laid and STD-infested sluts".
In October 2014, Garron Helm, a National Action member from Merseyside, was sentenced to four weeks in prison for sending a message via Twitter to MP Luciana Berger relating to her Jewish background, which was found to be "an offensive, indecent or obscene message". The following month, following Helm's release, 10 National Action activists were arrested in dawn raids on suspicion of conspiring to cause criminal damage to Berger's office; they were all bailed. National Action's campaign against Berger was supported by US-based neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, which offered advice on how to set up untraceable Twitter accounts in order to send abuse.
In June 2015, 26-year-old member Zack Davies, was found guilty of the attempted murder of Sarandev Bambra, a Sikh man in Mold, Flintshire. He claimed this was revenge for the murder of Lee Rigby and chanted "white supremacy" as he launched the attack. Benjamin Raymond, leader of the organisation, denied any connection between National Action and Zack Davies.
In August 2015, the group attempted to hold a 'White Man March' in Liverpool. Strong opposition from the Anti-Fascist Network forced organisers to cancel the march before taking refuge in the lost luggage collection point at Lime Street Station. Tensions were raised by a letter to Mayor Joe Anderson threatening race riots; National Action claimed this was a forgery by an agent provocateur.
In 2016, The Sunday Times revealed that National Action was supporting Thomas Mair, the murderer of Batley and Spen Labour MP Jo Cox. NA has repeatedly celebrated Mair and altered its listing on Google to state: "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain!", the phrase Mair said to a court when asked to give his name following Cox's murder. The organisation is currently the most active in Yorkshire, where half of referrals to the government's anti-extremism strategy have been from the far-right. It has promoted the conspiracy theories that Jews were behind the September 11 attacks, and has labelled Cox as the "patron saint of [Asian] grooming gangs", according to the Times.
"Tom" reported that the group was monitored by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit. Gerry Gable, former editor of the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, said "National Action are highly organised with a lot of foreign money backing them up. They’re not looking to attract thickos who just want a fight, but unfortunately that is all they have at the moment. They want thinkers who are prepared to die for National Socialism." Scotland Yard are reported to be "very concerned" by the group, but gave the official response "We cannot discuss details of individuals or organisations that may or may not be the subject of an investigation."
In November 2016, following the murder of Jo Cox and the organisation's consequent lauding of her killer, The Times said that it was "likely" National Action would become a proscribed terrorist organisation.
Ian Austin, a Labour Party MP whose adoptive father fled Nazi Czechoslovakia, said of National Action "Seventy years ago, British heroes were fighting to liberate Europe from the scourge of Nazis and fascism. It's absolutely disgusting to see young British people praise Hitler today."
- Gadher, Dipesh (27 November 2016). "Neo-Nazis face ban after Cox murder". The Sunday Times. (subscription required (. ))
- Sheriff, Lucy (6 March 2014). "Meet New Neo-Nazi Group National Action Which Just Wants To 'Piss People Off'". Huffington Post. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
- Wright, Simon; Glaze, Ben; Cortbus, Colin (7 June 2014). "Exposed: Rise of Hitler-loving National Action group who want to 'ethnically cleanse' the UK". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
- Dorman, Nick. "Neo-Nazi group to be banned from UK after Jo Cox's murder leads to concerns". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
- "Hate Files: National Action". Hope not Hate.
- Nye, Catrin (1 September 2015). "Radicals: The Proud Racist". BBC News – via YouTube.
- Fascist leader leaves Warwick, The Boar, 18 June 2014
- Hamilton, Fiona (28 November 2016). "Hitler's only fault showing mercy to Jews, youth leader told secret meeting". The Times. (subscription required (. ))
- Filfilan, Karam (25 April 2014). ""This year will be a reign of terror": Meet the white British Nationalists coming to your campus". The National Student. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
- Perraudin, Frances (21 October 2014). "Man jailed for antisemitic tweet to Labour MP". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
- Collins, Matthew (March–April 2015). "National Action: Young, Nazi and Dangerous". Hope Not Hate (18). Retrieved 31 October 2016.
- Traynor, Luke (8 November 2014). "Neo-Nazis target Jewish MP as police arrest 10 for 'anti-Semitic' protest". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
- Dysch, Marcus (30 October 2014). "Neo-Nazi gave out internet abuse tips in campaign against Luciana Berger". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
- "National Action's Zack Davies guilty of attempted murder". Channel 4 News. 25 June 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
- Badshar, Nadeem (23 June 2015). "Dentist attacked with machete in revenge for Lee Rigby". The Times. (subscription required (. ))
- "Liverpool: White Man March Neo-Nazis Cower In Station Depot After Being Pelted With Rubbish, Then Cancel Event". Huffington Post. 15 August 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
- Filfilan, Karam (18 January 2015). "Hateful and here: German Anti-Islam extremists rally in Glasgow in bid to recruit Scots". The Daily Record. Retrieved 30 August 2015.