“From Voting to Violence? Rightwing Extremists in Modern Britain,” a study by Matthew Goodwin of the University of Nottingham and Jocelyn Evans of Salford University questioned over 2,000 voters for ‘radical right’ and ‘far-right’ political groups and found that most endorsed violence and were willing to prepare for such events.
The study’s findings provide a warning to the British government, although it has yet to be shown conclusively that last year’s rioters were of any particular political group or with any ideology. Far-right extremism has been thrust back into the spotlight in Europe following Anders Behring Breivik’s massacre of innocent people at Utoya in Norway in July 2011.
If one will recall, one of Breivik’s primary motivations was to protect Europe from a ‘Muslim takeover.’ According to Goodwin and Evans’ study, much of the literature from the far-right speaks of an inevitable race war and the need to prepare for violent, armed conflict. Among the parties’ supporters examined were members of the British National Party, the UK Independence Party and the English Defence League. The UK Independence Party acted as a control for the other two parties in the study and it is not considered a far-right, extremist party. Independence Party supporters did not share the other two parties’ penchant for violence but did converge on race issues.
A United Kingdom Independence Party spokesperson contacted by The Guardian emphasized that the party remained committed to changing society through the ballot box and highlighted the growth of the party, citing its stance on issues such as the EU and immigration as examples of how it is wooing Tory voters. In conclusion Goodwin states, “Our findings would appear to suggest that within this wider climate and amidst continuing public anxiety over immigration, Islam and economic hardship there is a significant section within the far right who believe violence and armed conflict is a legitimate option should they feel their wider group is under threat.”