The UK government has enlisted M&C Saatchi to help in the fight against rightwing extremism. But can the weapons the ad firm used to win elections for the Tories be adapted to beat racist lies?
Earlier this week, a neo-Nazi teenager who built a homemade pipebomb was sentenced to a three-year youth rehabilitation order. The 17-year-old, from Bradford, had posted a message to Facebook on the day MP Jo Cox was murdered, praising her killer. “Tommy Mair is a HERO,” he wrote. “There’s one less race traitor in Britain thanks to this man.”
Court hearings revealed that the teenager had been recruited online by the secretive neo-Nazi group National Action, which was banned by the government in December 2016, becoming the first rightwing group in the UK to be proscribed under terrorism laws. In a chatgroup found on the boy’s phone, members discussed blowing up mosques and mimicking the methods of the IRA. The charity Hope not Hate warns that National Action has been “emboldened” by the ban and continues to be active in all but name, while the government anti-radicalisation group Prevent reports that one in 10 cases referred to it involve far-right extremism, rising to about one in four in some parts of the country.
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