Skip to Content


Do far right extremists operate as lone wolves or a pack?

16 April 2011

8:49 AM

16 April 2011

8:49 AM

Some political organisations chase the news agenda, others just plough their own furrow
driven by the overriding morality of their cause.

The work of Gerry Gable and his anti-fascist organisation Searchlight has never been fashionable, but his tireless monitoring and exposure of the
extreme-right has acted as an important check on violent racism over four decades.

His latest report, “Lone Wolves: Myth or Reality?”, was commissioned by John Denham when he was
Communities Secretaries and it is an extraordinarily detailed examination of the history of right-wing extremist violence.

His conclusion is that it may be convenient for the police and the media to think of right-wing terrorists as “lone wolves”, but the reality is that they almost always have connections
with organized fascist activity.

The work emerged out of an examination of the nail bomber David Copeland who attacked gay, black and Asian targets in Soho, Brixton and Brick Lane in 1999. Copeland was described as a crazed
maverick, a classic “lone wolf”.

The reality was that Copeland was indeed schizophrenic, but he was also a member of the fringe National Socialist Movement and a former BNP member. When police arrested him, they found swastika
flags, a copy of Mein Kampf, but also a membership card of the NSM, which grew out of ultra-right group Combat 18.

The report has serious resource implications for the police because it suggests that so-called lone wolves could be stopped if we had better intelligence about the organized extreme right. The
document contains an exhaustive list of convictions of extremists with links to right-wing organisations and profiles of key right-wing “lone-wolves” who turned out to be nothing of the

This is depressing and sometimes terrifying stuff. But it is also an important warning. One appendix, for example, contains an investigation into Patriots of the White European Resistance (POWER) a
viciously anti-Semitic skinhead organisation that attracts more than 200 people to its internet forum. The report provides useful pen-portraits of some of these repellent people. Lone Wolves?
Hardly. They may be sad, mentally unstable racists, but the internet means they also have a community.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments


The Spectator Comment Policy

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.