The neo-Nazi group National Action Scotland received widespread attention and condemnation after conducting an action where they ran a white-only food bank for homeless people in central Glasgow.
Photos taken at the event show a small group of members at a stall stocked with bottled water, crisps and tinned food items. National Action Scotland later released a video that shows their members passing the food out to homeless people.
Martin, a National Action spokesperson, described the event as a community service: “Homeless outreach entails providing supplies — primarily food and clothing — to individuals who are in need of them. We provide those supplies exclusively to white people,” he said. “Directly to our people, face to face.”
David Featherstone is a senior lecturer in human geography at the University of Glasgow. He says outreach is an important strategy for fascist movements: “It’s a way of them becoming visible in communities,” Featherstone said.
Golden Dawn, a Greek neo-Nazi group, has done similar charity actions. National Action Scotland is a regional chapter of the nation-wide National Action, which operates in England, Wales and Scotland. Like other far-right groups in Europe, National Action blames the economic downturn on immigrants. “In particular, immigration has caused a race to the bottom for jobs and housing and is the main factor in our inability to provide solutions to the housing crisis,” Martin said.
Their most recent action was coordinated with another far-right organization, Narodowe Odrodzenie Polski, commonly known as the National Rebirth of Poland. Both groups have been linked to acts of violence. According to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, allegations of hate crimes in Britain rose sharply during and after the vote for Brexit.
Featherstone believes the timing of this latest action is significant: “With the European Referendum, you’ve got anti-immigrant rhetoric that’s become mainstream,” he said. “Very nasty, right wing, anti-immigrant discourse”. Featherstone said the best way to combat neo-Nazi groups is to close down the political space they operate in. “It’s much more important to challenge that kind of discourse politically,” Featherstone said. “That will erode the foundations for those groups to work”.
National Action emerged from other far-right British groups in 2013. The group explicitly targets young people and university students for recruitment: “Young people are the future,” Martin said. “Five years ago there was no home for racially-conscious white youth. Now there is a nationwide network that provides a focal point for National Socialist activity.”
National Action Scotland were unconcerned with allegations of racism.
“We are National Socialists and want to create the conditions for a National Socialist state to be formed in Britain,” Martin said. “We are openly racist, so I’m glad the message isn’t being confused.”