Far-right extremism in Scotland was once a joke, but no longer – Kenny MacAskill

As Justice Secretary, I asked for and was briefed on the threat from far-right extremism. There was an acronym for it, the name of which escapes me, but it was monitored, writes Kenny MacAskill.

Trump has defended his claim there were good people among the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville (Picture: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)
Trump has defended his claim there were good people among the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville (Picture: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

I’d asked as there had been complaints from left-wing voices that it was being ignored. That, I discovered, wasn’t the case, it was simply that they neither possessed the numbers nor posed the dangers that other terrorists or threats did.

There had been nail bombs and homophobic attacks but, in general, they were lone wolves and even when organised were crude and unsophisticated.

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Indeed, the general view was that they were largely stupid and incompetent though still had the capacity to cause harm. Focus therefore had to be elsewhere and where the real threat lay.

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That must be changing though. Not simply because of the carnage unleashed whether by Anders Breivik in Norway or a litany of white supremacists in the USA. Their numbers are growing, their capacity for harm increasing and the dangers here likewise.

They’re not just communicating online but meeting up. So, the focus needs to change, along with the threat level.

It hasn’t come about in a vacuum. Instead, it has been legitimised by hate from supposedly mainstream politicians. Whether it’s Trump in the USA or Salvoni in Italy, racism has become normalised. Others, within their own party or beyond, have taken that as their cue.

Police will monitor the threat but it’s the duty of us all to face down and call-out those who ferment it.