Dateline: Rhyl National Express.
Well, we missed out on all the fun and festivities at the weekend due to going on holiday ‘by mistake’ in Rhyl (see previous posting) and as it was drooking it down we had chance to read Hate, the new book by ex-Nazi turned Searchlight bright spark Matthew Collins. Braw!
Hate follows Collins’ induction into the National Front and his eventual decision to turn Searchlight informer. If nothing else it confirms the view that fascists are failures, psychopaths and invariably single, after all, what sensible wee lassie would want to play 2nd fiddle to Hitler et al? Collins imagines that the left are infinitely more libidinous than our simian opponents and mentions it several times. There are also way too many references to his hectic masturbation schedule. In parts it is laugh out loud funny, especially a particularly windy day at a Remembrance Sunday do (page 107 – if you must!). Collins’ portraits of the luminaries of the far right scene can be as entertaining as they are scathing. He gleefully highlights the social shortcomings of various terminal fash and some classic fuck ups are in there: Richard Edmonds, Tony Lecomber and Ian Anderson amongst many colourful (though mainly white) thugs. These professional Nazis have neither skills nor qualifications to do anything else and it must take them an enormous amount of effort to not admit that everything they have tried to do has been a complete and utter failure. Collins was particularly close to Edmonds of the BNP who recently failed in a leadership challenge against Nick Griffin. Edmonds is a lanky streak, full of piss and vinegar, signifying nothing, who lived in squalor at the BNP Welling ‘bookshop’ – which is pathetic. Lecomber almost blew himself up with his own bomb and has spent around 7 years in prison for his useless activities, was battered many times by AFA/Red Action and is a classic example of a Nazi loser. NF leader Ian Anderson is portrayed as a ranting, raving, raggedy arsed alcoholic (and no doubt regrets leaving prog-folk band Jethro Tull). Griffin hangs ominously in the background like a large cloud of beery flatulence about to hit the air-con although Collins manages to get out before Griffin’s coup against the horrible John Tyndall (Vosene’s ‘Dandruff Man of the Year’ 1977 & 1978!).
Hate also confirms the oft-repeated sentiment amongst anti-fascists that fascists reserve most of their hatred for their own: the violent rivalry between the BNP and NF is lovingly highlighted and symptomatic of the inability for Nazis to stand together despite regular despairing calls for unity (something that continues to this day). There are always too many leaders and not enough foot soldiers. Collins points out that despite these rivalries and vicious hatreds they have to stick together because their insane views are so abhorrent to most people in ‘normal’ life. After all, who but a psycho spends their entire life denying the holocaust, justifying genocide and/or praising an insane ideology?
Collins sees the far right scene as a tedious heavy drinking club enlivened by occasions of violence, full of lonely deviants who deserve each others company, trying desperately to convince themselves that their political programme is not a waste of time. He describes his erstwhile colleagues smashing up an Indian restaurant which was less to do with politics and more to do with a psychopathic urge for aggressive and drunken bullying. It is handy to remember that it is grown men that are doing these kind of things. What is most disturbing, however, is not these brutal outbursts but Collins musical taste: The Beautiful South? Are you sure Maff?
Collins becomes increasingly guilt-stricken after an appalling assault on a community meeting in Welling library, a bloody and pointless BNP ‘victory,’ and as his relationship develops with Gerry Gable of Searchlight he becomes justifiably frightened of the repercussions. He also describes meeting Gable who is wearing an Italian suit and a ponytail! (Crivvens, Gerry! A ponytail?).
As with other books such as the autobiographies of Ray Hill or the German ex-Nazi Ingo Hasselbach, the astute reader gets the impression that Collins is saying what his new antifascist friends want him to say and he sketches over his involvement in some of the more abysmal violence. All the greatest hits are there though – Waterloo, Hemel Hempstead (Collins describes the Searchlight team watching footage of Anderson getting planted at Hemel Hempstead over and over again) but Gable is apparently the hero of the hour following the Kensington Library ‘massacreee.’ Funny that, wasn’t there another feller in court with him? The portrayal of antifascist opponents follows the Searchlight line: although Red Action are mentioned several times – and their reputation on the far right confirmed – AFA’s role against the BNP is downplayed and ‘reds’ and ‘antifascists’ are fairly interchangeable despite their differing stances on physical opposition.
Hate is a very readable book in the same way that the best football hooligan books are readable, after all there is a rise and fall narrative to hold the whole story together and little or no subtext. Like Tilzey & Hann’s No Retreat, Hate is what one Urban75 poster called a ‘political biography’ – unlike Beating The Fascists which features 1st person narrative but not at the expense of political analysis.
Verdict: An interesting addition to the small body of antifascist literature but Reader Beware of the heavy Searchlight bias running through it!