Extremely strange political bedfellows

By Gerry Gable

In the past week the media have reported on the delegation of British right-wing politicians led by Nigel Farage who met US president-elect Donald Trump at his New York headquarters. Present with Trump was his head strategic adviser Steve Bannon, who controls the alt-right Breitbart news service. Farage came with Raheem Kassam, Breitbart’s London editor. Kassam has enjoyed the financial backing of the British millionaire Arron Banks, who co-founded and funded the Leave.EU campaign and also gave generous support when Kassam decided to stand for the leadership of the UK Independence Party. One of Banks’s close advisers was also part of the delegation.

The perverse idea that Farage should become the British ambassador to Washington when Trump enters the White House is worrying, considering that Bannon’s closest political friend is Richard Spencer, another far-right millionaire, who after a sustained campaign by Searchlight was deported by the Hungarian government two years ago and banned for three years from entering the Schengen area.

Spencer has made several visits to Britain, which is not part of the Schengen area. In May last year the Home Office asked us to prepare a report on far-right groups in the UK and their friends abroad. As a result one of the last acts of Theresa May as Home Secretary was to issue an order banning Spencer from the UK for life.

Below are two videos posted on YouTube of a conference and dinner in New York held by Spencer’s alt-right National Policy Institute on 19 November. The Guardian managed to infiltrate the conference and its report and a further video are here. It came as no surprise that a number of overseas visitors attended the conference. One of the most interesting was Matt Tait, the young British “rich brat” who helped organise the far-right paramilitary training in 2014 that was conducted by President Vladimir Putin’s international trainer Denis Nikitin and Arkadiusz Rzepinski. Tait and Spencer are no strangers to one another as Tait was in Budapest at the point the Hungarian authorities arrested and deported Spencer.

Trump is reportedly trying to distance himself from the National Policy Institute, but one question arises. Some of the Nazis who attended the dinner after the New York conference were recorded saying they were heading back to Trump Tower after they retreated from the restaurant where they had been besieged by anti-fascists. Were they locked out by Trump security or given a warm welcome?