Former foreign secretary praises Demos report into rise of far right in Europe
David Miliband has joined those warning about the rise of a new wave of far-right nationalist parties across Europe, saying that it is important to keep track of their ascent.
In a rare foray into international politics since his defeat for the Labour party leadership 14 months ago, the former foreign secretary praised a report by the thinktank Demos which revealed a mass of mainly young, male Facebook-based supporters of such groups, who often held vehemently antagonistic views about immigrants and, in particular, Muslims.
"This report is an important antidote to any complacency about rightwing extremism," Miliband told the Guardian. "It shows that discontent with globalisation can fuel the politics of the right as well as the left. The Occupy protests have captured media attention but away from the public eye the hard right is also organising. The only way to defend the gains of globalisation is to understand its most dangerous critics, and this report helps us to do so."
The rise of such parties, which now hold significant parliamentary blocs in well over half a dozen western European countries, from Italy to the Netherlands to Scandinavia, has a particularly personal element for Miliband, whose Jewish immigrant parents fled Nazi Europe.
The Demos report sampled the views of more than 10,000 people who support such parties and street movements on Facebook pages, which for the 24 groups had a combined total of almost 450,000 mainly young fans. The breadth of such hard-right views means they are in danger of "becoming mainstream", warned Emine Bozkurt, a Dutch MEP of Turkish descent who heads the European parliament's anti-racism forum.
She said: "In some countries, for example the Netherlands, it even becomes the majority because mainstream right or centre-right parties are adopting the rhetoric of nationalist-populist parties in an attempt to attract their voters."