In a documentary called Britain’s Ultra Nationalists, Journalist Aran Tori travels around the country interviewing the nation’s Far-Right Extremist groups, speaking to people such as Tommy Robinson and members of the New British Union (NBU).
‘Jack Williams’, who claims to be a second-year university student in Leeds was described as ‘the group’s (NBU’s) leading youth member’ in the documentary. Never revealing his face, he is seen wearing a t-shirt with Benito Mussolini on the front and speaks about his admiration for the dictator. In the documentary, he claims that the principal goal of the NBU is ‘bringing the Nation together’.
In an email from the “UK Safeguard Watch” to The Gryphon, we were told that a lecturer at the University of Leeds was aware of the situation. However, this has not yet been confirmed and it is not clear with which institution ‘Jack Williams’ claims to be affiliated. According to information from West Yorkshire Police, it seems that ‘Jack Williams’ is not a student at the University of Leeds.
NBU’s slogan is ‘restoring faith in fascism’ and according to the NBU website, argues that ‘we, as a nation, have lost our pride. We have lost our dignity’. The website also claims that the young people in Britain today ‘engage in levels of hedonism that would bring the aristocrats of the Roman Empire to shame’.
‘Williams’ claims that he saw his role in the party as a ‘moral tenet’. It is stated at the end of the documentary that he left the group as ‘he’s dedicated to a syndicalist revolution’. This would explain his support for Mussolini. Syndicalism is “a movement that advocates direct action by the working class to abolish the capitalist order, including the state”.
His comments on camera went on:
‘You know, there are so many ills with British society that simply tweaking bits here and there will not cut it, it will not make people happy. If we want to deliver people unto happiness, we absolutely have to rethink the whole system’
Whilst playing snooker, Aran Tori asks ‘Williams’ whether the Nazi salute should be left out of the movement after the leader of the NBU, Gary Raikes has been known to use it. ‘Jack’ argues quickly with the claim that the salute is the ‘salute of all Fascist movements’ and “he doesn’t do it in reverence to Adolf Hitler, he does it because it was the movement.”
While ‘Jack’ says that he personally wouldn’t use the salute because of its association with 1930s Nazism and the Holocaust where more than 6 million Jews were murdered in concentration camps, he does not condemn the use of the salute.
When asked about a justification for his Far Right ideologies, ‘Williams’ describes them as a ‘necessary consequence’ of wanting to “preserve the beautiful diversity of human development. He goes on to say ‘we can’t let the white British people become a minority’.
‘We have white rhinos and black rhinos in nature, but if the white rhinos are going extinct, you know, we seek to preserve that, it’s a perfectly natural thing. We want to preserve the beautiful diversity of human development, and if there’s a mathematical reason to suspect’.
Summing up his impressin of ‘Williams’ Tori explains that ‘as abhorrent as his views were ‘Jack’ wasn’t a die-hard Neo Nazi Fascist but it looked like he was on a path to becoming one.’
Neither the University of Leeds nor any other local University has, as far as we aware, acted upon any of the information in the documentary or investigated further whether Williams is a student at their respective Universities, and it is by no means clear whether or not he has any genuine affiliation to any of the institutions in the city.
Universities are places of education, liberty and innovation and it is expected for everyone to have different views. That being said, one student told The Gryphon:
“I would not feel safe knowing someone with such dangerous, abhorrent views is allowed to continue at university. Are we waiting for a hate crime to occur in order for action to be taken? Surely the University should be doing something and look into this”
Other students said that “There’s a definite line at which free speech becomes a term people use to excuse their racist, hateful and often dangerous views”. One student in particular expressed how they “feel very uncomfortable knowing there [could be] people within the university who hold such abhorrent views” and how having someone with such extreme views would “affect BAME students… no one should be made to feel unsafe on the basis of their race or nationality, especially at a university that prides itself on being global”.
Lots of students interviewed by The Gryphon expressed that they believe the University should look into whether ‘Jack Williams’ is a student on campus and that if so “the least the University should do is hold some form of investigation into his character, racist history and potential for further offenses”. Another remarked that “extreme ideology often precedes extreme actions” and another remarked that the University should “review his status as a student” if he is revealed to be studying at the University of Leeds.
On the 19th November 2018, LUU passed policy to ‘exclude hate speakers and fascists from our union’, it states that ‘groups such as the BNP and EDL actively target vulnerable members of our Union and create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in their actions and their words’. The policy also states that LUU will continue as ‘an anti-fascist organisation’.
The University of Leeds claims to have ‘a zero-tolerance approach to sexual violence, harassment and hate crime’ and provide an environment that is ‘safe’.
This clearly emphasises that views such as those expressed by Williams are not welcome on campus.