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Fascist turned Brave Anti-Fascist to Speak in London

Book Launch: Hate: My Life in the British Far Right. Thursday, July 7, 8.00pm, LJCC, Ivy House, 94-96 North End Road,London NW11 7SX

Matthew Collins has been a very brave man. He put his life at risk in the cause of anti-fascism. He acted as inside informer on the activities of far-right groups for the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight until he was warned that his cover was blown. He fled the country for his life.

But Collins was not always an anti-fascist, he had previously been a  hard-core and dedicated violent fascist:

at the age of 17 he went to work full-time at the National Front head office (a dirty old back room in east London with broken glass on the floor) and a year later was made chairman of the south London branch. “I didn’t have any social life. I spent my entire time with the same group of people doing the same mundane perverted things – leafleting, postering, stickering, sitting in the back room of a pub complaining about blacks, and Jews. There would quite often be these amazing explosions of violence.” They involved beating people up and hitting them with chairs, glasses or pool cues. Collins’s favoured weapon in a march or rally was a Lucozade bottle “used for smashing against people’s heads” which was legal to carry. “You can even stab someone with a highly sharpened pencil. You can use just about anything you want to inflict pain on someone. I would have punched people in the face, stomped in people’s faces, kicked people in the head.”

It was after one particularly violent episode that a feeling of guilt led him to contact Searchlight and divulge the names of those involved in the violence.  His life as an informer had begun and his leaks had a devastating effect on the National Front.

Collins credibility on the far-right enabled him to join the neo-Nazi organisation Combat 18, which he did as an informer. The culmination of his inside work was his involvement in a 1993 World In Action documentary to expose this group. Two days after the programme was broadcast, Special Branch warned him that he was going to be shot. He escaped to Australia.

Collins tells all in his new book, Hate: My Life in the British Far-Right. Collins will also be speaking at the LJCC in North-West London at 8.00pm this Thursday evening where the book will be on sale. Tickets cost £12 and are available from the LJCC website. Given my interests in extremists, I am immensely looking forward to attending this event. I suspect the event will also be of great interest to other Harry’s Place readers. Do come along!