Neo-Nazi leader quits movement, calls racism 'rubbish', and reveals he is gay with Jewish heritage
A prominent neo-Nazi and former organiser of the National Front has given up his far-right views as well as revealed he is gay and has Jewish heritage.
Kevin Wilshaw was a high-profile figure of the National Front in the 1980s and was speaking at extreme right events as recently as this year.
Speaking to Channel 4 News, he explained he had given up his violent past – which included smashing a chair over someone’s head, vandalising a mosque and being arrested for online hate race offences.
He added that he did not have many friends at school and was looking for “comradeship”.
His comments come as the Home Office confirmed that there had been a rise in hate crime reports by almost a third in the 12 months following the Brexit referendum.
The Government has also been urged to launch an inquiry into far-right extremism in the armed forces after four soldiers were arrested for being alleged members of a banned neo-Nazi group called National Action.
Mr Wilshaw, who joined the BNP and was indirectly involved with other fringe groups, came under abuse from members of his own side, however, when they suspected he was gay.
“It’s a terribly selfish thing to say but it’s true, I saw people being abused, shouted at, spat at in the street – it’s not until it’s directed at you that you suddenly realise that what you’re doing is wrong,” he told the news show.
He also revealed his mother was part Jewish, and her maiden name was Benjamin.
The BNP remains active, including a recent campaign against supposed plans for a mosque in the Lincolnshire town of Louth that local authorities said do not exist.
He added that he felt “appallingly guilty” about his past, but also that he would find it difficult to fill the “void” of far-right activity that has shaped his life.
“I want to do some damage as well, not to ordinary people but the people who are propagating this kind of rubbish – want to hurt them, show what it’s like for those who are living a lie and be on the receiving end of this type of propaganda, I want to hurt them.”
Hope Not Hate, the non-profit which received a “cry for help” from Mr Wilshaw, has helped to expose and document the expansion of the far-right in Europe and in the US under the label of “alt-right” which was coined in 2008. Several high-profile figures in the extreme-right movements were born in the UK, including Milo Yiannopoulos and Paul Joseph Watson.
Mr Wilshaw is not the first neo-Nazi to turn against his past.
Michael Kent from Colorado spent two decades in a violent white supremacist group. After his black, female parole officer influenced him to change his way of life, he had his far-right tattoos removed via Redemption Ink, a national non-profit that offers free removals of hate-related tattoos.