Far right group aimed to recruit Erskine locals over asylum seekers 6

Far right group aimed to recruit Erskine locals over asylum seekers

A far right group behind anti-asylum seekers protests in Erskine was trying to recruit “disgruntled locals” and is a “threat and risk” to public safety, according to a police intelligence report.

A briefing by the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC) marked “official sensitive” reveals protests held by Patriotic Alternative were under surveillance and the white nationalist group is viewed as a “national priority”.

The Ferret revealed last year that PA was hijacking protests in Erskine and trying to exploit concerns over asylum seekers being housed in a local hotel. 

Two PA members who travelled from England to Erskine for the demos were later jailed for race hate crimes

One was a white supremacist while the other was linked to the banned neo-Nazi terror group, National Action.

The Home Office used the Muthu Hotel in Erskine to house asylum seekers from January 2023, a move opposed by Patriotic Alternative and a breakaway faction of the far right group called Homeland. 

Far right activists were met with counter-protests by trades unions, anti-racism groups and community members. Asylum seekers were to be removed from the Erskine hotel by this month.

The NPoCC intelligence report said PA gets involved in community issues because these “represent increased recruitment opportunities of disgruntled locals”.

NPoCC was set up in 2013 and is a UK-wide unit that brings all forces together including Police Scotland.

Its report on PA documents the group’s presence at anti-asylum seeker protests in Erskine and elsewhere in the UK and reveals it is assessed on a “monthly basis”.

NPoCC said 12 members of PA were among 30 protestors in Erskine on 5 March 2023 and some “conducted speeches”. 

There was a counter protest which included “20 identifiable as members of Young Communist League who were all dressed in black with hoods or hats and red face coverings.”

Despite attempts to recruit locals to their campaign of hate, the vast majority of the people of Erskine rejected their (Patriotic Alternative) ignorant bigotry wholeheartedly and without equivocation.

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North.

At a demo on 19 March 2023 PA activists were joined by “local people voicing concerns about refugees being housed in a hotel”, the NPoCC said. 

It added: “PA was led by their Scotland organiser, and, at peak, the total numbers in the main demonstration reached 50.”

On 26 March 2023 there were approximately 35 protestors outside the hotel.

The NPoCC report continued: “A protest took place in relation to the housing of asylum seekers at the Muthu hotel in Erskine, this forms part of a weekly protest at this site. Prior to the arrival of the opposing faction two members of Stand up to Racism group approached PA and handed them several information leaflets stating that refugees are not to blame for the housing crisis.”

“At about 1130 hours, when the opposing faction attended there approximately 20 persons present. There was vocal exchanges of words between the two groups but there was no complaints made regarding it. A number of Erskine local residents were also present along with the five individuals believed to be PA members.”

The NPoCC said PA campaigns around “anti multiculturalism and immigration issues, as well as periodic focus on drag queen story hour events”. 

Last year violence erupted during a PA protest in London outside Tate Britain over the gallery’s Drag Queen Story Hour story-telling event for children. 

Online donations to PA are also monitored by police as well as the group’s “publicity stunts” such as “banner drops across the country to raise awareness for white nationalist and anti-immigration causes”. 

PA unfurled a “white lives matter” banner at the top of Ben Nevis in 2021.

Groups affiliated to PA such as North East Infidels and Active Patriot are also under surveillance.

We are proud of the work we have done alongside trade unionists and local residents to oppose the politics of PA and its split Homeland. Activists were right to oppose them.” 

Talat Ahmed, SUTR Scotland convenor.

The NPoCC reports to the National Police Chiefs’ Council which brings police leaders together.

Gavin Newlands, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, said: “As we have seen at Erskine, the far right try to latch on to anything they think might help promote their twisted world view. While the Erskine Bridge Hotel was being used to house asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their application from the unfit for purpose Home Office, these extremists came to our community in an attempt to intimidate and bully asylum seekers and those providing solidarity to them.

“Despite attempts to recruit locals to their campaign of hate, the vast majority of the people of Erskine rejected their ignorant bigotry wholeheartedly and without equivocation. Clearly they are a fairly pathetic bunch, as borne out by the police intelligence report stating ‘there was low attendance at most protests’, but their white supremacist ideology of hatred – and the history of violence that permeate such groups – means it is no surprise the authorities are keeping a watchful eye on them.”

Talat Ahmed, Stand Up To Racism Scotland convenor, said: “We are proud of the work we have done alongside trade unionists and local residents to oppose the politics of PA and its split Homeland. Activists were right to oppose them.” 

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Police Scotland is a rights-based organisation that puts ours values of integrity, fairness, respect, and a commitment to upholding human rights at the heart of everything we do. We continue to monitor protests at the Erskine Muthu Hotel and apply a proportionate police response. We continue to liaise with our partners and will assess whether officers are required to be deployed at the hotel based on threat, harm, and risk.

“We were made aware of a disturbance involving two groups in the Erskine area around 11.50am on Sunday, 24 December, 2023. Officers attended but the groups involved had dispersed. No one presented as injured and no further complaints were made to Police Scotland.”

Last month PA was accused of promoting ‘neo-Nazi’ ideology at Westminster by Michael Gove MP. 

The group will be assessed under the UK Government’s new definition of extremism.

PA has been asked to comment.

1 comment
  1. The comment regarding 24th December is incorrect.
    The fascists attacked the trade unionists, then vanished before the police arrived – the fastest they ever left the area. The Police refused to take forward the assault on 2 people citing “Scottish Law” & “Nobody was injured”.
    The trade unionists hung around for another hour, chatting to the refugees, in case the fascists returned. Then left.

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