EDL
Angry, White and Proud was a missed opportunity by Channel 4Reuters

Angry, White and Proud aired last night (14 January) on Channel 4. A better title would have swapped 'Proud' for 'Confused.'

The documentary followed various boneheaded men – they were all men – for a year and chronicled their personal crusade against Islam. 'Confused' also fitted the documentary itself, which couldn't decide whether it wanted to examine the issue, or show lots of shouting and brawling.

At times, it was less a serious documentary and more like a booze-fuelled game of Bulldog, in which assorted extremists tried (and failed) to dodge police.

Angry, White and Proud's declared purpose was to show the splintering and collapse of the British far-right as a coherent movement. This is a very interesting issue, but one documented better in a report out this week by diversity group, Hope Not Hate. For anyone interested in seeing how far-right 'street politics' has mutated and shrivelled in Britain, I'd recommend reading The State of Hate 2014.

Meanwhile, Angry, White and Proud failed to resist the lure of showing shouting matches between rival gangs of thugs from the far-left and far-right. The impression was that each side needs the other in deep way; they are involved in a grisly co-dependent relationship.

That's not to say Islam was only a straw man, either. We saw hot-headed Muslims antagonising the far-right goons by declaring the 'white and proud' bunch's children "will be Muslim" and holding banners declaring a caliphate, etc. This prompted much retaliatory finger-wagging, swearing and shouting ad-nauseam.

The disgraceful child-grooming scandal in Rotherham formed a sort-of centrepiece in the documentary, with the fragmentation of the far-right on full display in the number of different groups which attended a demonstration there - all clutching their own banners.

The viewer was treated to scenes of directionless blokes walking up and down the streets of the town while a few elderly residents clapped them. The strong impression was that many of the marchers didn't know where they were going (more on that, later).

These people all think the same, yet cannot get it together and unify. And this is good thing, because they would be dangerous if they had brains - but they don't.

In this way, Angry, White and Proud struggled by relying heavily upon its subjects to explain themselves, when many looked like they'd struggle to tie up their shoelaces. None of the charismatic and articulate big names of the far-right took part in the show, such as ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson – aka Stephen Lennon - or former BNP leader Nick Griffin. This was a wounding omission, meaning insight was in short supply.

Some nuggets of clarity were supplied by a man named Colin. This bloke was on a personal journey which mirrored the thesis of the show. Kicking off the documentary, he declared "I ****ing hate Muslims" and joined assorted groups sharing the sentiment.

Later on, he made a doomed bid to found his own crack 'sturmgruppe,' before joining a genuinely disturbing group of mutants who roll Nordic symbolism with Islamophobia together into half-baked ideology. But we last saw Colin quietly at work in a yard, reflecting that it had all been immature of him and that many of his comrades were "lost", on a personal level.

"All this crap I've been getting myself involved with is not mostly to do with the hatred of other people and what they're up to, it's because I don't actually like myself," he reflected.

This was a poignant thought and one which raises questions of inclusion, social cohesion and why so many people – across the divides - feel excluded from society in the one of the world's richest countries. However, this and many other issues were largely ignored in favour of showing grunting men shouting at each other. An opportunity missed by Channel 4.

If the collapse of the British far-right as a coherent movement interests you, try the Hope Not Hate report first of all.