Are left and right-wing terrorists an equal threat?

Jon Deery discusses which terrorist groups pose the biggest threat to the UK

Jon Deery
16th February 2021

The two greatest terror threats to the UK are both right wing in nature. So why does the UK home secretary Priti Patel devote so much time and vitriol to left-wing activists?

For years, the greatest two terror threats to UK security have been “Islamic” terrorism and “far-right” terrorism. These are often contrasted in the media, as if the drastically distorted version of Islam touted by terrorists isn’t itself a conservative ideology.

Both the UK “far-right” and “Islamic” terrorists (who, it should be stated, do not represent the Muslim community) are driven by similar forces. The first being nationalism, the desire to restore a “golden age”, and a belief that their ideology cannot exist in the same space as other conflicting ideas.

A 2013 march for the BNP (British National Party), a far-right nationalist group in the UK. (Source:

But Patel's public statements would give anyone the impression that the left were just as dangerous.

After Extinction Rebellion protesters peacefully blocked a newspaper print works, Patel called them “so-called eco crusaders turned criminals,” who “disrupt our free society”. Boris Johnson called the protest “completely unacceptable”, also insinuating that this move represented a threat to the free press.

The government recently ordered an investigation into extremism on both ends of the political spectrum, led by former Labour MP John Woodcock. Prior to the report, Woodcock has stressed that there is “not an equivalence of threat between the far-left and the far-right” in the UK.

At a time in which social media is radicalising both sides of the political spectrum at alarming rates, where foreign interests are spreading disinformation in our country as a means to exacerbate social divisions, it is certainly worth taking seriously the prospect of any political extremism.

But in order to adequately address domestic terror, our government must at least acknowledge that one side of the political spectrum is significantly more dangerous than the other, especially on social media, and stop portraying peaceful left-wing groups as if they are equivalent.

Image: Extinction Rebellion, Wikimedia Commons.

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