The phrase ‘far right’ often conjures stereotypical images of Hitler, the Nazis and swastikas.
And while historically this may be the case, the extreme right has evolved like almost everything else in the political landscape.
Tomorrow 50 leading experts on these groups will gather at the University of Northampton in a bid to understand the mentality of these organisations.
Under the spotlight will be one of the UK’s most recent far right groups, the English Defence League, more commonly known as the EDL.
At the conference a report, which was part-funded by the national domestic extremism unit, will say it believes the EDL is a far right group.
Author of the document Dr Paul Jackson, pictured, a lecturer in history at the university, said: “There seems to be some resistance to call them a far right organisation or extremist group but we have seen that they carry the main traits of these kinds of groups.
“They distance themselves from mainstream politics and are Islamaphobic by nature, although the EDL is a new form of far right organisation that has moved away from Neo-Nazism and anti-semitic agendas.”
Dr Jackson explained why the group started in Luton as opposed to other similar sized towns, such as Northampton, despite being only 35 miles apart.
He said: “The EDL were able to latch onto the football firm that was already present in the town and there were also social issues.
“Add to that a tiny minority of the Muslim community having, or seen to have extremists links, it only took the protest at the homecoming march by soldiers in March 2009 to spark the whole thing off.”
Despite not having an entrenched far right group, the expert believes there are more people who are supportive of the group than the mainstream media may suggest.
“Anywhere could see minor movements from the EDL. The way they plan their demonstrations is done in such a way that deals with the localism of the far right.
“Whether these will gain prominence in other towns including Northampton is unknown – more research needs to be done.
“Undoubtedly there will be some people in Northampton who agree with the views of the EDL but feel they are too violent to support them.”
Although Dr Jackson doesn’t believe that the group could be dangerous in terms of terrorism, he believes that the EDL could easily be a spawning place for an individual with a violent nature.
"The group is more interested in protests and demonstrations but we have seen individuals taking measures into their own hands, individuals burning the Koran, or placing pigs’ heads in mosques. It only takes one individual to believe their self-importance for you to have an atrocity like the one committed by Anders Breivik in Norway.”
The use of social media within the EDL has also been observed in the report to assess how the group uses the tool, to gain support and organise events.
After the conference the report will be passed onto the relevant policy-makers and will also be made available to the general public.
The academics will hope no doubt that people’s ideas of the far right will soon get up to speed.