The British convince themselves that they loathe extremism. Continental Europe experienced the devastation caused by fascism and communism in the 20th century, but Britain has not had a revolution worth talking about since the 1640s. In France, Marine Le Pen of the Front National may well be the runner-up in the 2012 French presidential elections as her father was runner-up in 2002. In this year’s British local elections, the pathetic BNP managed to win just two council seats, while in the 2010 general election Labour took the sole parliamentary seat held by Respect, George Galloway’s alliance of the white far left and Islamist religious right.
The success of the mainstream in vanquishing the fringe has reaffirmed a cheering stereotype. Dear old Blighty may not be the most exciting place on Earth, but it is a steady, sensible and, above all, safe country. Yet although extremist parties fail as badly in Britain as they have always done, Britain has become the European capital of extremist ideas.