The danger comes when you have an extreme right wing that are militarised, and also returning extremists from places like Syria who are similarly weapons trained. Suddenly you are looking at two extreme and potentially deadly groups, ready to clash on the streets of British towns and cities. The descent into chaos and the disintegration of society that I depict in State of Emergency is a natural follow on once we have paramilitary groups on British soil fighting each other.
The rise of the right wing is just as scary and just as much of a risk to homeland security as the returning extremists. We hear a lot in the media about the issue of these returning Jihadi fighters and tend to see them as the main threat, but this isn’t the case, both groups are dangerous in different ways, and the clash between them is potentially lethal.
If we were to see another tragic murder like that of Lee Rigby last year, we could potentially see reprisals from the militarised right wing to radicalised extremists now trained from their experiences in Syria and elsewhere and able to retaliate. No one wants to see all out war on our streets.
It was looking at these issues afresh, as part of this policy group, which made me wonder ‘what if this militarised and active right wing really did exist now, and what if there was a guy using their passion and fundamentalism for his own gain in politics?’
That is where the idea of developing the character of Vernon Rolt came from. The original idea for Rolt who I introduced in Fortress, the second Tom Buckingham novel, wasn’t as extreme. He is a right wing extremist in a suit, similar to several political figures across Europe – smart, articulate, well groomed and well educated. Rolt became a character that represented the right wing of the future, a far more sophisticated and politically influential group than the cliché of bomber jackets and skinheads. If you look at politicians such as Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen in France, you can see that the eloquent and charismatic far right politicians have been making their mark. Rolt has evolved and developed, he has got a taste for power and likes it.
At the end of Fortress, I wanted to take this idea of a passionate and militarised right wing forward. I wanted State of Emergency to look at what happened if Rolt actually DID get the power at a time when anarchy was growing and the UK was a tinderbox waiting to go one way or the other.
I found it fascinating to get under the skin of these characters with such extreme views, and to look at what might happen to society here in the UK if the politicians aren’t prepared and let opposing forces bring anarchy and violence to our streets.