Inside the Tory-Linked Far-Right Group Organising Against the Left

Leaked WhatsApps reveal an activist offering to sell knuckle dusters.

by Simon Childs

20 June 2024

Left to right: TPUK CEO Jack Ross, Honorary President Marco Longhi, COO Nick Tenconi. X/Twitter
Left to right: TPUK CEO Jack Ross, Honorary President Marco Longhi, COO Nick Tenconi. X/Twitter

A far-right group which organises street protests against the left is led by a Conservative party council candidate who spends his evenings schmoozing high-profile Tories, it can be revealed.

An investigation into Turning Point UK (TPUK) by anti-fascist research group Red Flare and shared with Novara Media reveals:

  • TPUK, which has been backed by many leading Conservative party figures, is involved in violent disorder at protests.
  • TPUK organises action against leftwingers on its “elite” Direct Action Team WhatsApp group.
  • Members of the group used the icons of far-right groups which have been involved in street violence.
  • Evidence – denied by TPUK – that a member of a connected WhatsApp group offered to sell weapons ahead of protests.
  • TPUK’s honorary president, Conservative candidate Marco Longhi may have misled the parliamentary commissioner for standards about his relationship to the group.

The news comes amid a realignment of rightwing politics in the UK, as the Conservative party debates its future in anticipation of a likely wipeout at the election, with some high-profile Tories encouraging a turn further to the right.

According to analysis by Red Flare: “TPUK has bridged the gap between the rightwing of the Conservative party and often violent far-right street movements. Through the rising profile of [CEO] Jack Ross, honorary presidency of Marco Longhi, and endorsements of high-profile Conservative politicians, TPUK has boosted its profile within the Conservatives and other rightwing parties. 

“This relationship can be mutually beneficial: TPUK’s reactionary rhetoric and avoidance of politically correct posturing presents an attractive prospect for parliamentarians seeking a vehicle to champion their views.”

Leading the charge.

TPUK’s COO is Nick “Tenco” Tenconi who describes himself as a “Defender of masculinity, Christianity, and conservative values”. He is a self-employed personal trainer who operates a lifestyle coaching business out of a gym in Reading and rails against “satanic woke culture”. Tenconi is also deputy leader of the diminishingly relevant Ukip. 

Jack Ross is the group’s CEO. Ross cuts a slicker image than his comrade Tenconi; he stood unsuccessfully as a Conservative party candidate in the Hampshire ward of Horndean Murray at the May 2023 local elections. As he networks, he collects selfies with Conservative politicians like they’re Pokémon cards.

TPUK was launched 2019 as an offshoot of Turning Point USA, a rightwing campus activism group that placed leftwing academics on a watch list.  The group has failed to really establish a presence on university campuses and emulate the success of its US parent organisation, and has turned to organising street protests. On its website, the TPUK boasts: “TPUK’s Direct Action Team achieves national coverage through our protest movement standing up to the far-left in our land”.

The Direct Action Team uses WhatsApp group chats to organise. The “TPUK Direct Action” WhatSapp group was set up by “Tenco Ltd” – Nick Tenconi.

The chat is a space for rightwingers to organise opposition to the left. Tenconi has described “far-left extremism” as the “number one threat to national security”. TPUK has stepped up its street organising efforts in reaction to the mass demonstrations calling for a ceasefire in Palestine, calling the protesters “terrorist sympathisers”.

The group’s description says it is “the elite action team engaging in pop up protests against the woke mob, radical lefties, grooming of innocence [sic.] and illegal immigration. We lead the charge in taking our culture back!”

Far right iconography used by menbers of TPUK's Direct Action Team WhatsApp
Far right iconography used by menbers of TPUK’s Direct Action Team WhatsApp

TPUK abhors the left, posting on X/Twitter: “Leftists are vile, they openly promote violence.” However, infiltrated TPUK group chats shared with Novara Media show how members of these group chats have made their avatars the logos of fringe far-right groups such as the Patriots of Britain, South East Division of the Democratic Football Lads Alliance and the Pie and Mash Squad – groups linked to far-right football hooliganism and with a documented history of violence. 

A screengrab from the 28/10 WhatsApp group
A screengrab from the 28/10 WhatsApp group
A screengrab from the 28/10 WhatsApp group
A screengrab from the 28/10 WhatsApp group

In the build up to a national march for Palestine on 28 October 2023 one member of the Direct Action Group, bragged about his threatening behaviour at a previous march. He says he “went over to 3 antifa pricks … I was lime [sic.] I’ll fucking chew the face off you cunt.

“Then the rest seen where I was n aw came streaming over … [and so did the Old Bill] … Antifa was like ‘he’s threatening us saying he’s going to mawl [sic.] us’” – followed by several cry-laugh emojis.

“I’ll get proper hurt 1 day ffs gota stop this smoking and get fit fir the fight that is to come”.

He says that the Direct Action Team’s activities are like “Custer’s last stand” and tries to sell two “legal knuckle dusters” for £20 each, saying, “I’m gutted my shovel hands are too big fir them.”

A screengrab from the 28/10 WhatsApp group
A screengrab from the 28/10 WhatsApp group

When Novara Media presented screenshots to TPUK, CEO Jack Ross said: “Can 100% confirm that your screenshot with the knuckledusters was not posted in the chat as only admins can post.

“This is a weak photoshop at best, the name of the group isn’t even in the photos. We wouldn’t allow this sort of behaviour in our chats.”

When Novara Media sent further screenshots displaying the name of the group and  showing the names “Jack” and “Tenco Ltd” as the first two members of the chat, we did not receive a further response.

They started it.

TPUK see the left as a threat and is determined to cast left wing activists as violent aggressors. In June 2023 following a drag story hour protest in Honor Oak, south London, images emerged clearly showing an anti-fascist protester bleeding from the face and covered in blood. Amid claims that far-right activists had attacked anti-fascists, the group said “we were the victims here” and bizarrely appeared to suggest that the blood could have been ink from a red biro.

A man punches a steward a pro-Palestine demonstration. Turning Point on X/Twitter
A man punches a steward at a pro-Palestine demonstration. Turning Point on X/Twitter

On 14 October, TPUK’s X/Twitter account posted a video showing a confrontation between pro-Palestine protesters and far-right counter-protesters holding England flags near Piccadilly Circus in central London. Some pro-Palestine protesters grab at the flags. As tensions rise, one man is heard saying, “Lefty cunts” and another says, “I’ll fucking rip you to fucking pieces you fucking wankers”, before a counter-protester punches a Palestine Solidarity Campaign steward – who has his arms raised in an attempt to calm the situation – hitting him in the face and knocking him to the floor.

The man who threw the punch, Callum Gibson, was charged for two offences of violent disorder – one in Honor Oak, and one in Piccadilly. In May 2024 he was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

While the Piccadily counter-protest was not organised by TPUK, the brawl was breathlessly hyped by the group as a “TPUK Exclusive” claiming, “Hamas supporters attack local Londoners, and try to steal their property” – referring to attempts to grab the counter-protesters’ flags.

Hate marchers.

As the moral panic about so-called “hate marches” reached its zenith in the days leading up to the march or a ceasefire on Armistice Day 2023 – with home secretary Suella Braverman leaning on the police to ban the march – TPUK was among the groups encouraging activists to head to Westminster.

On 9 November, Turning Point UK CEO Ross wrote an article in the Express, criticising the police for “failing to enforce the law” by arresting more pro-Palestine protesters, a situation which he said “necessitates our presence” defending the cenotaph. 

He complained that the media labelling “concerned citizens who want to protect our memorials as ‘far-right’” was “incredibly unfair”. “We’ve requested attendees to dress smartly, avoid chanting, and refrain from bringing flags or banners, out of respect for the fallen,” he said.

In a series of tweets addressed to the Metropolitan police, TPUK struck a different tone, issuing an ultimatum: “If you ban the pro-Palestine march we’ll call off all our people and contacts for Saturday.” 

Nick Tenconi messages the Direct Action Group WhatsApp at night on 11 November 2023
Nick Tenconi messages the Direct Action Group WhatsApp at night on 11 November 2023

On the day, TPUK assembled in Parliament Square Gardens. The ensuing chaos saw far-right mobilisations causing widespread violence and disruption across Westminster, leading to 126 arrests of far-right activists who had been mobilised by a number of groups.

As midnight approached on 11 November, on the Direct Action Group chat Tenconi said: “Thank you very much to everyone who turned up today”, but hinted that he was aware of the media storm that was unfolding, adding, “Operationally we are reactive to many sensitive factors”. The group’s ultimatum to the Met was deleted. Braverman resigned as home secretary.

The fixer.

Jack Ross (right) in Westminster with Dr Liam Fox MP for the 2023 state opening of Parliament. Photo: Instagram
Jack Ross (right) in Westminster with Dr Liam Fox MP for the 2023 state opening of Parliament. Photo: Instagram

Just a few days before the chaos of 11 November, Ross had been in Westminster again, in altogether grander surrounds – attending the state opening of parliament as a guest of Dr Liam Fox MP. Ross is smartly turned out with a suit and tie as he poses for a photograph with Fox, posted to his Instagram page.

Fox is just one of many high-profile Tories that Ross has met through his volunteering for the Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association – a charity run by his parents – and through his work as a research fellow for the Bow Group – the world’s oldest conservative think tank.

Ross at the Royal Albert Hall with Penny Mordaunt. Instagram
Ross at the Royal Albert Hall with Penny Mordaunt. Instagram

His social media shows him posing with Braverman, shaking hands with James Cleverly, sharing a drink with former home secretary Priti Patel at a 4th of July Conservative Friends of America event, and with both Patel and leader of the house Penny Mordaunt at a charity event at the Royal Albert Hall. He has praised Drea de Matteo (who plays Adriana in the Sopranos) who he met at AmFest – a rightwing conference in America – as the “first Hollywood celebrity I’ve met with sensible politics”.

Jack Ross with Jacob Rees Mogg, Shaun Bailey, Boris Johnson, James Cleverly
Jack Ross with Jacob Rees Mogg, Shaun Bailey, Boris Johnson, James Cleverly

Scanning Ross’ social media, the picture that emerges is one of someone socialising and networking in the highest of political circles, all the while acting as the leader of a group with increasing far-right links.

Longhi story.

One Tory who has been successfully schmoozed by TPUK is Marco Longhi.

Longhi is defending a majority of 11,000 as the Conservative party candidate for Dudley North. He is staking his election on anti-migrant sentiment. In May this year he was met with calls of “resign!”, as he told the house of commons that he had banned “so-called asylum seekers” from his surgeries in order to put “Dudley people first”.

Despite being on the migrant-baiting right of the party, he has rejected the temptation to jump ship to Reform UK, telling the Dudley News he considered switching parties only “For about a tenth of a second.”

Longhi, who compares his brand of conservatism with Margaret Thatcher or Winston Churchill, said: “I’m a true Conservative and I’m staying true to the voters who put their faith in me in 2019, no way am I changing.”

While he is loyal to the Conservative party, in November 2022, Longhi was appointed honorary president of TPUK.

In April last year, Longhi faced calls to distance himself from the group. In November 2023, he was quizzed by the parliamentary commissioner for standards about his association, because of a complaint that he had failed to correctly register any financial interests related to the position – which was not upheld.

During the meeting, he said that it was merely an “informal, patronship type of role, figurehead type role”.

Explaining how he was given the role, he said: I was approached by TPUK to see if I would become their honorary president. This was done over a meeting I believe I had with them at some point here in London, over the shake of a hand.”

Writing about this meeting in a post on his Instagram page, Tenconi was excited, saying: “Meeting with and exploring opportunities with right wing aka conservative aka common sense material in parliament … The New Right rises.”

Longhi further told the standards commissioner: “I’ve never since engaged with them. I do not attend any of their meetings, any of their deliberations. I have no part in their AGMs or anything like that… There is zero remuneration. There is zero influence: them on me or me on them.”

However, Longhi had met with key TPUK activists in Westminster just two months before his appointment with the standards commissioner, in September 2023. In a picture shared on TPUK’s X/Twitter account, Longhi is standing in Portcullis House with Tenconi and Ross.

The post says: “Great to see our President @marcolonghi4dn today in Parliament. Marco is a true bastion of conservatism.”

Longhi met with the pair in Portcullis House again in May 2024. TPUK posted a picture of the meeting on its X/Twitter account, saying, “We fully endorse his move to ban asylum seeker cases from his surgery. We need more MPs like Marco.”

Allan Jones, a spokesperson for anti-fascist investigators Red Flare speaking using a pseudonym, said: “If the people of Dudley decide to re-elect Marco Longhi, he’s got questions to answer about his relationship with TPUK.”

Novara Media has approached Longhi and the Conservative Party for comment.

Jacob Rees Mogg appears in a video with Nick Tenconi. YouTube
Jacob Rees Mogg appears in a video with Nick Tenconi at the 2023 Conservative Party conference. YouTube

Charmed I’m sure.

Tories have not always been shy about associating themselves with TPUK. When the group was launched in 2019, it was endorsed by leading figures of the Conservative right including Patel, who was soon to become home secretary, and Jacob Rees Mogg.

Since then, the group has stepped into a new role as an organising group on the far-right. During former actor turned far-right provocateur Laurence Fox’s 2024 campaign for London mayor – which failed after Fox filled in a ballot form incorrectly – TPUK offered money to its activists in return for gathering nominations at the rate of £200 for ten nominations.

Despite this, a number of Tory MPs appear to have no problem being seen with the group. Jacob Rees Mogg, Desmond Swayne, Lee Anderson – then still a Tory – as well as Reform UK leader Nigel Farage appear in a video from the 2023 Conservative party conference, chuckling along as Tenconi asks them how many genders there are and encouraging them to say that there are only two.

A TPUK social media post on the trans day of remembrance
A TPUK social media post on the trans day of remembrance. X/Twitter

This sentiment was echoed by the group on the trans day of remembrance, a day to memorialise those murdered as a result of transphobia, an occasion which was marked by TPUK sharing a social media graphic to “remember” that “there are only two genders”.

These views are of the kind that motivated TPUK to organise a series of homophobic protests against drag story hours in south London which turned violent – claiming that the age-appropriate events were in fact a sinister exercise in “grooming” children.

In parliament, Lewisham MP Vicky Foxcroft asked prime minister Rishi Sunak to condemn TPUK’s “attempts to spread hatred and division.”

Sunak did not address the incidents in question, stating only that “people should be allowed to gather and associate freely within the bounds of the law.”

John Christie, a anti-fascist who infiltrated TPUK, speaking using a pseudonym, said: “Turning Point UK has charmed key figures within the Conservative party while moonlighting as a far-right street gang. My time in the organisation showed me a multilayered group desperately trying to expand.

“I met Conservative party candidates rubbing shoulders with football hooligans and conspiracy theorists. Opportunism was rife, with the leadership clutching at any chance of political gain. The reality I saw was a group walking hand in hand with the hardliners of the far-right despite public attempts to distance itself. Any claims of respectability don’t stand up: this group is well aligned with the violent company it keeps.”

Jones said: “Ross should be expelled from the Conservative party for leading a violent far-right street gang.”

Simon Childs is a commissioning editor and reporter for Novara Media.

We’re up against huge power and influence. Our supporters keep us entirely free to access. We don’t have any ad partnerships or sponsored content.

Donate one hour’s wage per month—or whatever you can afford—today.

We’re up against huge power and influence. Our supporters keep us entirely free to access. We don’t have any ad partnerships or sponsored content.

Donate one hour’s wage per month—or whatever you can afford—today.