SATURDAY’S ‘yellow vest’ rally in Newport should act as a wake-up call to the people of Gwent.

While the protesters – who had borrowed the iconography of the yellow vests from the French anti-fuel-rise protests currently burning down half of Paris – dressed their cause up as demanding a completion of Brexit and more support for the homeless, be under no illusion: this is the rise of the far-right.

In the social media age, the far-right have learned to dress their views up around issues which, on the surface, it is difficult to disagree with.

Britain First – which has, thankfully, since imploded – won massive online support with endless Facebook posts about “respecting our troops”, but underlying the whole thing was xenophobia, with endless Islamophobia a particular trend, anti-immigrant sentiment and downright racism.

And this is how Saturday’s protesters operated. Campaigning for Brexit to be honoured is a legitimate point of view, albeit a divisive one, and no-one could reasonably dispute far more needs to be done to support the homeless on our streets.

But the veil was pretty thin, with the rhetoric used by the protesters familiar to anyone who’s paid attention to other British far-right groups in recent years – and some even boasting about having worked alongside former EDL founder Stephen ‘Tommy Robinson’ Yaxley-Lennon.

While the protest itself was peaceful – some raised voices with a small group of counter-protesters aside – this is exactly how it starts.

It’s no coincidence that just a couple of days later we saw Remain-supporting Conservative MP Anna Soubry and journalist Owen Jones openly harassed in the street by people who just so happened to be wearing high-viz jackets. Maybe they were just really concerned about road safety.

Ms Soubry got it particularly bad, with protestors yelling accusations of Nazism during a live TV interview. I’d like to think the irony of people with more than a little in common with actual Nazis accusing someone of being a Nazi wasn’t lost on them, but that might be crediting them with a little too much self-awareness.

While it’s tempting to believe we live in far too enlightened an age to let the far-right gain anything in the way of actual power, the reality is there’s a real chance this could get much, much worse before it gets better.

A march on the streets of Newport might be relatively harmless in and of itself, but this is the thin end of the wedge.

The fact that just three years ago an MP was murdered in the streets by a white supremacist and yet the far-right has still somehow gone from strength to strength is a damning indictment of the society we live in.

This needs to be stopped, but to do that we need to understand why it’s happening in the first place.

People are angry, and it’s not hard to see why. Poverty is up, the number of people sleeping rough seems to go up every day, and it seems most of our politicians are far too busy fighting with each other to actually get anything done. So where do you turn? This is where the far-right thrives.

The superb 1976 film Network – which has proven so prescient it could have been made yesterday rather than more than 40 years ago – features a news anchor whipping viewers into a frenzy with the motto “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more”.

This motto could just as easily be used today.

While comparisons with Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s are more than a little trite, it does serve as an important example.

With Germany still suffering with the fallout of the First World War, what Hitler and his party promised was a return to an imagined glorious past.

Sound familiar?

No doubt the UK protestors have been emboldened by Donald Trump, who won the presidency with rampant anti-immigration sentiment and somehow is still in office despite giving his tacit approval to white supremacists.

During his campaign he joked he could murder someone in broad daylight and not lose a single vote. More than two years into his presidency it’s looking like that might actually be the case.

It would have been reasonable to expect Parliament to have done something to curb the rise of the far-right following the murder of Jo Cox.

The fact that they haven’t done so is nothing short of a dereliction of duty.

The far-right like to hide behind claims of “free speech”. If you’re reading this column online no doubt there’ll be a flood of comments underneath – none of which I’ll read, by the way – screeching about just that.

But when you’re talking about persecution of specific groups based on race and religion – which is what the far-right stand for, no matter how much they try and hide it behind claims of stopping grooming gangs and supporting the homeless – a threshold has been crossed.

A relatively peaceful march in Newport is one thing. I dread to think what’s next.