Saffiyah Khan went viral in April for being photographed smiling at the EDL's Ian Crossland. After hearing the news that Britain First were marching in Birmingham on the weekend of Eid, we made a plan to film as much of the day as possible. Looking back over the footage, I soon realise that I have never before captured such visceral anger and hatred.

Brummies, for all their self-deprecation and lack of civic boasting, have a finely tuned sense for hypocrisy and a biting sense of humour. Britain First were, therefore, already at the receiving end of several wry "go back home!' chants from inconvenienced locals and counter-protesters alike.

We encountered the gathering of roughly 250 Britain First activists, having already deviated from their planned route, trapped on John Bright Street just after midday. They had been met by a sizeable UAF counter-protest and were making the most of this earlier-than-planned confrontation. We wasted no time in approaching the back of Britain First's group, before the police vans were able to block off the roads and gain full control over the situation.

A few members of Britain First quickly became defensive as they recognised Saf amongst their own. An activist began to challenge her whilst, in a scene not too dissimilar to Louis Theroux's My Scientology Movie, held a camcorder defiantly to her face. The ensuing dialogue did not progress much further than the usual complaints of counter-protests violating Britain First's own right to protest before Paul Golding swoops in and stewards the cameraman back into their group. "Don't talk to them, they're Antifa," he says, before disappearing into the fold. Despite a few close encounters throughout the day and a peace offering in the form of a bottle of Pepsi, Saf received no answers from either Golding or Jayda Fransen.

Shortly after this encounter a young woman in a burka, carrying a Union Jack, works her way into the Britain First crowd and asks if she can join the march. Her Brummie accent becomes more pronounced as she has to raise her voice above the men who immediately round on her with suspicion. She says that she wants England to win the World Cup, but is silenced by a middle-aged man who points a finger at her whilst recalling a meandering anecdote about a Muslim woman who claims to have witnessed radicalisation in a Manchester mosque. Another asks, "Do you honestly believe in that flag?", to which she exasperatedly responds "I'm British!" Meanwhile another man, who is convinced that we're from the BBC by virtue of having a camera, confronts our camera operator, calling him a "ginger Muslim convert" and accusing the woman of trying to incite hatred within their demonstration. "Where in the Quran does it tell you that you have to cover your face?" he shouts at the woman. Before too long he is abruptly silenced by the gloved hand of a member of their security.

An interaction is filmed between the Muslim woman and Britain First's Jayda Fransen, where (in a video published live to the Britain First Facebook page) she states that she can only join if she renounces Islam. Fransen also states that the group want to ban the religion outright in the UK. Following this seemingly stage-managed encounter, she calls on her security for the woman to be removed. Saf, along with two Police Liaison Officers who have been closely watching, help her escape from the crowd. She declines an interview and leaves defeated, still clutching her flag.

In what appears to be their Sunday best, Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen manage to be omnipresent yet completely inaccessible. Flashing peace signs, their quest to imbue Britain First with legitimacy as a political party seems to contrast sharply with members who, just metres away from them, grab their genitals, shout abuse, throw Nazi salutes and antagonise the counter-protesters in a way that makes them indistinguishable from football hooligans. The leaders attempt to quell incidents at several points throughout the day where violent excitement spills over and, again, Britain First's security team seem to spend most of their time controlling their own members. There appear to be no direct challenges from Antifa or any left-wing groups for the entirety of the protest, despite Britain First's repeat complaints about their supposed meddling.

What is most interesting about Britain First's protest today is that there appears to be little appetite for holding any kind of dialogue - something that is disconcerting for the chatty Midlanders. This day out seems to resemble little more than a heavily guarded shuffle through town, punctuated by a few ugly scenes as the group deviate from their planned route. Rather than accusing counter-protesters of sympathising with what they perceive to be radical Islamic terrorism, they accuse anyone who isn't in their group of being "paedos" and "Muslim converts", including us. There is no nuance to be found in their arguments and certainly no middle ground.

The incoherence of their message is best demonstrated by the chant: "You're not English any more". What does it suggest? That Islam and being English are diametrically opposed? It's not clear. "Allah is a paedo" is another noteworthy one, while classic England football chants seem to be at odds with the variety of flags that protesters fly to demonstrate diversity: Canadian, Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish.

This attempt to appear inclusive and defy their reputation as violent racists reaches laughable levels when a middle-aged man, involved with Britain First's march, makes his way through the counter-protest to return to Britain First's camp, bag of cans in hand. He spots me filming and mugs directly at me whilst pointing emphatically at the only black couple, who are feverishly waving a Union Jack flag. It seems fairly obvious what he meant by this gesture.

The appropriation of a variety of symbols by Britain First appears to be a common thread running throughout their dubious self-identification as a political party. Saf talks to a young man outside the Library of Birmingham, identifying as a Christian, who is upset to see the Britain First clan headed by a row of white crucifixes. Another passer-by, Simon, who had recently left a nearby Synagogue, draws glaringly obvious comparisons to the demonisation of Judaism in Nazi Germany, particularly the cherry picking of passages from holy texts.

When the march arrives in the middle of Centenary Square - the same location where Saf had encountered the EDL back in April - there doesn't seem to be any kind of plan for Britain First's display. After the sound of their comically pompous marching music fades to the general sound of rabble and protest, the group apparently take issue with counter-protesters interrupting a recital of the Lord's Prayer. No one, including most of Britain First, seemed to realise this was taking place due to a lack of any adequate amplification for speeches beyond a few megaphones. This central part of the protest also appeared to be short on speeches, as Polish and Dutch activists from similar far-right groups based on the continent were detained at the UK border.

A green smoke bomb thrown towards the police line, perpetrator and intended destination unclear, represents the only moment of real excitement, as the large police presence kept both groups apart. A separate counter-protest, which included a large number of male Muslim participants, had, in the meantime, assembled at the gated entrance to Centenary Square. This penned in the far-right group and caused further delays as Police attempted to clear the only path for Britain First's return to New Street Station.

The group are eventually stewarded back towards town. Fransen, piety incarnate with her giant white crucifix, appears deaf to the groups of angry men within earshot screaming "scum" and "cunt" at Saf. A man, red in the face with anger, climbs a barrier and gets uncomfortably close to Saf before a police officer realises what is happening and is able to intervene. Projectiles are then thrown in an attempt to ward us off. A bottle hits a moving car travelling down the Suffolk Street Queensway, while another hits a counter-protester, much to the delight of Britain First members who, at this point, are baying for blood.

As the afternoon wears on, and protesters from both sides peel away, the sense of futility from Britain First's visit is palpable. Very little, it seemed, had been accomplished. It's important to note that Britain First's turnout today is overwhelmingly male. The smattering of women and children present stay well away when clashes look likely. The large groups of men, who appear to relish little more than chanting, drinking and fighting under the guise of protest, seem to suggest that violence and anger are the only communicative tools between them and complete powerlessness. Their disenfranchisement ultimately makes them easy meat for the handful of manipulators spearheading these groups. They are able to exploit their anger and mould them into loyal and unquestioning foot soldiers. The fact that this is identical to how Isis recruits members seems lost on them.

The more members of Britain First, whose supporters are shunned by polite society for their views, turn inward and shut out dissenting opinion, the more happily they will remain in Golding and Fransen's flock. They are like teenagers testing boundaries, hanging out with the bad yet aloof kids who push their behaviour further. Members are praised by their leaders as patriots, Crusaders and defenders of Christianity. The comment stream on Britain First's live videos suggest that the idea of Britannia ruling the waves is unshakeable. Their Facebook movement is over a million strong, with a distinct international support base.

We find it easy to write off groups such as Britain First because of how short-lived they tend to be, only for a new faction to spring up under a different name. Blackshirts, National Front, BNP, EDL, Britain First, and so on and so forth ad infinitum. By dismissing these groups as deluded idiots we are failing to address the problems that seem to lie at the root of modern masculinity. Britain First may be one of the few places where angry, disenfranchised men feel welcome.

Having a cause gives many a sense of pride and purpose. As a society, we have gone to great lengths to attempt to redress the many years of injustices resulting from gender and racial inequality. These are not the battles that the men of Britain First can identify with. They too, like all of us, want something to fight for. Many of their fathers and grandfathers would have taken pride in doing the kind of noble working class jobs that effectively built the Britain that we inhabit today. The sweat and toil of these men created a world-leading infrastructure that, having since been taken for granted, has all but crumbled.

Britain has, for too long, failed to provide white British men with pursuits and opportunities that they can take pride and satisfaction in. This is the clearest route to rehabilitate those attracted to destructive nationalism. It's exactly this kind of lashing out that lies at the heart of the Brexit upset. Birmingham is the 9th most deprived local authority in England. While Manchester and Liverpool voted remain, many of us weren't surprised that Birmingham, overall, delivered a vote leave response last year. For the West Midlands, the leave response was even more decisive at 59%.

Britain First's members have been let down by a political system that routinely fails regions where a lack of opportunity creates a vacuum for toxic rhetoric to thrive. The last colliery closed in 1993 in Cannock. The disappearance of heavy industry, which began to wind down in the 1960s, has rendered it little more than a commuter town. 69% voted leave here and I spot more than a few personalised polo shirts on Britain First members representing Cannock. Dudley, almost 80% white and where 68% voted leave, has also suffered from industrial decline and the resulting high unemployment has led to numerous incidents of racial hatred. Black Caribbean residents were targeted in 1962, and a violent EDL protest in 2010 against the proposed "Super Mosque" on Hall Street show us that old wounds are so easily reopened. When good jobs and opportunities are taken from these people, frustration and hatred fill the void.

The man who'd been hastily silenced by security early in the march told two white ladies passing by that if we "stopped raping kids" they would "stop coming to your towns". His demands were strangely profound; these groups seem to encourage a perpetual conflict where everyone is the enemy. There are no clear objectives and there is no end goal.

The photograph of Saf smiling at Ian Crossland exposed how the anger demonstrated by far-right groups is fundamentally misplaced. A similar photo of Saf, taken on Saturday's march, was taken of her smiling again whilst holding a microphone to Paul Golding. He is turned away with his face downcast, clearly trying to avoid a similarly embarrassing photograph. This time the image tells us how groups like Britain First will always seek to avoid anything that might show them up for what they truly are: opportunists with no credibility who seek to stoke the fires of racial hatred.

The decent people of modern and multicultural Britain mustn't close their curtains when bigotry arrives on their doorstep. Having seen Britain First up close on Saturday (albeit sometimes too closely), it soon becomes clear that they aren't really that scary.

All the flag-worship, uniforms and marching music of Britain First demonstrate is that the vast majority of these men are desperately clinging to a sense of identity in symbols. While they feel that the spread of Islam encroaches on their proud and very clear sense of identity, deep down, their fears are based more upon the possibility that being white, male and British doesn't actually mean anything at all. Rather than explore and challenge this, the response is instead to double down and sing 'God Save The Queen' even louder. If they can't have that, they feel as though they have nothing. The Black Country flag owes its design to a comment made by Elihu Burrett in 1862: "black by day and red by night". The glowing furnaces that made the region once prosperous are now the cold - and less appreciated - center of the Black Country Living Museum.

We shouldn't just be asking ourselves why so many men find themselves at home with the far-right. Those of us who live in regions where industry once ruled are more than aware of the causes. We must instead confront everything that it means to be white, male and English - the positive and negative - and what can possibly replace the furnaces and collieries that once made the Midlands the centre of the manufacturing world. If we fail, we condemn vast numbers of men to the kind of identity crises that say far more about how liberalism and globalisation is, in many ways, less equipped to accommodate them than the far-right is.