Horrible wasn't it, and very clearly tacitly encouraged by the authorities.
One of the things that leapt off the screen for me though was that one of the gang (can't remember his name - the one with the wife and child) was very clearly gay himself. When he was first introduced I thought his story was going to be that he had a marriage of convenience as a cover. If he isn't a closet homosexual I'll eat my hat.
It was a similar story back in the 70s when the NF skinheads used to go 'queer bashing' - many of them were gay themselves.