June 03, 2010

The EDL - One Year On

One year older so what's going on with those cheeky monkeys in the EDL?

The English Defence League is now a year old. Happy birthday. And it has been a colourful (but mainly white) year of various embarrassments, schisms, riots, accusations and speculations. The EDL formed in May 2009 when the ‘United People of Luton’ counter demonstrated against ‘Islamic radicals’ at the homecoming parade of the Royal Anglian Regiment. Around the EDL circulate various grupuscules such as the SDL, WDL, Casuals United and the Stop Islamification Of Europe, all of whom are seemingly interchangeable and ‘anti-Islamic Extremism.’ The EDL also have clearly documented links with the BNP, BPP, RVF, ‘Aryan Strike Force’ and other far right fantasists despite their by now laughable claims be neither racist nor violent.

The Year So Far

The EDL have had some interesting demonstrations over the last year in various towns and cities. What they actually achieved, beyond ego-boosting publicity, has also been varied. To recap: the Luton incident galvanised the EDL and they followed this up with a series of small fiascos in London and Birmingham, the latter which the EDL admitted was poor. Result: 35 arrests. They followed this one up with another Brum protest in September. Result: 90 arrests. Their Manchester debut saw a massive police presence, large counter-demonstration and much publicity. The result: £800,000 policing bill, 10 injuries and 44 arrests. At Leeds, there was a huge police presence costing £375,000 and 8 arrests. At the same time their ‘southern divisions’ planned a counter-demonstration in London against a radical Islamic faction which ended in a pub fight with Combat 18. Result: serious schisms between the EDL and the porcine vanguard of the far right. In November, the Welsh Defence League (comprising mainly of Bolton Wanderers fans it seems) organised a 40 strong fiasco in Wrexham. Result: 4 arrests and many perplexed locals. Their previous Welsh adventure was similarly farcical and disrupted by Nazis. North of the border has proved equally maladroit. In Glasgow their “ big success” was actually only 120 lads. According to Casuals United many supporters from England were stopped by cops en route. To add to their woes, some of the ‘leadership’ were arrested and had their homes searched and computers seized. This is all very well but the EDL do not necessarily need them: the members can simply announce a date on the website and RV point and take it from there. The EDL is more autonomous and fragmented than the police think and many ignore the ‘leaderships’ pleas.

The Nottingham demonstration proved to be costly and eventful with the EDL kettled in a pub and then by the castle. Result: £1/2 million police bill, 11 arrests and many photographs of patriots urinating on a national monument. The Stoke demo showed the EDL in their true colours (sort of pasty, pale and lager flecked): it ended with supporters fighting the cops and then rampaging through an Asian area. This caused much consternation on the EDL forum with members slamming those who rioted and seig-heiled in a beer induced frenzy. In March the EDL caused a major disruption in Bolton with about 2,000 attending. Result: heavy policing and lots of anti-fascists nicked. Although 2,000 is a serious number, their successive demos have never increased beyond this. There was also a small EDL demo outside parliament which faced militant opposition. An April demo in Aylesbury – ‘the first of many’ – saw around 2,000 again, 12 arrests and not much else. 2 of the EDL also ‘occupied’ the proposed site of a mega-mosque which was almost completely ignored by the national media and proved to be a wash out. The EDL were to hold a demo in Walsall in June but they have apparently called it off. The recent demo in Newcastle saw about 600 EDL confronted by a much larger counter-demo and they were well contained. The EDL intend to demonstrate in Bradford soon which will no doubt cause trouble: Muslim youth are bound to react to this blatant provocation. Which is the intention. Why the cops are allowing this when Bradford youth have a proven track record of militancy is only 1 question.

The State & The EDL

Many are the claims on the various left and far-right websites that the EDL are ‘state’ designed to draw in and contain violent racists and discredit the far right in general. Wherever the EDL gather they are heavily monitored by the cops, often filmed individually during dispersals, and it is no surprise that the pubs they meet in for their ‘static protest’ are Wetherspoons which are all equipped with CCTV. It is not unlikely that the cops seize any footage taken. It also requires no stretch of the imagination to believe that the state have their informants and infiltrators, as they have had in the BNP for many years, and know what is going on. Bully for the state. There is also the Sheffield question. Although these are only unsubstantiated rumours several commentators are asking what happened in Sheffield between the cops and the EDL? The ‘leadership’ were arrested and taken to Sheffield police station no doubt by Special Branch/MI5 rather than uniform. Was there a deal? We’ll go easy on the ‘moderate’ EDL you if you give us info on the serious hooligans, or even better Nazis who the ‘leadership’ want shut of anyway. Any information gratefully received.

Nazis?

Are the EDL just another violent Nazi outfit like Combat 18? No. Despite the far-right’s usual antipathy to plurality and multi-culturalism, the EDL is quite a mixed bunch and not a unified organisation in the least. The EDL is a broad alliance of football hooligans who cannot fight at matches anymore, fascists and angry but directionless youths. Inter-firm rivalries have so far been contained, as they are at most England games, but whether this will continue we shall see. The presence of the EDL youth leader and the Sikh bloke is not unanimously approved of and not everyone who goes on the demos are ‘members’ but casual racists out simply to get pissed and have a ruck. It is these ‘fringe’ elements that ignore the EDL ‘leaderships’ protestations over non-violence and Plod co-operation: once the lager is in full flow they can’t help throwing out the Nazi salutes, having a confab with the cops and breaking out of the kettles and cordons to put a few windows in. The EDL ‘leadership’, media savvy as they are, get into a flap about this and keep reiterating that they are ‘not racist.’ Which we all believe.

The BNP have proscribed the EDL but there is firm evidence of BNP members attending demos. Combat 18, after the central London fracas are not speaking to the EDL until they say sorry. The microscopic BPP, who are centred round Yorkshire will no doubt be putting their gluebags down and hobbling along to the forthcoming Bradford venture. The Aryan Strike Force is still reeling from the prison sentences handed down to the Newcastle father and son terror-clown act and the likes of Wigan Mike, who has attended many of the EDL demos, is no doubt worried over his oncoming court case in connection with their website.

The EDL & The Nazis

Opinion on the various far right forums is divided. The eager ones, hankering after the ‘glory days’ of the BM and the NF, are up for street level confrontation; the older ones are either jealous of the EDL’s numbers, claim state interference or are horrified by the Israeli flag waving and the even more blatant demo at the Israeli embassy this week. The Israeli flag is used to wind up Muslims but some far-righters claim that there is a larger Zionist conspiracy afoot involving Alan Lake who bankrolls the EDL. But there again, they say that about everyone including Nick Griffin so we shall see.

The Opposition

The counter-demonstrations have met with various success. That there are schisms on the left is no surprise: we have the respectable and controllable UAF, community groups and the more militant anti-fascists amongst others. Due to the EDL’s political naivety they see all opposition groups as ‘commies’ and Muslim community leaders, Weyman Bennett, SWP and anarchists as one and the same. They do not see that there is as broad a spectrum on the left as there is in their own ranks. This often embarrassing naivety of the EDL also construes that those who oppose them are therefore pro-Muslim which is clearly not the case: what many anti-fascists object to are pissed up gangs of racists coming into their communities to cause trouble.

The Future?

The EDL love the ego-boosting publicity (and we are aware that this article will be read by them): many football hooligans keep scrapbooks of ‘victories’ and ‘taking liberties’ and they will no doubt be pleased by the recent BBC3 documentary painting them out to be a significant political force. Although we must not discount the threat, the demos for many are simply the chance to drink, fight and cause a bit of mayhem to enhance their reputations amongst peers. If Bradford goes ahead there will no doubt be serious violence as well as publicity, heavy manners policing and a large bill for the community to cover. Which is exactly what the EDL want. More little pictures for their scrapbooks, more coverage on TV and more war stories to boast about in the pub. Anti-fascists! Organise!

Malatesta at Indymedia

17 comments:

La Di Da Gunner Graham said...

Excellent article.

Anti-fascists, it's also time to unite!

Matthew said...

Perhaps one of the reasons the EDL sees the Weyman Bennette and the SWP as the same is because he is a member of the SWP

Grim Len said...

At least 3 members of Tyneside bnp were present on EDL demo in Newcastle last Saturday:
1) Alan Spence from Newcastle. Contested Newcastle East parliamentary seat May 6th.
2) Jo Durkin of Hebburn, candidate in South Tyneside May 6th. She's the partner of the odious tattooed nazi, John Shippen.
3) Dan Farrant who runs Newcastle bnp blog. Privately educated at the prestigious Newcastle Royal Grammar School, Farrant is a freaky fish well out of water.

And you can't tell me that none of the above didn't know the EDL is a proscribed organisation!

NewsHound said...

JEWISH COMMUNITY LEADERS REJECT THE EDL: -

http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/06/jewish-bigotry-islamophobia

G-sen said...

INDISCRIMINATE ULTRA-VIOLENCE IN BRADFORD

Bradford will be impossible to police - if the cops think they can keep watch on every British Nazi bussing and training themselves into Bradford, they are thick as pigshit (to avoid a pun!)

There will be 3,500 EDL thugs causing mayhem, violence and outright warfare with weapons, firebombs and knives, according to You Tube comments where the thugs are boasting about what they will do.

There will be mosques destroyed by these evil thugs in the week before the EDL arrive to raise the temperature!

Bradford will be finished as a city and the cops, government and council will have allowed Bradford to become motherfucking Beirut!

Anonymous said...

The government will after the riot blame Muslim youth, introduce new racial SUSS LAWS, and the EDL will have done the NEO-CONS nasty work.

How many civilians will be killed in the crossfire?

Anonymous said...

What are suss laws?

oince said...

After Bradford riot, the EDL will form a political party to sweep up votes of the white voters of the cities they destroy just like the BNP did in Spring 2002 where they won seats in Bradford, Illingworth and Ovenden (Halifax!)

Anonymous said...

Please can you repost the pee-taking "Join The EDL" cartoon of an EDL racist thug posted after the Indymedia article, and add it to this LU article:

Thanks Ketlan!

Antifascist said...

'Please can you repost the pee-taking "Join The EDL" cartoon of an EDL racist thug posted after the Indymedia article, and add it to this LU article'

It's gross but what the hell. ;-)

Anonymous said...

'Please can you repost the pee-taking "Join The EDL" cartoon of an EDL racist thug posted after the Indymedia article, and add it to this LU article:

Thanks Ketlan!'

Why? Did you draw it. Well done.

Anonymous said...

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

The Muslim population of Bradford will not allow their religious buildings to be burnt or destroyed!
This proposed rally could cause all sorts of problems for Bradford and have a knock on effect throughout West Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Although i'm a libertarian, in this case i think it would be wise to stop this rally from taking place due to the serious risk of injury or even worse.

Anonymous said...

"What are suss laws?"

Bit of an 80's term. They were laws used to stop and search, mainly, but not exclusively, Black youths in the 70's and early 80's. They were a major factor in the lead up to the riots of 1981. Look up Brixton Riots 1981 on Wiki for more background.

Anonymous said...

"We’ll go easy on the ‘moderate’ EDL you if you give us info on the serious hooligans, or even better Nazis who the ‘leadership’ want shut of anyway. Any information gratefully received"

This is what happened. Also part of the deal was the EDL's request that the Cops in Bolton go in hard against the UAF and arrest their leaders. The Cops lived up to their part of the deal. However, with the Election done and dusted and the Tories in power, I think the State may want to wash their hands of the EDL (Too troublesome for what they are worth) and we could see more robust policing of the EDL.

ex-fascist said...

"Sus" was short for "suspicion", on which a hugely disproportionate number of black youths were stopped and searched.

Bash The Fash!!! said...

@ Grim Len...

How do you know those BNP members were there, and how do we know they are members and who they are??? I haven't heard of any of them.