July 28, 2010

Bradford, by ‘Malatesta’

This article (slightly amended for publication) was submitted by one of our anarchist readers, ‘Malatesta’, and does not necessarily reflect the views of Lancaster Unity or its contributors. We welcome any contributions from our supporters (as long as those contributions conform to the law and are in reasonably good taste). Please send your articles to us via email.


In spite of their varied misfortunes, it appears that the English Defence League (EDL) are still set on turning up in Bradford on August 28th for the ‘bloodbath’ they have been blethering on about for the last couple of months, heralding their arrival by making provocative assaults on internet forums like the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, as well posting their usual misinformation and tedious posturings to Indymedia.

The EDL have recently been under pressure from the police, and despite their continued claims to be ‘non-racist’ recent revelations have not helped the EDL’s PR profile.


Fading Führer Nick Griffin of the BNP still denies any links with the EDL, but then again he denies the Holocaust, his alleged homosexual past, and the fact that the BNP are falling apart post-election and pre-leadership challenge. (Incidentally leading horse Eddie Butler is currently being smeared by Griffinites as ‘Bitler’). The EDL continue to deny any connection to the BNP and continue to claim they are not racist.

BNP members have often been filmed at EDL demos, but it is the recent exposure of now ex-leader ‘Tommy Robinson’ (a.k.a. Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) as a former BNP member that scuppers any of the usual claims. Following his exposure, Yaxley-Lennon has handed over the leadership of the ‘peaceful’ EDL to Kevin Carroll, who has just been convicted of violent disorder in Luton. Even Tommy has realised how untenable the ‘we ain’t BNP’ claims have become and has buried his membership card in the garden.

Admittedly, not all EDL are BNP but it is this broad right wing spectrum that is causing trouble for them. As we have seen, those at the demonstrations range from known neo-Nazis and football hooligans prevented from battling at matches to more moderate elements, many of whom have been put off by the violence and open racism displayed at EDL gatherings. Following the Stoke debacle there was considerable acrimony on the EDL’s own forum over the fighting and vandalism, and after the recent Dudley fiasco the Exeter division leader resigned in disgust. Despite their 'thousands' of paper members on Facebook, Dudley saw a decline in on-the-ground numbers. The last few EDL demos have all kicked off and the hardcore racists, hooligans and Nazis remain. Like most far right groups, the EDL rely on quantity not quality and this means all manner of scumbags have found their way into their ranks.

Opinion on the far right remains divided. On the various Nazi forums several contributors admit to attending the violent demonstrations despite much opposition from pro- and anti-Griffinites and dissident fascists. The EDL’s development of a gay division, their support of Israel and perceived ‘multi-culturalism’ has the mouldy old posters frothing at their toothbrush moustaches with righteous indignation.

The EDL constantly refer to their tiny handful of Sikh and mixed-race members, which actually clarifies their position considerably. In the same way that fascists use criticism of Israel as a smokescreen for vehement anti-Semitism, the EDL employ the same tactics using ‘Militant Islam’ as an excuse to attack any Asians they come across. This is borne out by their random attacks on shops, houses and cars without any idea of whether the victims are ‘militant’ let alone Muslim. Any person of Asian appearance will do, and this exposes the EDL as clueless ‘Paki bashers’. This is also bolstered by their chants of ‘I’d rather be a Paki than …’ etc, as well as the BNP links.

Heavy Manners

The EDL’s relationship with the Old Bill has resulted in a good deal of speculation. After the ‘leadership’ were nicked and taken to Sheffield police station (Malatesta postings, passim) during the ill-fated Scottish excursion, Plod was seen to get heavy with anti-fascists, especially in Bolton. Rumours flew that the EDL leadership had done a deal with the cops and were passing on information, but this remains unsubstantiated. What could have happened is that the EDL ‘leadership’ passed on info about the activities of hard-core hooligans before the World Cup, and also on neo-Nazis who the top nobs dislike anyway, following the hilarious Combat 18 fight in London last year. The stepping down of Yaxley-Lennon could be the result of heavy manners police pressure. The cops got heavy in Dudley and the EDL are aggrieved over the sudden turnaround of events.

Now that the World Cup is over the Nazis are being marginalised, and many on the EDL demos have been filmed and identified, so there is perhaps no longer a need for the cops to uphold their side of the bargain. The reaction of the police in Bradford on August 28th will shed further light on this.

The EDL are useful to the state in several ways. They help inflame the anti-Islamic sentiment which shores up the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both of these wars are deeply unpopular across the political spectrum but the end is not in sight. The EDL’s riotous conduct helps the state argue for tighter laws on public order, and conveniently brings together hooligans and political extremists who can be easily monitored by the state in exactly the same way as the radical Islamic groups opposed by the EDL. EDL? Naïve? Or state?


Concerned citizens of Bradford are calling for the scheduled EDL demo to be banned, and Hope Not Hate are backing this call on their website. If the demo does go ahead, the police - relations with the local community in mind - will no doubt be worried. Local Asian youth have proved they are more than capable of looking after themselves, and they will present a serious physical opposition to the EDL. As anarchists we cannot rely on the state to fight against fascism and there is an urgent need for a militant broad based organisation like Anti-Fascist Action to physically as well as ideologically oppose fascism in our communities, and to link up with militant local youth if they are up for it. The EDL think that we support Islam. We do not support any religion. We are against fascist bootboys being bussed into our communities to cause trouble and division. No Pasaran!



Anonymous said...

"The reaction of the police in Bradford on August 28th will shed further light on this"

Yes, it will. Word is that the Police will go in very hard against the EDL on the day.

Anonymous said...

"Admittedly, not all EDL are BNP"

Yes, I reckon the EDL are worse than the BNP! Most of the inactive, middle aged BNP membership confine their bigotry to the Web and verbalise it in meetings and gatherings. The EDL on the other hand take their hatred to the streets by abusing Asians and attacking property.

AndyMinion said...

"There is an urgent need for a militant broad based organisation like Anti-Fascist Action to physically as well as ideologically oppose fascism in our communities, and to link up with militant local youth if they are up for it."

Are you talking about streetfighting, Malatesta?

Sorry, but I can't be with you on that one, unless you want to give the EDL the biggest P.R gift imaginable. The one thing (I believe) we need to keep a tight hold of, at this stage, is the moral high ground.

I was at Nottingham last December. We were prevented from getting anywhere near the EDL, who pushed, shoved, yelled, threw things, generally made drunken fools of themselves and will forever live on in the memories of locals as having defended our Proud Nation's Heritage by lining up and pissing on the walls of Nottingham Castle.

We, on the other hand, were calm, sober and dignified. The EDL would have LOVED us to fight with them.

On another note, having had a good kicking myself as a teenager from the NF at Winchester in about 1978 or 1979; I'd have to say the Far Right are traditionally a bit better at physical violence than the Far Left.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of what you state AndyMinion.

The Left is full of far too many playground revolutionaries wanting to recreate Cable Street. Those days are over and street confrontations have a distinct whiff of the past about them. Politics has moved on into areas like Blue State Digital and the Internet and the days of street politics is effectively at an end. The BNP has achieved its (relative) success by avoiding the "street" all together. This whole EDL business has a stale, old-fashioned air about it. Anti-fascists (and the local communities) should avoid direct confrontations and let the EDL shame themselves by fighting the Police.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:19 PM

That is my feeling on this. With everything covered by multiple forms of media from all angles, it's what can be seen on TV and Youtube that counts. Anti-fascists will find it a great deal harder to take the moral high ground and with it public opinion, if all the public can see is two mobs fighting each other and everyone getting arrested.

Everyone must've seen the way the EDL bandy around the arrest figures of anti-fascists in Bolton and claim (wrongly) that more anti-fascists get arrested at every demo. The numbers of arrests affect public opinion too. Violence is gauged by the numbers of arrests. If 55 anti-fascists are arrested at a demo but only 9 EDL, the public assumption will be that anti-fascists are more violent than the EDL. That makes it more likely that anti-fascist groups will be banned before the EDL.

It's national public opinion that matters, not going toe-to-toe with fascists. I still believe counter-protests are important, however what appears to work best is when the anti-fascists are out of sight of the EDL. The police are given no reason to arrest the anti-fascists and the EDL always kick off and riot anyway. Also through their good behaviour the anti-fascists will win over both the local community and national public opinion.

In my mind anti-fascist counter-demos should play on the idea that THEY are the genuinely inclusive movement. So the demo could involve elements that visibly show this. The EDL on the other hand look like, and in fact are, a bunch of drunken football hooligans.