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.
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!