The EDL & Bradford

It looks like the English Defence League (EDL) are still set on turning up in Bradford in August for the ‘bloodbath’ they have been belthering on about for the last couple of months despite their varied misfortunes. The EDL have been making prior internet assaults on forums like the Bradford Telegraph & Argus as well as the usual misinformation and tedious posturings on Indymedia. They have also been under pressure from the police. Despite their continued claims to be ‘non-racist’ recent revelations have not helped the EDL’s PR profile either.

Fading Führer Nick Griffin of the BNP still denies any links with the EDL but then again he denies the holocaust, his 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 pro-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 on EDL demos but it is the recent exposure of now ex-leader ‘Tommy Robinson,’ aka Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, as a former BNP member that scuppers any of the usual claims. Following his exposure Yaxley-Lennon has now handed over the leadership of the ‘peaceful’ EDL to Kevin Carroll, who has just been convicted for violence 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 on the demonstrations range from being known neo-Nazis and football hooligans who can’t battle at matches anymore to more moderate elements, many of whom have been put off by the violence and racism on the days out. 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 ‘1,000s’ of paper members on Facebook, Dudley saw a decline in numbers. The last few EDL demos have 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 are in 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 the 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 Asian looking face will do and this exposes the EDL as clueless ‘Paki bashers.’ This is also backed up with 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 some speculation. After the ‘leadership’ were nicked and taken to Sheffield police station (see other Malatesta postings) during the ill-fated Scottish excursion, plod was seen to get heavy with anti-fascists, especially in Bolton. Rumours flew that the leadership had done a deal with the cops and were passing on information. This remains unsubstantiated. What could have happened is the EDL ‘leadership’ passed on info about the activities of hard-core hooligans before the world cup but also on neo-Nazis who the top nobs don’t like anyway after 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. Well, now that the world cup is over, the Nazis are being marginalised and many on the EDL demos have already been filmed and named, there is perhaps no need for the cops to uphold the bargain. Reaction by the police in Bradford this weekend will shed further light on this.

The EDL are useful to the state in several ways. They help inflame anti-Islamic sentiment which shores up the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both 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 the EDL conveniently bring together hooligans and political extremists so they can be easily monitored by the state in exactly the same way as the radical Islamic groups who they oppose do. EDL? Naïve? Or state?

Concerned citizens of Bradford are calling for the EDL demo to be banned and Hope Not Hate are backing this call on their website. If it goes ahead the police, bearing in mind PR relations with the local community, 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!
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About malatesta32

Malatesta aka M. Testa, undercover anti-fascist blogger, has analyzed the changing fortunes of the British far right for nearly a decade. He has given lectures on anti-fascism, published articles in Anarchist Studies and Freedom magazine and wrote Militant Anti-Fascism: 100 Years Of Resistance (AK Press 2015) which the Morning Star called a '‘Potent Primer On Europe’s Anti-Fascist Struggle … a useful source of information about the fight against fascism.’
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