The English Defence League are very good at creating disinformation but not very good at being convincing. The smokescreen phrases like ‘multi-racial’, ‘non-racist’ and ‘unity’ are completely undermined by a quick look at UK racist web forums which support them. First of all, the anti-Semitic Stormfront website has a thread entitled Defending The EDL; pro-BNP forum VNNuk has one on the banning of the EDL march; and Batty Lee Barnes, humiliatingly expelled from the BNP, has been offering guidance for the EDL on his blog. If that isn’t damning enough, BNP Info report that:
“EDL leaders Stephen Yaxley-Lennon and Chris Renton (aka John Sheridan) are BNP, Jeff Marsh (aka Joe Casuals) … says he supports voting BNP, Paul Ray says he’s NOT anti-BNP but he was shunned by EDL leaders for opposing Renton linking with Nazis, Joel Titus says he opposes the BNP but accepted BNP activists as friends on You Tube, and EDL poster-boy Guramit Singh is a proven racist. Other movers and shakers in the original EDL include NF activist David Tull and BNP activist David Cooling.”
Incidentally, Paul Ray has recently been arrested for stirring up racial hatred on the internet. Jings!
It is abundantly clear that there are many active racists in the EDL and it is embarrassing for the leadership to continue denying this. It means they are either lying or genuinely have no idea who their followers are. There is simply too much evidence on web forums and too many incriminating photographs – like the recent ones of the Welsh supporters of the EDL Sieg Heiling and showing swastika tattoos – for their denials to be convincing. The EDL’s own forum contains diverse right wing opinion: some posts have spoken against the violence and Sieg Heiling, especially after Stoke, but others are openly violent and more threatening.
Many EDL members share the same politics as the more hardcore fascists but reject the Hitler stuff as irrelevant and all the Zionist conspiracy theory as either stupid or too confusing. However, racist sentiments are common throughout the majority of the EDL and the anti-Islamic sentiment is a cover for their ‘anti-Paki’ politics like anti-Israel sentiment is used to disguise anti-Semitism. For most EDL all brown skinned people are ‘Pakis’ and all ‘Pakis’ are Muslims and all Muslims are extremists. Perhaps the EDL needs to say ‘Not Racist, Just Selectively Racist.’
The EDL use exactly the same strategy that Moseley’s British Union of Fascists used and which the later NF and BNP tried to emulate. The BUF focussed solely on a minority group, the Jews, so do the EDL; the BUF used scaremongering against the Jews, the EDL use them against Muslims, i.e., Muslim paedophile gangs and drug dealers stories; the BUF used violence and intimidating tactics against local communities, so do the EDL; and the BUF tried to break up opposition meetings, so do the EDL. The BUF understood that media manipulation and good PR is essential to ‘legitimise’ themselves and so do the EDL. The fact that the EDL use fascist tactics and have fascist members all point to an inevitable ‘if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck’ conclusion. The one key difference between the BUF and the EDL is a single leadership figure. The EDL leadership clique use pseudonyms and shun the vanity posturings of Moseley. Given the amount of animosity towards them from many corners, this is hardly surprising. Moseley himself described street politics as ‘this rough game.’
The EDL are pushing the Bradford demo this weekend after falling turnouts on recent daytrips. They have been banned from marching but will stage a static protest. They will be bussed in by the cops, allowed to shout, be hopefully contained, and then bussed back again. The EDL have been trumpeting this do for a long time knowing they will face considerable opposition. The Hope Not Hate campaign has urged folks to stay away; UAF have organised a static counter-demo; more militant anti-fascists are preparing for it; and Asian youth and local community groups will no doubt make their voices heard. Which is the point. Previous EDL demos in Stoke, Dudley, and Bolton have created much tension and they are helping to inflame anti-Islamic sentiment. The dream situation would be to recreate the race riots like in Oldham in 2001 to prove that they are a potent political force to be reckoned with rather than a confused bunch of drunken racists and fantasy Nazis. The EDL are deliberately provocative and go into areas where they will try to attain maximum disruption, plenty of media coverage for their vanity scrapbooks and a good day was had by all. The static demo strategy has proved fruitful: marches are boring anyway and if they can just gather at Wetherspoon’s so much the better. At least they have toilets so the EDL do not have to urinate on national monuments.
The leadership has sent out an email asking everyone to play nicely, not fight or get drunk and obey the law. This is merely window-dressing and the idea of the EDL turning up with rosaries and herbal tea is far fetched. Plod is enforcing an alcohol ban in the city and on trains but the EDL will be plotting up in 2 pubs on the periphery of Bradford beforehand for the requisite barrel and blether session. They will then be bussed in with predictable results, no doubt.
That the EDL have popular support amongst football firms and Nazi grupuscules is clear but whether they can break out of such a political ghetto is uncertain. In case you haven’t noticed, the BNP have been busy imploding in a riot of acrimony over power abuse, cash and corruption (see Malatesta’s Blog) and many on the racist right are looking for an alternative. UKIP are far too posh and tweedy for most working class voters; BNP is finished; the NF too small and compromised by the state; and other Nazi factions subject to arrest over internet behaviour. That there is money and support behind the EDL is not in doubt but whether they can take it one step further and fill the power vacuum on the far right, attain the stamina for serious political campaigning and control their more idiotic impulses, we shall have to wait and see.