The EDL, The Police & Preston.

‘E – E – Eejits’ 

Just as folk around the UK have been protesting against the increase in student fees, public spending cuts and doing Christmas shopping, the English Defence League have been ‘peacefully protesting’ against Islamic extremists by doing the usual routine of turning up where they are not wanted, causing a lot of bother and then going home again thinking ‘a job well done.’ Yesterday, the EDL gathered in Preston and saw the town disrupted, local folk irritated and 14 arrests. Not only that, but the demo split into 2 groups that ended up fighting each other. They also had a little do in Nuneaton which also descended into the predictable violence. The EDL were hoping to make a national splash by having these 2 demos but they simply do not have the numbers to sustain this.

Plod Bother

The role of the police in these repetitious events deserves scrutiny. Yesterday, the EDL demo took place at the same time as a Preston NE/Milwall game. The EDL knew they could pick up a few sympathisers (though most supporters ignored them) and that the racists in the Milwall ranks were bound to cause a stir. Why would the police allow the demo for this day knowing the reputation of the Milwall hardcore? It had all the potential for violence and that is what happened. The police were once again underprepared whilst smoke grenades were going off and the ‘peaceful’ EDL were violent. Some members  turned on their stewards – who were just as inadequate as in Leicester – and battered them in order to get out of the kettle and into the opposition. In Nuneaton, the EDL also got physical with the cops after their attack on the UAF was rebuffed. Some photos of the  demo have been published here:

Also, why did the police make such a mess of the Leicester demo? They had been  making noises about large numbers of cops on the scene and co-operation from a dozen or so other forces. There were more cops than demonstrators on the day but they completely failed to impede the violence and disorder that lasted the entire day. In Bolton the police over-reacted towards the anti-EDL demo with some vigour resulting in plenty of nickings whilst they let the EDL carry on with  disrupting the town. In Stoke, the police completely failed to contain the EDL who ran amok through a largely Asian area of town causing damage. And so on. This week Detective Chief Superintendent Adrian Tudway, national co-ordinator for domestic extremism, claimed that the EDL were not an extremist right wing organisation. Which begs the question: how do you define extremist right wingers? Are racists, members of the BNP and other far right groups, hooligans and criminals whose group have a history of violence simply ‘rowdy’ rather than extremists?

This looks like a shift of focus from the EDL in order to concentrate on the ‘extremists’ who are protesting about education and public sector jobs being axed. Which makes semi-sense in that the major concern for people in this country is not some silly Islamic extremist burning poppies (loathsome though they may be) but the fact that whilst banks are happy to keep their profits, they are even happier for us to cover their losses. Folk are concerned over the future for themselves and their children regarding education and also the fact that many jobs are going to be axed, benefits slashed and people are looking at a future that makes the 80s look like the 60s with a flowery hat on. 

The question is why do the police let the EDL cause the problems that they do knowing how the demos always spiral into violence? This is an age of severe economic problems with local councils facing the task of redundancies and public spending cuts. The police are also looking at cuts in funding and numbers. What do the EDL do? Turn up in places to cause trouble and leave the town with an estimated £500,000 bill. Thanks. The EDL are not unaware of this having previously threatened councils with demonstrations if they do “not keep the word Christmas in the annual celebrations and opt for Winter Festival, out of the politically correct appeasement of others to the detriment of our traditions.” Which is blackmail.

Rock On Tommy!

A couple of weeks ago, Searchlight released a photo of the EDL leader Tommy Robinson AKA Stephen Yaxley-Lennon at a BNP meeting. Many antifascist websites ran the picture and questioned the veracity of the EDL’s statements that they weren’t racist and Tommy had ‘never’ been a member of the BNP. And how did the EDL leadership  respond? In their usual way. By keeping very quiet and hoping it would all go away. The EDL members who usually comment on ‘Malatesta’ articles did not respond either.!

Tommy has had a year of legal woes to say the least. He has been arrested 6 times this year, the most recent at the Remembrance Day demo where he attempted to ‘seize the flag’ of Islamic extremists. What he actually did was leap into the arms of waiting officers who immediately arrested him. Some have said that Tommy was trying to make up for his humiliation in Holland the other week where antifascists walked straight up to him and snatched his flag as the rest of the EDL ran off. Footage from this incident was posted all over the internet. See at 9.50.

Tommy is the organiser of a violent far right group whose members include known football hooligans, fascists and other criminal elements. It is not too much of a speculation to say that the police may lean on him for information about them. He is in trouble over mortgage fraud allegations and his previous record of arrests and his time in prison for assaulting a cop are not going to do him any favours when he ends up in court. Tommy is basking in the media spotlight whilst he can for he knows his time is nearly up. And this is part of the EDL’s attraction: weekend warriors getting together, getting drunk and getting their faces on TV so they can boast about it in the pub to their mates. It makes them feel that they are ‘someone.’

The EDL leader is also looking at serious schisms in his group. Whilst he publicly states that they are not violent or racist there is still that hardcore determined to cause trouble and Tommy has no control over them. The EDL are also keen to trumpet their non-homophobic stance but sadly several EDL lads battered a gay member last week which underscores that what the EDL website says and what the EDL actually does are usually drastically different. Again.

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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