Monthly Archives: May 2012

Jay Clark bows out

Fresh from threatening to wipe Indymedia clean out of Nottingham, Jay Clark is now desperately trying to dissociate himself from the EDL. His supporters claim he hasn’t been actively involved in Nottingham EDL for over a year and we should stop picking on him.

The “over a year” is a bit of an exaggeration. Jay was prominently involved in the St George’s Day event in Clifton last month, an event which was organised and stewarded by Nottingham, Newark and Leicester EDL members and which was MCed by Tony Curtis. Tony is a Nottingham EDL member who has spoken from the same platform as Saint Tommy at a number of national demos including Luton at the start of this month. Jay also marched with other EDL members in front of their massive Nottingham division flag on the Nottingham march. If Jay was really looking for a fresh start, he could’ve tried harder.

That said, he is clearly not as involved as he once was and doesn’t go to demos any more, so calling him the Nottingham organiser is inaccurate. That’s a title that would be better to give Richard Carroll AKA Richard Nottingham, who is currently dealing with the logistics. Another important figure is Tony Curtis, who seems heavily involved with the national leadership and was making international links at the Luton demo.

Richard Carroll

Tony Curtis

The Nottingham division once boasted of being one of the largest divisions in the country but it’s a shadow of its former self. People like Jay have realised that being prominent in the EDL is a thankless task: being targeted by anti-fascists, getting hassle from the OB, being publicly associated with a drunken rabble of racist hooligans, and then getting shit from your own footsoldiers when you try to instill some discipline. When it is clear that the EDL has nothing new to offer and no real sense of direction, you might as well give up all that shit and go fishing.

Prisoner support update

Anti-fascist prisoner Ravi Gill has been released from Wayland Prison.

Ravi was one of seven anti-fascists convicted following a scuffle involving German neo-Nazis at Welling train station. A further 16 anti-fascists were acquitted.

Six comrades went to jail in the case, with one subsequently being deported. Ravi is the last of the prisoners to be released.

A support campaign for the prisoners was set up after the convictions and has received a huge amount of support. Locally, there have been several benefit gigs held for the prisoners in Nottingham and a two-day punk festival in Derby was planned for last weekend, but had to be cancelled when the venue closed down (for entirely unrelated reasons).

Earlier this year we published an extract of a letter from Ravi, passed onto us by Notts ABC, thanking people for all the support he’s received:

I am really grateful for all the support me and the others have received. It’s not just because of the money raised but just knowing that there’s people like you who are going out of their way writing and/or arranging benefits or even just attending them and maybe talking or reading about the case, it really is so inspiring and makes the time in here that much easier to deal with. It does feel like we were/are in here for everyone and in turn everyone’s out there for us.

EDL organiser threatens independent media

Nottingham EDL organiser, Jay Clark, has made threats against the Nottingham Indymedia website in relation to an article on the site exposing the presence of the EDL and BNP at this year’s St George’s Day march. “It’s about time these pathetic cunts got wiped clean out of Nottingham” he wrote on Facebook. Asked whether he meant the EDL or the BNP he clarified “Nottingham Indymedia there a bunch of cunts”. He added that “it was them that put me all over the net leading to me getting raided for an harmless picture” referring to this repost of a photo from Hope Not Hate. Fellow EDL member Chris ‘pigs head on a stick’ Payne called Indymedia “fucking maggots”.

This is not the first time the EDL have threatened Indymedia. A group, including John ‘Snowy’ Shaw who is now leader of the North West Infidels, attempted to disrupt a meeting of the Sheffield Indymedia collective in 2010. Disrupting and attacking what are seen as left-wing or anarchist political meetings and stalls is a sideline for the EDL that they may well return to as their numbers on demos continue to plummet.

The irony is that Indymedia collectives are just providing a platform for anyone to post local news, such as “Fashwatcher”, the anonymous person who posted the article about St George’s Day. Jay could have posted his own responses on the article or his own write up of St George’s Day if he’d wanted to. Also, his assertion that it was Indymedia who put his face all over the net is not entirely accurate given that Hope Not Hate, an organisation with national rather than just local reach, published the original article.

The fact that the EDL are making threats against independent news sites is an indication of how seriously they take freedom of speech. Their response to criticism is not to engage in debate but to threaten to “wipe out” their critics and turn up in mobs to meetings with the intention of intimidating people. These are typical fascist tactics that show them for exactly what they are.

Far right get grooming case wrong

The recent conviction of a grooming gang of nine Muslim men from Rochdale has put the far right into a frenzy. Anti-fascists might remember that the far right have been all over this case since the start of the trial. The EDL, BNP, National Front, Infidels and British Peoples Party all turned up to protest at the start of the trial, attempted to attack the defendants and almost caused a mistrial by attacking the defence barristers. There then followed attempts to stir up race riots in Heywood, when shops and businesses belonging to Muslims were attacked by a mob of white youths, something that was whipped up online by nationalists desperate for a populist cause (for example, posters on Nazi site, Stormfront, who could barely suppress their excitement about the “Race riot in Heywood!!! On now!”). None of the businesses targeted were actually owned by the men involved in the trial.

It is not surprising that people are disgusted with the behaviour of the grooming gang, which preyed on young, vulnerable girls, many of whom were from children’s homes and had already suffered neglect and abuse. It is quite right to want to end street grooming and all other kinds of paedophilia and sexual abuse. But the far right don’t have any credible answers.

The most prominent response bouncing around the far right echo chamber is “HANG THEM!!!!”, usually accompanied by a picture of gallows with an array of nooses. This might satisfy a desire for revenge but it won’t stop sexual abuse. Countries that do execute people for sexual abuse and rape, such as Iran, Syria, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia (hardly countries that the far right would normally wish to emulate), have not eliminated the incidence of such crimes. A comparison of states with and without the death penalty in the USA demonstrated that the murder rate is actually 48-101% lower in states that do not have the death penalty, suggesting that it has no deterrent effect. As Amnesty International point out “The threat of execution at some future date is unlikely to enter the minds of those acting under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, those who are in the grip of fear or rage, those who are panicking while committing another crime (such as a robbery), or those who suffer from mental illness or mental retardation and do not fully understand the gravity of their crime.” I would add to that list those who are motivated by lust, such as child rapists.

The other “preventative measure” suggested by those like Nottingham EDL member, Ian Firmstone, is to encourage people to keep their daughters indoors and away from British Pakistani takeaways! Apart from the massively restrictive effect this would have on their freedom (and the racial segregation it would impose), this is no solution to the problem of sexual abuse, which is normally committed by those who are known to the victim. The US-based Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that 73% of sexual assaults are committed by a non-stranger and approximately 2/3 of rapists are known by their victim. In the more socially conservative context of Delhi, India, 98% of those accused of rape or molestation were known by their victims. RAINN state that 4 in 10 sexual assaults and rapes take place at the victim’s home and a further 2 in 10 at the home of a neighbour, friend or relative. The idea that rapists are predominantly strangers who make unpremeditated attacks on unaccompanied girls is unfounded.

The far right are leaping all over this case because it helps to confirm their prejudices. They have long set up British Muslims, especially British Pakistanis, as the source of all evil, claiming that they are responsible for everything from heroin dealing to terrorism and now sex crimes as well. As Leicester EDL’s Matty Noble and friends say, the problem is “the muslims”, “pakis”, “curry munchin arm pit b.o. smellin shit stabbin spear chuckin white gal raping bomb blower uppers son ov a mother fuckers” because after all “When do u ever hear of white ppl rapin pakis”. When you already have horrific racist attitudes like these, any evidence you can find of Muslims actually committing crimes is seized as proof that your attitudes are justified. Their hypocrisy can be seen quite clearly in their rather less energetic response to paedophilia cases where the perpetrators are white.

The far right have cited some rather dubious sources for their racialisation of grooming. For example, a Guardian article in which Martin Narey, an ex-Barnardo’s chief executive was misleadingly titled “Grooming offences committed mostly by Asian men says ex-Barnardo’s chief”. (Narey actually specified a much more specific category: “the street grooming of teenage girls in northern towns”. Most grooming prosecutions are against white men.) However, Narey is a somewhat controversial figure to quote on this matter anyway. Before joining Barnardo’s, Narey was director general of the Prison Service when notorious paedophile and prison guard, Neville Husband, was finally prosecuted for decades of horrific sexual abuse against youths in young offenders institutes. Narey had also been the assistant governor of the two institutes in which Husband had carried out his attacks. Narey never called for a public inquiry into Husband’s case. When interviewed earlier this year, Narey was still unsure “whether a public inquiry would be justified”. It could be argued that Narey has turned a blind eye to child abuse on his own watch.

We’ve seen that the far right have very little grasp on the facts around such crimes, so what do the experts say? Mark Williams-Thomas, a former police detective and child protection expert, is quoted as saying “Attacks in isolation and grooming tend to be perpetrated by white men. Collectively, the transferring of girls among young men for sex involves Pakistani men”. Ella Cockbain & Helen Brayley, researchers at the UCL’s department of security and crime science, believe that there are “two main profiles of the on-street groomer.”

First, we have the white offenders, who typically offend alone. So far, nothing new: the lone white male is the norm for UK child sex offences. Second, however, there are Asian offenders, many of whom are of Pakistani origin. They seem much more likely to offend in groups, lending their abuse a curiously social dimension. [My emphasis]

However, they warn against pursuing racial profiling because “entrenched stereotypes have a nasty habit of persisting, even when the evidence moves on.”

Nazir Afsal, the chief crown prosecutor for the North West, said of the Rochdale gang that “It wasn’t their race which defined them, it was their treatment of women”, an opinion shared by Professor Malcolm Cowburn, a criminologist at Sheffield Hallam University. “The larger issue is of problematic masculinity and how certain men view women, children and their sexual rights”, says Cowburn, “I don’t think it lies within ethnicity but within gender”. Communities with strong male bonds and patriarchal structures often generate a culture of silence around sexual abuse, as has been seen within the priesthood, and this may account for the cultural dimension in the on-street collective grooming phenomenon.

Ironically, the far right is also a patriarchal community with strong male bonds and its own culture of silence has protected paedophiles within its ranks. The overwhelming majority of EDL and BNP members are male and rape jokes, misogynist attitudes and sexual objectification of women are common in far right circles. Numerous paedophiles and sex offenders have been identified within the far right but often the truth has been slow to surface and the perpetrators have been protected. Take the example of Richard Price, an early leader of the EDL, who was portrayed as a political prisoner by Tommy Robinson and co, despite the fact that he had been charged with possessing child pornography. Rather than face the unsavoury truth that one of their brethren was a sex offender, the EDL protected Price and tried to suppress the truth. Indeed, Price was a still an admin of the EDL’s Facebook page until January of this year.

The real reason that men sexually abuse women and girls is because they feel entitled to do so by a patriarchal culture that views them as sexual objects. Therefore, the way to tackle sexually abusive behaviour is not to “hang the nonces” or “lock up your daughters”, something which promotes the patriarchal idea of women as weak and defenceless, but to challenge the patriarchal culture which promotes rape and the objectification of women and girls. The far right’s misogynistic culture which only views women as progenitors of the white race, a class of kitchen and bedroom slaves who are incapable of fighting for themselves, is extremely damaging to women and should be resisted.

More on morons in Luton

We can confirm that the coach company used by the Leicester and Nottingham divisions for their transport to Luton (and other previous demonstrations) was:

G. H. Watts

The Coach Station
Foxholes Road,

tel: 0116 287 4037
fax: 0116 287 6142

In spite of all the hype about a big day out for the boys, the Leicester division’s coach was looking pretty empty so they indulged in the time honoured EDL tradition of getting hammered before they even arrived. Well, they need a bit of Dutch courage to face those muslamic rayguns.

Elsewhere, Nottingham’s Tony Curtis, who was doing important EDL business with the infamous Norwegian Defence League (you know, the ones who refused to distance themselves from mass murderer, Anders Breivik), got to speak on thue platform. Well he’s certainly as uninspiring as Tommy and Kev and has an equally shaky grasp on history, politics and religion so he’s a top candidate for the job.

Meanwhile, ex-communicated Sikh and virulent islamaphobe, Nottingham’s Guramit Singh, was said to be hoping for a job in the “struggling to get more than a handful of votes” British Freedom Party. That would be the party that had to hold its launch party on Twitter after the Luton venue pulled out.

The EDL: Lurching from crisis to crisis with a can of Stella in each hand.

Why liberal ‘anti-fascism’ is a mistake, Part 2

[Go to Part 1]

2. It legitimises and strengthens mainstream politics

Unite Against Fascism and Hope Not Hate are constantly putting mainstream politicians on their platforms, leafleting against the BNP alongside mainstream politicians and generally giving the impression that these crooks are an anti-fascist alternative to the far right. Given that respect for the mainstream parties is at an all time low this is extremely unwise. It enables the likes of the BNP to portray themselves as political outsiders, somehow untainted by the corruption of seeking political power, and as underdogs who are nonetheless a credible threat. In reality, of course, the far right is dogged by corruption and nepotism, something that is central to the BNP’s current internal ructions, but this is a point that is much harder to make when your rally features the local Labour MP and you have Gordon Brown endorsing your campaign.

But of course, it is not just for tactical reasons that anti-fascists should not let politicians jump on the bandwagon. The policies of the main parties on policing, immigration control and suppressing working class communities are often authoritarian and racist. It was mainstream parties not the far-right who brought us neoliberalism, anti-union legislation, detention of asylum seekers, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and are now forcing the cuts on us.

In many cases, it is precisely the policies of the mainstream parties which have created the conditions allowing fascism to flourish. Consider for instance the chronic underfunding of council housing over the last 30 years. Before Thatcher came to power, there were never fewer than 75,000 council dwellings built in any year. In 1999, only 84 were built. Combined with “right-to-buy,” the impact on the availability of affordable housing has been inevitable. The upshot of this is that only the most needy are now able to get access to council housing. If you are, for example, a single working-class male you’re likely to find yourself at the bottom of the list. This inevitably fuels resentment and is likely one of the key drivers in the recent growth of the BNP, particularly in areas like Barking and Dagenham.

Even if they were an effective defence against a rising far-right, neither the Conservatives nor Labour have hesitated to adopt hardline policies in order to pander to voters who might otherwise have been tempted to vote for fascists. See, for example, Labour MP Margaret Hodge’s inflammation of fears about migrants taking social housing or David Cameron’s vilification of Muslims on the day of an EDL march. In the absence of any credible party of their own, the only way that the far right’s politics can enter the mainstream is through such an appropriation by the big three, in their attempt to win votes from the ‘white working class’.

By allowing neoliberal politicians of any stripe to ride along for free on their coat-tails, anti-fascists are undoing their own work towards a society free of authoritarianism and social control. There is no point in taking away power from outright fascists only to hand it to neoliberals who are much more capable at repressing the working classes. Our enemy’s enemy is not necessarily our friend.


3. It legitimises and strengthens religious and community leaders

The other kind of person that gets an unwarranted boost by liberal anti-fascist campaigning is the self- or state-appointed community leader. These are people who, either propped up by state patronage or their hierarchical position within community organisations, assume for themselves the role of speaking on behalf of their own community, ethnic or religious group. The promotion of religious leaders is especially problematic, as they bring with them their moral ideas which can often be conservative, homophobic and sexist.  Indeed, militant anti-fascists have protested against the fascism of some extreme religious groups, such as an Islamist conference at the East London Mosque.

However, hierarchical anti-fascist organisations like the Socialist Workers Party front group, Unite Against Fascism, lap up the opportunity to invite community leaders onto their platforms, in an ill-thought out attempt to get the support of the communities themselves. Following the muddled logic of my enemy’s enemy is my friend, this tactic can result in people with extremely conservative and offensive political ideas to speak on anti-fascist platforms. For example, UAF invited the anti-gay leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, to speak at an anti-BNP event, a decision that was defeated by pressure from LGBT campaigners.

The promotion of certain Muslim community leaders is especially problematic, given the heavy influence of the state in promoting certain groups and individuals within the Muslim community. Most notoriously, a large amount of funding was given to selected community leaders from the Prevent anti-terrorism pot “to support work that will build the capacity of individuals, organisations and communities to take the lead on tackling violent extremist influences”. Inevitably, one effect of this funding has been to dampen criticism of the government and the ‘War on Terror’, something that might easily be mistaken as “violent extremism” by the spooks and cops who give out the money. Community leaders whose funding is dependent on not rocking the boat will inevitably be drawn towards public support for liberal anti-fascism and more policing rather than the community self-defence that ordinary community members tend to support.

Given the current victimisation of certain communities and groups by the far right, it is extremely important to have all sections of the community involved in anti-fascism. However, militant anti-fascists prefer to work on the grassroots level, rather than with community leaders who are often either self-appointed and unrepresentative or state patsies.

[Go to Part 3]

Derbyshire BNP’s “Blackshirt Buggy”

Derbyshire BNP have launched their own local version of the national party’s “Truth Truck” (or “Lie Lorry”, as anti-fascists prefer to call it).  The Derbyshire van is a beauty, as you can see; surprising to see it’s a foreign-made vehicle, though….

The local party has yet to find a suitably pompous name for their new vehicle; in light of  “Grand Dictator of Derbyshire” Paul Hilliard’s affection for Mussolini’s paramilitary followers, we’d like to suggest they call it the “Blackshirt Buggy”.

EDL in Luton as soldiers march through Nottingham

Today the 73 Engineer Regiment marched through Nottingham, along with the Royal Band of Engineers and 30 Officer Cadets from the East Midlands Universities Air Squadron. The EDL were notable by their absence.

In the past the EDL have been vocally supportive of similar marches. When the Mercian Regiment marched through Nottingham in December 2009, 3-400 EDLers turned out and proceeded to show their “support” for British soldiers by getting rat-arsed.

This time the Nottingham Division seem to have decided that they’d rather spend the day travelling to Luton so they can stand around in a police pen and listen to Tommy Robinson/Stephen Yaxley-Lennon announce (to nobody’s surprise) that he is to become the deputy chairman of the British Freedom Party.

Nottingham Division on the way to Luton

Nottingham Division on the way to Luton (source: EDLNewsExtra)

BNP remnants

The BNP did not have a good election. The party lost all the seats it was defending and failed to win any new seats. In many areas its vote was down, in some cases by as much as 50%. All good news for anti-fascists. Unfortunately, they’re not entirely gone. Not yet, anyway.

This week’s defeats follow a poor election last year and the number of BNP councillors has slumped from a high of 57 only three years ago to just three: Sharon Wilkinson on Lancashire County Councillor, Brian Parker in Pendle and – in our region – Catherine Duffy on Charnwood Borough Council in Leicester.

While other far-right parties have failed to capitalise on the BNP’s demise, there are also a handful of independents who are former members of the party, like Graham Partner on Leicestershire County Council. In some cases they will have repudiated their former politics, but it’s not as if politicians never lie. Recall that Partner was recently investigated for distributing an anti-Muslim leaflet.

Ongoing infighting will make it difficult for the few remaining BNP councillors to hold onto their seats when they are next up for re-election (in Duffy’s case in 2014). It is up to anti-fascists to ensure that they are stamped out entirely and that no other far-right group is able to take their place.

English Democrats first election foray in Daventry

New faces on the right of British politics, the English Democrats, stood in elections for the first time in our region yesterday. Alan Bennett-Spencer got 5.2% of the votes in the Long Buckby ward, coming in in last place; his wife Gaynor Bennett-Spencer achieved a notable 20% in Ravensthorpe, beating the Libdems into third place.

It’s still unclear how exactly the English Democrats will fit in to the crowded landscape of the right wing; they are, as we have argued before, by no means a fully-fledged fascist party, having more in common, at the moment, with UKIP than the BNP, BFP or NF.  However, there are a large number of former BNP members in the English Democrats (Alan Bennett-Spencer recently supported ex-BNP big cheese Eddy “Rights for Whites” Butler’s defection to the party, for example), making the English Democrats likely to lurch even further to the right, and this is something anti-fascists should keep an eye on.  As an obvious political home for lots of ex-BNP anti-Griffin malcontents, the party, small though it currently is, needs watching, and we’ll be monitoring the Bennett-Spencers and their fellow-travellers in our region.