Remember Thurnby Lodge – the Leicester estate abandoned by the local council until protests irrupted over plans to convert an old scout hut into an Islamic community centre? Well protests are still ongoing although the numbers turning out have dwindled significantly. Unsurprisingly, the far right hoped to exploit the issue to further their own anti-Muslim agenda and the BNP, EDL, Casuals United and 212 all descended like hungry vultures. Since then, evidence has emerged that demonstrates just how pivotal the EDL are in the campaign, which has publicly distanced itself from far right politics.
Leicester UAF have published an article exposing the links between the EDL and the Forgotten Estates protest group which has set itself up as the voice of Thurnby Lodge estate. It turns out that the leader of Forgotten Estates is none other than Chris ‘EMI’ Hopewell, a Leicester EDL member who proudly identifies as an East Midlands Infidel. Hopewell was pictured in the Leicester Mercury handing a Forgotten Estates petition to Leicester Mayor, Peter Soulsby, last month. Leicester EDL organiser, Craig Elliott and notorious drunkard, James Elliott, have also been involved in the protests, which they have used to prop up their own flagging organisation.
As Leicester UAF put it:
The group have been drawing in people who normally wouldn’t touch the EDL with a barge pole, by giving the impression that their protests are driven by community spirit.
There is no doubt that in the early days, working class resistance to the dictates of the city council certainly were an important motivator in the campaign, but now, thanks to the EDL’s role, Forgotten Estates is focusing on the anti-Muslim element.
Unlike the UAF, we reckon that most people aren’t foolish enough to be taken in by the EDL’s hijacking of the group and have abandoned the protests rather than being associated with the far right agenda of Forgotten Estates. A recent post on Leicester EDL’s page illustrates their disappointment at not being able to get more political capital out of this Trojan horse.
The EDL in Leicester have gone from being one of the bigger, more active divisions to struggling on the ropes, a situation that reflects the national picture of the far right group. The Thurnby Lodge protests seemed like an ideal opportunity for them to inject their anti-Muslim poison into a genuinely popular, grassroots movement, but it seems they’ve even managed to fuck that one up.