Jun 3 2013

EDL events in Leicester and Nottingham

On Saturday, the EDL held events in towns and cities across the country, as part of their new spike in activity following the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich on May 22nd.  Having realised that the pissed-up argy-bargy at their national demos in Newcastle and London the previous weekend hasn’t exactly helped their image, the EDL played these local events differently.  They were all branded as memorials, and participants were urged to stay sober, refrain from chanting or shouting, and to carry no banners or “colours” (that’s branded hoodies to you and me).

In Leicester, around 80 joined the EDL-organised march from the Clock Tower to the war memorial in Victoria Park, where flowers were laid.  A UAF counter-demo of about the same size stood with banners at the Clock Tower, with some heckling of the marchers as they departed, but without further incident.

In Nottingham, about 70 walked from the Trent Bridge Inn to the war memorial on the Victoria Embankment, again laying flowers.  Not wishing to interfere with the flower-laying, a group of about 30 anti-fascists stood quietly with banners on the opposite side of the road from the memorial.  Apart from one aggressive EDL supporter who was restrained by police, there was no interaction between the two sides.

The EDL successfully stayed sober and calm on both these events, and achieved their objective of appearing “reasonable and respectful” – something they are generally find beyond them.  It’s concerning that they appear to have attracted numbers to these commemorations beyond their usual activist base, and not everyone who attended Saturday’s events would have thought of themselves as an EDL member.  In other words, they are having some success at rebuilding their numbers and activity, and are expanding their support base.

The gruesome murder in Woolwich has been a gift for the EDL, allowing them to capitalise on a personal tragedy and surf the wave of outrage for their own ends – despite appeals from both Lee Rigby’s family and his regiment that no racist capital should be made by political groups from his horrible death.  The EDL and other fascist groupings will be working hard over the next few months, and anti-fascists must remain vigilant and keep developing strategies to counter their activities in this challenging time.

 

 


Oct 31 2012

Forgotten Estates and the EDL

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.

Chris ‘EMI’ Hopewell – leader of Forgotten Estates

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.


Jul 16 2012

Another pissed EDL member ends up in court….

Leicester EDL’s James Lee Elliott has been convicted after drunkenly hassling a UAF stall in the city last October.  Good to see the local divisions maintaining their hard-earned reputation of pissed-up idiocy!

James ‘glassy eyed’ Elliott after a heavy drinking session


Jun 6 2012

Why liberal ‘anti-fascism’ is a mistake, Part 3

[Go to Part 1 | Part 2]

4. It bolsters the far right’s attempts to portray themselves as victims

Those on the far right love to think of themselves as victims of an establishment conspiracy to deprive them of their free speech and undermine them. To some extent, this is true, largely due to the sporadic adoption of a liberal anti-extremism by mainstream society. The tendency of liberal anti-fascists to give a platform to mainstream politicians and establishment figures (see Part 2 of this article), to leave physical confrontation of fascists to the police (see Part 1) and to lobby for the mainstream media and organisations to deny the far right a platform mean that it is extremely difficult to find mainstream voices explicitly supporting the BNP or the EDL.

However, it is not necessary to dig too much deeper to find establishment support for the kind of policies these groups would like to see implemented. Strict immigration controls, racial and religious profiling, greater police powers and patriarchal family values all receive some degree of support within the mainstream. Indeed, anti-fascism often turns into a game of labels rather than an examination of the content of politics. Tory and Labour MPs get away with saying and doing all kinds of authoritarian and reactionary things that Tommy Robinson or Nick Griffin could never, because anti-fascism can often become fixated on membership of certain organisations, rather than the ideological confrontation of a particular kind of politics.

Indeed, far from being rebels, the EDL often seem to act as guard dogs for the establishment: supporting the monarchy, the armed forces and British rule over the Falklands,attacking striking workers, student protesters, Irish republicans and the left. At times the EDL’s politics seems to flow directly from the pages of the right wing tabloids – hardly the voice of an oppressed minority! Indeed, the EDL were notoriously championed by the Daily Star.

As the examples of other European countries (e.g. Austria, Italy, Greece) demonstrate, these populist nationalists can easily become the establishment without shedding their fascist core. They can then start using the resources and authority of the state to build up their movements and carry out attacks on minorities and the left. Thanks to their contorted worldview they can happily integrate into the state in this way and still complain about what a victimised minority they are.

Increasingly, the far right is appropriating the language of genuine struggles against domination, e.g. anti-racism and anti-colonial and indigenous struggles, and using it for their own aim of continued European/white domination of the political, economic and cultural spheres. Anti-fascists need to confront this fake victimhood wherever it crops up and consistently challenge the fascists with the reality of the power relations involved.

5. It weakens anti-fascism on the streets

As Anti-Fascist Action famously stated, their aim was to confront fascism ideologically and physically. This is a message that has been lost in recent decades, as the Socialist Workers Party-controlled UAF has come to dominate anti-fascism’s street presence. Despite all of their rhetoric about smashing fascism, UAF rarely even try to confront fascist marches and demonstrations. Instead, they prefer to keep mainstream politicians, community leaders and trade unions on board by meekly conforming with the police’s instructions. They and the allied Love Music Hate Racism organise celebrations of multiculturalism that are often well out of the way of the fascists, giving the police plenty of space to control both crowds. Often the actual confrontation is left to the local communities themselves who are usually heavily outnumbered by better kitted out riot police.

Whilst it can certainly be argued that, due to the rise of police surveillance and evidence gathering capabilities, the days of AFA are long gone, the opportunity to physically resist fascist mobilisations is definitely not. This does not, despite the stereotype, have to mean going out for a fight with the fash (although we should always be prepared for that), but rather physically preventing them from going where they want. Anti-fascists can take heart from the successful blockade of a Nazi march in Dresden in 2010, and, more close to home, the successful blockade of a BNP meeting in Kimberley in 2007. Both actions relied mainly on the presence of large numbers of anti-fascists who refused to collaborate with the police and blocked the fascists from getting past.

As the BNP disintegrates and the much hyped British Freedom is turning out to be a big disappointment, the far right’s stormtroopers are hoping to go back to the streets again to assert themselves. It is vital for our struggle to prevent them from doing that. That doesn’t mean leaving it to the police to sort out or getting the government to ban them. It means defending our communities from these fascist intruders, by whatever tactics are most effective.


May 8 2012

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]


Apr 30 2012

Why liberal ‘anti-fascism’ is a mistake, Part 1

An important distinction needs to be made between a genuine, militant anti-fascism, and the pseudo anti-fascism of liberal organisations like Unite Against Fascism, Hope Not Hate and Searchlight. The latter ideology also informs websites like EDL News and Expose who often seem to see anti-fascism as a race to see who can report racist comments to the police first. Whilst there is no doubt that some of what these organisations do is useful to the anti-fascist cause, the liberal approach strengthens authoritarian elements of the state and state-sponsored ‘community leaders’ who seek to undermine all threats to their power. It boosts an ideologically filtered anti-extremism that is ultimately opposed to militant anti-fascism and liberatory movements as well. Militant anti-fascists must consistently challenge the statist tactics of some who oppose the far right. Over the next few weeks we will be publishing the reasons why.

1. It takes us closer to a police state

Central to liberal ideology is the idea that the state should have a monopoly on violence. Consequently, liberals favour the idea that the police are the only body that can legitimately ‘smash the fash’ on the streets. They blithely ignore the tendency of the police to ‘facilitate’ the free speech of fascists and to repress anti-fascists as and when it suits their interests. Calls for the state to regulate fascism in this way help the state to concentrate power in the hands of authoritarians and quasi-fascists within its own ranks. It should be easy to see why calling for the state to tackle fascism is extremely counter-productive.

The British police have a long and shameful history of protecting fascists. From the famous Battle of Cable Street (which was a fight between anti-fascists and the Metropolitan Police, who were protecting Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists), to the 1993 demonstration against the BNP bookshop at Welling (brutally attacked by the police), to the fitting up of anti-fascists protesting against a neo-Nazi Blood & Honour gig in 2009, the police have made it their job to ensure that fascists have the freedom to organise. Their aims are fundamentally different to those of anti-fascists.

Anti-fascists who call for the state to ban fascist marches, groups and symbols are playing an extremely dangerous game as such state intervention is frequently also turned against them. For example, Searchlight and other liberal anti-fascists trumpeted Home Secretary Theresa May’s ban on the EDL marching in Tower Hamlets in August last year. However, the Home Office used this opportunity to ban all marches in Tower Hamlets and four other London boroughs for an entire month, which conveniently also banned anti-militarist marches against the DSEI arms fair, East London LGBT Pride and anti-cuts protests. The state will use the cover of banning ‘extremists’ (who are as likely to be people fighting for freedom as fascists or religious militants) to further its own controlling and policing agendas, which are usually fundamentally opposed to the interests of those who want to fight fascism.

There is also evidence of the state using liberal anti-fascist organisations to monitor and control anti-fascists. For example, Searchlight founder and long-time editor, Gerry Gable, was exposed as having links to various state intelligence agencies in the 1980s. Searchlight notoriously infiltrated the Yorkshire branch of Anti-Fascist Action, as detailed in Beating the Fascists, sowing distrust and weakening the organisation. Inevitably, even without intentionally stitching up their comrades, the passing of information about fascist activities to the state by anti-fascists provides an opportunity for the state to monitor what the anti-fascists are up to as well.

For all of these reasons, militant anti-fascists do not trust the state and have sought to build their own movements against fascism, outside of state surveillance and control.

[Go to Part 2 | Part 3]


Feb 27 2012

Hilliard’s blackshirts

A few days ago we jokingly posted in response to truthseeker22’s claim that Derbyshire BNP organiser, Paul Hilliard, was due to become Grand Dictator of Derbyshire that we “Hope you get a nice uniform with that job, Paul!” In an amusing case of fascists living up to their stereotypes, Hilliard has recently commented on his Facebook page that plans are “in the pipeline for matching sweat shirts with the party logo back and front”. We assume they’ll be in black or brown, maybe with a matching party logo armband and a pair of jackboots.

Apparently this is all part of a plan to “turn up to UAF meetings and give them a taste of their own medecine [sic]”. Don’t worry UAFers, you’ll be able to spot them as they goosestep up to the door and give a stiff armed salute.


Feb 23 2012

Amber Valley antics

As we reported a couple of weeks ago, Derbyshire BNP are currently a good source of laughs for keen students of BNP infighting, and their latest meeting hasn’t disappointed.  An Amber Valley group meet on Monday evening was addressed by Derbyshire organiser  Paul Hilliard, who shared his vision of different BNP groups combining to “give the UAF a taste of it’s own medicine”. What exactly he meant is unclear, but if you encounter a gaggle of fascists chanting “Nazi scum, ON our streets!”, remember where you heard it first!

Of course The Derby Patriot faction of the party see things differently, with truthseeker22 reckoning Hilliard’s true vision is to become “Grand Dictator of Derbyshire”.  Hope you get a nice uniform with that job, Paul!  The same unhappy blog-writer also takes issue with an Amber Valley meeting having actually been held in Broxtowe – that’s not indigenous! – and is very scornful to have witnessed Emma Roper (aka Self Obsessed Slapper, apparently) cooing over Hilliard on the top table at the meeting.  Emma’s hubby Cllr Cliff Roper had a “thoroughly enjoyable evening”, but unsurprisingly truthseeker22 disagreed, finding the meeting “shambolic”, with the cheap beer being the only saving grace…

Beer must indeed have helped to make the contribution of East Midlands organiser Geoff Dickens more palatable.  Fresh from his rousing turn at a Leicestershire BNP meeting, he again enlightened his audience about the danger of cultural marxism.  Rather than worrying about the international red conspiracy, perhaps Geoff should turn his mind to the fact that his region is owed almost ten grand by party central; reckon you’ve lost that forever to Nick Griffin’s fish-and-chip fund, Geoff.  Can you blame “the marxists” for that?

We look forward to the next installment of “Carry on Derbyshire BNP” with relish!

 

 

 


Jan 31 2012

Leicester EDL march: route announced

The EDL will be meeting from 11am on Saturday 4th Feb for their Leicester march. The muster point is St Margaret’s Pastures, just outside the ring road. The march will start at 12.30pm when they’ll go onto St Margaret’s Way, Burley’s Way, Abbey St, right onto Belgrave Gate, then Church St and back to St Margaret’s Pastures where they will be allowed a static demo for a limited period of time. Pubs in the city centre are being discouraged from serving alcohol for the duration.

The route of the march goes perilously close to the Somalian area of St Matthews, a likely target for fascist trouble making on the day. Leicester Police’s Rob Nixon, who patronisingly told the local Asian community to leave it to him last time, is in charge again. We do not have any confidence that this idiot or his colleagues will defend the local community and call on anti-fascists to support the well organised community defence against this fascist invasion.

Meanwhile UAF are having a pointless parade at the other end of town, proving once more that they are more interested in self-promotion than actually helping to defend communities.

The EDL have been making their intentions clear on Facebook. Leicester Casuals United have said that “We will not be meeting in the town centre as we refuse being herded like cattle for the day, we will go where we want when we want” adding ominously “we have a good idea where we’re heading”. As EDL LGBT division leader Liam Woods put it “YAY WERE GONNA GET TO SMASH LEIECESTER UP”.

EDL LGBT division leader Liam Woods

The Leicester public are not impressed by this EDL invasion or the lockdown of the city for the day. Despite increasingly desperate denials and justifications from the leader of the Leicester Division, most have seen through the shoddy excuse for a fight with Leicester’s Asian community and wish the EDL would leave the city alone.

Obviously it takes a lot more than distaste to stop these fools. If we are serious about turning the EDL away, we need to be out in numbers in the communities they are likely to target on the day. It would be a good idea for anti-fascists to join the local communities of St Matthews and Highfields and make sure that the fascists do not assault these areas. They shall not pass!