The English Defence League
I think the investigations confirm my sense that it is wrong to call the EDL fascist; they are too heterogeneous and contradictory. Nonetheless, it is clear that they are an important focus for street violence, and are creating a climate that is increasingly devisive, as well as intimidating for non-white people. It is also clear their ability to mobilise people makes them a focus for fascist recruitment and potentially for fascist regroupment, especially given the on-going crisis in the BNP.
How to respond remains, therefore, a key question for the anti-fascist movement. Or, rather, the lack of a serious anti-fascist movement makes the question of how to respond particularly urgent. This urgency was dramatised by the EDL march in Newcastle at the weekend, which saw a poor response, which is very well analysed by Scottish Socialist Youth. Here's a snippet:
So what did the labour movement response to fascism entail? A couple of lonely union banners, shit music, some woman dancing with a hula-hoop, a few speakers and a shockingly low turnout of no more than 150 is probably the best way of summing it up. Outright lies as well – one speaker applauded the police’s actions while informing the assembled turnout of embarrassed looking trade unionists, confused onlookers and obscure paper sellers that the EDL had been ‘denied the right to march in our city today’. Surrounding the union rally was huge lines of police, which only served to alienate the public from the event, and either way, did not stop a leading EDL member, Joel Titus, from swaggering his way through the crowd earlier in the day.
Meanwhile, as the EDL began to assemble in the city centre, Unite Against Fascism were massing on a quiet road a couple of miles away. What followed was a stage-managed display of militancy, with angry chanting and plenty of talk of ’smashing’ the EDL, before the 500 or so protestors marched into a pre-arranged tight police kettle within what was just about shouting distance of the EDL. If you shouted REALLY loudly, that is. Which they did of course, not that you could even see the EDL through the thick lines of police, parked riot vans and so on.Meanwhile, the EDL are planning to march in Cardiff this weekend. The Walsall march on 19 June has been cancelled, partly because the mosque it was protesting against has been denied planning permission, not least because of large numbers of Muslims complaining that there are too many mosques in the area already!