31 10 09 The English Defence League are holding a rally. The EDL is a nationalist, islamophobic organisation formed earlier this year and are widely viewed as racist. Most of their propaganda plays on misconceptions of UK foreign and domestic policy fuelled by the main-stream media. They claim to be standing up for the British armed forces, who are correctly criticised for waging an imperialist war of aggression against the populations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Many people view this as a weak excuse for a group of assorted xenophobes to promote their cause.
A counter-demonstration has been organised by Unite Against Fascism (UAF), (The Red Faceist of The SWP) In the past in Britain (and still today in most other European countries) opposing fascism was considered a duty by almost all anarchists and socialists. Today, many (particularly within the British anarchist movement) have abdicated responsibility for taking on the fascists, and either ignore the issue completely, or at best seed responsibility to specialist antifascist groups such as Antifa. Opposing fascism is something ALL of us have to play a part in, particularly with the growing influence of fascist groups like the British National Party (BNP.)
Organizations like ‘Unite Against Fascism’ (UAF) and ‘Hope Not Hate’ would probably agree with the above premise. However, while many of their rank and file supporters may be genuine in their intent, the organizations themselves have no real interest in defeating organized fascism. The UAF is a front-group dominated and controlled by the Trotskyite ‘Socialist Workers Party’ (SWP) who are far more interested in selling papers and recruiting members than in effectively confronting the BNP. ‘Hope Not Hate’ were set up by the State-affiliated entity ‘Searchlight’, who tell us we can stop the BNP by voting Labour and helping to strengthen the tools of the State itself (i.e. new laws.) Both groups merely seek to manipulate and exploit antifascists, and arguably their stupid politics must take some of the share of responsibility for the rise of the BNP in the first place. At best they are a waste of time.
Antifa is a network of ordinary men and women opposed to the rise of the Far-Right. We work autonomously, but are united by a shared set of principles enshrined in our Founding Statement. If you support our position, you can get involved with one of our groups, or you could even set up your own. Ultimately however, we are not asking for people to join us; we are not asking for your contact details or for your money; we are simply asking for you to ACT.
While their true aims have not changed in the slightest, the BNP are trying to make the move from the shadows of neo-Nazism to mainstream politics. They are hiding their old swastika armbands under suit jackets and going out leafleting instead of petrol-bombing the homes of Asian families (leaving that kind of terror to their fascist allies and their ‘off-duty’ members.) They stand candidates in elections and regularly hold stalls in town centres around the country. Going public in this way however, makes them vulnerable.
Besides the BNP, there are other fascist groups who must also be opposed when they come out onto the streets. They are in many ways even easier to combat. In fighting organized fascism the only limits are our imagination and courage, even small numbers of people can make a difference.
Antifa however, also believe in organizing within our own communities against the spread of racism stirred up by everyone from the mainstream media to New Labour, and against the fascism of the BNP. Only by organizing in our own communities and workplaces can we hope to defeat fascism once and for all. In the white working-class areas where the BNP have already gained a toe-hold (primarily former Labour strongholds where people rightly feel betrayed by the mainstream parties and have been conned into seeing the BNP as some form of ‘radical’ alternative), as well as confronting the BNP physically, we should aim to challenge the BNP’s fascist politics and replace them with our own anti-racist, anti-state, and pro working-class politics.
These are desperate times for antifascists and all of us must play our part in taking on organized fascism. Antifa believe we have already shown on numerous occasions that a relatively small number of dedicated antifascists can score decisive victories. Most of our actions and activities go unreported, but the fascists know and fear us. Imagine what a difference it would make if there were thousands of us.
Who are THE EDL?
Tommy Robinson: Robinson – the name is a pseudonym – is from Luton and has emerged as the leader of the EDL in recent weeks. Close to Alan Lake, Robinson, 28, claims to be a carpenter and father of two. He established the United People of Luton to counter the protest of a group of Muslim anti-war protesters at the home of soldiers from the Anglian Regiment.
Jeff Marsh: A 44-year-old convicted football hooligan from Barry, South Wales, Marsh is a Cardiff supporter and has been jailed three times for violence, including a two-year sentence for stabbing two Manchester United fans. He claims to have a degree in criminal justice and has written a book on Welsh hooliganism. He set up the English and Welsh Defence League but appears to be less influential in the current EDL. He attended the protest in Birmingham.
Chris Renton: A BNP activist from Weston-super-Mare, Renton helped set up the EDL website. When his political links to the BNP emerged the EDL publicly distanced itself from him but he remains an important player behind the scenes. He attended the recent Birmingham protest. His brother is also involved.
Leisha Brooks: From Southend, Brooks appeared to play an organising role in the Birmingham demonstration, though she did have a pair of knuckledusters confiscated by police on the day. She is friendly with underworld figures such as Dave Courtney, Carlton Leech and Mitch Pyle, son of the gangster Joey Pyle, and also knows Jason Marriner, a Chelsea Headhunter hooligan made famous by the television documentary series, MacIntyre Undercover.
Trevor Kelway: A Portsmouth-based EDL supporter, Kelway has become a spokesperson for the EDL. In interviews to the press he has pursued the line that the EDL was a peaceful, non-racist organisation. The address he uses for the media traces back to an Afro-Caribbean hairdressers’ in Birmingham.
Davy Cooling: A 26-year-old known Luton football hooligan who now lives in Daventry, Cooling originates from Northern Ireland. He is a BNP member and registered his interest in attending the BNP’s Red, White and Blue festival in August. Cooling administers the Luton EDL Facebook page.
Joel Titus: Aged 18, Titus is of mixed race and comes from Harrow, North London. He is an Arsenal supporter though attends Brentford home games. However, he boasted on his Facebook page that he took part in the recent West Ham and Millwall clashes. He has been able to draw in Arsenal and QPR hooligans to EDL activities. He runs the English Defence Youth and is paraded to the media as proof of their non-racist agenda.
Richard Price: An Aston Villa fan, Price was a leading figure in the most recent EDL protest in Birmingham. Aged 39, he claims to be subject to a football banning order and has served time in HMP Ranby. He has attended EDL protests in Birmingham and London.