EDL

The need for maximum unity

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Racists, fascists, Islamophobes and anti-Semites are on the move across Europe. Weyman Bennett outlines the strategies we need to mobilise effectively against the different strands of the right.

The UN anti-racism demonstrations on 21 March can become a turning point in the fight against Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, fascism and racism. The march comes six weeks before a general election dominated by debates around austerity and racism.

Tide is turning on racists in Rotherham

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Support is growing for a “People’s Inquiry” into the Rotherham sex abuse scandal.

Barrister Michael Mansfield QC has already agreed to help such an investigation after the launch of a trade union campaign calling for “Justice for the 1,400 – don’t let the racists divide us”. The justice campaign has been welcomed after the horrific extent of the abuse — estimated by the Jay report to be 1,400 victims over 16 years and so far only five convictions — shocked and angered people.

EDL down but not out

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The EDL has fragmented since it suffered a series of defeats at the hands of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) over the past few years.

Its leader, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (AKA Tommy Robinson), defected to an “anti-extremist” organisation, abandoning his former supporters. The motley crew that turns out at EDL protests has been reduced to a handful of thugs, many associated with old fascist groups.

Anti-racism: Two steps forward...

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Socialist Review spoke to Weyman Bennett, joint secreatary of Unite Against Fascism, about the Stand Up to Racism demonstration on 22 March and challenging the scapegoating of migrants.

The 22 March European-wide anti-racist demonstrations are very important for socialists and anti-racists. Over the past 40 years there has been a migration of people from the Caribbean, south east Asia and Europe into Britain. They brought the flavours and sounds of their communities and have integrated into the working class.

Stopping the BNP and EDL: Strategy of patience and small deeds

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Paul Sillet, UAF national campaigner

When the EDL first emerged in 2009 we thought, "What is this new beast?" We noticed that there were former BNP, Combat 18 and National Front types around the demos, if not necessarily on them. Those on the demos were mainly from the "firms" - football supporters involved in inter-club violence - and others.

The EDL were attracting supporters to the prospect of launching mini pogroms in places like Luton and Dudley. At the time we were facing a possible BNP electoral breakthrough alongside a growing fascist street movement.

'We took a risk, and it paid off'

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Leicester was one of the turning points in the battle to stop the EDL. It was to be the first major UAF demo built locally, despite facing a national mobilisation by the fascists. At the time it represented an attempt to turn the EDL strategy on its head. Instead of them leaving behind local groups, UAF would use the opportunity to put down deep roots.

Leicester had been trying to get a local UAF group running for a while. We had managed to get a number of people to some of the national mobilisations against the EDL, as well as days of action against the BNP. We that knew sooner or later the fascists would target our multiracial city.

When the EDL announced they would march on 9 October 2010 we assumed that there would be a national UAF mobilisation. But we received a call from the UAF national office telling us that we had to build a local demo. Our first reaction was, "You've got to be joking!"

'A victory that came from unity'

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Dean Harris and Natasha Munoz, Waltham Forest UAF

Dean: 'As soon as we discovered that the fascists would come to Waltham Forest we called a meeting and invited everyone we could. No one was to be excluded. We wanted it to be as broad as possible, even though there were others who disagreed - especially some people who wanted to exclude the Labour Party as they accused them of implementing austerity.

To us it was clear that we needed to build a big movement, despite any other disagreements. It was a big advantage to have Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy with us. She played important role in the campaign.

'EDL are splintering and demoralised'

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Kelvin Williams, UAF photographer

When Tommy Robinson and Kevin Caroll announced they quit the EDL it was greeted with acrimonious disappointment by the foot soldiers. The constant opposition they faced was the chief factor in them drawing the conclusion that the street movement was no longer working.

Anti-fascism and the spirit of the united front

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In this special feature Socialist Review sets out the challenges and strategies faced by the anti-fascist movements in Britain. With contributions from activists involved in the struggle here.

The declaration by Tommy Robinson and his cousin Kevin Carroll that they were abandoning the English Defence League (EDL), the street organisation they had founded, marked an important milestone in the struggle against fascism in Britain. Robinson had led one of the most successful fascist street movements since the National Front in the 1970s, a model emulated by dozens of "Defence Leagues" across Europe. His resignation marked the movement's demise, and follows the electoral collapse of the Nazi British National Party (BNP).

One, two, three, Tower Hamlets

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The English Defence League (EDL) suffered a significant blow last month when they attempted to march through the heart of Tower Hamlets in East London. Instead of being a day spent intimidated the local Muslim community and its allies, the EDL found itself unable to set a foot inside the borough.

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