Rod Liddle

The roots of the EDL

The roots of the EDL
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A few notes and observations on the English Defence League, which has gained a bit of prominence recently and is mentioned in Mel’s latest article in The Spectator. This is the organisation which turns up to Muslim demonstrations and does a bit of vigorous counter-demonstrating for itself; they then are in turn picketed by the witless, bedraggled red fascists of the UAF. (Perhaps we should form another group which pickets meetings and demos of the UAF).

The EDL is in alliance with, or is comprised of, or perhaps actually is, two previously formed predominantly anti-Muslim groups, The United British Alliance and Casuals United. Both of these groups are noteworthy in one respect: they are organized bands of football supporters. I well remember the UBA, back in 2005, touting for support (and indeed getting a fair amount) on the Millwall fans’ websites which I frequent. Their aim then was to “picket” mosques, although I don’t think standing around a brazier handing out copies of the Socialist Worker was what they had in mind. They seem to have disappeared altogether, which leads me to assume – perhaps wrongly – that they are one and the same as the EDL. Their members certainly LOOK the same. Casuals United (the name drawn from the football hoolie “casual” movement of the early 1980s) have also been quieter of late; the aims and aspirations and mission statements of the three groups are absolutely identical: avowedly non-racist, patriotic, anti-Muslim extremist, strongly pro British armed forces etc - and all seem to be drawn from the football terraces. There’s another group – March For England (MFE) drawn from exactly the same base and with exactly the same aims, which also seems to have drifted into abeyance. Contrary to most current thinking, there doesn’t seem to me to be an link, formal or informal, with the BNP. My suspicion is that they all of these groups are now, effectively, the EDL.

I think it’s rather sweet that our football hoolies are taking an active interest in politics. I do wonder if this recent politicisation is a consequence of the rather tame and sterile atmosphere at Premier League football matches, where policing makes it close to impossible to kick the shit out of opposing supporters and one is thus forced to look elsewhere for a bit of sport. However, their demonstrations have been remarkably pacifistic, if verbally somewhat antagonistic. Incidentally, the one columnist they all admire and link to on their sites is..... Melanie Phillips.  Though I don't suppose she'd have much time for them, of course. I've certainly never seen her down The Den in an SI jacket screaming "jog onnnnnnnnnn, you mug" (although it's something I'd pay to see.)