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What now for the EDL, Tommy Robinson, and the far-right?

What now for the EDL, Tommy Robinson, and the far-right?

Tommy Robinson has decided to ‘step down’ from his leadership of the EDL due to ‘extreme far-right elements’ (the membership to you and me). The several thousand boneheads who regularly turn out for EDL events are not about to change their views, so what lies ahead for the ‘street’ elements of the far-right, Robinson himself, and far-right in general?

In 2009 Robinson created the EDL, he declared himself the leader, worked to establish the brand, held all monies, owned the web domains etc, and if rumours are to be believed – made a decent living through EDL merchandise.

His decision to effectively close down the ‘official’ EDL should not come as particularly surprising. He has toyed with ‘serious’ politics by joining up with the short lived British Freedom Party in 2011. It became apparent that Robinson had bigger plans than running a group of street thugs and was just using the EDL brand as a vehicle to gain exposure and to stroke his inflated ego.

Whilst Robinson may not be an ideological fascist, he certainly didn’t have any problems with extreme elements within the EDL when he was able to control or expel them. His leadership has become increasingly fraught with difficulties ever since the demonstration in Blackburn where he expelled several individuals who subsequently became the North West Infidels. Whilst he has fought tooth and nail for the EDL to gain some kind or respectability, the majority of his membership has wanted anything but.

Whilst he tries to claim his members are not Nazi’s, racists, or thugs, the behaviour of those members suggests otherwise. They didn’t join with the EDL to play nicely, that’s why the BNP haemorrhaged supporters, and why the EDL’s street movement grew so quickly in the first place. Many boneheads had become disillusioned with electoral politics since Griffin’s experiment with the ballot box and respectability had failed miserably, albeit following a promising start in 2002/3.

So what now? Well, Robinson and his ‘team’ will no doubt re-launch themselves as political moderates and will get stuck into next year’s local and Euro elections. Robinson is damaged goods by anyone’s standards and is likely to fail miserably. More of a concern is what happens to the thousands of people who travel up and down the country on EDL demonstrations. Whilst many of them may have got their first taste of far-right politics with the EDL I cannot see them disappearing back to their keyboards. What is more likely is that they are swept up by the various other far-right sects, such as the Infidels of Britain, English Volunteer Force, Casuals etc. I expect many of them to be disappointed as they will quickly realise how organised (don’t laugh) the EDL have been in comparison to their new bedfellows.

There may even be an attempt to re-establish the EDL with another leadership, although I believe that it would be doomed to failure. Firstly Robinson would attempt to scupper any such move (maybe using legal means), and secondly the average EDL supporter would realise how much money and organisation it takes to run such an operation (especially in the face of constant interference from the police and anti-fascists).

Interestingly Nick Griffin, who once labelled EDL supporters as ‘idiots’ and made the EDL a proscribed organisation seems to be changing tactics. Since the late 1990’s Griffin has changed his public persona to appear as moderate and respectable as possible. Swapping the street for the ballot box had some initial successes, real electoral influence seems as far away as it ever was. A quick read of Griffins twitter shows some changes. He is now advocating a ‘street’ anti Jihadist movement, encouraging EDL supporters to join the Infidels of Britain, and the English Volunteer Force – both groups are overtly Nazi and advocate the armed struggle. He has also taken to write letters to prison governors, demanding transfers for the 6 fascists from the North West who were jailed last month for an attack on musicians on their way to an anti-fascist gig. He labels them as ‘political prisoners’ yet seems to forget that they were on CCTV launching an unprovoked and vicious attack on a couple of people in a cafe (he also forgets that they pled guilty to all charges) So much for the BNP being the party of law and order. How does he expect to win the Daily Mail voters over by supporting actions like that?

As an aside, Griffin and the six jailed fascists from Liverpool/Blackburn should realise that political prisoners do not tend to plead guilty to the charges. Hilariously, despite being caught on CCTV ad pleading guilty, their supporters claim they are innocent, that there is a two tier justice system, and that there has been a miscarriage of justice.

Whilst it may not seem significant, Griffin is definitely saying and doing things that he would not have done over the last decade or so. It may be insignificant, but it also may signal a move back to the BNP of the 80’s and early 1990’s – which many in his party and wider far-right would support. Perhaps the thousands of EDL boneheads looking for a new home has come at the right time for Fuhrer Griffin. Whatever happens there will be interesting times ahead.

Posted By

working class s...
Oct 9 2013 16:32

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  • His decision to effectively close down the ‘official’ EDL should not come as particularly surprising. He has toyed with ‘serious’ politics by joining up with the short lived British Freedom Party in 2011. It became apparent that Robinson had bigger plans than running a group of street thugs.

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Comments

Sinburner
Oct 15 2013 15:20

Although this does bring some questions about the future of the EDL, I couldn't really get past the colourful language used by the writer. Not to nit pick, but this is almost like reading the North Korean News (which is a fantastic read if you can withstand the over powering bullshit). I really hope that this type of "Thug"politics doesn't become a thing in Canada, we have enough problems with Harper going China on us.

Serge Forward
Oct 15 2013 16:19

I quite like the language. It's accessible rather than colourful and didn't come across at all 'thuggy' to me. It's comment, not an academic text, and it's propaganda, so it doesn't need to show balance.

Tian
Oct 15 2013 16:39
Serge Forward wrote:
I quite like the language. It's accessible rather than colourful and didn't come across at all 'thuggy' to me. It's comment, not an academic text, and it's propaganda, so it doesn't need to show balance.

I think the comment was missing a line break. I read it as referring to the thuggish/ street politics of the EDL, not the blogpost itself.

wojtek
Oct 15 2013 17:06
Quote:
It became apparent that Robinson had bigger plans than running a group of street thugs

Isn't the problem their shit politics rather than them being 'thugs' cos I know you're not a pacifist? x

Ablokeimet
Oct 16 2013 11:08
wojtek wrote:
Isn't the problem their shit politics rather than them being 'thugs' cos I know you're not a pacifist? x

It's both. It's not just pacifists who object to thugs. I support the right to use reasonable force in self defence and I'm dead set against thuggery. The Anarchist movement can't grow out of the ghetto if it adopts the policy of "Our violence is good, your violence is bad".

working class s...
Oct 16 2013 15:12

I can only apologise if you found my language to be colourful. I will try and adopt a more monochrome style next time.

It is like reading North Korean News?? Wait till I tell you the one about a Unicorns lair being discovered in one of Tommy Robinson's sunbed shops!!

You hope that 'thug politics does not become a thing in Canada? - http://www.vice.com/read/neo-nazis-are-attacking-anti-racist-activists-i...

Shit politics yeah, but politics would be the last thing on someones mind when they are getting a slap from your average EDL bottom feeder.

PS I am definitely not a pacifist... but I do buy 'peace news'

the button
Oct 16 2013 15:42

Meanwhile, Mr Tommy has had his charge for obstruction dropped, dating back to his arrest in June.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/oct/16/edl-tommy-robinson-carrol...

Insufficient evidence, eh?

(I know I shouldn't be surprised, but this really sticks in my craw after one of my friends & comrades got nicked after the Thatcher death party, and was subsequently found guilty of obstruction for possibly* sticking his head through the door of a police van to see if another comrade -- who had also been nicked -- was OK).

ACAB, etc.

* "possibly" because the two police witnesses couldn't agree where he actually was or what he did. The magistrate got around this by saying that one of the coppers wasn't a credible witness, but the other one was.