Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott and leading trade unionists have raised concerns about the Football Lads Alliance (FLA).
The FLA claims “thirty to forty thousand” people will march under the banner of “united against extremism” in central London tomorrow, Saturday. The FLA will attract people with all sorts of different ideas, but it has support from prominent fascists and racists.
That’s why leading figures have signed a statement by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR), which plans an event outside Downing Street as the FLA marches.
Signatories include Diane Abbott, NEU education union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney, Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) CEO Shazid Amin and Ged Grebby from Show Racism the Red Card.
The Unison union’s policy committee has backed the SUTR event on Saturday. And the RMT rail workers union’s London Transport Regional Council passed a motion raising concerns about the FLA last month.
The SUTR statement said, “We are worried about the presence of speakers linked to far right, racist and Islamophobic groups on the previous FLA demo in June.
“We are concerned about the presence of speakers linked to the far right being given a platform again on the upcoming demonstration.”
Nazi Toni Bugle was one of the speakers on the march in June—and was billed to speak again this Saturday. But FLA founder John Meighan pulled Bugle from the line up on Thursday.
He made clear in the FLA’s internal Facebook group that this was for PR reasons. “We took some advice on the PR front in regards to our speakers and have to take advice from our advisors,” he wrote.
This caused a serious argument in the group.
Some supporters railed against “political correctness” and Bugle being “stabbed in the back by the FLA”.
Wayne Rapper Riley wrote, “I think your PR front advisors are being PC.”
Andy Loftus added, “It’s disgusting how she’s been hung out to dry by everyone around her … this is an example of how PC everyone is.”
Stephen Mullan said, “Socialist Workers Party dictating who can talk? Cowardly.”
Bugle is founder of Mothers Against Radical Islam and Sharia (Marias) and supported the fascist English Defence League.
Bugle released a message to supporters before a Marias rally in 2015. “I don’t care what you are, I don’t care if you’re Britain First, I don’t care if you’re English Defence League, I don’t even care if you’re National Front,” she said.
The FLA is still forming as a movement and could go in a number of directions. And Bugle being pulled from the line up shows that what anti-racists do can have an impact.
It’s right for SUTR to be out on the streets on Saturday.