Around 200 people joined a racist march in Telford on Friday. The protest saw a crossover of supporters of the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) and the Democratic FLA.
The Democratic FLA has split from FLA founder John Meighan over money rows. But both groups are intent on whipping up hatred towards Muslims.
Telford in the West Midlands town seen police and authorities fail victims of child sexual exploitation. The FLA and DFLA are pushing the lie that abuse and sexism are problems specific to Muslim men.
The racist Ukip party gave a lot of support to the Telford protest. It sees the DFLA as an opportunity to rebuild its electoral base.
Ukip MEP Bill Etheridge told marchers, “I stand with you every step of the way.”
He is making open appeals for fascists to join Ukip so it can “be a real force”. In a Facebook Q&A ahead of the march someone asked, “Why won’t you let former English Defence League (EDL) members join?”
Etheridge replied, “As far as I’m concerned, come on board.” And he added, “I got grief when the Pendragons came to help me. Thank you to the Pendragons for helping me and I share their views on British law.”
The White Pendragons are a far right group that brought a gallows to a speech by London’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan.
The South Yorkshire branch of the far right For Britain party also came on the DFLA march. Its leader Anne Marie Waters was deemed too racist for Ukip. She spoke at a more openly racist FLA march in Birmingham last Saturday.
One woman marcher in Telford was wrapped in the White Pendragon flag. Another woman said she had joined the DFLA march because the authorities had “let our children down”. But outside the police station she heckled, “It’s not Asians, they’re Muslims.”
Mo Fyaz, an associate of Nazi Tommy Robinson, shouted, “It’s Muslim men from my community—I can say it, I can say it.”
Gurnak Singh was representing Veteran Against Terrorism (VAT) on the march.
VAT is run by right wing Christian fundamentalist Richard Inman, who believes “the entire Muslim religion is the antichrist”. Inman is also a supporter of Robinson, former leader of the EDL and member of the British National Party.
“There’s one community here, it ain’t Sikh, ain’t Asian, ain’t Buddhist—stop saying the word Asian,” said Singh. “At this moment in time, it’s the Pakistani community, this is where all this is coming from.
“I’m not saying all Muslims, but certain sects in this community not going right.”
The fascists see the FLA as an opportunity to rebuild a movement on the streets. The FLA and DFLA leaderships also want to build an Islamophobic street movement. And Ukip hopes to gain from it.
Norman McGuigan from the Veterans said to loud cheers, “Let’s get Mr Corbyn out.”
A small group of supporters of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) were on the streets of Telford to oppose the racist protest. It’s important that they were there.
Now the FLA has called a protest in Manchester on 19 May. The DFLA also plans to march in the city but hasn’t yet named a date.
Racists want to mobilise thousands onto the streets of Manchester in an attempt to regroup the forces of the far right.
The whole of the left and labour movement must take the threat seriously—anti-racists will have to mobilise against them in Manchester.
Organise now to stop racists building a street movement
The Football Lads Alliance and Democratic FLA aim to build a racist movement on the streets.
They split after a row over money with FLA founder John Meighan.
Two marches in Birmingham by the FLA and DFLA on 24 March appeared to show differences between the two groups.
On the FLA march people heard openly racist speeches from the far right. FLA founder John Meighan was overshadowed by former fascist English Defence League (EDL) leader Tommy Robinson, who got the loudest cheers.
Meighan has tried to shore up support within the FLA by playing up his support for both Robinson and Islamophobia. He was previously much more cautious about associating with Robinson and the far right.
Fascists always saw the FLA as a potential recruiting ground—and have grown in prominence within it.
Meanwhile the leadership of the DFLA remained largely careful in their speeches at the Birmingham march. They were at pains to appear more respectable, carried football banners and laid wreaths.
That DFLA leadership remained gaurded on the Telford march. Speakers relied on racist “dog whistles”, such as claiming that “political correctness” was preventing them from speaking the truth.
But the audience it pulled was clearly a crossover from both the FLA and DFLA marches. Gone were the football banners and wreathes.
Unlike Meighan, the DFLA has so far shied away from endorsing Nazis, but it’s clear that fascists see both offshoots as opportunities to grow.
While Robinson did not make an appearance in Telford, his close associate Mo Fyaz did and tried to shape the politics of the protest.
What the DFLA organisers and Ukip speakers hinted at, Fyaz said explicitly. He shouted on the Telford protest, “It’s Muslim men from my community—I can say it, I can say it.”
The DFLA’s racism is clear. They have tied themselves more closely to Ukip. Ukip leader Gerrard Batten spoke on their march in Birmingham and its Facebook page shares posts from Ukip and MEP Bill Etheridge in particular.
The right is in flux. Some within the FLA want to build a racist populist street movement against Muslims.
Fascists are becoming more prominent and see it as an opportunity to recruit into their ranks and build a street fighting force. We must not let the far right regroup.
For more go to standuptoracism.org.uk