Socialist Worker

Join the protests against the Football Lads Alliance

Issue No. 2601

On a protest in Birmingham

On a protest in Birmingham (Pic: Geoff Dexter)


Two dangerous racist groups plan major mobilisations in coming weeks. They need serious opposition on the streets.

Nazi poster boy Tommy Robinson—former leader of the English Defence League (EDL)—has called a far right gathering in Hyde Park in west London for Sunday 6 May.

The protest is an attempt to regroup the forces of the far right in Britain under the guise of defending “freedom of speech”. It’s becoming a magnet for every far right supporter, with alt right blogger Milo Yiannopoulos flying in from to the US to speak.

The racist Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) and Veterans Against Terrorism (VAT) groups plan to march on Speaker’s Corner. They are then likely to march together to the head office of Twitter.

Populist

Alarmingly, their involvement will mean a coming together of fascists and supporters of the racist populist Ukip party.

It’s crucial that large numbers turn out on the Stand Up To Racism (STUR) and Unite Against Fascism counter-mobilisation.

Another group, The Football Lads Alliance (FLA) plans to march in Manchester to target Muslims.

Mobilise against the racist far right in Manchester and London
Mobilise against the racist far right in Manchester and London
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When the FLA began marching last year, its leadership aimed to build a racist street movement. Now it is openly working with fascists.

Anne Marie Waters was the main speaker at its last mobilisation in Birmingham and will be joining them in Manchester. She was judged too racist even for Ukip—and is now leader of the far right For Britain party.

Founder John Meighan quit the FLA last week to “refocus energies into his personal and professional life” and handed control over to a “new admin team”. The new admin team regularly posts videos and content from Nazi Tommy Robinson.

And it includes a former member of the fascist EDL now in a group called the Stoke Infidels.

It is vital that large numbers oppose these marches on the streets by joining counter-demonstrations called by STUR and Unite Against Fascism. When racist and fascist groups march, their aim is to take control of the streets. They want to turn town centres into no-go zones for Muslims, migrants and anyone else who opposes them. Taking to the streets to stop those groups is the only way to make sure they fail.

For details of the SUTR and UAF mobilisation in London go to bit.ly/6Maydemo 
For details of the SUTR and UAF mobilisation in Manchester go to bit.ly/19Maydemo

The far right may be splintered and nasty but it is also trying to regroup

Anti-racists can cheer at the fact that the racists have already fallen out.

The DFLA split from the FLA after a row over money with the leadership around John Meighan.

It’s a signal that their organisations are unstable. But that instability can make them more dangerous—and doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll collapse.

A reconciliation between the FLA and DFLA could be on the cards now that Meighan has resigned.

A post in the FLA’s secret Facebook group after Meighan’s resignation said, “We would love as many DFLA, Veterans or anyone at all to come and show support on 19th May.

“We will also support any event that the DFLA or Veterans put on.

Nazi Tommy Robinson got a warm welcome from the far right

Nazi Tommy Robinson got a warm welcome from the far right (Pic: PA)

This means the FLA could also support Robinson’s gathering at Speaker’s Corner in London on 6 May.“We have different events for each group so as long as we choose different dates we can support each other.”

And the DFLA and Veterans could also join forces with them on the march in Manchester on 19 May.

  • Tommy Robinson is treated like a celebrity by supporters of the Football Lads Alliance.

He is a Nazi who wants to build a fascist movement on the streets. Robinson is the former leader of the EDL and was member of the BNP.

Anti-fascists reduced the EDL to a rump organisation of hardcore Nazis compared to the thousands it could mobilise at its height in 2009. Since quitting as leader, Robinson has been trying to make a political comeback.

He sees the FLA and DFLA as a potential recruiting ground to rebuild a fascist movement.

  • The racist populist party Ukip is facing wipeout in the local council elections in England on 6 May.

In a dangerous new development, Ukip hope to rebuild by joining with forces with the DFLA on the streets. This could mark the beginning of a break with the party’s strategy until now, which has been solely focused on electoral politics.

Ukip and the DFLA are targeting towns where cops and authorities have failed victims of child sexual exploitation. They marched in Telford and Rochdale and are working together in the run up to the elections.

Ukip MEP Bill Etheridge in particular has appealed for fascists to join the party to make it a “real force”. In a Facebook live Q&A last month one user asked, “Why won’t you let former EDL members join?”

Etheridge replied, “As far as I’m concerned, come on board.”

And he boasted about working with the fascist White Pendragons. “I got grief when the Pendragons came to help me,” he said. “Thank you to the Pendragons for helping me and I share their views on British law.”


‘They are peddling racism’

Rabnawaz Akbar, Labour councillor for Rusholme in Manchester

We don’t need the FLA coming into our city peddling racism.

It is an insult to memory of the 22 people who lost their lives and hundreds who were traumatised in the Manchester Arena attack last May.

The FLA’s stated objective is that it’s against “extremism”, but it clearly has an ulterior agenda.

Even the Premier League warned stadiums that they are trying to further bigotry against Muslims.

There isn’t a single British National Party (BNP) council candidate standing anywhere in the country in the local elections this time.

That’s clearly a success. And the EDL has disintegrated.

But the FLA is an attempt to mobilise a street movement on a bigoted agenda.

If you look at its recent protest in Birmingham, former EDL leader Tommy Robinson got the largest cheers.

Everyone knows Robinson’s agenda. Anne Marie Waters, who also spoke, has similar views to him.

The Welsh Nazi Luke Pippin was there as well as the Pie and Mash squad.

They are trying to sow seeds of hate in our community.

But there is a Stand Up To Racism counter-demonstration on the day. It’s about mobilisation of unions, all communities, faiths and beliefs in Manchester to send the message—“We will not allow you to come.” We should say, “We’ll not let them walk through the streets and let them into our city.”


‘We need to get together’

Tara Higgins, Salford City Unison union member

We’ve got to call out the FLA for what it is—a bunch of racists.

When it comes to Manchester on 19 May instead of people staying indoors we all need to get together to celebrate our diversity.

It’s all to do with the Manchester Arena bombing last May. Manchester is such a diverse place and people by and large get on—and the FLA want to break that down.

I’ve seen for myself that they are a racist group. Over the last few weeks we have had constant racial abuse on our Facebook page, saying, ‘They all look the same’ and other stuff like that.

I think the FLA is using football to recruit.

I’ve even seen on its page people who’ve been drawn in and aren’t questioning some of what they’re writing.

We had a Stand Up To Racism organising meeting against the FLA last week and I think we’re going to have another one. It’s good to get some ideas out there about how we can promote our event.

We need to be speaking to all our friends who don’t know what the FLA is, and telling them it is a racist group.


‘Make clear our opposition’

Daniel Lewis, CWU union north west regional chair

Isee extremism in the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox and Mohammed Saleem. And I see extremism with the words that come out of Darren Osborne, who was responsible for the Finsbury Park Mosque terror attack.

We need be tackling it and not focusing on one race or religion.

Ending racism means smashing capitalism
Ending racism means smashing capitalism
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The FLA is a group of people who’ve caught on that people are angry, but they are being used to cover up blatant racism and fascism.

The messages and undertones of what the FLA is saying is about disunity in society.

If we go to the depths of what’s going on in the world, it’s about the neglect of working class people and anger about austerity.

But when you’ve got capitalist and far right leaders, they pick apart sections of society and turn them against one another while money bags is sitting on top.

We always have to make clear our opposition to racism. If you’re in work, down the pub, in church or at the mosque or synagogue, you’ve got to have an open conversation and take it on whenever it comes up.


‘Trump gives racists energy’

Rakhia Ismail, Labour councillor for Holloway in north London

The FLA is dangerous—we have to get people together and support Stand Up To Racism against it.

We’re meeting with Arsenal Football Club to talk about the FLA at the club.

The FLA is about Islamophobia—it’s the politics of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage.

The world of politics is in flux thanks to Trump. And that’s where the racists like the FLA get their main energy because he gives them hope that they can do it too in Britain. People are really fed up because of the destruction that Margaret Thatcher left behind. But they have been fed lies that refugees and asylum seekers are to blame. And groups like the FLA are fuelling it.

We’re seeing the rise of fascism right across Europe, the right is growing and building up alliances. So that’s where we need to build up alliances against them.

We will always combat them with love and peace—we do not need to go back to the 1930s or 1960s.


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