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‘We won’t let the Football Lads Alliance racists divide us in Manchester’

This article is over 4 years, 1 months old
The whole left must take the threat of the far right seriously, writes Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue 2604
Opposing the FLA in Birmingham in March
Opposing the FLA in Birmingham in March (Pic: Geoff Dexter)

Anti-racists plan a protest against the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) in Manchester this Saturday.

The FLA is trying to use the one-year anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing to encourage Islamophobia.

Its leadership aims to build a racist movement on the streets—and the march is another attempt to regroup the British far right.

The demonstration follows a 4,000-strong “free speech” rally that brought together fascist Tommy Robinson, the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) and Ukip in London recently.

Around one third of the crowd was young and included supporters of Donald Trump and the alt right.

It’s crucial that large numbers turn out for the Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism mobilisation against the FLA on Saturday.

Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey and Unison union assistant general secretary Roger McKenzie are the latest union leaders to support Saturday’s anti-racist protest in Manchester.

Other supporters include Labour MPs Andrew Gwynne, Kate Green and Barbara Keeley, Labour councillors and unions from across the North West of England.

The FLA’s public Facebook page still claims it is not racist and that the organisation is against extremism.

These are blatant lies.


The FLA has linked up with the Democratic Veterans Party, led by former Ukip leadership candidate John Rees-Evans.

He proposed a repatriation scheme of paying British Indians and others with dual nationality £9,000 to leave Britain. This was modelled on a similar scheme by the fascist British National Party.

At the FLA’s last demonstration in Birmingham the star attraction was Tommy Robinson, the fascist former leader of the English Defence League.

Other speakers included far right For Britain party leader Anne Marie Waters, who was judged too racist for Ukip. As parliamentary candidate in Lewisham East, Waters said that the “the only evil we have legalised is Islam”.

The FLA is increasingly in crisis after splits among the leadership. Now is the time to deliver a blow against it.

And while it’s weakened, that doesn’t mean the danger of the far right regrouping isn’t real.

A substantial section of its supporters went with the breakaway DFLA, which plans to march in Manchester on 2 June.

The DFLA is acting as a bridge between the fascists and Ukip. After their wipeout in the English local elections, Ukip is looking to the DFLA as a way of rebuilding its base.

And Robinson sees the DFLA as a chance to rebuild his fascist project. The whole of the left must take the threat of the far right seriously and mobilise against it.

No to the FLA—don’t let the racists divide us. Saturday 19 May, meet 11am Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester

Two groups, same racism

The Football Lads Alliance was set up by John Meighan in the wake of the Manchester and London Bridge attacks.

The FLA’s first outing last June was a thousands-strong demonstration in London.

It has been on a right wing, racist trajectory since its founding.

It mobilised between 15,000 and 20,000 in London in October and around 2,000 people in Birmingham in March.

Fascist poster boy Tommy Robinson was treated like a celebrity on both demonstrations.

Meighan stood down in April amid splits and rivalries.

The Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DLFA) split from the FLA after a row with Meighan over money. But it shares the same racist politics.

Soon afterwards the DFLA organised a demonstration in Birmingham on the same day as the “original” FLA.

The DFLA has worked with Ukip to target towns where police and local authorities have failed victims of child sexual exploitation. They aim to push the lie that sexism and abuse are the preserve of Muslim men.

It mobilised around 150 in Telford and around 100 in Rochdale in April.

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