The Death of the EDL – But What Were They Defending Again?

The departure of Stephen Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, aka Paul Harris, his right-hand man Kevin Carroll and an assortment of other ‘leading lights’ from the English Defence League has been regarded by most pundits as something of a surprise. Lennon, citing an inability to control ‘extremist elements’ within the EDL, now intends to abandon the modus operandi of street protests and casual violence in favour of what he describes as ‘more democratic’ ideas. It surely signals the end of a movement that rapidly became a shit-stain on the cultural landscape, a magnet for soccer hooligans and neo-nazis, and every bit as extreme as the toxic form of Islamism it claimed to oppose.

Then again, it’s hard to imagine that anyone forming a group like the EDL would foresee it turning out any other way than it did. As a ‘pressure group’ that did not actually contest elections, their plain-speaking anti-Islamist message was simple enough to grasp. However, unlike with most ‘pressure groups’, I never quite understood their vision of how Britain needed to change, what mainstream politicians actually had to do in order to ‘defend’ whatever needed ‘defending’. Was the truth too ghastly to say out loud? Or did their political activities merely become a day out for the casuals and self-identifying members of the ‘disenfranchised white working class’?

It was quite obvious from seeing the familiar pattern of EDL battles with Unite Against Fascism, themselves an altogether different assortment of nutjobs, that the fighting between them was choreographed and pre-arranged, as is the case with rival football firms. Lennon never condemned violence amongst his members precisely because this was what most of them had signed up for, perhaps understanding the tendency of officially non-racist, civic nationalist outfits to fall between the cracks and quickly become irrelevant. Regardless of whatever his personal message might be (and we’re probably about to find out) it was clear as day that he needed the extremists far more than they needed him.

But it was not just the utter pointlessness of the EDL that I found striking. It was also the rather ludicrous narrative of a ‘muslim community’ that knows each other’s every move, where even if you’re not a would-be terrorist, or member of a paedophile gang, then you must at least know who is, and have a duty to either sort it out within that ‘community’ or involve the law. As a Protestant who knows quite a few Catholics, I can confirm that the identity of Real IRA members, or various loyalist loonies and their bigoted factions, their full names, addresses and details of their activities, remain as elusive as ever. Honestly guv, it’s not like we haven’t been trying to find out…

So why should a homogenous block called ‘British Muslims’ be expected, or if we’re being honest, assumed, to know any more about what each other are up to? I won’t go down the tiresome road of boasting that ‘some of my best mates are muslims’ as Lennon occasionally has, but I’ve known several quite well. One I remember quite famously from a series of nights out in my late teens that I remember more of now than I actually did at the time – let’s just say that he and his ‘devout faith’ had something of an open relationship. We supported the same football team, loved and hated much of the same music, found over time that what we had in common far outweighed any differences, particularly after a few beers.

Looking back, it all seemed like quite an ‘English way of life’ to me, precisely the sort that the English Defence League seemed intent on, er, defending. From exactly what, it’s hard now to tell. I mean, if there is really just one ‘English way of life’ then someone had better explain to me exactly what it is, why it’s so superior to all other ‘ways of life’ and their noble reasons for wishing to impose it on the rest of us against our will. Although it may shock a few people, the vast majority of us are against terrorism, paedophile gangs and any suffocation of human rights in the name of culture. So, did the EDL stand for anything beyond the blatantly fucking obvious? Was there a profound message here that some of us just didn’t understand?

I appreciate the irony, and hope never to have to talk about that shower of shit again – take it easy.

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8 thoughts on “The Death of the EDL – But What Were They Defending Again?

  1. I think you are wrong about Lennon/Robinson (something very odd about people who go about their business under multiple names). He may be wrong, but he speaks quite articulately and in a clear way that his target demographic can understand. Lots of young people on Twitter last night were saying stuff like ‘Tommy Robinson talks some sense’. These were often people who had never heard of the EDL and were clearly not involved in any organisations. Even though they may not agree with all of his message, at least some of it appeared to be persuasive. I find it incredible the way that Jeremy Paxman sat back and let him rant for 10 minutes while barely challenging him on his views and behaviour. Instead, Paxo sat back with an incredulous look on his face as if to say ‘this guy is pretty good’.
    So I don’t accept that he needed the EDL more than they needed him. With him being the only member who could string a sentence together, he gave them a raison d’être, leadership and a vestige of intelligibility. This probably prevented them descending into factionalism and and possibly even stopped the group being banned altogether. Since he has not been around they have in fact splintered into several groups and lost focus. I suspect the EDL may not exist for much longer, which is a shame because they provided a useful focus of left wingers’ ire, someone to tut at when they got pissed, sang football chants and made Nazi gestures.
    Unfortunately I feel Robinson’s message (to his target audience) can only be enhanced by him appearing to become more moderate, while getting his message across by being invited to talk to the mainstream media, rather than simply being reported on. A bit like Nigel Farage, if you like

    • Thanks for the detailed reply. I think a nationalist street army without the cocktail of menace and racism is pretty much doomed to fail. Whatever Lennon may personally believe, he needed these people to get where he did – yes he gave them a focal point, but then there were plenty of other outlets if he wasn’t around.

      Although i still find his worldview rather mad, my suspicion is that Lennon probably does not share the neo-fascist sympathies of some EDL members and has quit for the stated reasons. Problem for him now is remaining relevant without the private army he depended on for so long. What does he do, join the little Englander wing of UKIP or the English Democrats?

      Speaking of UKIP, it’s hard to dispute Farage’s skill as a political operator – total charlatan, but that’s another question.

      • Mr Pearce
        unwaith eto, fi wedi cael y anffawd i ddod ar draws eich ymgais pathetic ar fod yn newyddiadurwr, gan ledaenu’r gosple o gysur a diogelwch eich ystafell wely tra yn ôl pob tebyg yn dal i sugno ar eich mamau bron.
        Pam ydych chi’n parhau i dyllu y pants off pobl yn eich blogiau hunan gyfiawn am bethau nad oes gennych unrhyw brofiad o. chi yw’r llwfrgi bysellfwrdd Saesneg nodweddiadol
        cudd behing chi pregethu drws ffrynt i’r màs am y pethau yr ydych yn rhy ofnus i fynd i’r afael mewn gwirionedd, Do ni i gyd o blaid ac yn BLOG ODDI!!!!!!!!!!!! a. Gyda llaw fi wedi cael golwg glir drwy’r coed at eich desg.

        Owain Glyndŵr

  2. Mal – thanks for confirming it was indeed written in welsh, and then translating.

    Was quite impressed to find an EDL sympathiser who was fluent in a foregin language – most find English difficult enough, and communicate with each other through a mixture of head-butts and loud grunts.

    So, to realise it was a cut/paste/translate effort was disappointing.

    Shithead, do you not recognise the irony of calling someone a coward…in a foreign language? Or are you just fucking retarded?

    For what it’s worth I’ve seen them in action, as you will no doubt have done on numerous occasions. When UAF didn’t show up, they started scrapping amongst themselves FFS.

    You think they had a serious message do you?

    It never goes unnoticed that EDL types are constantly whining about ‘free speech’, but in reality they only want it for themselves…and people who agree with them.

    If they and the Islamist crowd want to bludgeon each other to death while leaving the rest of us out of it, what’s the fucking problem?

  3. Con, connard, très articulé messieurs et vous Alude aux membres EDL étant inculte serments. Well well well je me suis demandé combien de temps il serait avant Fireman Sam semblait souffler de la fumée jusqu’à son ânon Protégé. Quelle paire de perdants.

  4. What’s up Mr EDL, run out of Stella at your local backstreet pub? I assume you come on here posting nonsense in other languages because your English is terrible. There are plenty of EDL Facebook groups you can hang out on you know where you’ll find lots of like-minded people with no education like yourself to talk crap with. Byeee!

  5. I think it’s fantastic when people show sufficient interest in learning another language to seek tuition, or at least use GoogleTranslate.

    Clearly, ‘Fireman Sam’ and ‘protege’ didn’t make it through the filter, so that last bit was just a case of filling in the blanks.

    If you think he ever wanted a ‘protege’ and;/or that I’m it, then you can’t know either of us particularly well.

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