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EDL join forces with BNP splitters

The British Freedom Party and the English Defence League has announced a merger reports Dan Edwards

THE FASCIST English Defence League (EDL) has joined forces with the British Freedom Party (BFP), a party headed by ex-UKIP member Paul Weston and mainly comprised of former BNP members who have jumped from Nick Griffin’s sinking ship. This is the first time the EDL has endorsed electoral candidates and demonstrates both the strengths and weaknesses of the group.

EDL demo numbers have been falling over recent months. Only a few hundred bothered turning up to the last national protest in Birmingham. Apparently, fascist thugs, out for a day of beating Lefties and Muslims, don’t take to being kettled by police in a car park. The more hard-core fascist members have drifted away from the organisation, or turned to splinter groups (North-East Infidels, North-West Infidels, Combined Ex-Forces, etc) and older fascist organisations such as the National Front, in an effort to build a new street army of the far right.

On the other hand, the EDL has also faced problems associated with portraying itself as a respectable and legitimate organisation. More moderate supporters have been put off by the violence of members (both during and outside of protests, and sometimes even directed against other EDL members), racist comments posted all over facebook pages and the excessive drinking on demonstrations. The new alliance is a chance for the EDL leadership to prove its ‘respectability’ by showing that it can campaign in mainstream electoral politics, while trying to engage their members in new areas of activism that are less demoralising than being penned in with a bunch of pissed skinheads beating each other up.

The BFP are also gaining from this union. Many of them are former members of the BNP (including notorious fascists such as Simon Bennett and Lee Barnes) that are unhappy at being in a group out of the media limelight. Partnering with the EDL has seen the BFP raise its profile, appearing in several newspapers and Weston was interviewed on TV. As well as being a publicity move, it is also an attempt to provide their new fascist project with electoral foot soldiers and street fighters.

Not surprisingly, however, there seems to be problems with the merger already, as rank-and-file EDL members don’t want to be manipulated by a few burnt-out ex-Griffinites with no chance of getting anywhere in the elections. A leaked online conversation between BFP leaders discussing how they could use the EDL’s periphery to their advantage and should keep hold of contact details once they registered to the party has intensified this mistrust.

However, no one should underestimate the potential of this new far-right political alliance. In the leaked conversation, BFP leader Peter Mullins talked about orienting towards the ‘proletariat’ (he immediately apologised for using ‘communist words’), whose anger with the current system is growing, as a way of bolstering the group’s support before trying to win over more of the middle class. He explicitly said that they need the EDL because of the numbers they can mobilise on the streets.

These are traditional fascistic ways of organising that emerge during a prolonged economic crisis; a weak left and inability of the unions’ leadership to launch a real fight back against the crisis compound the situation. With less workers being organised in the unions and more people being thrown onto the dole and into poverty, fascist groups could potentially grow off the back of attempts to blame foreign workers and trade unions for prolonging the crisis.
If we want to stop the fascists, we have to prevent their violence by mobilising on the streets and defending our communities, and we also need to provide a united left-wing political force that can organise against the government’s attempts to make us – the working class – pay for the crisis.

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