An article in the Observer today by Jon Cruddas says: English Defence League is a bigger threat than the BNP:
A thousand English Defence League supporters protested in Leicester yesterday, the latest in a wave of anti-Muslim activity across the country.
Last week, 40 EDL followers protested for three days outside a KFC restaurant in Blackburn which was trialling halal meat. A fortnight before, 30 EDL followers in Gateshead held an impromptu demonstration outside a police station after six of their friends were arrested for burning the Qur’an; a similar number attacked a leftwing meeting in Newcastle. On the anniversary of 9/11, there were EDL actions in London, Nuneaton, Leeds and Oldham.
The EDL is a much bigger threat than the BNP, consumed by infighting and debt since its crushing defeat in May’s local elections. It also poses the biggest danger to community cohesion in Britain today. Its provocative marches, “flash demos” and pickets are designed to whip up divisions between communities and provoke a violent reaction from young British Muslims.
The rise of the English Defence League, Jon Cruddas rightly contends, is a result of increasing disconnection and confusion about national identities.
He says the left must get organised. True. But first the left must also recognise that national identities matter, and we’re going through a flux in identity, which gives rise to these people.
The problem, for me as well as people like Jon, is that we’re then faced with lefties who are uncomfortable with old-left notions of community and solidarity, and want to blame everything on capitalism.
So I’ll be intrigued to see where Jon Cruddas takes this. All this confirms the point I’ve always made: that identity politics (whether class or race) has been integral to British politics for centuries. The rise of the EDL is merely the latest reincarnation.
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Filed in: Race politics