The English Defence League was planning to hold a demonstration in Norwich on 27 October, the primary purpose of which was to express solidarity with a notorious right-wing Christian Islamophobe, the Rev Alan Clifford, whose church has been refused permission to hold a stall on local authority premises after a well-founded complaint that it was distributing anti-Muslim hate literature.
However, having held a meeting with regional organisers to discuss the way forward following their organisation’s recent humiliation in East London, the EDL leadership has announced that the Norwich protest has been postponed and they intend to return to Walthamstow and hold a further demonstration there on that date.
In a video address aimed at rallying his now severely depleted troops, EDL leader Stephen Lennon has called for far-right unity in the face of the mass opposition that the EDL faced in Walthamstow earlier this month. Appealing to his critics to “let bygones be bygones” he states: “Everyone’s welcome back. We need every man that’s game going into East London on the 27th of October.” As a number of commentators have noted, Lennon’s new conciliatory approach to his opponents within the movement presumably includes split-offs from the EDL such as the Infidels.
The EDL have been whipping their members up into a state of fury over the supposed failure of the police to defend their right to “free speech” in Walthamstow. However, while some EDL supporters who didn’t make it to the last protest may be fired up by indignation at the treatment of those who did, this is unlikely to outweigh the demoralisation resulting from last weekend’s experience of a couple of hundred EDL hiding behind police lines, overwhelmingly outnumbered by the opposition. And even if the various neo-Nazi fragments like the Infidels are prepared to mend fences with the EDL leadership, as Lennon proposes, this will hardly bring in significant additional forces.
None of this should lead to complacency among anti-fascists, of course. We Are Waltham Forest, who organised the last hugely successful counter-demonstration, will also face a challenge in mobilising opposition to the EDL so soon afterwards. However, when EDL News describes the EDL’s intended return to East London as a “last throw of the dice” by a leadership that is now entering its death throes, it is difficult to fault that analysis.
Postscript: Meanwhile, Lennon has been treating his Twitter followers to his latest thoughts on Muslims and Islam:
And over at the EDL’s Facebook page, the announcement of a return to Walthamstow has prompted comments such as this, from the EDL’s South West Durham organiser: