Welcome moves against the EDL

26 August 2011

Great to hear that the police have formally applied to the Home Secretary to get the
English Defence League march on Tower Hamlets banned.

I’m something of a freedom of speech fundamentalist but this was an open invitation to violence.

I have had my differences with East London Mosque and believe that it is a pernicious political influence in the area. But there are many decent people who attend the mosque and no one deserves to
be threatened with violence by these extremist thugs.


Hats off to Hope Not Hate, the anti-fascist organisation, which has been lobbying hard to persuade the
authorities to see sense on this issue.

Oddly, Sunny Hundal at Liberal Conspiracy thought the march should go ahead. His
argument that EDL violence loses it supporters is very peculiar and I can’t believe he really means it, predicated as it is on other people being hurt or having their property damaged.

Dave Hill gives some good context in his blog. In particular he claims that
Lutfur Rahman, the mayor of Tower Hamlets, who has previously been a deeply divisive figure, has worked with his political rivals to bring the community together in opposition to the march. If
true, this is a welcome development.

Unfortunately, however, Hill makes the mistake of suggesting that the EDL has been influenced by journalists who have warned about Islamist politics in East London. He provides no evidence for this
line of thinking, which veers dangerously close to the nonsense touted by Socialist Worker. In an extract from a new book published
on Multiculturalism published in the Trot paper Dilowar Khan, the director of East London Mosque, has even made the outrageous claim that the EDL has been inspired by my journalism and that of
Andrew Gilligan.

This would be laughable if it weren’t so irresponsible.

For now, however, let’s be glad that the police have done the right thing and hope that Teresa May does so too.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • TheLastHeretic

    “I’m something of a freedom of speech fundamentalist”

    No you are not.

    People who, like me, believe in freedom of speech do not ever support these kinds of actions.

  • Matuecheese

    That’s a good idea, ban one of the few organisations left that represents the worries of a lot of people regarding immigration and Islam. These people have precious little representation now, pretty soon they’ll have none. The political elite are selling us down the river.

  • Anne Wotana Kaye 1

    Tower Hamlets Resident
    August 28th, 2011 2:32am
    Street signs are also written in the script which is used on the pamphlets advising on how to get full Benefits.

  • Tower Hamlets Resident

    Tower Hamlets, East London, Whitechapel is NOT a muslim area. They have no special claims. The march should go ahead to tell them that its NOT a muslim area to all the dunderheads in the council that think it is. If you take away people’s democratic right of protest then what should they do? A Breivik??

  • John.

    If the EDL really do set out to defend the English, especially the indigenous English, then they would be the first to do so for a very long time and should not only be commended for this but actively supported. Or is this the mark of an “extremist thug” in Mr Bright’s opinion?

  • I S

    Lutfur Rahman is a shining example of multiculturalism in action. He and his cohorts have transferred the worst aspects of election practices from their Third World cesspit to the UK. Postal vote fraud, intimidation of opponents, endemic corruption.
    You are a prime exponent of ‘doublethink’. How can you be a ‘fundamentalist’ regarding freedom of speech, while calling for a ban on one particular party expressing their views? Go back and read some Orwell and try to understand this time.
    Why is it that only the parties of the Right are suppressed?

  • Anne Wotana Kaye 1

    Alas, the name Martin Bright is an oxymoron.

  • Freddo

    “. . . he claims that Lutfur Rahman, the mayor of Tower Hamlets, who has previously been a deeply divisive figure, has worked with his political rivals to bring the community together in opposition to the march. If true, this is a welcome development.”
    So LR has persuaded his rivals to see things his way? That’s the way to make him less divisive. Agree with him.
    Why didn’t we think of that before?

  • Sigur

    ‘I’m something of a freedom of speech fundamentalist.’

    Clearly Martin, you are no such thing.

  • Richard of Moscow

    Thank you, Verity, for recommending this article on the CH Wall – it is indeed a classic.

    The EDL were not ‘inspired’ by Mr Bright. Rather, they know that their working-class roots (and a membership made of Englishmen of all skin tones and many different religions) will provoke a hysterical reaction from educationally-subnormal wimps like Martin Bright.

    “If this slobbering cretin (insert relevant hack’s name) soils his nappy and demands a ban of the EDL, then the EDL obviously can’t be bad,” is their logic.

    Flawless logic.

    And since he is totally incapable of supplying his hapless readers with any new, useful or accurate information, then describing himself as a journalist suggests severe delusions of competence.

    A quack for the hack is needed.

  • Hangmansknotinn

    Hats off to Hope Not Hate? Is this article a joke?

  • Baron

    Martin defines himself: “I’m something of a freedom of speech fundamentalist.”

    How could you say it with a straight face then go on advocating a ban on a march by an organization that’s legal. You mad, scared or what?

    Baron would disagree vehemently, but would have respect for you if you advocated banning the EDL, to stop them expressing their views publicly puts you in the worst possible category of hecks, shame on you, young man.

  • Archibald

    Mr Bright, you recently blogged (in my view in very bad taste) on a link you’d contrived between the shootings in Norway and the death of Amy Winehouse. I would suggest to you there would appear to be more of a link between the EDL marches and the Norway incident.

    Douglas Murray, writing in the Speccy with regards Norway, noted that “discussion has not always been as open as it should have been…conspiracies have all too often sprung up where frank public discussion could have cut them off at source… Most of what is said in open debate is not to everybody’s taste. But as John Stuart Mill argued in On Liberty, we must hear contrary opinions. Firstly because what is otherwise kept from us may be true, or contain a portion of the truth, and secondly because if our opinion goes unchallenged then truth risks getting divorced from its rational roots and eventually becoming a dogma too feeble to sustain.”

    There have been three articles about the EDL on here recently, from yourself, Alex Massie and Fraser Nelson. While coming from different angles and reaching different conclusions, there are two things that are striking about all three articles:
    1. They are united in contempt for the EDL
    2. Not one of them mentions, addresses or attacks any policy or idea of the EDL

    It seems to me that it is time for you, Mr Massie and Mr Nelson to start the sort of difficult conversations that a ‘freedom of speech fundamentalist’ would have – the sort of conversations that free societies need to have in order to remain free. Surely between the three of you a cogent and rigorous argument can be made against them and their policies. That would be much more helpful than any opinion pieces on whether or not a group of right-wing extremists can march and no doubt then have a slanging match or worse with a group of left-wing extremists.

    So over to the three of you, if you are up to the challenge. Dissect these extremists idea by idea for all to see and start giving us hope, not hate.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    The picture illustrating this blog shows a fascist member of the UAF pulling the shirt of a member of the EDL. It doesn’t show any violence on the part of the EDL, rather on that of the UAF.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Shame on you, Martin. It appears a Police State is all right by you as long as it is a leftie police state.

  • Erica Blair

    For Bright to claim that his obsession with ‘Islamism’ hasn’t been noticed by the EDL is a joke. The EDL link to his and Gillingan’s articles in their attack on Ken Livingstone. The proof is here.


  • Winston

    I’ve never attended a march of any sort. However, I have done my own research on the internet. The EDL clearly attract a small number of nazi types, but they have made strides to get rid of them and their message is clearly anti-racist. I watched the Police documentary on C4, which featured one of their marches. Most of the trouble was from the anti-fascists/marxists and a number of them were arrested for violence. Personally, I think the EDL are targetting the wrong areas and should be marching in Hampstead, Islington, at the BBC, etc. They should be making a racket outside the homes of the white middle-class elite who are responsible for the issues which concern them.

  • Anne Wotana Kaye 1

    Oh dear, oh dear, pass my smelling salts, I feel the vapours coming on. EDL! EDL! Must make sure Cameron and his cronies get them banned. Long live the Bullingdon Club!

  • Jethro Burns

    Quote from Alex Massie:
    Speaking of the Black Shorts, there are two ways of dealing with the English Defence [sic] League: ruthless suppression or equally ruthless public mockery. So, with all due and deserved respect to Brother Bright I’m unpersuaded that it’s possible to be a “freedom of speech fundamentalist” and support banning the EDL’s proposed march through Tower Hamlets.

  • John Hall

    The Aldermaston CND marches went through a great deal of the retired colonel belt on their way to Central London. This was obviously provocative and caused a risk of violence. They should have been banned! In fact, let’s ban all marches. they all carry some risk. If there’s an automobile crash, let’s ban all cars. Ban everything that doesn’t conform with my perfect little world.

  • Sean

    Perhaps Martin can act as our moral guide and inform the nation what it is acceptable to protest against and what is not.

    Perhaps he would also like to inform us what is acceptable to think. We will then be able to live in a happy if not free environment.

  • Haldane

    I’m uncomfortable with all of these blogs on the EDL. Many seem to say that the only reason they don’t want the organisation banned is solely because the outlawing will further thier cause. Bright disagrees. None seem to overly care about rights to demonstrate or protest.To fully understand what Mr Bright means by the phrase “freedom of speech fundamentalist” I would recommend that you all read ‘About Martin Bright’ at the top of his Spectator blog. You may then judge that his is the standard Guardian viewpoint that this fundamental freedom is limited to those that they agree with or, at a push, those that don’t offend them too much.
    You add this to the Editors confession that he previously liked the EDL banned from marching, and you begin to wonder what has happened to the core values of the magazine.

  • Jethro Burns

    It’s a shame to see you joining those demonising the white working class. Their marches are miles more peaceful than those student protests when middle class students were smashing windows, attacking cars, lighting fires, swinging of monuments, throwing stuff off the top of buildings with murderous intent, etc. Thuggish or what! Far right, far left or just far gone. The main ones causing the trouble during EDL marches are the opponents. You are all for freedom of speech!So should we stop Salman Rushdie writing because some people don’t like what he says? You are starting to sound a bit like Shirlie Williams.

  • Nick Kaplan

    I presume this means that you will be supporting a ban on any further student marches vis-a-vis EMA and tuition fees given their tendency to descend into violence towards people and property…

  • Bill Rees

    Is the EDL made up of “extremist thugs”?
    Unfortunately I have no idea, because I haven’t read their website, or been involved in any of their demonstrations. I did see someone called Tommy Robinson being interviewed by the condescending Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight a month or so ago. Paxman was determined to hang the ‘extremist’ tag on Robinson, and I thought he coped quite well.
    So I am an agnostic, as far as the EDL are concerned.
    On the other hand, I do share their apparent distaste for some fundamental aspects of Islam, and I suspect that much of the British population would also have that view.
    While I don’t believe that anyone should necessarily have the right to march on any issue through any district regardless of the consequences, I don’t believe that a march should be cancelled simply because it might ‘provoke’ violence.
    That gives far too much power to the groups that claim to be ready to counteract a demonstration with violence.
    And it seems to be happening in this case.
    I would be surprised if some thugs didn’t latch onto an EDF demo, given the nature of these things, and the EDF should be expected to control these people. But I don’t think that is a sufficient excuse for not allowing this march to take place.

  • Lindsay McKeown

    Martin, a lot of them ARE just nasty, viscious, racist thugs! Attend any counter edl protest and see for yourself!

  • Lindsay McKeown

    True, Axstane. But we should work towards banning other marches that are deliberately inflaamatory like the Orange Walks in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Trouble is any law to combat inciteful marches could be abused or politically corrected to the point that peaceful demos may be targetted even more than they are already. I would urge you to go on an anti edl rally and witness first hand the violence, aggression, lack of reason or informative thinking, stone throwing, spitting and vile vitriol that is often spouted by edl supporters. Some of them are just misguided and sad though.

  • Jack R

    The EDL is opposed to the Islamisation of Britain, to continuing mass immigration, and to e.g. ‘cover-ups’ of Muslim sex gangs.

    It is incorrectly presumptuous for you, Mr Bright, to dismiss, and want to ban the EDL because of your pre-judgement that:

    “no one deserves to be threatened with violence by these extremist thugs.”

    Out of ‘journalistic’ interest, I observed an EDL demo of about 2,000 people in Blackpool, which was supporting the local parents of a murdered girl earlier this year, and witnessed no violence, only boisterous solidarity with the victims of a crime.

    I take the EDL as I find it; and, regarding its website, I apply my own critical evaluation, not out-of-hand dismissal.

  • disenfranchised

    martin bright, look to your soul…..

  • Reconstruct

    You say you’re something of a freedom of speech nut. I have news for you: you aren’t.

  • normanc

    It seems to me that the violence is a by-product of the EDL marching, not them setting out deliberately to hurt people and harm people.

    I don’t think it’s quite as black and white as saying ‘EDL are nasty racist thugs therefore they shouldn’t be allowed to march’.

  • Axstane

    Much as I despise Fascists and neo-Fascists this police action makes me uneasy. All sorts of groups are allowed to march through our cities and those include marches that will inevitably result in physical confrontations and property damage.

    Many of the marches are deliberately provocative and often offend local residents or religious sensibilities yet they are allowed.

    To single out even the odious EDL for a ban appears to be an unbalanced decision.

  • Konnu

    Dave Hill is quite right to suggest the EDL has been influenced by journalists such as Gilligan, as the EDL frequently refers to outpourings of Gilligan et al as proof of a Muslim threat. The truth is neither laughable nor irresponsible.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here