Fascism and the Football Lads’ Alliance1
05/07/2018 by socialistfight
By Turan Basri
Tommy Robinson, fascist, Islamophobic, pro-Zionist bigot
’The historic function of fascism is to smash the working class, destroy its organisations, and stifle political liberties when the capitalists find themselves unable to govern and dominate with the help of democratic machinery.’’
‘’The advanced workers must know that they will have a fight and win a struggle to the death.’’ Leon Trotsky
Concerned citizens, or a cover for racists and fascists? The Football Lads’ Alliance started out as football fans concerned about terrorism and Islamic extremism, however, it hasn’t taken too long for the leopard to show its spots with this group being openly racist, or covertly using ‘private’ forums to organise and communicate. The Premier League has warned football clubs over this groups rhetoric, which will undo all that hard work done against racism in football since the 80s, this is a throwback to those times when racists were rife at football grounds. Be under no illusions that this group already riven with infiltration are harbouring vile hard-core football thugs with links to groups such as Combat18 and the Stoke Infidels. The ‘Free Tommy Robinson’ demonstration in London on 9th June brought out 15,000 to 20,000 demonstrators consisting of a core element far right neo-Nazis, fascists and racists, the largest number of fascists ever to come together on Britain’s streets. We saw how continued harassment against the small anti-racism counter demonstration and the violence that then unfolded against the Police exploded.
The pitch of the DFLA seems to be that they are not like the EDL and not just another Islamophobic group, however any visit to their Twitter feeds, or some of the posts by ‘members’ on Facebook shows their true intentions. Stephen Yaxley Lennon aka Tommy Robinson is treated like some messiah, with Gerard Batten of UKIP recently announcing a recruitment drive endorsed by both the Veterans Against Terrorism and the Football Lads Alliance. Speakers such as Anne Marie Waters of the For Britain Movement are invited to speak at their rallies and to propagate their message of hate not only against Muslims, immigrants and refugees but also against the left, who they see as the main culprit and being responsible for the ‘decline in society’ and ‘British’ values. This group despite its claim that it opposes all forms of extremism, has harboured individuals like Frank Portinari, with links to the paramilitary UDA, and a convicted weapons smuggler to Irish terrorists being a member of Combat18, before being ‘expelled’ when called out.
Worryingly there is an internationalist element to this mobilisation, with people such as Steve Bannon (the architect of Trump’s presidential campaign) and Louis Aliot deputy leader of the fascist French National Rally sending messages of support to the recent DFLA demonstration in Whitehall. Bannon is attempting to organise a coalition of European movements. Geert Wilders was able to travel to the UK unhindered to preach his hatred at the event, even expressing his surprise at how easy it was to enter. Tommy Robinson’s alleged ‘appeal’ to his recent incarceration for contempt of court is being financially supported by Rebel Media and the Middle East Forum, both notorious Zionist supporters, the latter mentioned in the manifesto of Anders Breivik 18 times and claiming to also be funding the ‘Free Tommy’ demonstrations. Groups such as Generation Identity with their distinct yellow and black flags were prominent at recent rallies and cut through the nonsense that these mobilisations are not racist and fascist, with this group standing on a platform for myths of patriotism, tradition, and ethno-cultural (white, Christian) national identity. Attacking the left who are accused with conspiring with globalised business to eradicate white culture with mass Muslim immigration. Both Jeremy Corbyn and Dianne Abbott are the subjects at the forefront of their vitriol and witnessing far right demonstrators giving the Nazi salute and wearing t-shirts with the slogan “left wing scum off our streets” in Whitehall should leave none of us in any doubt as to the seriousness of this threat. This all come off of the back of Trump’s coronation into the White House in 2017, which has emboldened far right groups with Trump retweeting tweets from Britain First and Sam Brownback, the U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, complaining to the British ambassador in Washington about the treatment of Yaxley-Lennon aka Tommy Robinson.
Since 2007-8 at the time of the financial crisis, we have seen how far right groups in Europe pollute the political environment including here in the UK, with the Tories having taken over UKIP’s crown and using their thunder. This ‘creep’ towards fascism right across Europe, the US, Canada and Australia and gradual lurch rightwards does not involve strutting around in uniform with all the regalia associated with fascism, this would no longer be politically acceptable and would be suicidal. To even accept this traditional imagery as what fascism is places us into a false sense of security and is dangerous. Far right parties in established government in Italy, Hungary, Poland and Austria with populist movements spread throughout Europe are making political capital embracing a political mantra of being anti-Muslim, anti-refugee, anti-immigrant and pro-nationalist with politicians in suits using the rhetoric becoming mainstream both on the political stage and in the media as a whole. The EU has even resorted to the policy of shutting their borders and paying Turkey to prevent refugees entering Europe, all while people are continue to drown in the Mediterranean. Reading the UK’s Tory manifesto and watching their policies unfold with its ‘hostile environment’ towards refugees, and even deporting British citizens to the Caribbean on the basis of their skin colour, would be something that would make the BNP proud. It could be argued that the state doesn’t require boots on the ground to harass the working class and any remnants of organised labour, it has the full machinery already in its possession, introducing ever more powers to dismantle workers’ rights, prevent freedom of movement, and increasing surveillance of its citizens.
What do we do about this? Ignore it in the hope that it will be just another group that splits and disappears as previous groups like the BNP and EDL true to form had? No, this group has mobilised very quickly compared to the EDL and is using street marching to grow its numbers very rapidly, being a key feature of fascist street movements. This left unchecked would be a serious mistake. The first step is to highlight this group and expose its racist agenda and those associated with it, followed by meeting it on the streets. We must absolutely refuse these racists and fascists a platform and space to operate in, where they aim to recruit for their cause. The proponents of free speech either are naive, or deliberately distort the argument when supporting these fascists to have the right to mobilise and preach their hatred. These are the very same people who would then remove that right to minorities and the left, sometimes with the threat and act of violence. How do you have a rational debate with groups who are calling for forced repatriation, white ‘cultural’ supremacy and undoubtedly would be willing to carry out murder? It’s evident what these fascists stand for when they are seen chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” during the demonstration in London on 9th June. The subsequent “Free Tommy” and pro-Trump rally on 14th June, coming a day after over 250,000 people rallied against Trump resulted in Steve Hedley of the RMT being attacked while drinking in a pub by a group leaving him with head and facial injuries. This is a direct attack on the working class and remnants of organised labour. History has shown how street opposition is essential both with Communists in the Battle of Cable Street in 1936, and the SWP in Lewisham in 1977. On both occasions, fascists were defeated by the mobilisation of the working class. The subsequent formation of the ANL alongside with the ‘Rock Against Racism’ campaign, gave a broader appeal to a wider section of society in effectively getting the message across, which was crucial in undermining the National Front. Martin Webster (of the NF) admitted as much in court, while defending a libel claim after he made false allegations against the ANL. A united front is essential, unions play a vital role in mobilising the workplace in confronting this danger. To see how effective a united workforce can be, in 2012 the RMT refused to take the EDL out of Walthamstow on a train and threatened a walk out a Kings Cross station, on a separate occasion refusing to take them to a rally in Tower Hamlets, a heavily populated, predominantly Muslim area of London. It is essential that this message is put across in the workplace and requires workers, their unions and community groups to become involved in confronting this danger, the alternatives in today’s political climate do not bear thinking about. The anti-Trump demonstration on July 13th and anti-fascism demonstration the following day has now shown how effective numbers on the streets can be in demoralising their mobilisation. Despite their recent success in rallying 15 to 20,000 out on the streets and their ‘messiah’ still incarcerated, their numbers dramatically collapsed in London on 14th July when they tried to build on their recent successes. However, this cannot leave any of us complacent, there is still much work to be done.
Neoliberal economics and the increasing concentration of wealth to an ever decreasing minority have left the door wide open for fascists to penetrate the levers of government with the political void ready to be filled providing fertile ground for them to propagate their views. Be under no illusion that this is happening with politics being built on a platform of national values, race, family values, and a longing for the past and its imperial glories. Today’s politicians, whether previously New Labour or today’s Conservatives, are increasingly using race and immigration as a platform for the populist vote, pandering to the right when blaming immigrants in disguising their own failures which have led to the economic turmoil. Concentration of capital has left a society that is fragmented and splintered, this ‘atomisation’ is deliberate as organised labour would challenge their whole political doctrine and wealth accumulation, which their own policies are supporting. The capitalist crisis has resulted in people becoming disillusioned with neo-liberal economics and disenfranchised with mainstream politicians. This is resulting in polarisation, which while driving the politics and many people towards the right, also throws up opportunities. The working class are looking for answers and the Tories and others on the right are selling them a pup, which many are accepting. However, we have seen an increase in support for the Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, who now has a base of 560,000 members, who are desperate for change, where this goes is yet to materialise as we are in unchartered waters. This shows that many young people in particular are not looking towards the right for answers, it is this base that we need to look towards embracing for the battles ahead being vitally important that those of us on the left work to get this message across. We do not fight fascism by using, or accepting, the same arguments; it’s fought by providing the working class with a detailed argument that the fault lies squarely with the very capitalists who are exploiting them, how the politics of austerity and division are false narratives and show how a socialist alternative will work. The previous and current position of political parties on the left attempting to be a ‘broad church’ to gain everyone’s vote is not the answer, the understanding of why the system is collapsing and what radical change is required is the answer. People are looking for alternatives, and we need to ensure that those on the right are not the ones to hoodwink them into believing that they can provide them with the answers.
This article was amended on 17th July to include the recent anti-Trump and DFLA demonstrations.
Fascism and imperialism are enemies of humanity.