Thursday 14 June 2018

Football Lads Alliance and ‘Democratic’ Football Lads Alliance merge as Islamophobic street movement develops

DFLA supporters shout at anti-racists during a march in Birmingham

DFLA supporters shout at anti-racists during a march in Birmingham

The Football Lads Alliance and their erstwhile split, the ‘Democratic’ FLA, have merged after being cut out from the far-right street movement around Tommy Robinson.


Leading DFLA members have issued a statement calling for unity between the groups, which broke from one another over allegations of financial corruption.

Members of the DFLA accused FLA founder John Meighan of stealing money raised from merchandise sales and ‘charity’ drives to pay for foreign holidays and expensive brand-name clothing related to football hooligan culture.

But beneath the claims of financial impropriety were strategic debates about the direction of the Islamophobic street movement.

Strategic debates

Meighan had originally argued against being associated with Tommy Robinson – not because he opposed any of his racist views, but merely because he considered him to be damaged goods who had already been ‘tarred’ as a fascist.

The main force behind the DFLA’s formation were football hooligan firms from Chelsea, Millwall and other clubs, who have a long relationship to the far right and wanted a much more aggressive approach.

Leading members of the DLFA are tied up with the Chelsea Headhunters hooligan firm, who use the ‘death’s head’ symbol of Hitler’s SS, as their logo.

Chelsea Headhunters members are central to the DFLA and use the 'death's head' insignia of Hitler's SS as their logo

Chelsea Headhunters members are central to the DFLA and use the ‘death’s head’ insignia of Hitler’s SS as their logo

The Headhunters have a long history of neo-Nazism and violent attacks on the Left.

They also have had a relationship with Nazi groups like the National Front and the fascist terror organisation, Combat 18.

The Headhunters may still have links to loyalist paramilitary organisations in Northern Ireland, such as the Ulster Defence Association.

Chelsea Headhunters and Glasgow Rangers hooligans were involved in an attempt to attack anti-fascists during Tommy Robinson’s first ‘Day for Freedom’ event in Whitehall on May 6th. 

The merger is a sign of the strains on both groups as they’re cut out, for now, of the leadership of the Islamophobic street movement, currently controlled by bigger political forces which are more closely linked to Tommy Robinson.

The FLA had its back broken in Manchester in May, when a 600-strong Stand Up To Racism demonstration outnumbered their smaller racist demonstration.

While some of the FLA’s misogynistic supporters blamed its failure on the fact that it is led by a woman, ex-English Defence League ‘activist’ Pamela Brannigan, the truth is that pressure from anti-racists and the split with the DFLA had done huge damage.

But the DFLA proved that they are far from a spent force two weeks later, when they marched up to 2,000 racists and fascists through Manchester.

They carried placards accusing Labour of being a ‘rapist party’ and claiming that the rape of children is an ‘epidemic’ that ‘comes from Asia’.

Groups of English Defence League members joined the rally and chanted “O Tommy Robinson”, despite organisers promising that they would march silently to honour the victims of last year’s Manchester bombing.

The disrespect shown to the dead has caused friction within the DFLA, who, despite their Nazi connections, still want to present a respectable public face.

A bigger problem for the DFLA is the fact that they have been cut out of the leadership of the street movement around Tommy Robinson.

Angered by the organisers of last week’s Tommy Robinson rally refusing to allow them them a platform speaker or to take a leading role in the protest, some key DFLA members argued that their supporters should forego attending the event and attend a counter-protest against a pro-Palestinian march the next day instead.

Continuing threat

For now, the next key staging post for the far-right is the Tommy Robinson rally in Whitehall on July 14th. This event is organised by far weightier political forces than the DFLA who have backing from the international far right, including figures connected to Donald Trump, such as Steve Bannon and former London Breitbart editor Raheem Kassam.

The support from the American alt-right, which is an inspiration to many of those being drawn into the Islamophobic street movement in the U.K., shows how important the major demonstration being planned on June 13th against Trump’s visit to Britain is.

A huge anti-racist presence on the streets would be a blow to every racist and fascist in the U.K.

But the anti-racist movement must also use the campaign against Trump’s visit to build our forces for the demonstration against the British far-right the next day.

Furthermore, the ‘Football Lads’ continue to present a serious danger.
The DFLA is well rooted in some areas in the West Midlands, London and the North. They will look to build strength from the broader racist street movement organised around the figure of Tommy Robinson – possibly by calling local demonstrations.

The neo-Nazi elements at their core will use these protests to recruit to their vile ideology and plan attacks on the Left, trade unionists and Muslims.

The goal of fascists is to build a street organisation that can use violence and terror to attack the Left and minority groups – as is shown by the recent Nazi terror plots against Labour MPs and a gay pride event in Cumbria.
The entire anti-racist movement must now begin to mobilise against the Tommy Robinson rally in London on July 14th – but also begin to look more closely at the wider development of the fascist threat in Britain today.
See the Facebook event to counter the fascist demonstration in London on July 14th. 
Filip Dewinter (third from left), a leading figure in the Belgian far-right and apologist for wartime Nazi collaboration, spoke at the Tommy Robinson rally in Whitehall - but the DFLA were cut out of the event

Filip Dewinter (third from left), a leading figure in the Belgian far-right and apologist for wartime Nazi collaboration, spoke at the Tommy Robinson rally in Whitehall – but the DFLA were cut out of the event

 


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