The leader of the English Defence League has turned his fire on students protesting against fees and cuts.
The EDL is an organisation of racist thugs, with links to the British National Party and other fascist groups. It has so far mainly targeted Muslims with its vicious racism and violence.
But in a speech to EDL supporters in Peterborough on 11 December, EDL leader “Tommy Robinson” – a former BNP member whose real name is Stephen Yaxley Lennon – issued a threat to student demonstrators.
His speech alternated attempts to whip up anti-Muslim hatred with attacks on the thousands of school and college students who have protested against fees and education cuts over the past weeks. He threatened:
The next time the students want to protest in our capital, the English Defence League will be there.
In terms that will come as news to millions of working class school and university students, he claimed:
You had students living off their dads’ f***ing bank cards who have never lived a normal way in their life. They do not understand what it is to be a working class member of this community.
And in a single scattergun blast, he lashed out at students, Unite Against Fascism and “communist scum”. His speech followed streams of hate directed at students on the EDL’s forums.
The speech signalled that the EDL is moving to broaden its targets. The racist thugs have largely attempted to build by attacking Muslims – and other black and Asian people.
In towns including Dudley and Stoke, EDL supporters have run rampage, attacking people, homes and shops. They have also attacked Mosques and a Hindu temple.
Fascists within the EDL have been trying to “harden up” the organisation’s supporters and push them towards other traditional targets of fascism, including trade unionists and socialists as well as ethnic minorities.
There have been a series of attempts to disrupt antiracist and left-wing meetings, an attack on Swansea Trades Union Council’s annual May Day march and verbal abuse of the BA strikers. Now they are turning on students.
UAF national officer Martin Smith said:
Some people in the antifascist movement have argued that if the EDL comes to your town, you should stay at home, ignore them and hope they’ll go away. We think that’s wrong. There are fascist elements with a growing influence in the EDL – and if you give an inch to a fascist, they’ll come back for more.
First they come for the Muslims, then it is trade unions and the socialists, now it is students. We need to unite and stand together – and oppose the EDL. When they attack one community, it’s an attack on all of us. And we should remember that if we all come together and stand united, there are many, many more of us than them.
UAF is organising a major demonstration to oppose the EDL in Luton on Saturday 5 February. The EDL was formed after thugs in balaclavas ran through the town attacking and intimidating local residents.
Mobilise for Luton
But where antiracists and antifascists have mobilised to oppose the EDL, such attacks have been prevented. That’s why we are urging every antiracist and antifascist, trade unionists and students to organise transport to Luton now.
The need to stand together against the racists and fascists of the EDL is greater than ever.