Published on Sunday, 27 May 2012 12:56 Written by Sonia Gable
I was disturbed to read an interview with “Tommy Robinson” in the Asian Tribune in which the author declared that the English Defence League was not racist and accepted a whole raft of other claims more preposterous than any we have seen before from the EDL leader.
Glen Jenvey wrote that the EDL had “a whole unseen membership which was Asian and Black who don’t attend demo’s [sic] due to death threats from radical Muslims living in the same communities as they live in”. He claims that the EDL sent 25 Asian members to his home for a meeting who told him that “racist attacks on them were coming from Muslim groups who run mafia style gangs in every major British city in the name of Islam”. Really?
However the EDL would not attack these “Muslim terror gangs” because “we are a peaceful organization we only defend ourselves if attacked on demonstrations”, although the Asian members didn’t do that because “we as Asian members do not show our faces due to personal attacks and threats”. Presumably tanked-up EDL thugs fighting among themselves and throwing bottles and beer cans at the police in Luton, when there were no antifascists anywhere around, is their idea of peaceful.
Jenvey was “amazed at the grass root support of EDL and the British Freedom Party … [which] was made up of every race as they have a [sic] open membership which is not reported in the UK media”. Well I’m not sure what he means by open membership. Clearly the BFP cannot openly discriminate: that’s illegal and we saw what happened to the British National Party when it had a discriminatory constitution. But to join the BFP means supporting the treatment of “naturalised citizens” as second class. According to its constitution, the BFP would remove citizenship status from naturalised citizens who commit crimes, do not speak English or fail fully to integrate into British society, would abolish all equality legislation and would “ban all manifestations of religious, legal, political, social and cultural separatism” in the UK.
Even if you support all these admirably non-racist principles, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can join the BFP. You still have to submit an application in writing and admission to the party is at the discretion of the executive council. Not that open then.
As for the claimed huge support for the BFP, the party managed to scrape together only six candidates for the local elections on 3 May, who polled between 0.6% and 4.2%. The appointment of Stephen Lennon – Tommy Robinson’s real name, though Jenvey doesn’t bother to mention it – and Kevin Carroll, Lennon’s co-leader of the EDL, as joint deputy leaders of the BFP is not going to turn the BFP into an electoral force. Just imagine the EDL street thugs, even if they had the patience and inclination for electoral politics, persuading people to vote for them, and quite what contribution the EDL’s Asian members “working behind the scene” could make is anyone’s guess.
The EDL’s racism is clear from the nasty racist comments that regularly appear on EDL Facebook pages and tweets. But Jenvey was told – and seems to accept it uncritically – that “some accounts have been misused by Muslims and far left supporters posting remarks that have given the EDL a bad name in the media”. That wouldn’t explain Lennon’s own recent racist tweet, which also demonstrated a worrying attitude towards woman and children.
Whether Jenvey is incredibly naïve – in which case he should ask himself whether journalism is the right career – or has other reasons for promoting the EDL and BFP I cannot tell, though he is not the only one strangely inflating the BFP’s prospects. The Asian Tribune is published by the World Institute for Asian Studies, which includes among its aims increasing understanding of the Asian region. How an article such as this one can increase understanding of anything is beyond me.