Share |

Monday, 25 June 2012

EDL Bristol Demo 14 July 2012: the Background

Bristol, to the best of my knowledge, has not previously hosted an EDL demonstration. In years gone by, the idea that Bristol would come to host a large Muslim population was unthinkable, but today that situation has sadly changed. In Totterdown a mosque has appeared, its minaret dominating the local skyline like a missile aimed at the heart of the city. The largest resident Muslim population is Somali. Estimates that have frequently appeared in the media claim that the Somalis could number some 30,000, whereas a Bristol City Council document published in November 2010 was of the opinion that the range was more likely to be between 6,600 and 10,000. Whichever figure is selected, it is too high a number. What benefit accrues from their presence in Bristol? Why are they there, rather than in Somalia? If current trends continue, the Somali share of the population will grow rapidly, for in 2009 it was reported that 3.8% of Bristol schoolchildren were Somali, or one out of every 25. In 2001, the equivalent figure was only one in every 500. This growth has been fed both by immigration and high Somali fertility.

Totterdown Mosque (courtesy of Nicksarebi)

It comes as a surprise that there is a Council of Bristol Mosques, to which five mosques are affiliated, which nonetheless seems rather modest given estimated Muslim numbers. The first data from the 2011 Census will not be published until 16 July, but strangely, this will not contain any information on religion or ethnicity. It is therefore difficult to provide an accurate estimate of the size of Bristol's resident Muslim population, but one site propagandising Islam with the assistance of the BBC, using public funds provided by the local authority and Government Office South West, claims that there are 35,000 Muslims in the city. For those of us who knew Bristol 20 or 30 years ago, the emergence of such a population is staggering, as it has seemingly sprung out of nowhere.

What is the protest about?
Whereas elsewhere the EDL has generally used specific events that have occurred within a given locality as grounds for a demonstration, this does not seem to be the case in Bristol. The EDL explain their decision to hold a protest in the city on 14 July 2012 as follows:
The EDL are going to Bristol.  We are going to Bristol because we wish to draw public attention to Islamic grooming, the refusal of Muslims to integrate into British society and the increasing attacks by Muslims on non-Muslim Britons.

We are coming to Bristol to raise awareness of these problems and to call for a unified country under one democratic government, one law and one society grounded in British culture and traditions.

We want to call attention to the creeping Islamisation of Britain, with the increased use of halal meat whether non-Muslims want it or not.

We want to make people aware that our way of life and our culture are under threat from people who don’t care for our culture, country or humanity. They don’t care for our religions, politics, way of life, culture or traditions. They want to recreate 7th Century Arabia in Britain and they will lie, subvert and even kill to do it.
Given the experience of many other English towns and cities, as well as the general process of demographic Islamisation unfolding across the country, drawing attention to what has happened elsewhere and this general phenomenon could be adjudged to be worthwhile. However, it would perhaps be more effective were the EDL to highlight the deficits of multiculturalism and immigration policy, for without multiculturalist policies combined with mass immigration there would be no problem with Islamisation in this country, because the conditions that allow it would be removed at a stroke. Certainly, Stephen Lennon’s own statements regarding multiculturalism have been unclear, for on a number of occasions he has described the EDL as “multicultural”, whilst at other times criticising “multiculturalism”. It seems that he sometimes conflates “multiculturalism” and “multiracialism”, for the EDL is certainly multiracial, although predominantly English. The two are related, yet distinct.

The EDL's Opponents in Bristol
Although the EDL gives expression to many of the general public’s officially repressed suspicions and concerns relating to Islamic issues in England today, the EDL has no friends in high places, and has to confront three primary sources of opposition emanating from: 1) mainstream politicians and the mass media; 2) the self-styled ‘anti-fascist’ movement encompassing the trades unions and a range of far-left fringe groups and campaigns: UAF, Hope Not Hate, Searchlight, Love Music Hate Racism, various ‘unity’ front groups for the SWP and sundry independent anarchist groups; 3) Islamists and the wider Muslim population. All three forms of opposition intersect, with each attempting to make parasitic political capital out of the EDL. None of the EDL’s opponents are interested in portraying what the EDL really is, and the ‘anti-fascist’ propagandists of the second group enjoy the uncritical attention of the media. All however are united in their mutually profitable desire to manufacture the sense of a ‘far-right’ threat, whilst ignoring and facilitating the spread of the real ultra-reactionary ‘far-right’ in the form of Islamism.

Returning to the specifics of the Bristol demo on 14 July, the opposition from the first group enumerated has already been not-so-subtly voiced by the BBC, which stated in a story run on 14 June:
Why did it open this story referring to the cost of the demo? How many BBC reports about forthcoming demonstrations, involving trades unions for example, are prefaced with such information, particularly citing such large figures? Although the article makes reference to the counterdemonstrators who oppose the EDL, it does not make clear that police concerns over public disorder arise largely from likely attempts by the Trotskyist SWP and anarchist-related self-styled ‘antifascist’ groups to provoke a violent clash with the EDL. Why did it choose to omit this information? Of course, there have been violent incidents at previous EDL demonstrations involving their supporters, and these cannot be justified, but a far larger number of their opponents have been arrested for public disorder and assault. Although the BBC did on this occasion refrain from describing the EDL as ‘far-right’ (a very rare honour for the broadcaster to withhold this slur), its reporting of the forthcoming march has in no way been balanced.

However, in the video below taken from an episode of the BBC’s Sunday Politics West, the EDL is repeatedly described as ‘far-right’, although the additional policing costs are cited as £500,000 rather than the £1 million stated on the website.

The opposition of the second group, which can be subsumed under the heading of ‘antifascists’, has manifested itself in a number of ways. An online petition has been set up, calling for the EDL demo to be banned. As of the evening of 25 June, this had attracted 1,970 signatures. The SWP-dominated UAF has also set up a front campaign named We are Bristol which is supported by leading members of a number of trades unions including: the CWU, FBU, NUJ, NUT, PCS, RMT and Unison. Other supporting bodies include the Bristol Labour Party; Bristol Anarchist Federation, Bristol Antifascists and Bristol Queercafe. Representatives from this SWP front group met on 11 June to discuss tactics for opposing the EDL’s demonstration. In support of this, they have produced various pieces of inflammatory campaign literature that I have reproduced below to give the reader a flavour of the far-from-peaceful mindset of these so-called ‘antifascists’.

The first below displays a very ugly and angry figure wielding a baton of some sort, smashing a swastika which presumably is supposed to represent the EDL. Hardly, you would think, an image produced to encourage peaceful counter-protest. The second image once again employs the hackneyed and inappropriate image of a swastika, this time being smashed by a rather beefy fist. Peaceful? If you believe that black is white and that white is black then I suppose you could construe it as ‘peaceful’, yes. Unintentionally amusing? Well, perhaps, given that it states “This is a no go area for all fascists, racists, sexists and homophobes”. In that case, why do they wish to demonstrate against the EDL? Surely their statement is far more applicable to Islamists? Still, there’s no reasoning to be had with these antifa types. The last two images below are of an antifa leaflet produced in the city. Although not as crude in style as the first two, they contain misinformation and the absurd insinuation that the EDL is some sort of “street army” being used by big business to distract the public’s attention from the evils of the capitalist crash. Utterly fantastical, there is about as much substance to these antifa allegations as there is to David Icke’s humanoid lizard conspiracy theory. 

UPDATE 9 July: The SWP front group 'We are Bristol' has been very successful in spreading its message, as although the city's council leader - Simon Cook - has declined to participate in the anti-EDL demonstration, he has stated: "We have made absolutely clear that we do not agree with their extremist views and do not want them in Bristol." However, unlike the SWP and UAF he added: "They are not a proscribed organisation and have a right to march." The 'This is Bristol' website which ran the story once again quoted the alleged £500,000 price tag for policing the EDL demo. Cook's even-handed position has upset both Islamophobia Watch and MPACUK.

Bristol's Antifa Propaganda Gallery


  1. You make it sound as though the totterdown mosque appeared in recent years when in fact it has been there for 40 + years, a product of there being an Asian community there since the 1960s /70s. This sense of 'recent imposition' is not generally shared by those of us who are actually from Bristol (and Totterdown to boot) who grew up with the kids that went to that mosque and never had any problems. The author, on this point, either does not know Bristol very well, or wants to deliberately misrepresent th area for non-Bristolians.

    re:number of Somalians. You're making a cost-benefit argument that goes beyond your remit of opposing Islamism. It seems to follow logically from this argument that if they did bring enough economic or cultural benefit their religion could be overlooked.Moveover, it is well known why Somali's are here: that civil war is a 'push factor' seems to undermine any theory that they came as part of a calculated plot to push one and all into dhimmitude.

    1. To 'Anon'.....There may be a civil war raging in Somalia, but the last time I looked, Britain was off the coast of Europe, not Africa. Asylum seekers are supposed to seek refuge in the first NEIGHBOURING SAFE country, therefore these people are economic migrants, here for what they can get, & not genuine refugees.

    2. Anon-
      I know Bristol very well- I've lived there for the past 30 years, and I can tell you that in the past decade, there has been an exponential rise in the number of Somalis.
      I can tell you that their presence is very much felt by the gay community: I have gay friends who can no longer walk the streets of certain areas, without risk of assault or verbal abuse from Somali youths.
      It is also felt in Schools, where huge families of non-English speakers drain educational resources, and demand special 'cultural' concessions.
      It is felt in the hospitals, in the shopping malls and everywhere that we hear the babble of arabic.

      The very concept that Somalis might bring economic or cultural benefit to a region shows the quality of your thinking, and your ignorance; almost without exception, these huge families(often the result of polygamous marriages)are welfare state dependent, and many have no intention of learning English or venturing outside of their own 'community'.

  2. How these deranged "anti-fascist" psychos get away with their blatant incitement to violence is one of lifes little mysteries.

    1. It is, but alas, the acceptance of their 'righteous' belligerence continues.

  3. I have just left Bristol after living there all my life-the demographics have changed beyond recognition in the past ten yrs or so. You only have to venure down to the shopping areas, to see it is absolutely heaving with Somalis.

    p.s- no one is at war with Somalia: the Somalis are busy fighting one another; what does that suggest about their mindset?. Why on earth would we want to import Somalis into a civilised country?

    1. Yes, it has changed massively in demographic terms. The first 'Anonymous' to leave a comment is amongst those who wish to normalise such change by pointing to the small-scale presence of ethnic minorities in Bristol several decades ago. What has happened over the past decade to 15 years however is on an altogether different and massive scale, and as such is both unprecedented and unwelcome.

  4. This is Bristol, presumably a newspaper website, ran a summary of a Demos report into the EDL as its first salvo - but it turns out that what they published summarised a Guardian summary, and the report was rather flawed in the first place!

  5. Replies
    1. You're wasting your breath, mate. Most Somalis don't speak English.


  6. I grew up in Easton. I come from a multicultural family who all work and pay their taxes. However, my family felt unsafe to continue to live in Easton and 5 years ago they sold up and left our family home of over 40years. If you go to Stapleton Road on a Friday afternoon you will find Somali men in their drones. Almost EVERY shop on Stapleton Road is now occupied by Somalis. A once vibrant part of the city has now become a 'no go' zone particularly after dark. I am a black female with adult children who will never venture into Easton for fear of their safety and that of their children. They are everywhere and they serve no purpose here at all but to bleed the system dry. Its wrong that we have to tolerate these people in such large numbers.

    1. I am sorry to hear that you and your family felt that you had to leave your home to avoid what Stapleton Road has become. Nobody should have to undertake such a drastic course of action because of a failure of government policy, but this is clearly what has happened here. It underscores the undesirability of recent open-door policies relating to mass immigration on a scale never hitherto witnessed, heedless of the negative consequences that this would entail. The implantation of a large Somali presence in Bristol, with many of the incomers not only bearing cultural norms incompatible with our own, but often a psychology damaged and brutalised by years of conflict, was bound to bring no good for longstanding residents such as yourself. I hope that where you have now settled feels rather safer.

      As for the Somalis, a large proportion of those who have arrived here understandably feel disorientated and out of place, and as demonstrated in a recent report, could gain much from returning to that part of Somalia that is not currently beset by military conflict. Such a return would represent the optimum outcome for all:


Comments that call for or threaten violence will not be published. Anyone is entitled to criticise the arguments presented here, or to highlight what they believe to be factual error(s); ad hominem attacks do not constitute comment or debate. Although at times others' points of view may be exasperating, please attempt to be civil in your responses. If you wish to communicate with me confidentially, please preface your comment with "Not for publication". This is why all comments are moderated.