Yesterday’s announcement that Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, alternatively known as Tommy Robinson, was leaving his position as joint Vice-Chairman of the BFP to focus on his leadership of the EDL came as a surprise to many. Quite what precipitated his decision is unclear, but this announcement comes only a fortnight after an unsubstantiated rumour circulated that Paul Weston had resigned from his position as BFP Chairman, a rumour that was swiftly rebutted. It begs the question as to who started this rumour and why?
In his interview with The Independent yesterday, Lennon (for the sake of brevity I shall avoid the double-barrelled formulation) stated:
"I am looking at how to change the EDL into a genuine political party but we can't put a time on it at the moment. We are looking at the 2014 elections in Europe."It [the BFP] just isn't for me, I want to stick to the EDL. I wanted to make this decision before I committed myself to campaigning for the BFP. I have not been involved in an election campaign for them yet, so it is the right time."
What was it about the BFP’s policy platform that caused Lennon to take this decision, if indeed it was a matter of policy that caused his departure? Whatever the underpinning cause happened to be, attempting to turn the EDL into a political party is an utterly pointless venture, being as it is a single-issue protest group. Lennon would be better off re-evaluating his movement’s aims, objectives and tactics, transforming it into a more tightly focused and effective campaigning vehicle independent of any particular political party. Although it has managed to establish itself in the public consciousness, the EDL has not, generally speaking, projected an image that would exert electoral appeal to anything other than a small hardcore of supporters. Irrespective of the fact that there are certain widely-recognised negative behaviours exhibited by Islamists in this country which the majority of the general public find abhorrent, voters are not going to cast their ballots for a party that makes tackling Islamism its number one issue, although they would of course be happy to vote for a party with a comprehensive policy platform that dealt appropriately with the Islamist problem as part of its wider policy mix. Voters are primarily concerned about the economy, public services, education, housing and immigration, not Islamism, no matter how much distaste they may possess for it.
Does Lennon intend to transform the EDL into a political party with such a broad policy mix? This seems doubtful. For all of its flaws and fixation upon the Islamic issue, the BFP does at least profess to possess objectives other than tackling Islamism and Islamisation; the EDL does not. In this respect, Lennon’s move brings to mind the recent announcement by former UKIP MEP Nikki Sinclaire in connection with the creation of a new political party named ‘We Demand a Referendum’ (WDAR), which possesses no policy other than to secure a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the EU. For some reason, The Sun threw its backing behind this venture last month, presumably because Murdoch no longer finds Cameron’s Conservative Party to his liking.
How peculiar it is, that both Lennon and Sinclaire have decided to leave single-issue fixated parties and establish new splinter parties focused purely upon Islam and the EU respectively. This is not the stuff of electoral politics, but of pressure group agitation, and given the obsession of both figures with these single issues, they would be best advised to keep out of electoral politics and instead concentrate upon building up convincing arguments and campaigns in support of their respective positions. A vote for either will be a wasted one; both parties will fail, and badly at that. Voters need to be presented with a credible alternative to which they can lend their support; a party that genuinely tackles both of these concerns alongside the pressing need to address those issues that are central to the winning of any campaign. The EDL will not be such a party, and neither will the WDAR.
Stephen Yaxley-Lennon: Leader of the EDL
Nikki Sinclaire: Leader of 'We Demand a Referendum'
as a country and a union we still lack any substantial party that can take the bull by the horns and actually do something....
we are bogged down with single issue parties , parties based around issues that mean nothing to the public and it is just something that people will never vote for ...Nationalism lacks direction in any party and is riddled by childish buffoons unfortunately who want to wear the big chief hat and do nothing but have a title
Thank you. Yes, such a party is currently lacking, but that should not always be the case. Although taking longer than anticipated (if you’re going to do something well, it is best not to rush and to ensure that good plans and policies are put in place prior to launch, although there are many who have been and are still urging haste) the new party concept has not been abandoned. What I have seen relating to proposals emanating from alternative groups is riddled with flaws, so we are hoping that ultimately people will see sense and join with us.Delete
Dear Durotrigan, if you haven't seen it already then please check out the Yougov report on the EDL published this week; 'Views on the English Defence League'. Although there aren't too many surprises in its findings, it nevertheless backs up what you say about the EDL's poor chances of gaining widespread backing - most of those who are sympathetic to its anti-islamist position are against the EDL's methods of campaigning - marches and demos presumably, as this is their sole modus operandi. Perhaps this is why the EDL are now looking at contesting elections, however, I'm entirely with you on the lack of electoral credibility of single issue party.ReplyDelete
Thank you Anonymous. I had read something about this but have not as yet had time to take a look at it in any detail. As for the EDL’s methods, I agree that most people do not find them appealing.Delete
British Freedom have a great 20 Point Plan:ReplyDelete
1. Introduce a US style First Amendment guaranteeing Free Speech.
2. Leave the profoundly undemocratic European Union.
3. Abolish the Human Rights Act, which benefits only foreign criminals/ terrorists.
4. Halt any further immigration for a period of five years.
5. Deport foreign criminals, seditious dual nationality Islamists and illegal immigrants.
6. Abolish all multicultural and equality quangos.
7. Halt and turn back all aspects of the Islamisation of Britain, including Sharia finance.
8. Drastically reduce crime – criminals should fear the consequences of their behaviour.
9. Repair the damage wreaked by the progressive educational establishment.
10. Promote British values and assimilation, rather than multiculturalism and division.
11. Rebuild Britain’s Armed Forces to 1980 levels.
12. Diminish the public sector and government interference in the private sector.
13. Withdraw troops from all areas where we are not directly threatened.
14. Cancel foreign aid to countries which do not deserve or need it.
15. End welfare payments to immigrants; they must pay for their housing and children.
16. Ensure no elderly person lives in fear, and can afford both heat and food in the winter.
17. Abolish destructive Political Correctness, promote Common Sense.
18. Promote morality, marriage, the family, the community and the nation state.
19. Allow pubs the freedom of operating as smoking or non-smoking establishments.
20. Live by Christianity’s Golden Rule: “Do unto others as thou wouldst be done by.”
Click on Manifesto. British Freedom have fantastic plans for Agriculture and many other important issues! I love British Freedom!
Thank you Linda. We are well aware of the BFP’s “20 Point Plan”, but what may look “great” from New York, does not look so “great” here in England. Why not? Take a look at my critique of the 20 points here: http://durotrigan.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/british-freedoms-20-point-plan-cohesive.htmlDelete
Bad move - EDL should stick to what it is doing and up the anti IMO. That Nikki Sinclaire is generally scary-looking.ReplyDelete
Agreed Laurie. The EDL's move into electoral politics is not the way forward.Delete
I thought a new credible nationalist party was going to be launched soon? This country needs one more than it has ever done. Such a party needs to concentrate on economics as people vote on this subject more than any other at the best of times let alone now when the world is suffering from the economic crisis which started in 2008 and when we have such a totally inept buffoon as our present Chancellor who has managed to push Britain back into recession. Only a non-globalist party can revive our country's economy and give hope to the millions of unemployed we have. This approach will also tempt people away from UKIP who many people believe are nationalists when they aren't.ReplyDelete
I know. Apologies are due on our part for certain hiccups, but it is still going ahead. A number of others have been advocating alternative party projects, but they have neither been credible nor adopted the new approach required; moreover, they only announced their intent to create such entities after we had already done so, which would seem to indicate that they do not embrace our pragmatic reformist agenda, for otherwise they would have given us their support.Delete
Opposing Islamism isn't necessarily a single-issue project, as the Islamist agenda infests so many areas of modern life. Benazir Bhutto was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan effectively on a ticket that concentrated on reversing the Islamist policies of Zia.ReplyDelete
That having been said, it would be distressing to see a political EDL and BF fighting each other at the ballot box and, should the EDL go political, I hope both bodies can come to an accomodation.
Joe, although at times it may seem like it in parts of our country, we are not living in Pakistan, thus mentioning Bhutto and Zia isn’t really applicable. Of course, Islamism is a problem and certain behaviours exhibited by elements of the resident Muslim population are negative, but for those with no direct experience of such matters, they are merely something disagreeable with little or no direct bearing upon their lives. Islamists were not responsible for the deindustrialisation of large swathes of our country; Islamists were not behind the banking crisis; Islamists did not introduce PFI and they did not ratchet up our national debt. Of course they are irksome and they should be dealt with without those of us who object to their methods and project being transformed into pariah fantasy “fascist” figures by the media and mainstream politicians, but for most people, the worry of keeping up the mortgage payments and holding onto their jobs is of far greater import than either Islamism or Islamisation.Delete
Anonymous the report you mentioned may have used the yougov survey system but it was conducted by a group of academics with a vested interest in drumming up business for their think tank Extremis) set up as a consultancy firm for business and government.ReplyDelete
The sample size was quite small, approx 1700 people, and respondents were a self selecting group anyway, having signed up to respond to surveys. I wonder what their political leanings are, and whether the 'long march through the institutions' includes volunteering to answer supposedly independent surveys on public opinion in order to influence policy? Just a passing thought
The survey appears to have an inbuilt confirmation bias, with questions designed to elicit certain responses eg asking people if they are a member or would consider joining the EDL and if the answer is no, interpreting that as showing little support for the EDL or its aims
Lots of people may well support it but not be members or ever consider joining, so how reliable is their data? Aside from dodgy interpretations, they contradict their own conclusions in other parts of the survey and claim there is widespread potential support for extremist parties, but not apparently for the EDL which supposedly holds extremist views.
What is their definition of extremist? I'd also want to know the answer to that before accepting the reliability of this survey
More telling is the fact Nick Lowles is invited to interpret the findings in relation to the EDL as a so called independent expert. Of course he does what you would expect and gloats about the survey confirming what was already known ....the usual biased claptrap about the EDL being a violent racist organisation blah blah blah.
If you equate being anti islam with being anti muslim then define that as racism, this survey and its interpretation is for you. If not treat it with a handful of salt
These 'experts' and 'academics' seem to operate on the premise that everyone is a happy multiculturalist and islam is just a religion like any other, and any divergence from this rose tinted view is extremism.
Some interesting observations Dinan. The manner in which the questions are framed is always crucial in determining the resultant data, and can quite often lead to (deliberately) distorted findings.Delete
As for Nick Lowles, he is no more an “expert” on the EDL than anyone who takes an interest in what it does. In fact, given that he is unable to think outside of his rigidly predetermined mental framework i.e. “EDL supporters are thick racists and fascists”, he is not well qualified to comment on them at all. He has to maintain the fantasy of a “fascist threat”, for otherwise he would find himself out of work, so it would seem that he possesses something of a vested interest in the systematic distortion and misrepresentation of the multi-layered phenomenon that is the EDL.
As you also note, Lowles and his ilk always rely upon the series of non-sequiturs vital for the sustenance of their worldview: anti-Islam = anti-Muslim = racism. Nonsense of course, but nonsense that allows him to make a living, and which is spouted as fact by the media and mainstream political parties.
Having spent a lot of time with EDL people from across the country, one thing that is obvious is how overwhelmingly working class the people are. One of their concerns is that the middle class liberal-left have taken control of this country, and that they advocate policies that have destroyed industry, towns, and working-class communities. Many of the (relatively few) middle class people involved agree with this perspective.ReplyDelete
It could well be that Paul Weston & the BFP do not share this perspective. I've seen Paul Weston belittle working-class EDL supporters in a public meeting, because they were left-wing.
The EDL is a very broad church, with people as far left as the BNP and the Labour Party, and as far right as the Tories & UKIP. Tommy may be of the opinion that many EDL will not support right-wing policies of BFP. Personally, I find it hard to take the BFP seriously as a political party; by that I mean that their platform is so extraordinarily slight, it might as well be a single issue party.
The political class in the UK have realised that they can control the democratic destiny of this country by steering LibLabCon to exclude any item from the agenda. That's how they have functioned since the end of Thatcher & the rise of Blair. It is a one-party state.
Once the welfare state implodes (which will certainly be within the next 5 to 10 years), then we might see this one-party state lose control. 35% of the electorate did not vote at the last election. Assuredly, the majority of them are the people who are going to suffer most as the welfare state implodes.
Tommy is still a young man. And I cannot see any other public figure around who is going to be able to lead that vast army of the disillusioned and the angry. There is everything to play for in wresting control of this country back from the professional politicians. If EDL does form a political party, who is to say that it will be a single-issue party? Scrabbling around for the votes of those who go along with LibLabCon is not the way to destroy this one-party state; it is not the way to give control back to the majority of the population. Let the BNP, UKIP, and the BFP (and sundry others) scrabble for crumbs from LibLabCon. The big prize is those who have abandoned an electoral system that does not offer them representation. They are the people who need to be re-engaged.
I've spoken at public meetings where those middle class people behind the BFP could not grasp the points I was making (something I attributed to my ability to communicate rather than to their intellect). But on subsequent conversations with Tommy, it turned out he had grasped the points that no-one else could grasp. It is clear his mind is far sharper than that of most graduates.
Perhaps BFP & EDL will form an arrangement (like that between UKIP & the Tories), where they will not compete against each other in certain areas.
I think that there is much merit in what you say Anonymous: Robinson/Lennon and Weston come from radically different backgrounds, and as is clear from the BFP’s statement that it wishes to “Diminish the public sector and government interference in the private sector”, economically it is very much of the Thatcherite Right (this particular innovation was brought in by its current Chairman). I also agree with you that to all intents and purposes it is a single-issue party and lacks a credible set of policies.Delete
You make an interesting point with respect to what Robinson/Lennon might intend for a party political EDL in terms of a wider policy framework, but I get the feeling that it is going to be based primarily around the Islamic issue. I may be proved wrong, but that is very much how it seems at the moment. He is certainly an effective communicator.
If he wishes to stand for election, he might appeal to some if he took some blue labour policies, a dash of cultural nationalism, equitable economic policies, withdrawal from the EU, limits on immigration, and the promotion of british values from a non racist stance distanced from skin colour and ethnicity.ReplyDelete
The overt racism of the BNP was suicidal and should not be repeated, a tricky issue when islam as an ideology needs to be challenged and pushed back.
The campaign which caused much damage to BNP electoral prospects ought to be redeployed as....
'There's nothing British about Islam'
Such a stance would be rational, although I am still of the opinion that the EDL would be better off remaining a pressure group; the policy combination that you mention would enjoy greater success without a direct association with the EDL.Delete