The repercussions of a ban on the EDL
Recently, I made the case yet again against using the state to fight fascism. One key point in this was that by calling on the state to stop a protest taking place because those marching are fascists you set a precedent for them to do so when those marching aren’t fascists. Thus, the only thing that surprised me was the rapidity with which that point was proven right.
Hope not Hate declared the police’s decision to seek a ban “a victory for common sense.” They are jubilant that the EDL have been “foiled” in their plan “to bring violence and disorder to the streets of Tower Hamlets.” This alone smacks of a staggering level of naivety, given that the police only have the power to ban marches and not static demonstrations – as the EDL themselves proved only this month in Telford. Not to mention Leicester, where a ban didn’t stop “violence and disorder.”
Then there is the statement from the Metropolitan Police;
We are in the process of applying to the home secretary for authority to prohibit a march in five London boroughs for a period of 30 days.
Theresa May has honoured this request, and as a result nobody can march through Tower Hamlets, Newham, Hackney, Islington or Waltham Forest any time in September. This includes the EDL, anti-fascists, and the Disarm DSEi protest against the world’s largest arms fair.
Now, Unite Against Fascism declares that it is “appalled” at the decision, which it rightly states is “a huge attack on everyone’s civil liberties.” Yet it still “welcome the banning of the racist English Defence League’s march through Tower Hamlets,” suggesting that the important lesson of this debacle has not been learnt. Peter Tatchell hits the mark when he says that “I’m not sure we can defeat anti-democratic groups like the EDL using anti-democratic methods like banning marches.”
Tower Hamlets ALARM go further;
State intervention is a worrying turn, the State stepping in and banning EDL protests is not a sign of a left wing section of the State acting, or even an Islamic element gaining strength, it is a sign of a further move to a totalitarian State. We already have the camps in Yarlswood, thug police that get away with murder and an ever watching State gathering information on us. We don’t need to campaign for them to ban political groups. Today the EDL, tomorrow us.
We don’t need the State to stop the EDL. We need to do this ourselves. We need our communities to work together, overcome divisive elements and tackle the threat of fundamentalism in whatever forms it takes.
Let’s hope that the repercussions of this ban are recognised by enough of the left and the anti-fascist movement that Hope not Hate’s approach will receive much more opposition next time.