Last week, co-founders of the English Defence League Tommy Robinson and Kevin Carroll quit the organisation, claiming they no longer wanted to be associated by the Nazi thugs who have joined the EDL. While I find their stated reason to quit being the top boys of the League as disingenuous/an obvious pack of lies, the resignations are interesting in themselves. They are indicative of the signs that the EDL are splintering and losing support. If we ignore the fluke upsurge of interest caused by the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, killed by “Islamist extremists”, interest in the EDL is waning, with too many mainstream members unhappy with the violence that seems to come with their demos.
Unite Against Fascism is confident that its actions are putting the EDL on the back foot. “The EDL were growing exponentially until they were met by a greater force,” said Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of UAF. “They would come with a few hundred and we would have a few thousand who didn’t want them in their town, and they didn’t know what to do.”
Eric Randolph, writing in the Independent, writes the opinion of a recently retired officer with the National Domestic Extremism Unit, that the English Defence League is likely to splinter into smaller regional units with some supporters shifting to more extreme movements. A terrorist-styled cell structure that will keep most members safe even if other cells are compromised. It’s a tried and tested approach that has helped extremists distance themselves from other cells that might have done something bad.
The same former cop says:
“The EDL may survive as separate regional organisations. Most of its activity was at a local level anyway. But prior to the murder of Lee Rigby, it was already seeing a marked decline. One of the reasons was the personal antipathy of regional leaders towards Tommy Robinson – he was not terribly well liked but was accepted as the best leader because he had a certain amount of charisma and cunning.”
The Domestic Extremism Unit is by no means suggesting that a power struggle within the EDL might lead to terrorist or other attacks on the public. They do admit there’s a slight risk of terrorism by right-wing extremists but add: there is a “risk of terrorism” but that’s limited to individuals or very small groups that are not terribly sophisticated”.
“There have been about 15-18 arrests of people with terrorist paraphernalia and the wherewithal to put them together. Often they have bought the components, but haven’t actually put them together. They see the race war as a matter of time, and want to be prepared.”
As for Tommy Robinson, he plans to continue talking about the dangers he thinks go hand in hand with Islamism. “I have a passion to combat Islamist ideology and I want to lead a revolution against that ideology, but I don’t want to lead a revolution against Muslims.”
Of course, some wonder what has brought this change in Robinson. The EDL have always had a problem with Muslims. I reckon we should keep an eye on Robinson. Leopards’ spots don’t change overnight. And of course it will be interesting to see what the EDL do now.