Despite the many shadowy figures of the BNP and other far right groups waltzing with the EDL, the EDL is not the BNP. The EDL is a nationalist street army, not a fascist political party trying to clean up its image to win votes. The UAF and its leadership are continuing to treat the EDL and the BNP as the same. As a media conscious protests group, primarily geared to try and combat the new look BNP, the UAF is not equipped to deal with a militant street army. Although I have stood side by side with some very dedicated activists from the UAF the fact of the matter is this is not a militant organisation and is deliberately designed this way in order to combat the current non-militant approach of the BNP. How effective this is against the BNP is another debate that I will not go into here, however the issue of using a popularist front group to combat a street army is something that needs to be addressed.
So what are the true aims of the UAF supporters?
Are you hoping to simply protest the EDL whilst trying to look good on the BBC and hope the government bans them whilst keeping a clean image for work against the BNP?
Or are you genuinely interested in living up the UAF rhetoric and working within the tradition of British antifascism by physically stopping them?
The UAF leadership and its related groups romance various political and public figures in order to gain support in their activities in undermining the BNP and it is fundamental for the UAF to maintain a good image in order to maintain these links. But this is not the BNP we are facing, and these links are irrelevent for combating the EDL. We do need to ask is the UAF leadership willing jeopardise these links in order to stop the EDL? Im sure we can all agree that a war of words and Nazi insults will not be enough to stop the EDL from marching, thus we need physically prevent them. This brings us into conflict with the police and at times the press, and such actions will jeopardise both financial support and its public image the UAF relies on in its campaign against the BNP. So is the UAF really up for the job?
Despite the dedication of many of its supporters, the UAF leadership and its role in coordinating with the police needs to be called into questioned, not just by anarchists but by the UAF supporters themselves. The police have a simple job to do. Ensure the EDL march goes ahead and that the antifascists don’t confront it. This creates a tragic situation, whilst the leadership declares it allegiance to the British traditions in antifascism citing events like cable street and Lewisham, yet at the same time colludes with the police who’s job it is to prevent such traditions prevailing. All the while its dedicated activists on the street go to the cells with the EDL usually completeing their said march. Is this really an effective solution?
And now for the most bizarre antagonism… Agreements with the EDL!
There was an agreement between the EDL and the UAF was laid down by the police, this agreement was they would share the square in Bolton. What the fuck is going on here? Whilst maintaining a no platform approach in the media, the UAF leadership agrees to share a protest site! Again I ask are we here to simply protest them or to stop them? Further more despite reaching agreements with the police and the EDL, Weyman Bennett, Martin Smith and other organisers and public figures were taken into custody proving that the current strategy isn’t working and that even the leadership is now being politically targeted. So lets cut the crap.
To non UAF antifascists
I for one an open to working with many UAF activists, the UAF has some strong points, a great ability to mobilise large numbers, many dedicated activists, many of which are militant and serious about stopping the EDL but held back by the actions of the UAF leadership. As to the leadership and their tactics, if they will change as a result of the events in Bolton remains to be seen (though I doubt it), sectarian infighting aside, how do we take the positive parts of the UAF and utilise them in a more effective manner? How do we undermine the UAF leadership in order to better support and coordinate with their less dogmatic activists, how do we build trust with the more militant rank and file of the UAF.
Thoughts and comments from all antifascists welcome.