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Open letter to the UAF

Distant friend of the UAF. | 22.03.2010 17:52 | Birmingham

This is a call to all UAF supporters to seriously reconsider their approach to dealing with the EDL.

In the wake of the Bolton fiasco I think it’s long overdue that the UAF supporters begin to listen to some of the criticisms coming from the rest of the left. Its time to acknowledge that the UAF approach to the EDL is not working and why it will not work and start to discuss what we can do about it.

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.

Distant friend of the UAF.

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Hide the following 27 comments

Searchlight’s position on the UAF:

22.03.2010 20:00

Here’s the relevant link to Searchlight’s position on the UAF:

Crucially, they say:

“we could (not) participate in an organisation which had leading figures conduct a whispering campaign about Searchlight being “Zionists”.

We should be honest about figures like Bennett,and organisations like the SWP and Respect, and honestly face the fact that they’ve put anti-racist politics back decades by playing with sectarian and communal politics. It’s precisely their opportunism that has provided the space for fascists to exploit popular fears of Islamic sectarianism.

The EDL is the result. It’s a symptom of the kind of state multiculturalism that places people in policed, ethnic boxes, and treats them as homogeneous units, while allocating political and financial resources on the basis of religious and ethnic affiliation.

Once that doors open it’s virtually impossible to make a coherent argument to white, working class kids that they shouldn’t organise on the basis of ethnic affiliation and religious identity. In fact the government is now beginning to treat the ‘white working’ class as another ethno-religious category, with Jim Denham promising money in Barking and Bow for the special needs of the ‘white community.’

It’s the terminal logic of state multiculturalism. Bennett should be defended, but we need an even bigger defense of secularism, otherwise we’re just tinkering with the symptoms while the disease goes unchecked.

Will the Trots ever learn? I doubt it. This is a quote from Sabby Dhalu, joint secretary of UAF.

“The EDL is a fascist, Islamophobic, antisemitic, racist and homophobic organisation….The police’s primary role is to ensure safety and public order. It is not in the public interest to allow EDL ‘demonstrations’ to proceed. These so-called demonstrations should be banned.”

In other words, after being kettled, arrested and interrogated, they’re calling for more police powers – including kettling, arrest and interrogation!

Of course, they also need to be reminded that their arguments apply equally to many Islamist organisations and figures: homophobia, anti-semitism, anti-democratic, etc. Yet UAF members campaign for Qaradawi and others.

These double standards will be ruthlessly exploited by the EDL and others.

No friend:

much needed....

22.03.2010 20:12

Thanks for this article. It is much needed. I wouldn't describe Bolton as a "fiasco", some solid people stood firm in the face of police attacks, and managed to prevent another Stoke type event. Aside from that I agree entirely. The UAF leadership have made some serious tactical errors. I'd go as far as saying their entire stance is flawed, nevertheless they do have the ability to pull out numbers, and like you, I've stood side by side with UAF supporters who are solid activists who are prepared to defend No Platform. On the other hand there are also those to the left of the UAF who talk "militant antifascism" but either don't think the EDL need to be opposed, or don't have the ability to oppose them. We do need to have this debate. You should re-post on Libcom too, maybe?

lancashire calling

Nice one

22.03.2010 20:13

Nice one mate, UAF leadership need to get their act together. I also hate the fact that they seem to take it upon themselves to claim overall leadership of any antifascist demo, and refuse to give credit to other organisations where its due. Suppose this boils down to them again wanting to gain good publicity.


Thanks for the responses

22.03.2010 21:31

No friend:

"we need an even bigger defense of secularism, otherwise we’re just tinkering with the symptoms while the disease goes unchecked."

"Of course, they also need to be reminded that their arguments apply equally to many Islamist organisations and figures: homophobia, anti-semitism, anti-democratic, etc. Yet UAF members campaign for Qaradawi and others."

Two great points. To be honest the only way to truly address the first is by a radical shift in class consciousness, and in my view this is by all means the aim of the game, however we are faced with both alleviating the symptoms and addressing the root cause, and addressing the root cause will take time.

However it is explicitly tied to your second point of which I completely agree, the public dominance of the left by said groups who do not hold a solid position on such issues in fear of offending their Muslim support base only adds fuel to the fire of this current division, in class that is between the EDL support base and the antifascists that oppose them.

lancashire calling

I used the term fiasco in reference to the stated UAF aims and objectives, ie to stop the EDL and the actual outcome, which was one of both comprise with the police and the EDL. Of which the result was many antifascists arrested including some of the prominent figures of the UAF whilst the EDL went about their day all as planned. This was by no means a critic of the countless people that defended themselves and others from the police assaults and arrests. In fact this article was directly inspired by them.

“On the other hand there are also those to the left of the UAF who talk "militant antifascism" but either don't think the EDL need to be opposed, or don't have the ability to oppose them. We do need to have this debate. You should re-post on Libcom too, maybe?”

I completely agree, whilst I don’t tow the SWP line that the EDL are Nazis, we need to face facts that whilst fascism is all but dead, we are in a post fascist era where it is attempting to revive itself inside various organisations or hiding behind a veneer. Every single one of us has the ability to oppose them, the question is how do we do it effectively because as we currently stand, despite the EDLs infighting, internal power struggles and illogical position, I see a stalemate between us and them. Of course they could burn out of implode but I also fear it could turn for the worst.

As for libcom I have only just signed on there and just feeling the ropes but if anyone wants please copyleft at will.


Again I’m with you, only thing is I don’t blame the UAF leadership, they are opportunists and we have all come to expect it. I think the greater question here is why have the non UAF left no created an alternative banner to rally behind. Unlike Europe the Antifa “banner” is generally lies with a select few which I understand for security reasons. However perhaps we need to push an autonomous alternative to rally behind, one that is happy to differentiate between the dedicated militants in the UAF and posers, sheep their leadership. Perhaps then we can make some inroads.

I know this isn’t a forum but I appreciate the comments so please keep them coming and discuss amongst comrades in your circles. Perhaps we can get something moving.

Distant friend.


22.03.2010 22:10

Yeah seriously, indymedia is not the place for serious discussion - and this is a more serious article with some implications. Libcom people will mainly agree with this, but you will get a serious intelligent lengthy debate there if you want one.

Good article - importantly it was balanced.



22.03.2010 22:43 As some us are banned from lib com i will allso ask others to put on there blogs with a link back to here, not a good place for such a conversation but also message

No friend:

ps ta for the feed back..

No friend:

Sherlock Rides Again...

22.03.2010 23:30

Q: How do we undermine the UAF leadership in order to better support and coordinate with their less dogmatic activists?

A: DON'T - every single moment you dedicate to undermining UAF leaders can be much better spent UNDERMINING THE EDL + BNP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I never liked the SWP, Weyman Bennett is a liability to Anti-Fascism and I agree that UAF have made serious errors (like AFA and Antifa never did, because they're perfect and never fuck up, right?!) but the solution is to provide better alternatives. If you lead by example then the time you spend fucking things up for the EDL and BNP doubles up as time spent moulding the Anti-Fascist movement in the direction you want to see it go, with no waste of energy.

UK Fightback


23.03.2010 00:06

Ok posted on libcom for those who want to continue it there.

UK Fightback, great point and well put. Good criticism is always extreemly welcome.

Would still like to hear some genuine feed back from some UAF supporters too.

Distant friend

How many times...The EDL are not racist or fascist or even Nationalist!

23.03.2010 03:46

Thye have Black and Asian members. They have defended women's rights, including the rights of Muslim women not to be beaten, forced into marriage, or to wear niqab. One of their members is a Pakistani who fears for his community who he says is under threat from militant Islam. Militant Islam is something that worries ordinary Muslims who support the EDL.
Yes, the EDL support our soldiers, have the support of soldiers and ex soldiers and want troops out of the Middle do Stop The War Coalition.
The left need to realise that they are wrong about the EDL. For all the shouting by the middle class lefties of the SWP / UAF and even antifa about "class war"...the EDL are mostly working class [and underclass] people from council estates who are sick of violence in their communities caused by extremism and the attacks on our soldiers.
As for the UAF "preventing another Stoke"...the EDL stewards and the EDL themselves behaved impeccably and sorted this out for themselves.

Why does no one in the UAF etc want to address how Militant Islamic groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir cause trouble in Mulsim communities? They are racist, homophobic, misogynistic and extreme fascists.


EDL not nationalist??!!!!

23.03.2010 08:54

Errrr Lotty!! They are called the ENGLISH Defence League... They wave flags, and chant "we want OUR COUNTRY back". Of course they are nationalist.

And for a "women's rights" group they don't have many women supporters.

Nationalism divides us. It is a reactionary (out dated) tool of the state.


Lotty - we want our website back!

23.03.2010 09:52

Lotty - can you see a pattern emerging here. One that completely undermines your claims? I'm sure most can......

"Officers frogmarched EDL demonstrators back towards the railway and bus stations, while they continued to chant: "WE WANT OUR COUNTRY BACK."

Shama, a journalism student, told Socialist Worker how shocked she was at the racism from EDL supporters.
“They started chanting ‘WE WANT OUR COUNTRY BACK’. My parents are Muslims and they talked about them as if they are animals.”

We oppose the building of any more Mosques until the problem of Islamism is dealt with. Mosques must be regulated properly, imams vetted for their suitability, and mosque attendees monitored for any radical inclination. The change has to start within the Muslim community, but that is proving very hard when Saudi petro dollars are funding a “fundamental” interpretation of Islam within the United Kingdom Of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. WE WANT OUR COUNTRY BACK!!!

'We're here because WE WANT OUR COUNTRY BACK'
DOUBLE-DECKER buses started arriving at Wetherspoons in Hanley city centre shortly after noon. The passengers shouted "England, England, England" and "EDL, EDL, EDL". Two were arrested within seconds of them getting off the bus.
"I'm English 'til I die, English 'til I die," was the next song, one of many chanted by the protesters throughout the afternoon.

Exclusive footage of EDL Singing and chanting their slogans in a Wetherspoons pub in Stoke-on-Trent.
Songs and slogans include:
No surrender,
NO Surrender,
England till I die,
I'm england till I die,
I know I am; I'm sure I am,
I'm England till i die..
We want our country back, we want our country back, we want our country back, we want our countrey back...

Five hundred demonstrators from the EDL, many of whom had been drinking heavily, marched through Nottingham chanting: "WE WANT OUR COUNTRY BACK."

On the day it is estimated that around 250 people were involved in violence around Birmingham city centre which included bottle and brick throwing and racist chants of “No more Muslims.” Members of the rally have been filmed giving Nazi salutes, aping the salutes given by BNP members at the recent Red White and Blue festival. They also chanted the BNP slogan "WE WANT OUR COUNTRY BACK." Police herded groups of the EDL onto busses, where a number were arrested for throwing seats out of the Window and trying to set fire to one of the vehicles. Most the 90 arrests occurred on these buses.


EDL: Racist, Nationalist and includes known Fascists

To Lotty

23.03.2010 10:14

I don't agree with some of what you say, but will answer your question -

Why does no one in the UAF etc want to address how Militant Islamic groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir cause trouble in Mulsim communities?

By ignoring it, sweeping it under the carpet and jumping down anyone's throat who dares to criticise and accusing them off Islamophobia, they are hoping to create the impression of a dream movement for any militant Islamists they can hive off, perhaps even those who may have a propensity towards extreme radicalisation, or worse.

Their deliberate failure to take on board the simple, glaring fact that the overwhelming majority of Muslims do not want Sharia law, are not militants or extremists, and universally condemn and oppose terrorism, means that most moderate Islamists steer well clear of the UAF, thus ensuring that they don't face any pesky, awkward questions from Muslim liberals and democrats about organisational democracy, strategy and the direction of the UAF.

As a front for the SWP, an undemocratic organisation, which claims to be a revolutionary Marxist party committed to the overthrow of the British state, ultimately one can only hope that the UAF eventually intend nothing more serious than to convert them to the SWP brand of burn-out socialism: dawn to dusk meetings and activism, selling the Socialist Worker come rain or shine, and spiriting constant donations from them at every opportunity for the 'good of the party'.


Extremist Islam is a cult like Scientology

23.03.2010 11:59

Extremist Islam is a cult like Scientology. Many people protest against Scientology because it is an evil cult. People protest against "extremist Islam" because it is an evil cult too. Even most muslims themselves recognise this. See the website below:


shit analogy realist.

23.03.2010 12:25

The people who protest scientology do so at the relevent locations and institutions hence building a legitimate backing for their protests. The EDL do it in places of no relevence to extreemists and as a result intimidate any local muslims who have NOTHING to do with extreemist Islam. Not to mention their nationalist, and at times racist rehtoric they dribble.

If the EDL instead went to rally outside choudhury's house, we wouldnt have given a shit about the EDL, but its a little to late for that now. But that was never their objective in the first place, was it.

Distant friend

I am quite genuine.

23.03.2010 12:25

Hi Lotty,

This is a long shot, but could you possibly advise me how I could make contact / meet / email / communicate somehow with these EDL muslims and Pakistanis. I'd be really interested in exchanging words and thoughts with them at a distance that leaves them feeling safe and secure. I am quite genuine.

I'll bookmark this page and check back.

Hope you can help.

Best Wishes,


Christianity is a cult too

23.03.2010 13:09

Islam has no monopoly on shitty religion. Christians kill thousands of people each year. Scientologists are saints by comparison (although barking mad, of course).

So why do the EDL target Islam and not other religions like Christianity? Could it be that generally they are racist bigots, at least the leadership?

Personally I'd like to see all religious institutions razed to the ground, but I think opposition to religious extremism is just a fig-leaf excuse for the EDL.


more related debate

23.03.2010 15:19

there's an ongoing related debate on bristol indymedia too, which raises points of national relevance:

Latest Comment At Time Of Posting:


multiculturalism vs integration
author by independent

The issue of multiculturalism is something i feel cuts to the root of all far-right organisations, and those who oppose them. What is multiculturalism? I wouldn't class it as a melting pot, which it is widely defended as, as there doesn't seem to be much onus on people to melt and integrate at all. People instead lead paralell lives, paralell faiths and paralell interests, rarely ever meeting beyond those you pass in the street while shopping.

I was thinking just recently how fortunate we are that most corner shops nowadays seem to be run by asians and/or muslims, as this is pretty much the only opportunity i have to exchange a few words. They know my face, they know mine. We share a little chit chat, and although that may seem trivial to some, it really means everything. It gives both 'sides' the opportunity to see that the other is as human as they are.

Tracking back a few decades to the 'race' riots of the early 80's (I put race in inverted commas as it was as much about class, and white people were rioting too). In St. Pauls, when i was barely in my teens, the aftermath of these riots seemed to trigger a wave of genuine integration, as opposed to the paralell existence that multiculturalism seems to offer. Nearly 30yrs on, there are still race issues between black and white, but they have minimised.

What made that possible? Partly because in broad terms the cultural differences between black and white are pretty small. We all go to the pub, we all eat pies and pasties, even if black culture traditionally puts a little more spice in. We have almost all come to love similar types of music. A real melting pot occurred, and even if these things seem trivial to some, they also mean everything.

But there's deeper difficulties with muslim culture. That centrepoint of british integration, the pub and club, isn't something they generally share in, for their own cultural and religious reasons. Multiculturalism means that these limiting factors are never really addressed. People continue with their paralell lives, never integrating at all to any real extent. Yes, integration is also a 2 way thing, all parties involved need to be willing.

Or in short, even challenging the nature of multiculturalism draws cries and charges of racism from people. People aren't even given the chance to explain that their concern with multiculturalism is that it doesn't put any pressure on anyone to integrate. Which is in fact quite the opposite of racism. People who oppose multiculturalism often want more integration, not less.

So, when people criticise multiculturalism and it's twin sister, political correctness, which also often calls people racist just for challenging it, listen a little more, and put the finger pointing and charges of racism on the back burner until people have had a chance to explain. You may well find they are concerned with the lack of integration which multiculturalism and political correctness have delivered.


Great debate from bristol

23.03.2010 16:30

Thanks for cross posting, was just going through it today, alot of points to think about.


SDL Stamped out in Scotland: Try Our Tactics In England?

23.03.2010 19:19

When the SDL were bringing their men to Glasgow and Edinburgh we mobilised in two way. Locally and nationally. Myself and my friends gathered as much intel as possible about the folks coming down and when and where they would be.

UAF also mobilised. They called a demo that marched around the city. A mobile march that went in and around the city centre. That was huge.

The more militant of us organised a mass meeting point we announced as late as possible via facebook and local flyering. that involved around 2000 people. As we turned up early Weyman Bennett, in both Glasgow and Edinburgh, tried to hijack our demo when we had the intel on the pubs the EDL were at and take it to the Scotland United/UAF demo.

He succeeded at this in Glasgow and decimated our forces. In Edinburgh he failed and the EDL/SDL failed to march as we blocked off the pubs they were at in numbers.

In Bolton intel pointed out the EDL meeting point under police escort in advance. The street by which they would enter the square was obvious and as stewards we tried to occupy the street but were in too few numbers to occupy it. We were stewarding a UAF demo in the square. The police refused.

When we tried to get to the EDL end we were simply worn down by police kettling and riot police.

If militant anti-fascists met seperately to the UAF demo (which put a lot of children and elderly people in danger to be honest) and blocked off the EDL's main roads into the square:

Knowsley Street and Great Moor Street:

There would have been a battle but the EDL parade would at least have been rained on.

That kind of organization needs to be looked at.

PS These people attacked refugee centres in Manchester this week. They ARE a recruiting tool if not entirely fascist.


when dealing with the fashviolence doesn't always work but...

23.03.2010 20:05

when well planned it can deverstate them! Join AntiFa! Although the EDL are not an out and out fascist group they do have elements. But its definately worth getting involved in trying to find and tryin to attack these splinter groups and taking them down. Beat the fucking Bullies into submision, embaress them, harrass them, scare them off the streets and back onto stormfront where they can talk shite with others such wankers!

But it terms of takling the EDL on the streets, Gaffaboy makes the most sense to me.

No pasarán
- Homepage:

military families against war role?

23.03.2010 20:57

Military Familes Against the War could and should be doing more to try and educate some of the soldiers that are linking up with the EDL about racism and stuff, and trying to defuse hate and fascist scape goating.

Problem is, it's dominated by parents, an older crowd, and doesn't seem to offer the camaraderie, and day out at the footie style jamboree the EDL are offering.


There was no agreement between the EDL and UAF

24.03.2010 00:56

"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."

- There was definitely no agreement between UAF leadership and the EDL - this statement is approaching libel. I was there at Bolton and received a detailed briefing of UAF plans for the day. When we turned up I was informed immediately that all the agreements between the Police and UAF (of course arrangements were made) about the protest had been thrown out the window earlier in the morning and we were escorted into a police trap where we were kettled and attacked by police. Needless to say events differed from the plan considerably.

- I would guess that Weyman Bennett and Martin Smith were arrested more for being on the Central Committee of a revolutionary organisation (SWP) than anything else - police have seized issues of Socialist Worker in the past and used them as evidence that the SWP was inciting riot - it's not going any further to arrest their leadership at a demo. I don't think their being arrested damaged UAFs position at all - if anything it's evidence of our effectiveness and influence. It certainly strengthens the SWPs position on the police however.

Dean Booth

Bullshit Dean

24.03.2010 03:59

Libel my ass.

Plans were changed by the police on the day eh? Thrown out earlier in the morning?

At just after 2pm the DAY BEFORE Bolton, AFA posted a comment on indymedia detailing the police plans about the barriers and the seperation of the square.

Perhaps youve been hoodwinked by your own leadership. I dont want to fight with UAF, as i said i know some good and dedicated activists in the group, but we all need to start facing up to some facts.

You say the stratergy is working? Come on, the EDL waltzed in, did what they came to do and left. The only recent success has been in Edinburgh, and that was hardly down to the UAF.

Now im not saying the UAF doesnt have a roll to play, but the way things stand something needs to give.

Distant friend

@ dean

24.03.2010 19:20

Dean, don't kid yourself mate. I'm sure the EDL and UAF didn't sit at a desk and thrash out plans, but they certainly both agreed with Police the planning of the event. The UAF leadership (SWP mostly) had conceded half the Square to the EDL before the day had even started. So much for "No Pasaran", eh?

And I was there too mate, and stood side by side with some good UAF people.

lancs calling.

LIbCOM is pure crap

25.03.2010 01:25

Dont bother posting this on LIbCOM.
Libcom is the biggest load of crap I've ever witnessed. The website and resources are good but the forum is like the sickest kind of car crash ever.
Lets keep these discussions on Indymedia.

libcom hater

The English Defence League is about radical Islam and that's it.

25.03.2010 05:19

Some of them are nationalist but not all.


EDL target ALL Muslims

25.03.2010 20:47

Don't be daft Lotty. The EDL target ALL Muslims, not just Islamist extremists. Just a quick glance at their Facebook comments, or YouTube posts will tell you that. Mind you, you already know.



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