English Defence League marches unescorted from Redbridge to Dagenham

An estimated 250 EDL supporters marched today from Redbridge to Dagenham. It got violent. The pretext seems to have been the conversion of a former butchers into a Muslim centre.

It seems I wasn’t the only one taken unaware. Hope Not Hate reports that there was no police escort, and while Dagenham had organised 10 police vans, Redbridge had one community support officer on a bike. When the EDL started attacking young Asian men, hospitalising one with a broken jaw, the police were nowhere (the net gain of Redbridge’s two-for-one police offer comes to mind).

In case there is any doubt, the EDL is a group associated with violence and consequently huge policing costs. Over the past fortnight:

If the EDL try to control the streets, local police forces shouldn’t warn residents away as Kirklees force warned away young people in Dewsbury. Forces need to work with residents, as they have done in Bradford, Leicester, and Thames Valley to ensure that they remain everybody’s streets.

Here’s a positive grassroots response – due for an EDL visitation on 9th July, Derby has scrambled a multicultural music festival. But unlike us, they had forewarning.

The local group to support is Redbridge and Epping Forest Together (REFT) – details from Hope Not Hate’s directory:

Redbridge and Epping Forest Together
P.O.Box 1576 Ilford IG5 0NG
020 8550 1805

Councillors Bhamra and Nijjar are involved in a nationwide initiative to counter the EDL’s “divide and rule” tactics with British Asians.

EDL background at:


Still no cached page yet, not inclined to provide a direct link, so copy and paste this for the EDL’s report of the march: http://englishdefenceleague.org/content.php?382-Dagenham-Demo-18-June-2011. (On the poppy burning, I noticed that the Muslim Defence League, which grew up as an answer to the English Defence League and is cause for concern, has condemned that act at some length.)

A YouTube video interview of the man whose jaw was broken has a cesspit of anti-Muslim, anti-Asian comment underneath it (the video is by MPACUK, an organisation that means bad news for people like me; incidentally, the Muslim Defence League says on its Facebook page that the men involved were not part of the MDL, and Hope Not Hate doesn’t report any aggressive behaviour on their part).

Update: Barkingside21 has a piece on this. As B21 writes, we’re a pretty diverse bunch in Redbridge, we get along for the most part, and are all the better for it.

Update: a heads-up from Jams on a planned rally in Romford this weekend, seeking to broaden participation by badging it as a patriotic celebration of military service. They are actively encouraging people to bring their kids. Is this a way of keeping violence at bay?

Update: Sarah’s neighbourhood will have a visitation on July 9th.

Sam Leith: “You can’t force Britishness on everyone, Dave”

As I commented on Modernity’s post ‘Words Matter’, words always matter. In the execrable Evening Standard last week, I read a piece about a delinquent family living on housing benefit in a beautiful house. The ethnic or religious group of the family was completely irrelevant and incidental but the Standard dropped it in anyway – as Jennifer Lipman in Mod’s post puts it, to be notched up by haters of this particular group as another good reason for hating them.

And then I remembered how, on the occasion of David Cameron’s disasterously-timed damning speech on multiculturalism, columnist Sam Leith managed to dose the confused wits of Evening Standard readers with smelling salts with his, ‘You can’t force Britishness on everyone, Dave‘. Here is is.

“Classical rhetoric gives us the concept of kairos, or “timeliness”. The PM could have done with some of that, having just given a talk on how multiculturalism fosters militant Islam within hours of English Defence League thugs stomping through Luton shouting “Who the f*** is Allah?”

Timing does matter in the race relations game. An unimpeachably theoretical discussion, depending on context, can be incendiary. Defenders of Enoch Powell rightly point out that he didn’t say “One, two, three, four, I declare a race war!” He said (to paraphrase): “I’m worried it will all kick off if we carry on like this.” But the two aren’t as easily separable as all that. Think of the man in the pub who tells you: “Look, this is a rough old boozer and your face don’t fit. Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t lay a finger on you. But I can’t vouch for my mates over there…”

Mr Cameron, mind you, speaks in good faith. And he articulates a widely held anxiety: that the passage from separate to separatist, separatist to extremist, extremist to terrorist, is an established one; and that the “hands-off tolerance” of bien-pensants eases that passage.

Personally, I’m quite in favour of “hands-off tolerance”. In fact, I’d say “hands-off” is pretty much the definition of tolerance. “Hands-on tolerance,” or perhaps “clear-off tolerance”, is the sort of tolerance the EDL wishes to extend to Muslim Britons.

When the PM says we shouldn’t fund jihadi youth clubs, or treat Islamic fascists as spokesmen for their co-religionists, we’re as one. But where he says we need an “active, muscular liberalism” that “believes in certain values and actively promotes them”, we part ways. Insisting that people hold certain values is not the job of even someone as important as the Prime Minister. It’s an impertinence to imagine it’s in his gift, and dangerous folly to seek to achieve it by state fiat. “Britishness” is the sum of everything British people think, say and do: not a handful of ideas politicians decide are good for us and administer like a dose of cod-liver oil.

Closed ethnic communities may not be to your taste but unless you can imagine a policy remedy that isn’t insane – racial housing quotas or banning the public speaking of Urdu, say – you have to live with them. Separatists are citizens too.

What you are entitled to expect is that the law of the land – not some idea, or some “British value”, but the law -applies as absolutely within them as it does everywhere else. And the law, lest we forget, forbids violence, hate-speech, oppression of women and the building of bombs out of fertiliser.

It’s frustrating to think that it’s only at this point that the state can intervene, but there are good reasons why we don’t have “pre-crime” police. You can’t make people love each other, and you shouldn’t try to.”