Monday 21 October 2013

Bradford -the death of the EDL

Last week I had the privilege of attending Bradford during the pathetic EDL gathering. I say privilege, simply because this sort of event pulls together so many good folk who want to work for peace in the city. In three hours, at the small 'We Are Bradford' event, and at the 'Emporium of Dreams' base for peace activists, I met so many wonderful folk it was beautiful.

From the 'Emporium' well briefed peace lovers went out in small groups to make sure that trouble spots were calmed down, so that the EDL would not get the violence that they crave. The city was flowing with the green ribbons for peace, on each wrist and shop front.

In the 'We Are Bradford' event, there was lots of lovely food, and some great speeches from within the local community. It was small (about 250 at it's peak) but contrary to the lies spread about it by the authorities - it was almost entirely made up of locals, and was completely peace loving. For this reason it was sad that while there were speakers from the local synagogue, humanist association, women for peace, local Muslim groups - not a single person from the local churches spoke.

Though asked, I chose not to speak, as I was there simply to help out, and my comments might not have been helpful! I understand that there are different approaches to tackling the EDL, and ignoring them is one valid approach, but I really think that there are enough churches/clergy around to work on many fronts, including supporting local people who refuse to abandon the city centre to Fascists and the local police when these events happen. At least the local Methodists were around, along with many lay Christians from Anglican/Catholic circles. The only Anglican priest I found on the streets was playing a supportive role all the way from Luton

The great news was that the EDL stump demo was pitiful, a couple of hundred flag wavers (including Israeli flags to try and wind up some local Muslims) who failed to achieve anything thing at all. Even Tommy Robinson/Lennon has realised it is time to desert this sinking ship, floundering under the weight of its own human excrement.

People have seen through the EDL's racist and Islamophobic lies, and their thuggish Nazi beliefs are now clear for everyone to see. The costly Bradford demo was hopefully one of the last breaths of failed movement.

Tuesday 8 October 2013

The EDL is history, but what to make of Tommy Robinson?

It is a confusing story - Tommy Robinson renouncing the EDL for its right wing extremism. When I first heard the story, I thought it was a spoof.

But it couldn't be more real, Robinson and several others have resigned, citing that Nazi's and other extremists have taken over the helm of the English Defence League.

I can't believe that he hadn't noticed this before! Every EDL demo I've opposed was loud with some of the most hateful far right chants, and he was definitely at the same demos!

Having just watched Robinson on Newsnight though, I have to give him some credit. It seems it is possible to head an extremist street fighting sect for four years, and then to see the error of your ways. It was a bout in prison that did it, followed by his encounters with brave Muslims who are taking huge risks by countering violent forms of political Islam.

Don't get me wrong, his analysis and beliefs are still clearly flawed, but their seems to be genuine remorse at some of the harm he has done, and a desire to make amends.

One of my most treasured moments in my last job was when a former member of the EDL came to my house and handed over his EDL Division hoody. He had come to realise how hate filled they were and that they were not part of the solution, but a major part of the problem.

People can change. All people deserve forgiveness and we should be prepared to take Robinson at his word.

We now know that what remains of the splintered and dying EDL is toxic and dangerous. Those who now decide to throw their lot with them should be exposed as the evil racist Nazis that they clearly are. There can be no hiding behind the idea that the EDL represent 'ignored white working class' concerns. They are nasty street thugs bent on violence and extremism. Time for them to disappear down the sewer where they belong.

Bring on the Uruguayan!

The long awaited announcement that Gus Poyet is to be the new Head Coach at Sunderland AFC is great news for the Uruguayan. He has long been interested in the club, and was in the running 6 months ago for the post. I'm sure club owner regrets not giving Gus a try sooner given the divisive and disappointing fiasco that accompanied Di Canio's ill fated reign.

He has got his work cut out, with Sunderland trailing in the league, cut adrift after only managing 1 point in seven games. But the talent is there, and the spirited play by the team against Liverpool and Manchester United has given us all great hope. Kevin Ball, the Caretaker manager should take some credit for this, and Poyet would be wise to work closely with this local legend, who many will feel has been unlucky not to have been given a shot at managing himself.

The Uruguayan brings with him a passion and energy that the fans will soon appreciate. All Uruguayans are mad about football. I recall my wife (also born in Montevideo) once forgetting our wedding anniversary meal because the national team were playing!

We really wish him well, and will be praying for a more stable time for the club in the coming months. We want his South American passion, and we need a manger that the players can actually respect.

Finally there is some hope to regain our reputation as a top footballing city. Bring on the Uruguayan!