Sunday, 2 June 2013

The EDL, the military and the aftermath of the savage murder of Drummer Rigby

I am sure that most of this country were appalled and shocked by the murder of Drummer Rigby 10 days ago. As an ex-soldier it was reminder of the threat from Irish extremism that we lived under for the majority of my time in the army. The way Drummer Rigby was murdered and the callous way the two murderers asked people to photograph them and then call the police was something we have never witnessed in this country before. But members of the IRA and INLA murdered many soldiers, police members, innocent civilians, and children but maybe as we never had 24/7 news coverage and those murders were carried out by people who did not want to get caught and quickly sneaked away into the background we did not have the same revulsion we feel today about the murder of Drummer Rigby.

Some good may come out of his despicable act, the military will be reminded again that unlike the 70’s and 80’s they are much loved and respected by the British public and more importantly the Muslim community has quickly condemned the actions of the two murderers and not only that have opened up their Mosques to the general public and in some places like York, even invited members of the Far Right EDL into the mosque to talk and share tea and biscuits.

Even here in Ipswich some members of the Muslim community joined EDL members on their march through the town, though I for one feel this was step too far and gave the EDL some form of legitimacy they do not warrant.

But where does that leave us now both in the UK and closer to home in Ipswich?

There has been more dialogue between faiths and communities, we do not want people to just retreat into their own groups and areas. But I do fear about the growth of the Far Right over the next two years. This country is tolerant and has always welcomed immigrants, refugees and visitors into this country- in most cases with open arms. But mistakes have been made and some communities have found it harder to feel this is their home. Some like the Somalian community have seen many of their younger members find themselves drawn into gang culture in parts of London and even small towns. But this country has shown that Right Wing extremism isn’t wanted here, the rise of the BNP was a concern over the last few years but their failure to win seats at the May County Council elections indicated that their day was over. Partly due to the in-fighting and the incompetence of their leaders like Griffin. But many from the Far Right have just looked for a new vehicle for their racism, some have joined UKIP and attempted to gain from the anti-Europe bandwagon and others have found themselves in the EDL. Not really a political group but a hotch potch of football hooligans and others on the edge of society. Many who are more interested in a having a few beers, a punch up and a row with the police than discussing politics.

The murder of Drummer Rigby, and the natural anger this country felt about that event has led more people to feel that the EDL are in the right, seeming willing to overlook the criminal records of their leadership and the previous EDL marches that have mainly ended up in a pub and clashes with the police.

As an ex solder, I am concerned that soldiers and veterans are not drawn into the EDL. The right will use their support as a sign of legitimacy and those soldiers will suddenly find themselves thrown out of the army- reports today in the press state that at least 15 soldiers are under investigation for posting messages showing support for the EDL on social media. Both the family of Drummer Rigby and his Regiment asked the EDL not to march on Saturday but they were ignored.

I remember as a young soldier many of my colleagues who spent many months in fighting the IRA in West Belfast and South Armagh talking of their support for loyalist groups like the UVF and the UDA, but for many of us who spent longer in the province that the UDA, UVF were as cowardly and murderous as the IRA and INLA. I hope that Commanding Officers and Regimental Serjeant Majors are reminding soldiers of the pitfalls of getting involved in far right groups. Dan Jarvis MP, a former officer in the Parachute Regiment has informed that he will ask a question to the Armed Forces Minister to ask what steps are being taken to protect young soldiers who could easily be influenced.

In Ipswich, I have spoken to the British Legion and a number of veteran’s organisations warning them that the EDL may attempt to draw them into protests by pretending they are organising charity events or a march to support our troops.

But I am concerned about the rise of the Far Right those who are fascists, Nazis who will use events like last week to gain members and support – we must remember the past, I was undecided if I should write this post or at least the next part of it, but the rise of nationalism does remind me of the events of 30’s Germany and the rise of Nazism- I have just finished the book ‘Dominion’ by C J Sansom, and it portrays a Britain that made peace with Germany but then saw the likes of Mosley lead us to the right eventually sending British Jews to Germany and death. It may only be a book but at the end of it C J Sansom speaks of is own fears as nationalism takes hold in Europe using the rise of the SNP in Scotland as an example. We can't just shut our eyes and think things will be all right. we need to stand up and be counted and do all we can to help our community to continue to live in peace.

UKIP had amazing success in the May elections, taking votes off all the main political groups and there is no doubt that their support covers the whole political spectrum, but they will attract ex BNP members and current EDL members, they admit themselves that they do not have the vetting procedures in place to keep those extremists out. The number of those elected in May who are now under investigation is an example where they have grown too fast.

But UKIP may say they are not of the Far Right but they have been quick to play the immigration card to gain support and locally that seemed to be the topic they discussed most rather than Europe. The leadership at the top of UKIP are mainly ex Tory, but UKIP support as I have said comes from left and right but the concern is now that the Far Right will see UKIP as their natural home as the BNP is in its death throes.

Next week, ‘Hope not Hate’ the organisation that did do much to defeat the BNP is holding a meeting in Ipswich to discuss how we must work together to defeat the EDL plus those from the Fra Right who find their way into the UKIP, I am afraid that UKIP has shown it can’t control who joins or even stands for election under a UKIP banner currently.

But the left has also got to control elements of groups within the UAF that just see fighting the EDL as the only way to protest, ‘Hope not Hate’ has shown there is another way. The Labour Party and the Government also has to continue to work with Muslim communities to stop the rise of extreme Islam.

The way ahead is difficult, we must be prepared to discuss immigration the fears of all communities but more importantly we must be prepared to stand up against extremism- from the right or the left.


John Gray said...

Excellent post Alasdair

John Gray said...

Excellent post Alasdair.

Unknown said...

You are a idiot. I am edl. I work hard for a living and have never been involved in any violence of any kind. I dont know who's side you are on but it is this sort of talk that the uaf say. You will be the first one to moan if the muslims get there laws in this country. We have to make a stand. I love my country and want the best for it and that is not racist. No one else seems to be doing anything about these people which is why I joined.

Unknown said...

What the hell are you running on about you know nothing of the EDL, Or the work i have done in East Anglia with various muslim communities, Feel Free to contact me anytime im on twitter @eastanglianedl

Unknown said...

'Even here in Ipswich some members of the Muslim community joined EDL members on their march through the town, though I for one feel this was step too far and gave the EDL some form of legitimacy they do not warrant'

You know nothing about the EDL In East Anglia or the work i've done with various muslim communities, All you are doing is trying to cause divide, What's up you scared if EDL and Muslims Talk?

If you want to have a chat get in touch via twitter @eastanglianedl and we will sort something out, as i have nothing to hide.