27 April 2012

The EDL: more Club 18-30 than Combat 18

On 5th May the English Defence League will return to Luton town centre; to the spot that spawned this flag waving band of poorly dressed vigilante culture police 3 years earlier. With media interest lolloping from it's Newsnight peak to Channel 4 hatchet jobs; and with the shocking Breivik massacre providing grim perspective, shouldn't this story of drunken posturing be over by now?

Despite the actions of Anders Breivik, the EDL seem to have missed their cue to exit stage left.

In trying to combat the EDL, politicians, journalists and anti-fascists have consistently missed the point, billing them as the organised Nazis and cartoon racists of the 1970s, when in reality they've always been more Club 18-30 than Combat 18.

The men and boys of this confused but shouty brood were brought up on a boozy 90s brand of Englishness, downing pint after pint of jingoistic headline piss from the front pages of red top tabloids. Desperately seeking an enemy in relatively peaceful times, they grew up, as I did, singing fighting songs like "No surrender" and "10 German bombers" at football matches before we'd even worked out who or what the IRA might be. 

In 2009, on the streets of Luton during the Poachers' homecoming parade, one group found their enemy. They were so close they could almost touch them. And so it came to
pass that the English Defence League was born in a petri dish of domestic collateral damage from Blair and Bush's war on terror.

War, religion, class, the economy; whatever your trigger of choice, for the majority of those that get involved in EDL jollies it is about making a noise, a show of strength. About beered-up lads showing off.

3 years down the line I hope some of these hangers-on so bravely defending England in the time-honoured tradition of a day on the beer ask themselves the question: if the death of 77 innocents doesn't shake you into sobering up or going back to the football, then what will?

If you are one of those preparing your banners and chants for Luton on May 5th, take a long hard look at events in Norway before dusting off your hoodies and flags and coming back to town. 

Because the next lone crusading psycho might tell them it was because of YOU.

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