"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

The repercussions of a ban on the EDL

by Truth, Reason & Liberty on Thursday, 25 August 2011 at 20:30

Recently, I made the case yet again against using the state to fight fascism. One key point in this was that by calling on the state to stop a protest taking place because those marching are fascists you set a precedent for them to do so when those marching aren’t fascists. Thus, the only thing that surprised me was the rapidity with which that point was proven right.

Hope not Hate declared the police’s decision to seek a ban “a victory for common sense.” They are jubilant that the EDL have been “foiled” in their plan “to bring violence and disorder to the streets of Tower Hamlets.” This alone smacks of a staggering level of naivety, given that the police only have the power to ban marches and not static demonstrations – as the EDL themselves proved only this month in Telford. Not to mention Leicester, where a ban didn’t stop “violence and disorder.”

Then there is the statement from the Metropolitan Police;

We are in the process of applying to the home secretary for authority to
prohibit a march in five London boroughs for a period of 30 days.

As Dave Hill (who supported calls for a ban) admits, this “applies to all marches in the boroughs concerned,” with the exception of “funeral processions and marches that take place annually and are therefore deemed part of local cultural custom and practice.”

As a result, the Socialist Worker is calling on “everyone who opposes racism and fascism” to “protest about the ban” and to still “come to Tower Hamlets to show that the racist EDL is not welcome.” Peter Tatchell is concerned that the “proposed ban on EDL march may also ban anti-EDL demo & East London Gay Pride.” He rightly calls this “a dangerous precedent.” And if the ban extends to Newham, the Disarm DSEi protest against the world’s largest arms fair is another protest potentially in the firing line.

As Tower Hamlets ALARM say;

State intervention is a worrying turn, the State stepping in and banning
EDL protests is not a sign of a left wing section of the State acting,
or even an Islamic element gaining strength, it is a sign of a further
move to a totalitarian State. We already have the camps in Yarlswood,
thug police that get away with murder and an ever watching State
gathering information on us. We don’t need to campaign for them to ban
political groups. Today the EDL, tomorrow us.

We don’t need the State to stop the EDL. We need to do this ourselves.
We need our communities to work together, overcome divisive elements and
tackle the threat of fundamentalism in whatever forms it takes.

Let’s hope that the repercussions of this ban reach enough of the left that Hope not Hate’s approach will receive much more opposition next time.


One response

  1. swampy

    Surely the main concern we should have over banning fundamentalist groups is, that they will only go underground, and we will have no idea where they are or what they are up to, to quote a good friend

    “I would rather know where and what the various nut jobs are up to”

    Give them a platform, let them spout their bile. we are all educated enough to debate with them.

    August 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm

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