BBC Documentary on the English Defence League

As has been widely blogged and reviewed, BBC 3 featured a documentary on the English Defence League on Wednesday evening, entitled Young, British and Angry. The BBC’s reporter, Ben Anderson, attended several EDL protests and spoke with some leading activists – in particular, the Sikh-origin Guramit Singh, and a Luton-based activist named Kevin Carroll.

Singh was challenged about his speech at the protest in Westminster, when he announced to a cheering crowd through a megaphone: “God bless the Muslims – they’ll need it when they’re burning in hell”. Singh explained this had been highly embarrassing slip of the tongue:

A big apology. I messed up big time, I messed up big time…I fucked it up, yeah. Two days before, that speech was published on the internet, on the English Defence League website. It says “God bless everybody, even the militant Muslims – who’ll need it when they’re burning in hell.” Now, I missed out that word like a twat. I apologise so much. I felt so bad, you know, because we’ve got Muslim members, I thought “oh my god, what are they going to think of me?” I felt like the biggest twat, I really did.

As for the cheers that followed his speech, Singh suggested that “half the crowd” hadn’t been able to hear him because of the quality of the megaphone (A picture of the scene can be seen here – and holding the megaphone was none other than the cyber-bully Charlie Flowers, whom I’ve blogged on a number of times). Anderson also mentioned Singh’s abusive writings, although he was not directly asked about those.

Carroll, meanwhile, showed Anderson around Luton. He took the journalist to the spot where Islamist extremists had protested against British soldiers last year, causing outrage and serving as the catalyst for the EDL’s formation. They also visited a couple of children’s playgrounds, one in any area with many Asians, and one in the predominately white estate of Farley Hill; while the former was state-of-the-art, the latter was shabby and with few facilities. Anderson complained that “this is as good as it gets for us”. However, Anderson later spoke with Sian Timoney, a Labour councilor, who took him to a new and more extensive playground on the same estate. She dismissed as “ludicrous” the suggestion that certain ethnic groups receive more funding.

One awkward moment came when Anderson asked Carroll why he had signed nomination papers for a BNP candidate two years ago; he explained that he had been approached on the doorstep by a BNP canvasser and took their word for it that they were non-racist party; only later did he realise his mistake. He also made a quick phone call to his black teenage daughter, who then came on camera (but didn’t speak) as evidence of his non-racism. The BNP link was noted by Three Counties Unity in March:

He is well-known to local anti-fascists and was only dissuaded from standing as a candidate in the 2007 Luton Council elections by a last-minute plea from his partner… He did, however, sign nomination papers along with Stevenson for the BNP candidate for Farley in that election – Robert Sheddock – and in doing so shows his political colours.

Footage from the EDL’s various protests seemed to be even-handed; there were some ugly incidents of racism (including someone making monkey noises at a black counter-protestor), but also efforts to weed out such elements – we even saw a steward being stripped of his position for making a gesture at counter-protestors. EDL leaders stated that “idiots” are always likely to show up, although they were not welcome. At one protest there was a short interview with Abdul, a nominal Muslim who is treated with some affection by other EDL members.

Anderson managed to convey the sense of grievance felt by EDL members, although besides a reference to support for Geert Wilders there was little sense of a coherent ideology behind the movement. However, Anderson was concerned with the EDL on the streets rather than on the internet; consequently there was nothing about links to groups such as “Politically Incorrect“, or the Crusader fetishism often found on EDL-linked YouTube videos and such.

If you are in the UK, the programme can be viewed here for the next week.

5 Responses

  1. […] members, and TPM picture 11 shows EDL activist Kevin Carroll (I previously blogged on Carroll here). Picture 15 shows a glimpse of a banner representing the American Society for the Defense of […]

  2. […] BBC Documentary on the English Defence League […]

  3. […] meanwhile, distances himself from the EDL’s Guramit Singh and from Bill Baker (Flowers was filmed holding the megaphone when Singh made his notorious comment about Muslims burning in hell during a […]

  4. […] of Muslims burning in Hell. In a later interview with the BBC, Singh explained that it had all been a terrible mistake: A big apology. I messed up big time, I messed up big time…I fucked it up, yeah. Two days before, […]

  5. […] I discussed the Committee for a Free Britain last June; the organisation at one time employed Paul Staines, who is now famous as a conservative political blogger, smear-merchant, abusive thug, and libel bully. Staines was at the time a part of a young conservative activist scene in the UK, and Cox today employs another activist from the same libertarian milieu: this is Stuart Notholt, who travelled to last year’s independence celebrations in South Sudan on behalf of Cox’s Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (I previously mentioned Notholt in passing here). […]

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