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Passion and politics in the English Defence League

‘Loud and proud’: Politics and passion in the English Defence League is a study of grassroots activism in what is widely considered to be a violent Islamophobic and racist organisation.

The book uses interviews, informal conversations and extended observation at EDL events to critically reflect on the gap between the movement’s public image and activists’ own understandings of it. It details how activists construct the EDL, and themselves, as ‘not racist, not violent, just no longer silent’ inter alia through the exclusion of Muslims as a possible object of racism on the grounds that they are a religiously not racially defined group. In contrast activists perceive themselves to be ‘second-class citizens’, disadvantaged and discriminated by a ‘two-tier’ justice system that privileges the rights of ‘others’. This failure to recognise themselves as a privileged white majority explains why ostensibly intimidating EDL street demonstrations marked by racist chanting and nationalistic flag waving are understood by activists as standing ‘loud and proud’; the only way of ‘being heard’ in a political system governed by a politics of silencing.

Unlike most studies of ‘far right’ movements, this book focuses not on the EDL as an organisation – its origins, ideology, strategic repertoire and effectiveness – but on the individuals who constitute the movement. Its ethnographic approach challenges stereotypes and allows insight into the emotional as well as political dimension of activism. At the same time, the book recognises and discusses the complex political and ethical issues of conducting close-up social research with ‘distasteful’ groups.

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Understanding Britain’s extreme right
Author: Paul Jackson

"Pride in Prejudice offers a concise introduction to the varied extreme right groups active in Britain. It looks to the past, in order to explore the roots of this complex movement, while focusing on the numerous groups and activists that make up Britain’s contemporary extreme right. This timely analysis examines the extreme right movement in terms of ideology and appeal, organisational styles, online and offline activism, approaches to leadership, types of supporters and gendered dynamics. Jackson also evaluates successes and failures in policy responses to the extreme right, and identifies the on-going risks posed by lone-actor terrorism.

Showcasing the latest research, Pride in Prejudice argues that Britain has never been immune from the extreme right, and demonstrates the movement has a long history in the country. It is made up of a wide variety of organisations, helping give this marginalised culture a diverse appeal and many are attracted for emotive as well as more rational reasons. While risks posed by the extreme right are manageable, Jackson concludes that this is only possible if we make ourselves aware of the ways the movement operates, and that by doing so we can also make multicultural liberal democracy more robust.

Open Access (free)
Transgressing the cordon sanitaire: understanding the English Defence League as a social movement
Hilary Pilkington

Introduction Transgressing the cordon sanitaire: understanding the English Defence League as a social movement This book is political – but not by design. It is rendered so by its object of study (the English Defence League) and its context – the rise of a new ‘far right’1 and ‘populist radical right’ across Europe and, more recently, America. It argues that establishing an academic ‘cordon sanitaire’ (Mouffe, 2005: 72), in the form of typological and classificatory approaches that focus solely on the ideological dimensions of such movements and confine them to

in Loud and proud
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Paul Jackson

, meaning it is made up of many tiny organisations which appeal to different demographics. The Traditional Britain Group draws those who are wealthier, more educated and middle and upper class. Its events have featured older, more eminent figures within the wider movement, as well as a younger generation. In class terms this is a quite different demographic to the English Defence League , which was a primarily

in Pride in prejudice
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Paul Jackson

. While small-scale for most of the 2000s, on 10 March 2009, at a homecoming parade in Luton for the Royal Anglian Regiment, an Islamist protest accused the soldiers of being ‘butchers’. They in turn were attacked by local patriots outraged by this provocative stunt, including Kevin Carroll, a co-founder of what grew from this flashpoint moment into the English Defence League . Luton typified the types of location where

in Pride in prejudice
David Renton

Griffin’s election as an MEP), a rival far-right organisation the English Defence League (EDL) was founded, as a street-fighting Islamophobic group. The EDL came out of events in Luton in March 2009 when a return-home event by the Royal Anglian Regiment was opposed by a tiny number of Muslims organised by the group Islam4UK. A mixture of football hooligans and fascists attacked them, and there were further anti-Islamic demonstrations in Luton on 13 April and 24 May 2009. 26 The EDL eschewed elections in favour of direct confrontation. Although it was funded by a

in Against the grain
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Paul Jackson

This chapter examines the wide range of gendered identities within the British extreme right, past and present. It comments on the appeal of women to interwar fascist groups as an important corrective to those who see this movement as one only appealing to men. Women’s roles were important in the National Front, British National Party and English Defence League as well. Masculinities are also important to consider, and the chapter examines how men can often feel a sense of frustration, while the extreme right space reflects these concerns and offers alternate male ideals to gravitate around, sometimes set in hypermasculine terms. Finally, it explores how gendered politics can be developed to express prejudices, such as the homonationalism that celebrates LGBTQ identities to frame Muslim communities as stereotypically illiberal.

in Pride in prejudice
Abstract only
Paul Jackson

extremist politics finding a degree of legitimacy by focusing on such anti-Muslim agendas, which helps explain how his party become by far and away the most successful fascist organisation in terms of electoral impact in British history. Networks such as the English Defence League also restyled activism, and the many groups that have emerged since the 2010s point once more to the high degree of diversity

in Pride in prejudice
Abstract only
Paul Jackson

, the National Front from the 1960s and the British National Party from the 1980s are all good examples here. However, others have developed as street protest groups, such as the English Defence League ; while others have cultivated a role as publishing houses, like the Britons Publishing Society and more recently Arktos ; others conceive of themselves as think tanks

in Pride in prejudice
Culture, violence, and the transatlantic far right since the 1970s
Kyle Burke

contribution to white power culture is now widely circulated on Stormfront and other sites. 111 A similar story has unfolded in Britain and Europe. Paramilitarism and white power culture have fused and circulated through digital social networks, music, magazines, and books. That, in turn, has propelled new waves of far right political organizing. Since forming in 2008, the English Defence League has battled what it perceives as the spread of Islam and multiculturalism. Grouped into regional, militaristic divisions, the English Defence League includes many skinheads who

in Global white nationalism