Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 50)

Kennite: leave the EDL alone, they'll just go away.

Kennite: leave the EDL alone, they’ll just go away.

After Charles Moore’s high praise for Kennite’s faultless piece of investigative journalism (sarcasm) and his own muddled analysis of the EDL in yesterday’s Telegraph, we get this from Gilligoon.

Last weekend, Tony Brett, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Oxford and the city’s deputy lord mayor, found what he called a “disgraceful rabble” of people climbing on the city’s main war memorial — squashing, he said, the flowers that mourners had placed there, then trying to remove half of them altogether and “jeering” other visitors as they paid their respects.

“Last weekend”? We’ll come back to that later. So what’s got your goat, Andy?

That day, the memorial was supposed to be the scene of a wreath-laying by the far-Right, racist English Defence League. But none of the people laying flowers and being jeered bore any kind of EDL insignia and none of the wreaths had any kind of card or message from the group.

Oh, really? Why do I get the feeling this article is going to tread the by now familiar path of a classic Kennite smear job?

Neither Mr Brett, nor a local newspaper reporter on the scene, saw any sign of any EDL presence.

Gilligoon loves to keep us in suspense. Finally, he tells us:

All the aggro, Mr Brett said — he called it the “hate” — came from the self-appointed opponents of bigotry, a group called Unite Against Fascism (UAF). UAF’s response was to start an online petition saying that merely by criticising them Mr Brett had proved himself an EDL patsy, “not a fit representative for Oxford’s wonderful and multi-ethnic community”, and must resign immediately.

Yeah, I agree with the protesters. In fact, after doing some digging, I’ve discovered that these quotes came from a two week old story that was carried by The Oxford Mail on June 2. Here’s an excerpt:

Oxford City Councilmember Mr Brett said the protesters “jeered” at people and “floral tributes were squashed and badly damaged”.

There was “no sign” of EDL banners, clothing or “behaviour” he said, adding: “What I saw was a loud and unruly bunch who were showing hate towards what seemed to me to be a peaceful and lawful act of remembrance.”

He said on his blog: “If I do see any hate activity from any group in Oxford I will challenge it rigorously but the only hate I saw today was from the protesters.”

However, the local branch of UAF deny this.

Unite Against Fascism branch treasurer Tracy Walsh said it feared the EDL would use the event as a “smokescreen for their anti-Islamic views”.

Adding she did not see anyone damage the flowers, she said: “We were very mindful of the fact that it was a war memorial.”

Brett, who had signed up to attend an EDL rally on Facebook,  has also faced calls to resign. There’s no mention of this from Gilligoon.

OUAF has created an online petition calling for Mr Brett to stand down. Twitter users have also criticised Mr Brett for attending the event.

Green party councillor for University Parks Sam Coates called for an immediate apology.

Ian McKendrick, spokesman for OUAF, said Mr Brett’s remarks were “divisive and unhelpful”.

He said: “There was no chanting, no trouble, and it was a peaceful protest.”

Of course, that didn’t convince Kennite, who instead tells us:

UAF, 10 years old this year, is one of Britain’s most prominent anti-fascist organisations. It has received hundreds of thousands of pounds from the biggest trade unions, and support from dozens of mainstream politicians. Its vice-chairmen include Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, and Hugh Lanning, the deputy general secretary of the PCS civil service union.

This is Kennite’s way of having a quick dig at the trade unions. Here he says:

Of course, few causes can be more deserving than resistance to the EDL and British National Party. But the uncomfortable truth about UAF is that it contains more than a trace of fascism itself. It specialises, as seen in Oxford, in organising counter-demonstrations to any activity, or anticipated activity, by the far Right.

Hang on, UAF “contains more than a trace of fascism”? He’s repeating the same spiel as the EDL and UKIP here. If he’d been alive in the 1930s, would he have said the same thing about the anti-fascists who chased Mosley’s British Union of Fascists from Cable Street?  What we see in this kind of statement is an attempt to revise history to suit the narrative of the far-right. I would even go as far to say that Gilligan is actually providing a service to the EDL, in spite of his apparent distaste for their activities (in 2010 an EDL member was prosecuted for possessing indecent images of children; the BNP is no better).

Unfortunately, UAF’s counter-demonstrations often seem to cause as much, if not more, trouble than those by the EDL and BNP.

Again, I would refer Kennite to Battle of Cable Street and the events of the 1970s when the National Front were confronted by anti-fascists on Britain’s streets. The overwhelming discourse that’s being advanced by Gilligoon is “the EDL is bad but don’t challenge them. They’re just misunderstood. Ignore them and they’ll go away”. Predictably enough, Kennite proposes no alternatives.  Instead he says:

And there are ineffective ways. The racist Right thrives on two things: publicity and the politics of victimhood. The mob outrage practised by UAF gets the fascists more of both. As with the “anti-Islamophobia” monitoring group Tell Mama, which has lost its government funding after overhyping the nature of anti-Muslim hostility, there is a sense that the racists and their opponents need each other.

For someone who supposedly has a degree in history from Cambridge University, Kennite is remarkably ignorant of this country’s recent past. Cable street, Kennite, Cable Street. He also gets another opportunity to repeat what he said in last week’s article about Tell Mama. Lazy.

He closes with this:

The danger is that by exaggerating it, and by the politics of confrontation, supposedly anti-racist groups fuel the very division, polarisation and tension they are supposed to counter.

Wrong. Fascists must be confronted and challenged wherever they are. Kennite prefers to gives the EDL and others a free pass. He accepts UKIP’s and the EDL’s anti-intellectual view that anti-fascists are ‘fascist’ because they challenge them. Never in my life have I encountered such twisted logic.

I’ll leave you and Kennite with Edmund Burke’s well-worn dictum.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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Filed under Ideologies, Journalism, Media, News/Current Affairs, propaganda, Racism, Tory press, Yellow journalism

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