Birds of a Feather flock to Croydon
KAHANIST with Holocaust denier Richard Edmonds, caught on camera by Guy Smallman for Reel News.
LUNAR House in Croydon is a 20 storey office block housing the UK Border Agency, that is the part of the Home Office which deals with immigration. It deals both with applications to stay and detention of unsuccessful applicants. Some unfortunate families have called in for interview only to find themselves detained without warning in conditions which HM Inspectorate of Prisons criticised as inadequate. But of course not every member of staff agrees with that sort of thing, nor has any say in it. Most are just ordinary civil servants, clerks and the like. Many of the workers are immigrants themselves, or sons and daughters of such.
Staff have been working Saturdays to catch up with a backlog of applications.
But this Saturday the staff and visitors to Lunar House faced another worry. The English Volunteer Force (EVF), a militant breakaway from the anti-Muslim English Defence League (EDL), had announced its intention of holding a demonstration against immigrants outside Lunar House, and then marching on to demonstrate at a local mosque.
This was at the end of a week in which the government had billboard wagons touring six London boroughs telling "illegal immigrants" to "Go Home". Business Secretary Vince Cable described the campaign as "stupid and offensive" but Prime Minister Cameron wants to spread it around the land.
The militarist-sounding name "English Volunteer Force", plainly modelled on the Ulster Prorestant UVF, and the known links between some of its members and the far-Right National Front, were a fair indication that it wasn't coming to Croydon for a friendly visit or to spread peace and love.
The council and local people and organisations in Croydon had appealed for the EVF demonstration not to be allowed, and Muslim leaders pleaded that there should be no provocation during Ramadan at the mosque. But police decided the demonstration could go ahead at Lunar House.
Unite Against Fascism(UAF), the Croydon Trade Union Council, and the PCS union which represents many of the Lunar House staff, joined forces to mobilise a counter-demonstration.
Urging all "nationalists" and "patriots" to join them, the EVF had promised to bring thousands of people out on Saturday. It mustered about 40 people all told. They were outnumbered more than three to one by their opponents, who were kept away from them by the police. A couple of anti-fascists were wrestled to the ground by police when they tried to get closer to the EVF. Local journalists who complained that they had been assaulted by EVF members that morning were ignored by police officers.
Photographer Guy Smallman managed to get some good photographs of both EVF and counter-demonstrators, as well as the police, and one of his shots tells a particularly interesting tale. The young man in the photograph above claimed to be a member of the far-Right Zionist Jewish Defence League (JDL), which originated in the United States, where it was led by Rabbi Meir Kahane. Kahane emigrated to Israel and founded the Kach party, which even the Israeli authorities decided was a "terrorist" group. This did not impede its activities too much, ranging from inciting Gaza settlers to resist evacuation to holding provocative marches through Arab areas, and campaigning against African immigrants in south Tel Aviv. That is a Kach tee shirt the young man is wearing, unless I'm mistaken, on a demonstration against "extremism" and "terrorism" in Croydon.
But who is the old gent in the picture? That's Richard Edmonds,who during a career back and forth between the National Front and British National Party notched up certain minor and 'spent' criminal convictions. In 1988, The Sunday Times revealed that Holocaust News, a publication that claimed The Holocaust was an "evil hoax", was being published by Edmonds, on behalf of the Centre for Historical Review, and distributed by BNP members. Edmonds also spent three months in custody over a 'racially-motivated' assault in 1993 and had previously been convicted for damaging a statue of Nelson Mandela on London's South Bank. For a time Edmonds seemed like Nick Griffin's loyal rival, then after the BNP's poor showing in elections in 2011 he announced he was contsting the party's leadership, but switched to the National Front. He was the party's candidate in the 2012 Croydon North by-election, finishing eighth out of twelve candidates with 161 votes (0.7% vote share).
We don't know how real is the Jewish Defence League presence in Britain. Its website admits to being hosted abroad. When American Islamophobes Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer were banned recently from travelling to Britain for a rally of the EDL, the JDL protested. That does not exactly surprise us. But when the representative of an outfit that used to shout "Never Again" turns up in the company of a man who insisted the Holocaust never happened in the first place, that's worth noting. And rubbing their faces in.