My first thought, when I saw the presenter, Ben Anderson, was:
Very clever. They’ve got a fairly young guy with cropped hair and almost a regional accent to do it. That is. He’s one of you, EDL. So how can he be automatically against you?
As a journalist, never mind a BBC journalist with a long-standing reputation, he’s not exactly Joe Blogs, is he? And there’s no reason for him to be Joe Blogs. As long as he doesn’t pretend to be Joe Blogs, you known, like Adrian Goldberg of the Birmingham Mail.
Having said all that, as I said, it wasn’t too bad (or too good). You wouldn’t expect the BBC to be too systematically and agitproperly anti-EDL from beginning to end. So, instead, it got someone who was ever-so-slightly sympathetic. (Or did they get someone who pretended to be every-so-slightly sympathetic?). It wasn’t all negative. But a hell of a lot of it was about the EDL’s ‘racism’. For a start, it basically covered only two themes: EDL violence and EDL racism. What about the EDL’s position against sharia law or rogue mosques? Why not even a mention? Why no interviews with the official leadership or with an official spokesman? Was that a technique or just an oversight on Ben Anderson’s part?
I did read one incredibly smug account of the EDL – or a smug account of the BBC 3 account of the EDL. Don’t be fooled that Tom Sutcliffe and the Independent are that much better than the Guardian when it comes to issues such as the EDL, Islam and All That. These national papers are full of leftist and liberal snobs who hate the white working class. And they always have – right back to the Fabians and the Bolsheviks. ‘Educate the working class’ eh? And then ‘sterilise’ them? A bit like this:
‘… crowds drifted up and down the pavements waving flags and jumping into omnibuses, but in such a disorganised half-hearted sordid state that I felt more and more melancholy and hopeless to the human race.’ – Virginia Woolf (the Cheri Blair of the early 20th century).
A lot of commentators have been sarcastic about the amount of black and Asian members the EDL has. Tom Sutcliffe says that it has ‘at least one black member’. Yes; maybe not many. But if he had watched the documentary properly (he is, after all, a TV commentator), he’d have known that there were more than one shown on the show. Not many more, but some more. The thing is that out of its couple of thousand members, how many black and Asian members do people expect the EDL to have? Blacks and Asians are minorities in the UK. What’s the point of the EDL becoming as PC as other groups by getting obsessed by having more Asian and Black members? The other thing. If you take a couple of thousand New Labourites or Tories, how many of them would be black or Asian? Not many. And certainly not many more than the EDL. The Conservatives would have a few Sikhs. New Labour would have had a few Sikhs, a larger number of Muslims and a few blacks. The LibDems? I’ve got no idea.
Sutcliffe also accuses EDL members of ‘paranoia and irrational rage’. I would say that every day at least 40 people die due to the World Jihad. Irrational paranoia? Was the rage ‘irrational’ against the London bombers or against the scumbag group, Islam4UK, at Luton? Is it paranoid the think that most Muslim states impose sharia law; therefore Muslim ghettoes in the UK will want to impose sharia law on themselves - and on whoever else is unlucky enough to live amongst them? However, he at least had the decency to admit that EDL member were otherwise ‘notionally sane people’. That’s nice of him. So we don’t all have horns coming out of our heads or swastikas tattooed on our genitals.
He sums the EDL with six words – every one negative. It is ‘grubby’. It is ‘racist’. It is ‘xenophobic’. It is full of ‘hooligans’. Blah fluking blah! It is also against sharia law and the excessively liberal laws against - or for! - militant Muslims. Did Sutcliffe simply overlook these things or does he not give a shit about them?
*) The BBC documentary on the EDL: