If I were going to describe an organisation as fascist, it would have to satisfy all the criteria below beyond reasonable doubt:
- Their primary targets would be trade unions, the political left and parliamentary democracy;
- They would be supported generally by the middle classes and be funded in the main by industry or landowners;
- They would be racist;
- They would limit the role of women, be hostile towards homosexuality and oppose abortion;
- They would exalt the leader.
I’ll apply these criteria to the EDL systematically:
Their primary targets would be trade unions, the political left and parliamentary democracy
The EDL do not oppose trade unions and there are no postings which explicitly say they should be abolished. There have been a lot of postings from EDL supporters who do think trade unions have become dominated by the far left and care more about lining their pockets than helping their members. There have been postings from people who support Thatcher for limiting union power but no one in favour of suppression.
I can testify that the EDL is not against the political left. In my introductory post I honestly stated that I was a trade unionist and a socialist. The people who responded to my post were not hostile and I would have expected hostility from members of a fascist organisation.
The EDL support parliamentary democracy: aren’t we fighting to defend democracy from Islamic extremism which wants to replace it with theocracy? Of course, there is a general feeling amongst EDL members that our democracy could be improved and a lot of MPs are useless, but no one has said ‘let’s have a dictatorship then’.
They would be supported generally by the middle class, industry and landowners
The EDL is not supported generally by one social class in particular. In fact, there is more hostility towards the middle class expressed on the forum than there is towards the working class. For an organisation that is being routinely labelled as fascist, this is most surprising. [It is the far left and UAF/SWP which are middle class - the SWP's Alex Callinicos is an aristocrat!]
It is the parties of the far left who are supported by the middle classes and whose members are prejudiced against anyone who doesn’t have a white collar or professional job.
A report in the Guardian last year claimed that the EDL was forging links with the Tea Party movement in the USA and was being funded by a wealthy British businessman. I cannot see any evidence of sympathy towards Tea Party viewpoints on these message boards. For example, the Tea Party believes that Obama’s healthcare reforms are a way of imposing socialism on US society. Many EDL supporters seem positive about free healthcare in the UK and don’t reflect these views. Furthermore, the Tea Party would support lower taxes for the rich. I don’t see many EDL supporters thinking that would be a good idea.
They would be racist
Not true – just look at the names of the people joining this forum.
They would limit the role of women and be hostile towards issues such as homosexuality and oppose abortion
When I first introduced myself to the forum (in September 2009) I told members I was gay. There were no insults or messages telling me to leave the forum. I was not completely sure about what the EDL stood for so I did some research and found out that you have an LGBT division. Any organisation which has an LGBT division and accepts it cannot be fascist.
The EDL is not hostile towards women: on the contrary you seem hostile towards those who are genuinely hostile towards women, namely Islamic extremists.
It is BNP policy to oppose abortion except in extreme cases such as rape (and some BNP members and right-wing Tories even oppose abortion in this case). I have seen angry postings on this forum from people who are in favour of abortion and have heaped scorn on pro-lifers in the US as well as the Islamic approach to abortion.
They would exalt the leader
As far as I can see; Tommy Robinson is respected within the EDL but not exalted.
Finally, none of the 'usual suspects' on the British far right feature in news reports or forum postings about the EDL.