by Lee Stevens (FLAF Steering Group)
A few weeks ago, at our first steering group meeting, around 20 people, all from football & anti-fascism, gathered together. They were of different ethnicities and religious backgrounds: Black, White, Brown, Muslim, Jew, Catholic, Protestant, Atheist.
I talked with Muslims that, according to the far right, live a life that is a thousand years removed from ours. They were complaining about the same things that I complain about – and it wasn’t only the far right or racism that worried them. As the conversations developed, what was recognised by all and voiced by one of the Muslim workers there, was that we were all working class, from similar communities with the same hopes, fears, and anxieties as each other. The same concerns about grooming gangs, sex crimes, racism, fascism and terrorism and that the way forward is to stick together as working class people against those that seek to divide our communities.
As a steering group we want to work in the best interests of our communities. We are a united group of working class people, from diverse backgrounds, most of whom have been around football for a few years and some who have long experience of fighting racism & fascism at football & in the areas where they live.
We have people who voted for Brexit and people who voted against Brexit. None of them voted either way for racist reasons. Some are more political than others, but the basic unity and common denominator between us is our working class backgrounds and a commitment to improving the situation of fans at our clubs, and working in co-operation, with the best interests of our communities at heart. FLAF is about uniting working class people of all backgrounds.
FLAF is about UNITY : the DFLA is about DIVISION.
We would appeal to those who may have been hopeful of a politically neutral organisation in the original FLA and who followed a right-wing rump into the DFLA to break with these wolves in sheep’s clothing. We appeal to you to step away from the DFLA and join us in the struggle to improve our working class areas;
- For accountable officials and effective policing;
- Proper & accountable investigations into all sex crimes & crimes against children.
- Full support and compensation for the victims of abuse and sex crimes.
- Justice & Truth for the victims of terrorism.
The DFLA says that it is for all of these things also, but they are selective and discriminatory in the campaigns that they champion. Take a look at the facebook pages of some of the so-called ‘campaigns’ with which the DFLA is associated and you will see casual racism and religious sectarianism tolerated at every turn. The Justice For Women & Children facebook page, for example, doesn’t seek or achieve justice for anyone. They simply repost lurid stories of sex crimes that in the vast majority of cases have already been solved and the offenders convicted. These are not ‘human rights workers’ – these are vigilante squads led by the neighbours from hell. You know the type, the sort of people that make everyone else’s life on working class estates a misery. The idea that they are solving crimes and offering advice and comfort to the victims of abuse and sex crimes is a fanciful lie.
FLAF supports the work of organisations like the Rape Crisis Centres in England, Wales, Scotland & Ireland, who do great work with very few resources to help the victims of rape and child abuse. These are the real champions of women and children who have been traumatised by abuse and rape.
Examine how the DFLA’s involvement with the J421 Campaign (the relatives’ campaign that seeks truth and justice about the Birmingham Pub Bombings) is linked directly to their association with members of a religiously sectarian organisation and a Northern Irish loyalist terrorist group.
We stand for Justice, Truth & Reconciliation for ALL of the victims of terrorism, without exception, including the Birmingham families. However, we will not lend support to an organisation that is backed by loyalist terrorists and fascists. The families are being well financed but politically misled by sectarian bigots. The DFLA supports the bigots and convicted terrorists who are the real power behind the J421 Campaign.
For this reason we would point people in the direction of a genuine movement for justice that does not discriminate on grounds of religion or political affiliation, that of the Miscarriage of Justice Organisation (MOJO), set up by one of the six men wrongly convicted of the Birmingham Pub Bombings, Paddy Hill. These are true warriors for justice on behalf of working class people wronged by the state.
The DFLA tries to portray itself as peaceful and non-racist, but it is awash with far-right fanatics who have swapped membership of the NF, the BNP and the EDL for a pair of trainers and designer jeans, but no matter how they dress up their bigotry, the stench of fascism is hard to wash off.
Whilst it is true that not everyone in the DFLA is a racist or a fascist, it is clear from their public statements that they are now endorsing the Thatcherite spivs and failed Tories of UKIP, which under the leadership of Gerard Batten is moving ever further rightwards into political space previously occupied by the BNP. The DFLA has become Batten’s Barmy Army and is the umbrella organisation that is providing cover for the convergence of right-wing groups. They have deliberately blurred the lines between far-right and fascist.
It is for these reasons that we want to stop them marching in London on October 13th.
We do not advocate violence, nor do we sanction anything more than peaceful protest of the march itself. According to the DFLA the march will be led by women and children. Should this be the case, we would suggest that there should be no harassment of the march. It’s a cynical move by the DFLA, but it is not our way to frighten women and children.
There are already many violent threats being made by DFLA members on social media, so many it’s difficult to keep up with, yet it is they who portray themselves as ‘victims’ under siege. Nothing could be further from the truth. These are not people who are denied ‘free speech’ – these are bullies who will do their utmost to silence me and you and anyone else who opposes them.
They wrap themselves in flags and hide behind a false sense of patriotism, the type of false patriotism that Samuel Johnson described as ‘the last refuge of a scoundrel.’ They’re not patriots, they’re nationalists – British Nationalists – and British nationalism has become synonymous with fascism.
We appeal to all working class football fans who oppose racism and fascism to: