On banning the EDL in Tower Hamlets…..
As things stand, it looks very likely that the upcoming English Defence League March in Tower Hamlet’s will be banned. The Met have applied for the march to be banned and Theresa May looks to be sympathetically inclined to grant them that request. It seems, however, to have slipped under the radar that the Met Police has in fact applied to not just ban the EDL march but ALL protests in some East London boroughs. This perfectly illustrates the problem with asking the state or the police to do these things, rather than simply applying to people the left happen not to like politically it ends up applying to everybody.
As regular readers will know, I am nonetheless sympathetic to the mayhem the EDL (and indeed the travelling circus of counter-demonstrations) cause and understand why that might want local communities would want to stop them marching. I have previously cited my support for the Northern Irish Catholic community in denying the Orange Order the right to march through their areas as an example of how the democratic right to protest does not equate to the automatic right to go wherever you want. I continue to think this is a germane example but this puts me in something of a quandary to which I think the only solution is to support the community self-organising to deny the EDL access (if it so desires).
Rather than rely on the state and the police to restrict the EDL we should rely on empowering local communities and the anti-fascist majority in those communities to deny the EDL. Not only does calling on the state to do things cross the line into authoritarianism (and stupid, self-defeating authoritarianism at that) but it atomises people in those communities and rather than empowering anti-fascism makes it a lifeless tool of the dead hand of the state. I have no problem with restricting the EDL, with curtailing their rights in this instance (because their rights directly impinge on the freedom of others), but the manner in which it is done matters. In that light, I cannot, and feel the left should not either, support the Met Police and Theresa May in banning the EDL march in Tower Hamlets.