Quick notes: FLA in Manchester, DFLA in Woolwich

By Martin Smith and Tash Shifrin | 23 May 2018

Trevor Coult of the tiny far right Democrats and Veterans Party gets ready to speak to the FLA (seen in pub, behind him)

The battle for control between two rival factions of the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) looks to be largely over, after the demo called by the section aligned with former leader John Meighan flopped in Manchester last Saturday.

Only around 300 members of the far right racist FLA turned out to hear a handful of speakers including Trevor Coult of the far right micro-group, the Democrats and Veterans’ Party.

And it was good to see a lively demo of antiracists organised by Stand Up to Racism outnumber the FLA racists.

But it had already seemed unlikely that Sunday’s FLA mobilisation was going to attract large numbers.

The demo on 19 March had been called by recently ousted leader Meighan but the date, which coincided with the FA Cup Final, was not popular with FLA members and it looked unlikely that his allies would be fully committed to it. And so it turned out.

But the rival faction – the Democratic Football Alliance (DFLA) – which appears to have won the battle for leadership of the football firms, has called a march in the same city on 2 June, and this is likely to be substantially larger.

>> Read our analysis of the FLA / DFLA split and report on the rival factions’ marches in Birmingham here

DFLA leader Phillip Hickin was set to meet with leaders of the remnant FLA this week, and the DFLA is inviting all those in the other faction to join it in Manchester on 2 June.

The pulling power of the DFLA was clear earlier this month, when it was able – without anything like a full mobilisation – to put more than 2,000 on the streets in support of the “Day for Freedom” rally called by fascist Tommy Robinson (real name Stephen Yaxley Lennon).

>> Analysis: Tommy Robinson’s ‘Day for Freedom’ – a new turning point for fascism and the far right

Consolidation of the football firms’ organisation under a single banner is likely to add to its strength.

Members of the DFLA joined an unofficial commemoration of murdered soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich south-east London on Sunday, along with assorted other racist and fascist groups.

The event took place despite repeated public calls by Lee Rigby’s family for far right organisations not to seek to exploit his murder.

Up to 150 gathered at the event called by members of Millwall’s football hooligan firm with links to the fascist British National Party. But the demonstration swelled when it was joined by similar numbers arriving en masse on scooters.

The involvement of the scooterists is significant, suggesting that other subcultures are being drawn into the far right and fascist milieu along with the hooligan firms.

We described how the “Day for Freedom” event marked a turning point for fascists and the far right in Britain, with hardcore ideologues able to reach large numbers, including the organised thugs of the hooligan firms.

The presence of a large squadron of scooterists at an event clearly organised by racists and fascists on Sunday shows that other organised groups can also be pulled into the mix. It is a disturbing development.

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