Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, leader of the English Defence League (EDL), has spent years in a controversial campaign to see “extremist Muslims” imprisoned and is now complaining that the prison he is now in is “full of Muslim extremists.”
Yaxley-Lennon and 52 others have been arrested in a dramatic police swoop as they travelled to London for an unofficial demonstration outside a mosque. The far right extremists, including candidate for Bedfordshire Police Commissioner, Kev Carroll had hired trucks for the extremists to hide in as they attempted to reach their destination unnoticed.
The police were aware of the operation and stopped the vehicles and arrested the occupants.
Yaxley-Lennon has been charged with assault and using a false passport to attend a demonstration in New York in September, which carries both the risk of being extradited to the US or a sentence of up to 10 years in the UK.
This may be the same false identity he used to enter the European Parliament earlier in the year for a covert meeting of extremists, including several repeatedly praised by Norwegian killer, Anders Breivik.
Sajjad Karim MEP, whose house was invaded by EDL thugs, three of which were imprisoned for the demonstration said, “It is deeply alarming to hear that such a high profile extremist figure was able to enter and exit America with false documentation. And this comes after his anti-Islam speech in the European Parliament in July where again he entered by using false documents. This lunatic is a danger to society and must be reprimanded."
The fortunes of the EDL have faded over the last year, to a point where they can no longer bring people to demonstrations in significant numbers. A high turnout now is around 10% of their peak.
They have also failed to transform themselves into a political force. Not only have they failed to articulate a policy agenda, in May Yaxley-Lennon and his cousin Kev Carroll became vice-chairmen of the British Freedom Party, an organization with a tiny membership, founded by Paul Watson, formerly of UKIP.
Robinson resigned from the party in October, after a disastrous EDL demonstration in Walthamstow in London. The poorly attended rally was halted by local people and the EDL leaders ran back to Luton, leaving their members to be arrested and held for hours.
The EDL members have not provided a boost to the BFP membership. However, Yaxley-Lennon has been courted by American ‘counter-jihadists’ like Pamela Geller, whose demonstration he attended in New York, which has now landed him in trouble.
Paul Weston has tried to stand by the EDL leader. He visited Wormwood Scrubs prison in London demanding to meet Yaxley-Lennon but was arrested for causing a breach of the peace. The ineptitude of the far-right party can be seen from the fact that Yaxley-Lennon was actually in Wandsworth prison, some distance away.
The EDL have promised to return to Walthamstow, but with all 53 of those arrested barred from the area, it is hard to see how it will be anything but another failure.
However, as the EDL collapses into chaos, and there is further trouble coming as they search for the informer behind the latest arrests, members attitudes have hardened, with more open threats of violence and even acts of terrorism are debated between them, not only privately but on social networks.
The decline is mirrored in the British National Party, who now only have one MEP, Nick Griffin after his colleague, Andrew Brons quit the party. Many were surprised that Brons was still a member, having been at odds with Griffin for some time. Brons claims that “80% or 90% of the party's membership, activists and former officials have left it and disappeared in several different directions."
Griffin may be joining the EDL leader in prison. After a recent court ruling where a gay couple were compensated for being turned away from a guest house, run by Christians, the BNP leader sent messages over the social media service Twitter, spreading the couple’s home address and promising that they would be visited by “a British Justice team.”
Griffin has announced that he was prepared to go to jail over the issue, telling a Christian radio station, "I don’t want to, but the fact is that we are in, now, a totalitarian society where the indigenous majority of Christians and heterosexuals are the oppressed majority and I’m prepared to go to prison to protect their rights."
With the EDL and BNP, who detest each other, short of funds, having their political ambitions thwarted and the membership dissolving into competing splinter groups or giving up entirely, the far right in Britain is dying.
This is not surprising. They are convinced that Islam is about to enslave the world. In the real world, people are concerned over the financial crisis and the effects of austerity. Instead of addressing this, the far right has been living in a paranoid fantasy world, completely disconnected from the hopes and fears of ordinary people.
Yaxley-Lennon is due in court 7 January 2013.