Cruddas urges parties to 'choke off' EDL surge

A Labour MP today called on political parties to "choke off" what the English Defence League (EDL) taps into.

Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham and Rainham, said the EDL is a small, violent street militia "but it speaks the language of a much larger, disenfranchised class".

Writing in The Times, he said: "The EDL may well pass through, and crash and burn like many of its predecessors.

"But it may not, because it taps into a politics born out of dispossession but anchored in English male working-class culture - of dress, drink and sport.

"Camped outside the political centre ground, this is a large swath of the electorate, a people who believe they have been robbed of their birthright and who are in search of community and belonging. Many are traditional Labour supporters."

Many working class people appeared to be turning to the far-right cultural movements that are sweeping across Europe, he warned.

"Now all our political parties must search for an animating, inclusive and optimistic definition of modern England to choke off what the EDL taps into."

The same newspaper carried an interview with a 27-year-old man said to be the founder and leader of the EDL.

Stephen Lennon, from Luton, "has many names", according to the newspaper, which reported that "reluctantly" he uses the threat of a demonstration to ensure councils do not pander to Islamic pressure groups to change British traditions.

He said: "We are now sending letters to every council saying that if you change the name of Christmas we are coming in our thousands and shutting your town down."

The EDL would live in peace with the Islamic community "if they ... swear allegiance to the Queen, this country and the flag, and then live side by side. That's what we want".