England till I die

In 2009, Stephen Lennon a.k.a Tommy Robinson founded the English Defence League (E.D.L). Its aim is to stop radical Islam's influence in the UK, although often their methods only alienate and anger the wider Islamic community.

Fascinated by the groups adoption of the vernacular of football firm hooliganism, photographer Ed Thompson had followed the E.D.L since 2010 and photographed them on eight occasions as part of a Fotodok (Holland) commissioned Europe wide project focused on the ‘rise of populism in Europe’. 

During one of their largest protests in Luton in 2011 around 3.000 supporters participated. The day before the E.D.L's protest in Luton on February 5th 2011, then U.K Prime Minister David Cameron spoke in Munich and declared that multiculturalism had failed in the U.K.
Unlike the British National Party (B.N.P), the predominant right wing political party in the U.K, the E.D.L is not involved in politics and instead they see themselves as a human rights organisation. And also unlike the B.N.P they will let anyone be involved, whereas up until 2010 the B.N.P would only take indigenous British people. This has even led to the E.D.L forming a Jewish Division and a Gay & Lesbian Division.

In 2013 Tommy Robinson announced his departure from the E.D.L to join Quilliam. The future of the E.D.L seems uncertain, Robinson cited the E.D.L's co-opting by an even more right wing element and an EDL members tattoo of an exploding Mosque as some of his reasons for leaving.

This work was commissioned by the Dutch arts organisation Fotodok in 2010 as part of The Rise of Populism in Europe project. 

All photographs copyright Edward Thompson 2017.                                                                
    ︎ ed@edwardthompson.co.uk