Opinion

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Patrick West: Irish blood, English heart make second generation Paddies a rebellious bunch

The nature of extremist politics always has a grim, carnivalesque side to it -- the infighting, the splits, the oddballs -- and Britain's far right is no exception.

Last week, the leader of the English Defence League (EDL), Tommy Robinson (pictured below), announced that he was leaving the faction he founded in 2009, claiming it had been infiltrated by neo-Nazis. For doing so, he was denounced a traitor by EDL members, while the more extreme British National Party condemned him as a "puppet of a deeply sinister clique from ... the US-based Jewish Supremacist movement". Back on planet Earth, mainstream activists have praised his decision, albeit cautiously.

The strange thing about the former EDL leader is that, ethnically speaking, he isn't even English. His real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, and he was born to a Dublin mother and a Scottish father in Luton, just north of London. He's not a one-off. The co-founder of the Luton-based EDL, who likewise left the group this week, is called Kevin Carroll, and both of his parents were from Dublin.

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