Ken Livingstone explains why he supports a ban on the EDL march in Tower Hamlets

We need calm on the streets of London, not this EDL march

By Ken Livingstone

The far-right English Defence League proposes to march in Tower Hamlets on September 3rd.

I want to set out here why I am supporting a ban on this march.

The EDL use religious hatred in a way that stirs up racial hatred. Their activities have often led to violence and physical intimidation.

There are many who have put forward civil liberties arguments for allowing the far right to demonstrate, however unpalatable their views may be. The context of this EDL march is now radically different following the riots and disturbances we have seen on our streets. We need to put good community relations and peace on the streets before division and extremism.

As Mayor my case to the Home Secretary would be this: the last thing we need in the uneasy aftermath of the riots is a march through one of London’s most diverse areas by far right provocateurs intent on stirring up division. We need calm and peace on our streets, not the threat of further street violence. It should be obvious that an EDL march in East London could be extremely dangerous.

We should be putting Londoners first, not the rights of the EDL to intimidate people.

It is right to be tough on those who have broken the law in the past few weeks. Equally, we cannot allow the extreme right to march with impunity into an area with the express intent of stirring up division. Not least because so many EDL actions have led to violent confrontation.

The EDL’s aim is to divide people, incite religious hatred as a means to create racial division, and turn people against each other.

In the past few weeks I have joined with politicians and community leaders from a range of backgrounds to call on the Home Secretary that this march to be banned. It is a welcome step to see such unity. Unity across party labels, faiths and backgrounds is essential opposing the dangerous threat of far-right violence.

In the aftermath of the massacre in Norway there was a clear case for halting the EDL demonstration in East London. Alleged links subsequently emerged between the EDL and Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who murdered scores of people in Norway.

Now, in the context of the riots and disorder on our street, there is a compelling case that such a march should not be permitted to go ahead. For the sake of order and peace on our streets and preserving calm it would be irresponsible to let it happen.

The Home Secretary must act to ensure that the EDL is not able to bring its tour of hate to the streets of East London on September 3rd.