Croydon will reject the poison of the EVF

 In Croydon, Speeches

On Saturday 27th July 2013, the English Volunteer Force (EVF), an extremist right-wing faction of the English Defence League (EDL), will be protesting outside Lunar House in the centre of Croydon.

This article was first published on the Croydon Citizen website:

Croydon is a fantastic community and our diversity is one of our greatest strengths. We have communities in Croydon who originate from every part of the world, who chose Croydon to be their home, their place of work, where their children would be raised, and where they would grow old. The rich diversity of our community is something that makes us proud.

I could tell you of community meetings with representatives from our mosques, churches, temples, and local groups where people speak with passion about the issues that confront us all here in Croydon: the threat to our local A&E, the closure of every police station in the north of the borough, the dirty state of our streets, the need for more jobs and opportunities for young people. People want to work together to tackle the problems that affect us all.  This is a community of diverse backgrounds but common aims; a peaceful and tolerant place to call home.

And so the news that the racist thugs of the EVF intend to come to Croydon to parade their hatred sickens me. They want to hurt and insult our community with their extremist bigotry. Their views have no place here or in any decent place – it’s why I wrote to the Home Secretary to raise my concerns about the EVF’s plans. What we saw in Woolwich, after the horrific death of Drummer Lee Rigby, was good people coming together in the face of an atrocity, not turning on each other as the EVF, EDL, and their extremist fellow-travellers hoped for.

They want to stir up hatred for their own warped ends, to bring discord where we have unity. They will not succeed. I know, from every person I’ve met in Croydon, from every school I visit, every mosque, temple, or church where I’ve attended celebrations, from the simple common decency of ordinary people living amongst each other, that we will reject their poisonous views and get on with our lives together.