The Football Lads Alliance is a working-class movement – and the political class wants to ignore it

The Football Lads Alliance is a working-class movement – and the political class wants to ignore it, by Brendan O’Neill.

The Football Lads Alliance (FLA) [is] a fascinating grassroots movement founded earlier this year to protest against terrorism and the ideologies that fuel it. These Football Lads had their first demo on 24 June. Thousands descended on London Bridge, site of an Islamist massacre just three weeks earlier, and held a traffic-stopping demo against extremism. On Saturday they had their second gathering. An estimated 10,000 fans brought Park Lane to a standstill. Rival fans, from Spurs, West Ham, Leeds and other teams, rubbed shoulders, held wreaths in the colours of their clubs, and listened peacefully as speakers railed against hateful extremism and slammed the branding of people who criticise Islamism as ‘Islamophobic’.

It was a very rare thing in the 21st century: a march organised by working-class people and attended by working-class people. Thousands of them. Most marches these days are packed with public-sector types, plummy anti-fascists, and Guardian columnists who must maintain their rad cred by occasionally traipsing through the streets with people holding dusty trade-union banners.

But the two FLA marches have been different. They have been cries from below. And they’ve been all but ignored. Sure, there has been media coverage, but it has been perfunctory. Despite being big, stirring and novel — people in football shirts gathering in their thousands to confront the ideology of terror! — the demos haven’t trended online or attracted much attention from the ‘voice for the voiceless’ brigade. They don’t want to hear those voices. …

It strikes me that this new working-class movement is trying to do something the supposedly intellectual classes have flat-out refused to do: make an issue, a national fuss, of terror. It is defying the post-terror diktat from on high that says we should respond to Islamist attacks sheepishly, by laying a flower, singing ‘Imagine’ and going home again; the FLA suggests we talk about terror, debate it, confront it. …

The political class has so thoroughly abandoned the task of discussing and getting angry about terrorism that footie fans are having to step in and do it for them, and us.

hat-tip Stephen Neil