SourceTHE English Defence League is set to break into mainstream politics with a bid to get MPs in Parliament.
It wants to field official EDL candidates in national and council elections.
The move is an attempt to increase the organisation’s political influence, just like the BNP under Nick Griffin.
The party’s boss Tommy Robinson said: “We aren’t ruling it out. I think this country needs a party that’s not afraid to say things some would consider unpopular.
“My hope is still that the Tories will take a tougher stance.
“We are a single issue group and at the moment we would rather have a dialogue with the other political parties – but that could change.”
Mr Robinson, 28, real name Stephen Lennon, whose group now has 74,000 Facebook followers, predicted the EDL would have more online supporters than the Tories, Labour and the Lib-Dems by the end of the year.
He said the organisation’s main aim was to outlaw the Koran then adapt it to fit in with British society.
He said the only way to do this would be to force Muslims to realise the words of their holy scriptures are outdated.
He said: “They have got a responsibility to sort out their religion. They have to reform their religion so it fits in.”
Mr Robinson also revealed that he wants to appear on BBC1’s Question Time. And the EDL boss said that, unlike bumbling BNP leader Nick Griffin, 51, he would be a surefire hit on the show.
The BBC was blasted for allowing Mr Griffin on to the panel in 2009 and thousands of people protested outside the studios.
But Mr Robinson claimed the EDL was now so popular he would get supporters outside the venue if he appeared.
He said: “Nick Griffin got two million votes and he’s an MEP but he didn’t have anyone supporting him when he went on Question Time.
“Get me on Question Time. I’ll have 10,000 people turn up to support me.” Meanwhile a row was brewing last night over the EDL’s latest planned march, which officials claimed would cost £1million to police.
The protest is planned for March 19 in Birmingham after two Muslim councillors refused to stand up in honour of a war hero at a ceremony.
MPs have called for Home Secretary Theresa May, 54, to ban the event, which falls on the same day Wolverhampton Wanderers play Aston Villa.
In the Daily Star phone poll yesterday, 98% of readers said they agreed with the EDL’s policies.
Source"Front page", boasted the Facebook page of the right-wing English Defence League yesterday as it triumphantly linked its followers to a headline in Richard Desmond's Daily Star that noted that the anti-Islamic organisation was to become a "political party".
It's a rare thing for the Star to "splash" on politics. And although the coverage referred to the EDL as being a "far-right group", it reported its activities in an uncritical manner and noted that, in a phone poll of readers the previous day, 98 per cent of respondents had "said they agreed with the EDL's policies".
The media website Engage immediately asked "Is the EDL the Daily Star's New Friend?" A day earlier the newspaper had run a story saying that the EDL would "fight for heroes" and claiming that two Muslim councillors had "snubbed" a soldier by not rising to their feet when he was being given a standing ovation for winning a George Cross.
Yesterday's story carried the headline "EDL Chief: Vote Us Into Parliament!" It reported the wish of the group's leader – who uses the pseudonym Tommy Robinson – to appear on the BBC's Question Time.
"The EDL boss said that, unlike bumbling BNP leader Nick Griffin, 51, he would be a surefire hit on the show," the paper said. The article appeared alongside the Star's coverage of upheaval in Egypt, a piece that began: "Thousands of illegal immigrants will flee riot-torn Egypt and flood to Britain."
The paper's report that the EDL was preparing to field MPs was accompanied by Mr Robinson's observation that the group's 74,000 following on Facebook would exceed the online support of the three main political parties by the end of the year.
Among those Facebook followers yesterday, the Daily Star's apparent warmth to the group and a lead editorial headlined "Don't dare ignore EDL", was a source of pride and exhilaration.
Stephen Martin, who uses the slogan "British by Birth, English by the Grace of God", described his morning commute. "TODAY i sat there with my daily star with PRIDE, the pictures and banners were fair, the write up was fair, the Star comment was fair and 98 per cent back us (including everybody sat with me)," he wrote. "We have a voice now, 25p a day, if they have 74,000 new readers, we have a BIGGER voice."
Tom Evans ("English and Fuckin' Proud of It") agreed. "i think everyone should support the daily star and buy it a couple times a week at least lol... they are the only one to stand up for the EDL." He said other EDL followers were thrilled at the "awesome" and "amazing" 98 per cent approval rating from Star readers.
The newspaper's long-standing editor Dawn Neesom is one of Fleet Street's stalwarts. A proud East Londoner and keen kickboxer, she follows West Ham United home and away and prides herself on being in touch with the instincts of the Star's working-class readership.
The EDL draws much of its support from football followers. Sources said it was Ms Neesom's decision to give the group such a high profile, and not that of the paper's owner Mr Desmond.
Ivan Lewis, shadow Culture secretary, said: "Newspapers have a right to cover whatever they want in a democracy within the constraints of the law and their code of practice."
SourceYesterday's Daily Star broke new ground by publishing a political splash. Over a picture of flag-waving marchers was the headline English Defence League to become political party.
As this reproduction of its front page shows, it was anything but a neutral presentation. It is a clear piece of propaganda on behalf of the EDL, a group that opposes the supposed spread of Islamic extremism in Britain.
The story cannot be read as anything other than a cheer-leading, uncritical piece on behalf of the EDL. Triumphalist in tone throughout, it required no between-the-lines deconstruction to grasp its intention – to build support for the group among its readers.
Mind you, the final line of the story suggests it may be preaching to the converted:
"In the Daily Star phone poll yesterday, 98% of readers said they agreed with the EDL's policies."
That news story was complemented by an editorial, Don't dare ignore EDL, which sought to give the EDL a clean bill of health. Here's the leader in full:
"Critics say the English Defence League is a racist, extremist organisation that's filled with hate. The group's leader Tommy Robinson strongly denies this. He says members have no problems with race.
But he admits he is against 'barbaric' Islam and the way it affects Britain. Whatever side of the fence you fall, one thing's for sure.
There is a visibly growing support for the EDL. It is attracting people across Britain to its ranks who feel the same way.
This should be a warning to the major political parties. Key voters are so fed up with them that they are looking elsewhere.
And there are real underlying issues here with Brits who feel abandoned by their leaders.
The EDL are now planning to field election candidates. If the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems don't heed this and address key issues they could soon become a political force.
Then, whether you like them or not, Tommy and his followers will have to be taken very seriously."
No wonder The Independent's media correspondent Ian Burrell asks today: Has Richard Desmond decided to back the English Defence League?
Well, he certainly seems happy for the Star's editor, Dawn Neesom, to do so. Her paper has been moving in this direction for some time.
On Tuesday, it ran a story - English Defence League will fight for hero's (that's their grammar, not mine) - about the EDL "planning a huge march after two Muslim councillors snubbed a British war hero given the George Cross."
Today, it carries a lengthy report, EDL boss Tommy Robinson says he has 24-hour guard, claiming that Muslim extremists have threatened to behead his family. Yeah?
A couple of paragraphs into the piece, the Star boasted of having "sparked a huge nationwide debate" in which "critics" had rubbished the EDL as racist thugs while "supporters" were claiming the EDL "are raising legitimate concerns among British people."
It is followed by a long series of quotes from Robinson. Here's the conclusion:
"Labour have destroyed this country and we want our rights back for British people. We have done all this in just two years without any funding or marketing.
We have really struck a chord with the working classes that the three main parties have failed to do."
And the article also showed a 1% increase in support for the EDl among its readers. "We asked in yesterday's voteline if you would back the EDL and 99% of you said you would."
After publishing quotes from three MPs from each of the main parties, in which they poured scorn on the EDL, it ran a vox pop with people for and against the group.
The Star's coverage is manna from heaven for the EDL. Burrell's article quotes a supporter, Stephen Martin, who wrote on Facebook: "TODAY i sat there with my daily star with PRIDE, the pictures and banners were fair, the write up was fair, the Star comment was fair and 98 per cent back us... We have a voice now, 25p a day, if they have 74,000 new readers, we have a BIGGER voice."
I also noted the way in which the EDL made capital out of Robinson being interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on BBC2's Newsnight last week. "That is how far the EDL has come," it reported on its website.
It allowed Tommy to get "his vitally important message across," it said. "And from this new position of the public awareness of the EDL, and what it stands for, we can only move forward again. No surrender!"
Well, I saw that interview and what was striking about it was the way in which Paxman - without hectoring - managed to show that Robinson had no evidence for his central claim that sharia law was being imposed within Britain.
His ignorance and intolerance were exposed by Paxman's questioning, and I'm sure that most Newsnight viewers saw through his blustering bigotry.
But it is also obvious that there is no overlap between Newsnight viewers and Daily Star readers (sadly, I have to be an exception). And, in terms of numbers, there are more, many more, of the latter.
Desmond ought to think very carefully about letting the Star use far right politics to build sales.
He should remember what happened in those societies across Europe in the 1930s where Jewish minorities were demonised in the media for their religious beliefs.
Can he not see that the underlying agenda of groups like the EDL is anti-Semitic? What does he think he is doing?
This is the most disturbing part.In the Daily Star phone poll yesterday, 98% of readers said they agreed with the EDL’s policies.