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Angry White People offers detailed and readable reportage that seeks to understand the emergence of the English Defence League (EDL), the most prominent British organisation within the ‘counter-jihad’ movement – the ascendant anti-Islam, anti-immigration strand of the far right, more dangerous due to its alarming overlap with the mainstream. Readers looking for a high-theory analysis of the rise of this current, however, won’t find it in this book.
According to Pai, the EDL represents the politicisation of impoverished working-class communities but channeled in an entirely wrong direction. Interviews range from ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson to provocateur Muslim radical Anjem Choudary, interwoven into an account of the changing social and economic landscape navigated by the working-class communities of Luton, where the group first emerged.
Pai usually lets her subjects do the talking; the occasionally moving and insightful comments they offer demonstrate her skills as an interviewer. Empathising when they speak of a dire lack of opportunities, she also critiques flaws in their interpretations of the causes of local deprivation and unemployment – invariably perceived links to immigration. She deftly explodes the myth, for example, that ‘segregated communities’ betray a ‘lack of desire to integrate’ on the part of immigrant-origin communities, tracing the recent history of Bury Park as an example of how ‘white flight’, rooted in racism, actually accounts for the phenomenon.
A chapter on the changing face of the radical right, which explores the unholy alliance between the Quilliam Foundation think tank and Tommy Robinson, doesn’t quite deliver the hammer blow required, nor fully explore how this fits into to the government’s Prevent agenda. In places, also, the book leans too heavily on interview excerpts. But one key source, EDL defector Darren Carroll (a close relative of Robinson) is portrayed in‑depth with interesting results. Pai is speaking alongside him in at least one event promoting the book – which some might say feeds the trend of ‘ex-extremist’ celebrities – but his trajectory, from far-right politicisation to leftist, is nonetheless compelling reading.
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
How can the heavily-armed Israeli state claim to be victimised by one teenage activist? By Richard Seymour.
Governments are manufacturing a new 'enemy within', write Yasser Louati and Malia Bouattia
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism