Busher, Joel (2012) " I still support what the Movement stands for but...": on leaving the English Defence League. In: Narrative Matters 2012: Life and Narrative, 29th May - 1st June 2012, Paris, France. (Unpublished)

The English Defence League has been one of the most controversial social movements in the UK since it first emerged in 2009. Although the leadership and supporters have sought to distance it from the traditional far right, claiming that it is a single issue movement concerned only with resisting the advance of ‘militant Islam’, critics accuse it of fanning the flames of islamophobia and have raised concerns that the movement represents a return to the days of far right street violence last seen in the 1980s when the National Front was active. Confronted with accusations of being racists, fascists and extremists, for some activists involvement with the EDL has required a deep level of commitment and a constant labour of resisting and reordering the identities attributed to them by opposition groups and the mainstream media. Narrative has been at the core of this process – constructing themselves as part of a heroic vanguard defending the nation, their opponents as extremists and enemies of British and ‘western’ values – but what happens to these narratives when activists start to distance themselves from the movement? And what happens to the activist when the narrative begins to unravel? This paper explores the life history and biographic narratives of activists as they distance themselves from the EDL.

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