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Fears of return to the 1930s; EXTREMISM OF THE PAST MAY BE HERE.

A CABINET minister raised fears of a return to 1930s fascism, comparing modern right wing groups to Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts.

Communities Secretary John Denham's comments came as he announced a drive to prevent white working class people being "exploited" by extremists.

He singled out protests being organised by the English Defence League, some of which have turned violent over recent months.

Hundreds of supporters are expected to gather in Trafalgar Square tomorrow. Yesterday protesters from the Stop Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) group were involved in a demonstration outside a mosque in Harrow, north east London, to mark the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

"I think that the English Defence League and other organisations are not actually large numbers of people," Mr Denham said. "They clearly, though, have among them people who know what exactly they're doing.

"If you look at the types of demonstrations they've organised... it looks pretty clear that it's a tactic designed to provoke and to get a response and hopefully create violence."

Mr Denham pointed to historical "parallels" with the so-called 'Battle of Cable Street' in October 1936, when Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, attempted to lead supporters through a Jewish area of the East End of London, leading to violent clashes.

"You could go back to the 1930s if you wanted to - Cable Street and all of those types of things. The tactic of trying to provoke a response in the hope of causing wider violence and mayhem is long established on the far-right and among extremist groups."

EDL's supporters are alleged to include far-right activists and football hooligans filmed at recent protests chanting racist slogans and making Nazi salutes.

Mr Denham said there was a need for a broader strategy from government to "undercut issues that racists try to exploit".

In the coming weeks ministers will unveil a programme targeted at mainly white, working-class communities, he said.

"You need to be prepared to let people's real underlying fears and concerns come out, but to be able to address them frankly and openly," he said.

He gave the example of perceptions of unfair allocation of council housing and new jobs, and said there could be changes at street level to allow local people to "influence and shape" how resources are distributed in their area.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 12, 2009
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