Players going cold on Black Lives Matter UK, says GUY ADAMS

Will football blow the whistle on Black Lives Matter anarchists? Players are going cold on UK movement after its hard-Left manifesto was revealed, says GUY ADAMS

It took a good few weeks, but the Premier League seems to have finally twigged that plastering ‘Black Lives Matter’ across the shirts of Britain’s top footballers may end up backfiring. 

The sentiment behind the gesture was doubtless honourable: In the wake of George Floyd’s death, our national sport wanted both to express revulsion at police brutality against people of colour, and to campaign against systemic racism that still exists in pockets of British society.

But as with all good ideas, the devil lay firmly in the detail. 

Specifically, for all its catchy PR stunts, the UK arm of Black Lives Matter is proving to be a highly problematic pressure group, pushing a divisive hard-Left policy agenda.

The stated aims of its cabal of leaders – currently anonymous, as this newspaper revealed – include wanting to ‘abolish’ both capitalism and the police and close every UK prison.

It took a good few weeks, but the Premier League seems to have finally twigged that plastering ‘Black Lives Matter’ across the shirts of Britain’s top footballers may end up backfiring, writes GUY ADAMS

Meanwhile the organisation, which calls itself ‘@UKBLM’, also boasts a questionable – and some say very ugly – record on anti-Semitism.

As a result, the Premier League was forced to issue a statement yesterday distancing itself from Black Lives Matter UK, and instead stressing that football merely wishes to support ‘a single objective of eradicating racial prejudice’.

Players, who have dutifully been ‘taking the knee’ before every recent game, also have growing misgivings about @UKBLM, as MailSport revealed yesterday. 

Their view is summed up by former Wolves player Karl Henry, who said: ‘The majority of the UK has now had enough of that organisation.’

Dissent is also being heard in the commentary box, where many now believe the important message of the campaign – that black lives matter – is being seriously tarnished by the group. 

On Tuesday, Sky Sports pundit and former Manchester United skipper Patrice Evra, who is black, was joined by host Kelly Cates and fellow experts Jamie Redknapp and Gary Neville in ditching Black Lives Matter badges from lapels.

It seems they have cottoned on to my disclosure in these pages almost a fortnight ago: That, like so many other noble causes from environmentalism to human rights, the Black Lives Matter movement is fast being hijacked by Left-wing extremists who now wish to use it to advance a rackety and in many ways dangerous political agenda.

The Army has come round to this view. While several police forces asked officers to ‘take the knee’ at protests last month, defence officials this week banned servicemen from making the gesture because they deemed it too political.

To understand why, one need only visit the crowdfunding website GoFundMe, where Black Lives Matter UK has solicited more than £1million in donations.

Most of the 34,000 donors were doubtless motivated by a well-meaning desire to help eradicate racial inequality. 

However, for readers who look hard enough, the page reveals they are giving to an organisation whose stated aims are also to ‘dismantle’ capitalism. 

Buried in the small print is another odd revelation: @UKBLM intends to spend some of their cash on ‘strategies for the abolition of police’.

The sentiment behind the gesture was doubtless honourable: In the wake of George Floyd’s death, our national sport wanted both to express revulsion at police brutality against people of colour, and to campaign against systemic racism that still exists in pockets of British society

Quite how either of these policies would benefit people of colour is anyone’s guess. 

But since top-flight football is a highly-capitalistic realm which pays its stars hundreds of thousands of pounds per week, is sponsored by some of the world’s most lucrative brands and relies on the police to maintain public safety at matches, it’s not hard to see why the Premier League might object.

That’s not all. On Twitter, where Black Lives Matter UK had been active since 2016, it has campaigned for a raft of other bizarre far-Left policy goals including the closure of all Britain’s prisons and detention centres on the grounds that they are ‘inhuman, overcrowded and unsafe’.

Then there is the thorny issue of anti-Semitism. As I revealed last month, one of its founder members, Ewa Jasiewicz, was banned from speaking at one of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour conferences after it emerged she had spray-painted ‘Liberate all ghettos’ and ‘Free Gaza and Palestine’ on one of the few remaining walls of the Warsaw ghetto in 2010 – where an estimated 92,000 Jews died in the Second World War.

What’s more, @UKBLM’s Facebook page contains posts supporting the so-called BDS movement, which calls for a boycott of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. 

In December, it publicised a demo against ‘the crimes of the Israeli defence forces’. And last year, it demanded Eurovision be moved from what it dubbed ‘Apartheid Israel’.

To Jewish groups, this raises a serious red flag: Many regard the BDS movement as intrinsically racist because they believe it unfairly singles out Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, for scrutiny that is not applied to other regimes.

They were therefore deeply concerned at the weekend to see Black Lives Matter UK wade deeper into this choppy water by using its Twitter account, which has 73,000 followers, to post a criticism of what it calls Israel’s ‘annexation’ of the West Bank. 

It read: ‘[As] mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism, and Israel’s settler colonial pursuits, we loudly and clearly stand beside our Palestinian comrades. Free Palestine!’

The use of the word ‘gagging’ in such a context is regarded as anti-Semitic because it advances the conspiracy theory – first popularised by the Nazis – that Jews have conspired to secretly exert control over Western politics and the media.

Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: ‘It is beyond disappointing that Black Lives Matter UK, a supposedly anti-racist organisation, has leaned into the anti-Semitic trope that British politics is ‘gagged’ in terms of debating Israel, a claim particularly preposterous because Israel is one of the most-discussed foreign policy issues in this country.’

But as with all good ideas, the devil lay firmly in the detail. Specifically, for all its catchy PR stunts, the UK arm of Black Lives Matter is proving to be a highly problematic pressure group, pushing a divisive hard-Left policy agenda. Pictured: One of its tweets last week

Karen Pollock, of the Holocaust Educational Trust, added: ‘Gagged? Gagged by whom? The insinuation is depressingly clear.’

Meanwhile the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism accused @BLMUK of being ‘bigots’ who were ‘treading a well-worn path walked by many extremists and abhorred by real civil rights leaders like Dr Martin Luther King.’

Also at the weekend, Black Lives Matter’s Oxford branch chose to publicise an upcoming protest via Facebook containing an image of a notorious anti-Semitic mural created in east London by the graffiti artist Mear One. 

The mural, criticised for containing what Jewish groups have called a ‘variety of vile anti-Semitic tropes’, was famously (and very controversially) defended by Mr Corbyn during a row over whether it ought to be removed. 

It shows hook-nosed Jewish bankers playing Monopoly on a board supported by crouching human figures representing the oppressed masses they purportedly control.

After this awkward fact was pointed out, Black Lives Matter Oxford deleted the post and apologised. 

Be that as it may, this is not the sort of organisation to which Premier League clubs would wish to be associated. 

Elsewhere, allegations of anti-Semitism against Black Lives Matter UK are particularly awkward for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Last month, he posed for photographers while he ‘took the knee’ in his office, as shadow justice secretary David Lammy attacked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab for declining to do so. 

What’s more, Sir Keir recently sacked shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey for using Twitter to endorse an article in the Independent newspaper that contained an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. 

Yet the group he so publicly endorsed stands accused of sharing anti-Semitic images and conspiracies.

In a BBC interview on Monday, Sir Keir sought to distance himself from @UKBLM, saying he took the knee to support the wider anti-racism movement, rather than this organisation. 

He stressed: ‘Nobody should be saying anything about defunding the police.’ Black Lives Matter UK responded via Twitter, saying that when he was Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Keir was ‘a cop in an expensive suit’.

As the vehemence of that statement perhaps suggests, many of the organisation’s key players hail from the now marginalised Corbynite wing of Labour – and have often dabbled in party politics.

On the eve of the last election, for example, @UKBLM publicised a ‘f*** Boris’ party at a nightclub in east London.

It has also called for a ‘ban’ on austerity, calling it a ‘neoliberal, racist, classist, sexist government measure which plunges our society into further deprivation’.

In a mission statement published on Facebook, which at times reads like a parody, it claims to exist to advance a shopping list of sometimes obscure causes, saying it campaigns against: ‘Homophobia, lesbophobia, biphobia, queerphobia, transphobia, sexism, misogyny, misogynoir, enbyphobia, ableism, racism, anti-Blackness, islamophobia, whorephobia, ageism, fatphobia, eugenics, discrimination, stereotypes, respectability politics, stigmatisation of HIV, stigmatisation of addiction.’

Little wonder that over the years @UKBLM has pursued some bizarre campaigns, many of which have little obvious link to race relations. 

Their very first public protest, after being formed in July 2016, was to blockade several major airports on the basis climate change is ‘racist’. 

Since the demonstrators arrested at one such protest at London’s City airport were white and middle-class, the move was widely derided.

Lee Jasper, former race adviser to the mayor of London, dismissed the protesters as ‘publicity-grabbers’ who were ‘all called Tarquin’. 

Stafford Scott, of the Broadwater Farm Defence Campaign, said the only black thing in the protest was the Tarmac on the runway.

Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal takes a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement prior to the match at the Emirates on Wednesday

In more recent times, @BLMUK has lent support to ‘can’t pay won’t pay,’ which lobbies for people who rent property to stop paying their landlord, and a campaign to shut all construction sites because of Covid, saying: ‘The Government and councils are placing development, property and capitalism over people’s lives.’

Perhaps the most alarming thing about @BLMUK, however, is that the people behind it remain anonymous. 

Despite having raised £1million, the group has no leader, no board of trustees or directors, no website, no address, no spokesman and no presence at Companies House, the Government’s registry of UK firms. 

It is not a registered charity and has never filed accounts.

Responding to concerns about this lack of both transparency and accountability, the group pledged on June 13 that ‘in the coming days’ it would create a website making its structure and remit clear. 

Websites take a few hours to create. None has yet appeared.

Although crowdfunding is almost entirely unregulated, GoFundMe appears to have growing concerns. 

It promised a fortnight ago to ‘undertake vetting’ of the group to check it’s an acceptable recipient of funds. But whether any vetting has yet taken place is unclear.

On Wednesday evening, David Jones, James Collins and Ashley Cole (pictured) are still wearing the badges in Sky’s coverage of Bournemouth vs Newcastle and Everton vs Leicester. The Black Lives Matter logo was also shown on the broadcaster’s pre-match graphic

In the meantime, cash continues to roll into the increasingly controversial group’s coffers.

Perhaps the next choppy waters, for the world of sport at least, will involve next week’s Test Match between England and the West Indies, in which visitors will carry the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter’ on their collars. 

It has also been reported the tourists have been in discussion with England about whether the home team will also make a show of support.

One of the sport’s most influential commentators, the Test Match Special pundit and former England player Ebony Rainford Brent has meanwhile announced she’s taking part in a fundraising cycle ride for Black Lives Matter UK.

Both those initiatives were, however, announced prior to the recent kerfuffle over anti-Semitism. 

We shall find out in the coming days if cricket will follow football in stepping away from the anti-racism group which now finds itself accused of the very thing it exists to abolish

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