Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Research Student: William Allchorn

When Anti-Islamic Protest Comes to Town: Political Responses to the English Defence League

Photo of William Allchorn

PhD Research Project

Little academic attention has been directed at examining mainstream political responses to the rise of the English Defence League (EDL). Though the rise in studies focused on the causes and characteristics of the EDL have been substantial, there has been little in the way of sustained empirical attention evaluating how elites have responded to what was once considered Europe’s most prominent anti-Islamic campaign group (Goodwin et al 2014: 2).

My PhD thesis, therefore, investigates how mainstream actors have responded to the rise of the English Defence League over the past five years. Drawing on forty semi-structured elite interviews, it examines, compares and evaluates the different approaches of UK local politicians in Bradford, Birmingham, Leicester, Luton and Tower Hamlets.

Moreover, it engages with contemporary issues in key policy fields, such as public order, social cohesion and counter-extremism. My thesis argues that only through politicians’ engaging with the politically disaffected and constructing meaningful forms of interaction between previously isolated communities can we counteract the populist and prejudicial barbs of the EDL and other far right groups across Europe.


My research has been awarded the Leeds POLIS Research Scholarship.


Allchorn, William (September 2016) ‘Book Review: The Making of Anti-Muslim Protest by Joel Busher.’ Social Movement Studies. Access at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14742837.2016.1184137

Allchorn, William. (June 2016) ‘Public Order Management in Bradford ‘post-riots’: The case of the English Defence League.’ Journal of Political Criminology. Volume 1, Number 2.

Allchorn, William (Winter 2013) 'From national "clean hands" to a local "engagement" approach? UK Members of Parliament experiences in countering the British National Party in their constituencies.' Journal of Politics and International Studies Vol. 8 (Winter 2012/13). Access at: http://www.polis.leeds.ac.uk/assets/files/students/student-journal/ug-winter-12/130213-win12-william-allchorn-2.pdf


Research Associate, Centre for Fascist, Anti-Fascist and Post-Fascist studies, Teesside University 


I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Politics at the University of Nottingham in 2011. My studies here where mainly focused around British party politics. This led me to complete a Master’s degree in Parliamentary Politics at Leeds, eventually writing my MA thesis on MP’s responses to the BNP in their constituencies.

Prior to starting my PhD, I gained practical experience in front-line politics as a parliamentary intern for Stephen Williams MP (a former junior minister). I also gained non-academic research experience as an intern at UCL’s Constitution Unit, the UK’s leading research body on constitutional change. 

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

My main motivation for undertaking a PhD was to further explore responses to extreme right groups. I was attracted to Leeds by the department’s excellent reputation for research in British politics. 

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

I hope to continue in academia – doing small group teaching and eventually lecturing in the fields of UK and European Far Right politics.

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