Why do some towns become focal points for anti-minority activism at particular moments in time, when other towns with similar socio-economic conditions do not? While policy practitioners charged with responding to such activity frequently ask this question, it has received less academic attention. Consequently, an adequate response falls between different strands of the academic literature on anti-minority politics.
We explore this question through a comparative analysis of how and why Luton, a Bedfordshire town, became a focal point for the latest wave of organised anti-minority activism in the UK, centred around the English Defence League (EDL), while Blackburn with Darwen, a local authority in Lancashire with a history of extreme right political ‘successes’, did not.
We develop the concept of situated credibility contests to help us articulate the contingent relationships between potential explanatory variables and political outcomes, and describe how ‘demand-side’ and ‘supply-side’ variables interact through the strategic actions of anti-minority activists and their opponents.