Monday, 5 September 2011

EDL London demo: one who never made it

Being Scottish, I decided not to lose the money I’d spent on a ticket to visit a friend in London on Saturday 3 September, but instead to use it to attend the English Defence League. Sadly, I made it to London but never not across the city.

The march had been banned by Home Secretary Theresa May, a decision that I wish she hadn’t made, but at least she had been consistent and also banned the UAF (Unite against Fascism) from marching. So, going to the static demo, it was concerning to see crowds of people – predominantly white – gathering on Whitechapel Road bearing placards with the Socialist Workers’ Party logo and "SMASH THE RACIST BNP/EDL!" As the Daily Mail reported, the slogan bore fruit, in pushing people to violence against the EDL.

At this point the bus was pulled over by police; when we started up again the driver announced “The BNP and EDL are marching, and so are an organisation opposed to them, so expect trouble”. The driver on the journey home informed us that “the National Front were marching today”.

Were the drivers acting on police information, or were they politicised RMT (transport union) members spreading disinformation? Certainly the whole Circle Line was closed, as well as sections of other lines. I’m not sure which is the most revealing – a major union acting hand-in-glove with a Conservative Home Secretary, or with the violence-embracing Socialist Workers’ Party.

Pubs and shops were closed around Kings Cross Station, apart from O’ Neill’s, which had two bouncers at the door. That part of London was like a ghost town: the ghost could have been Voltaire’s apocryphal maxim, “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” the defining mark of a liberal democracy.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

part of the problem?

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