The England Nationalist Alliance (ENA) marched through Brighton today. About 30 of “England’s finest”, protected by several hundred police, made their way from Brighton Station to Victoria Gardens. There was at least one police vehicle for every member of the ENA – excluding the police helicopter.
The ENA is not a Brighton-based group and they were made to feel unwelcomed. They could only take to the street protected by the police. I assume that the ENA is just a front for the English Defence League (EDL).
A group of anti-fascist demonstrators (from what I could see made up mainly of 15 and 16 year old girls) were penned into an enclosure around the Mazda Fountain (at the bottom of North Road). This required a ridiculous number of police officers and police horses. The biggest threat they posed to public order would have been a mass Barbie make-over!
The ENA was escorted back to Brighton Station followed by hundreds of anti-fascist demonstrators (excluding those in the Barbie-pen). Then, quite inexplicably, the police didn’t escort them onto a train back from where they came, but allowed them to leave by the station’s side entrance and into the New England Quarter and on to Circus Circus. Staff at Circus Circus served them. A boycott of Circus Circus is in order, me thinks.
At Brighton Station I spoke to a police officer who described the ENA as “good as gold” and that this was a free country and that they have a right to demonstrate. (Can we assume that the police will, in future, defend the right to demonstrate for those outside the EDO factory in Brighton.
Three points for consideration:
The excessive deployment of police officers, quite unnecessary, given the numbers from ENA and the disruption caused by the police themselves;
The tactic of penning small numbers of mainly teenage girls; and
The decision to allow the ENA members to get out of the station, thereby prolonging the disruption and (one would suspect) cost of the policing operation.
This was not the finest moment for Sussex Police. It will have had the unintended consequence of politicising a significant number and, regrettably, against the police.
And one final point – where were our politicians? There was a time when Labour councillors would lead anti-fascist demonstrations. Perhaps not in today’s world. But maybe a Green councillor or two? And from our Green Member of Parliament, Caroline Lucas, nothing. Oh dear. Please correct me if I am wrong, but they were noticeable by their absence.