Brighton at its best: united against fascism, against the ‘March for England’, and against the English Defence League

Today the centre Brighton came to a standstill as thousands of anti-fascist demonstrators gave the few hundred on the so-called “March for England” a really hard time. Most people know that the March for England is nothing but a front for the English Defence League (EDL).

From reports on Twitter, it sounds as though there were street fights in Church Road and police horse charges in Queens Road. From reports from those on the counter-demonstration it seems as though the police may have lost control for a short while and were heavy-handed, resorting to baton charges and the use of pepper spray. All this on a glorious spring Sunday afternoon in Brighton!

Brighton has a proud record of opposing all attempts by extreme right-wing groups from marching and meeting here. A new book by the veteran anti-Nazi campaigner, Tony Greenstein, catalogues this opposition.

I understand that both the Green Member of Parliament for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas, and the Green Leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, Bill Randall, were on the counter-demonstration. I understand that this was probably the first time in Brighton’s history that both the leader of the council and one of the local MPs have been on such a demonstration. After the appalling massacre in Norway, all anti-fascists, on the left and right, should have been on this demonstration. I’m sure that there were other councillors there and I would have hoped that both Conservative MPs would have realised the importance of taking a stand by being there in order to protect Brighton and Hove’s reputation as a cosmopolitan, inclusive City.

Perhaps readers could let me know which other leading politicians were there today. They, Unite Against Fascism, and the several thousand of other counter-demonstrators deserve our thanks.

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27 Responses

  1. While I couldn’t be there, I too want to thank everyone that showed Brighton at it’s best today. United against fascists.

    I’ve seen a number of comments arguing that ignoring the march would have been better than giving them the attention they crave. However, as history has shown, counter-protests from the Battle of Cable Street onwards have been very effective in challenging the legitimacy of fascist views. By ignoring the marchers and letting their views go unchecked, we would once again allow racism and homophobia to be normalised and common place.

    Its not by coincidence the EDL chose Brighton as their venue. Our city’s residents value it’s diversity and tolerance.The number of people prepared to defend of these values have made me proud.

  2. Nutters to the right of us, nutters to the left of us – opposing groups of extremest nutters lining up to have street battles in Brighton on sunny week ends – because they have nothing worthwhile to be doing instead – its like Mods vs Rockers in the past.

    The lefty nutters are no different to fascist nutters; fascist nutters are no different to lefty nutters.

    It doesn’t surprise me that the Green leaders were aparantly at the forefront of encouraging violence and confrontation on the streets of Brighton – being such an established part of the lefty nutter contingent.

  3. Well I have trawled through all the independent reports that I could find…

    Summary seems to be that two police men were injured by glass bottles thrown by members of UAF, a bin was set alight by a member of UAF, three members of UAF were arrested for public order offences; more generally UAF refused to fully cooperate/communicate with police in advance of the event, UAF injured a number of police horses, UAF blocked a route pre-agreed by the Police March for England forcing an alternative unplanned route to be taken and threw bottles another missiles at the marchers.

    March for England followed the letter of the law arranging this march, cooperated and communicated fully with the police, turned up, marched were blocked and attacked with bottles and other missiles, they took the alternative route the police advised, they did whatever it was they do at Victoria Gardens, then agreed a modified route/time table for the end of the march with the police – which they then followed and so dispersed.

    Anyone got links to independent/reliable reports that say anything different?

    I just wanted to check if this is what happened, and if so if this is what UAF are its sympathisers are ‘proud’ to have done. Or whether it happened differently to this?

    • So if the March for England mob get their way and the gas chambers are running again you will be able to tell the grandchildren how proud you were that they fully co-operated with the Polcie and how disappointed you were that UAF blocked their path without asking for permission first? Curious morality there, Mr Perrin

      • Do you have any links to ‘March for England’ calling for gas chambers? I’d be pleased to review them.

        However I do get the strong impression that many UAF supporters would happily call for people they disagree with to be put in gas chambers (or equivalent)…

        It make the ‘Hope not Hate’ line ring very hollow… The UAF seem entirely consumed with hate.

    • I’m sure MfE/EDL are most grateful from this friendly endorsement from their friends in UKIP!

      • I support people having marches, protests and campaigns. I have supported of the student marches in london, the occupy campaigns in brighton, london and spain, the squatters protests in brighton…

        How do you think they should show their gratitude?

  4. […] election. Secondly, a “March for England” held by EDL supporters in Brighton was met by an overwhelming counter-protest by anti-fascist groups. And thirdly, though a little out of date now, Ken Livingstone dramatically […]

  5. Seems to me that our local UKIP supporters would of course have a problem with anyone fighting fascism. All that unity, and people coming together for a common cause, is quite the fly in the ointment for supporters of a aparty who’s only strategy is the sowing of division and regurgitation of the Daily Fail.

    Unity is not policy for UKIP so of course they turn out to snipe and divide from the sidelines when anyone does the decent thing and unites to fight for a better world

  6. I attended the counter-demonstration – like many, probably most, of the counter-demonstrators, I am not affiliated with UAF and simply stood on the sidelines to tell the marchers their racist and xenophobic views are not welcome in Brighton.

    I have to say that I was really disappointed in the police press release. I have great respect for Sussex Police and how they’ve tried hard to become more open and accountable to local communities over the past few years. However, their reporting completely glossed over the violence directed from the marchers to the protestors. Though I was only present for about half over the march, within 10 yards of me I witnessed:

    – Two lit fireworks thrown into the crowd
    – Two, maybe three empty glass bottles thrown into the crowd (one middle-aged woman had a very, VERY lucky escape from the first one)
    – A full can of beer thrown into the crowd (this struck the shoulder of a guy standing next to me)

    As I say, that’s only what I personally witnessed within my immediate vicinity.

    So while there wasn’t a riot or anything, to gloss over this violence is really unacceptable, and shows a clear bias against the protestors – including those who have nothing to do with UAF and the black blocs, and everything to do with keeping Brighton free from racism and xenophobia.

  7. There was a really terrible BBC report on this on the South East News last night, which failed even to mention that the march was organised by the EDL.

    It’s worth mentioning that the police kettled the demonstrators last year, which may explain why they didn’t get any co-operation from them this time around. The police don’t seem to get it – this march is a deliberate piece of provocation. The comments of their spokesman on the news last night were disgraceful and will not serve to damp this down or repair the damage done to community relationss.

    Mike Weatherley, who is never knowingly less than outraged when condemning Smash EDO, travellers, squatters and so on, has nothing to say about any of this whatsoever. Perhaps he thinks the bonehead vote could be crucial to his chances next time – I am sure that he is very welcome to them if so.

    • It is my understanding that Mike Weatherley is currently indisposed, off the radar, undergoing repairs, so to speak.

  8. Just in case anyone was in any doubt why UKIP only polled 1% of votes in the Westbourne by-election.

  9. I have blogged on the emerging evidence of police aggression and that the March for England were the first to throw missiles.
    http://hoverepublic.blogspot.co.uk/
    We need an enquiry into how this was policed, who took the decision to press ahead in the face of all common sense, and why. After last year’s debacle, when the police actually facilitated the fascists’ continued drinking after the event and took no steps to ensure they left town afterwards, we were this time able to prevent them from roaming around town into the night threatening and abusing local people.

  10. Watched the videos – couldn’t really make out much in the first (why not post the whole thing, rather than just an edited clip?).

    But the supposed ‘police attack protesters’ clip – was just them clearing the way – they were clearly shouting ‘stand back’, and as they rode through the people blocking the way did stand back… Maybe next time the sound should be edited if you want it to look like an attack?

    The UAF ‘tactic’ is clearly to make an otherwise peaceful event in to a violent event, requiring heavy police presence so they can turn around and say ‘stop the event, there is always violence and the policing is expensive’…

    Well, if you think violence (or the threat of it) is an answer then you should be looking deep within yourself about what it is that you really think you are protesting about… It didn’t even work for Blair/Brown/Cameron in Iraq/Afghanistan, and they had far more resources than you ever will… in fact they have spent everything you will ever earn, and more…

  11. It is hardly surprising to see UKIP defending the EDL on this page. They are posh variant of the BNP and there is a huge amount of convergence between the two parties’ policies. There is also an overwhelming crossover in the membership of the EDL and UKIP.

    According to its founding leader Dr Alan Sked, “They [UKIP] are racist and have been infected by the far right”. Dr Sked further recalls that Nigel Farage, UKIP’s current leader, saying: “We will never win the nigger vote. The nig-nogs will never vote for us”.

    It is worth mentioning that Robert Kilroy-Silk (UKIP MEP since 2004) wrote in the Daily Express: “They [Muslims] are backward and evil and if it is racist to say so… then racist I must be – and happy and proud, to be so”.

    And there’s more:

    Dr Richard North (UKIP’s former Research Director in the European Parliament, Brussels from 1999-2003) described our Spanish neighbours as “rag-arsed dagos” in a BBC TV documentary video, The Enemy Within , which UKIP has described as “a perfect tool for converting the sceptical… and showing at branch meetings”.10

    Peter Watson (Chairman, UKIP North Dorset branch) distributed anti-Semitic messages via e-mail, including one remark that read “Jewish merchant bankers [are] responsible for the ills of England”.11 The party refused to take any action when Labour MEP Gary Titley brought it to their attention.12

    Frank Maloney (UKIP’s candidate in the 2004 London mayoral election), visited Whitechapel in May 2004 and subsequently complained: “Barely anyone speaks English and to look around you would think you are in a different country”.13 (It was this remark that led Mayor Ken Livingstone to conclude, “UKIP are the British National Party in suits”.)

    Reigate Grammar School banned a planned political meeting on its premises after it judged UKIP’s website to be “racist and offensive”.14 A UKIP leaflet circulated in South Derbyshire during the 2004 European elections expressed the view that the rest of Europe is ruled by “barbarians”.15

    http://www.richardcorbett.org.uk/assets/docs/briefing/theres-something-about-ukip.pdf

    UKIP are a racist and homophobic party – as bad, if not more dangerous, than the EDL. Read the above link.

    • You are entitled to your say, even if it is complete nonsense.

      I have asked for any links to reliable sources giving a different account of the march – none have been forthcoming – everything points at the anti-march protesters being the soul cause of all the trouble and violence.

      Have you got any thing reliable that says different? Or are you just throwing mud in the hope that it will divert attention from your lack of evidence?

      If it was an EDL event, presumably thats been written up/blogged about? Got any links?

      Show me the evidence…

      Without evidence to the contrary, I will continue to support everyones right to peacefully march, protest, festival etc…

  12. Peacehaven North By Election
    Cons 379 Lab 227 Lib Dem 214. Welcome Cllr Coles!

    • For comparison, the two Conservative candidates polled 508 and 612 votes in 2011; Labour polled 287/310; a single Lib Dem polled 300 and an independent 287. Turnout was below 25% in the byelection. These figures would seem to indicate a lot of stay-at-home Tories in one of their safer areas.

  13. Seaford East By Eleciton

    UKIP 428 34.5%
    Conservative 365 29.4%
    Lib Dems 344 27.7%
    Labour 105 8.5%

    Well done Cllr Latham

  14. u left wing commies are a disgrace to England ,March for England is not an EDL event,there may have been EDL members on the march but it’s nothing to do with the EDL,even so there was young children at that event while the UAF freaks threw bottles at them,to be honest the UAF and any such anti fascist = fascist group are a a shame on the nation, where do they breed your kind? there’s nothing wong with being patriotic u SCUM!!!!

  15. John Hall iin order to cover his lies gives us a few moe examples. No it was an EDL event and also for the Essex and other Infidel Groups. What parent brings a young child on a violent demonstration – because when you chant racist chants then that is what happens.

    There is abolutely no evidence a child was hurt, we leave that kind of thing to the EDL and fascist groups who believe in beating children (for their own good of course!).

    People did throw things like eggs and flower and I believe less savoury stuff came from the windows of ordinary people who don’t like seeing fascists spewing hate on a Sunday morning but I saw no bottles and nor did anyone else.

    Sure there’s nothing wrong with being patriotic. What did Dr Samuel Johnstone say: Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

    At a time the poor, disabled workers are suffering from the bankers crisis, EDL John Ball simply wants to attack those fighting back and in particular divide white from Black. In the 1930’s it was the Jews, today the Muslims. Tomorrow?

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