Far Right did not get far, but we hear from some of Farage's followers
FOR Far Right extremists and followers of the English Defence League, hoping to make the most out of people's horror and anger over the barbaric murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich, it was a disappointing weekend.
Thugs and bigots may have taken the opportunity to threaten and attack Muslims and mosques at night in various parts of the country, but did not turn out in numbers for a day of protest on Saturday.
In Exeter, where the EDL had promised a "vigil", nobody turned up at all. In Bristol fewer than half a dozen EDL supporters came out, and were kept away from the cenotaph by opponents. This was quite a drop from their numbers earlier in the week when they showed their supposed respect for drummer Rigby by rampaging through part of the city and rioting in Wetherspoons.
In Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester, Oxford and Edinburgh, the EDL and its Scottish counterparts faced similar opposition, while in London where the British National Party leader Nick Griffin had earlier threatened his supporters would defy a police ban on them marching from Woolwich to Lewisham, he apparently decided discretion was the better part of valour and turned up lateish for a march in Whitehall instead.
If the BNP had been dreaming of reprising the 1977 Battle of Lewisham when the National Front was stopped by local residents and anti-fascists, in the hope of a different result, it may have been just as well for them that their provocative threat to march on the Lewisham Islamic Centre was thwarted. No more than about 150 of them turned out, and while they failed to reach the Cenotaph as intended, some of their opponents succeeded in reaching them.
Nick Griffin moaned: “People who wanted to come have been turned away by the police. People have been attacked by the Far Left gang on their way in, so perhaps that’s cut numbers.”
Hardly a day of triumph for the Master Race, or for Griffin's attempt to restore his Party's flagging fortunes.
But then the far Right's efforts to hijack public feeling over Lee Rigby's horrific death had been thwarted not just by campaigners and opinion formers but by the Help for Heroes' charity whose teeshirt the young drummer had been wearing, publically refusing a donation from the EDL: by a statement from Brigadier Liles of his Fusiliers' regimental association, and by Lee Rigby's family in Manchester. (Though some of the responses to Brigadier Liles show a certain cocksureness among EDL supporters within the Army).
Lee Rigby's relatives including his mother Lyn, stepfather Ian, wife Rebecca and son Jack, said: “Lee would not want people to use his name as an excuse to attack others.
“We would not wish other families to go through this harrowing experience and appeal to everyone to keep calm.”
This simple, principled and dignified statement must have impressed a lot of people, but not everyone was willing to show respect for the grieving family. According to a leading activist of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), the family were "idiots". Asked to explain, Mr.Marty Caine, a UKIP member in Dorset said: : "Like a lot of idiots they believe the EDL are right-wing fascists I suppose."
Maybe every party has its loudmouths, unspeakable oafs and nutters, but UKIP seems to be particularly afficted with them, and following their recent electoral successes they appear to have become more outspoken. It is ironic,not to say chutzpah, that after he was surrounded and barracked by a small crowd in Edinburgh, UKIP's Nigel Farage chose to describe his opponents as "fascists". .
In Leicestershire UKIP suspended one of its candidates Chris Scotton, 24 after it was revealed that he had “liked” the English Defence League on Facebook, as well as a site claiming racism was just “ethnic banter” and a group talking about “losing a black friend in the dark”.”
But a UKIP spokesman said: “I do not think he is a racist. He is a young lad who is taking an interest in his community and wants to get involved. We should be encouraging that.”
Eric Kitson, elected UKIP county councillor in Worcestershire, is not a "young lad", he is 59. Kitson had to resign his Wyre Forest seat after a row over a cartoon of a Muslim being spit-roasted on a fire fuelled by copies of the Koran, posted on his Facebook profile. It has also shown a string of anti-Jewish remarks including false claims that the Rothschild banking dynasty had controlled Nazi Germany’s leader Adolf Hitler.
Mr Kitson even suggested that Mr Farage should consider uniting with Nick Griffin, and the BNP.
We are used to claims by UKIP's leader that his party is not racialist and would not allow infiltration by the BNP. But we are starting to wonder whether Nick Griffin, if he resumes his efforts at "respectability", won't feel compelled to declare he wants nothing to do with those disturbed fanatics in UKIP.
Anna-Marie Crampton, a UKIP candidate in the Crowborough ward of East Sussex County Council, was suspended from the party in April, after internet postings in her name suggesting that World War Two was a Jewish conspiracy.
One posting on a conspiracy theory site said: "The Second World Wide War was engineered by the Zionist Jews and financed by the banksters to make the general public all over the world feel so guilty and outraged by the Holocaust that a treaty would be signed to create the State of Israel as we know it today."
She apparently advised people to "read the Protocols of Zion, all you need to know is in there and it's in their own words". Ms.Crampton has claimed that someone else must have hijacked her Facebook and Twitter identities to post the messages. The account used carried photographs of her posing with Nigel Farage.
The "it wasn't me" defence was not something the UKIP councillors in Lincolnshire found necessary. All 16 of them refused to sign an anti-racism declaration iintroduced by Labour. Chris Pain, leader of the county council’s UKIP group, the official opposition, told the council's annual meeting: “I cannot support this document. “It actually pushes forward the chance of multiculturalism, one of the fundamental things that’s wrong with our society."
And so, if the Woolwich atrocity has not brought out as many fascists as their leaders hoped, the row continues to bring out what's underneath some patriots' flags, and Farage's UKIP pound sign.