What in previous years has been a happy family day out ending with a pub lunch was threatened this year by students and others from Sussex University in the form of Sussex UAF who declared the parade ‘racist’ and that they were not having the English Defence League (and by extension in their blinkered minds the BNP) ‘Marching through our liberal City’.

They set up a facebook page, endorsed by people who should really know better like Labour and Green councillors and candidates, officials from three trades unions (including the one I used to be a Branch Secretary for, a member for 33 years, oh that I had seen such vigour on our behalf when my colleagues and I were tossed on the scrapheap) and lecturers.

Calling themselves Brighton’s Unity they organised a rally to celebrate Brighton’s Unity from 10am until 3pm on the green opposite both their university building and the pub booked for the family lunch.
Debate broke out arguing that MfE are completely separate from the EDL, predate them by several years, are not racist, this is an established family day out and so on. This is March for England's statement on their website:-
We WELCOME everyone to March For England, Regardless of Colour, Culture or Religion or Non Religion, United we can make this country a more better place, free from a Un-Democratic Government that ignores the people, Free from Hardline Extremists of all Religions or facist groups that bring Non Cohesion and so much more
The EDL declared that they are separate from March for England, that they were not attending and had not organised any St George's Day parade anywhere.

The reaction from the students was depressing. Older wiser heads in Trotskist circles urged them to be reasonable. To paraphrase their argument, patriotism may be outdated and objectionable but to challenge ‘soft nationalists’ in this way will be to push them towards the far-right and thus counter productive. Better to tolerate them while watching what they do.

 Younger students were less sensible. "We will watch your silly march", said one, "and so long as it remains acceptable we will allow it to continue". She sounded like Lady Bountiful of the Manor, patronising the peasants – who died and made you Queen dearie? The worst was when a boy, Alexander (Alex) Ghionis, called for those attending Brighton’s Unity on Sunday to ‘Bring weapons’ The UAF admins of the Facebook page had been deleting any comment opposing their position, overnight all comments were deleted and argument shut down.

I heard this morning that Ghionis, a privately educated social science student (I have no compunction about naming this privileged boy – I read with my own eyes his advocating the use of force upon an event I was attending with my family) was arrested by the police early on Sunday morning.
The day before the parade a notice under Section 12 of the Public Order Act 1986 was served on March for England requiring them not to make any speech or hold their customary minutes silence for the fallen of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So Sunday morning my family and I arrived at Brighton Station where we could see MfE mustering, and a police cordon protecting them from some young men who seemed interested in entering the waiting area outside the station. I won’t put it stronger than that.

We decided to have a walk around town to see what  Brighton Unity were up to. There was a heavy police presence keeping a watchful eye on numerous groups who were hanging around the parade route. The celebration of Brighton’s Unity, about 50 of them with flags of the Unite Union, were at that point sitting on the green listening to a CD. Walking a little further we spotted the March for England parade crossing the road at the top of the hill (note the number of yellow high vis jackets of the police and MfE’s own stewards) above us.

We moved into what turned out to be a good position to watch them come past. T
hese are a few of our photos. At the end of the parade was a small counter parade consisting of a half dozen or so of what my colleague Mary calls  ‘dozy bints’ who wanted to "Save the Dragon". Two of them gave me a flyer, printed up to look like the March for England poster, and informing me that they were protesting about the demonstration ahead of them. “What the St George’s parade? What have you got against St George? Are you not proud to be English?” “Er, I’m proud to be British” “But not English,” “Yes, but this group is racist.” “What makes you say that, what have they done to make you say that?” “Well, they associate with known racists.” “Give me your evidence, what have they said or done that justifies you labelling them racist?” “Well they demonstrate outside Immigration detention centres” “Really? Which ones and when?” (A quick glance at MfE's events and gallery pages will confirm that they have never done any such thing.) “Er, I don’t know, but read our leaflet. We should make everybody welcome, everybody is welcome in Brighton,”   And so they went on.

I think they were essentially well meaning and they will grow wiser with age. I won’t bore you with the whole conversation, just remember that bit about ‘everybody welcome in Brighton’.
While I was deep in this discussion I heard a chant of ‘get a wash, get a wash, get a wash’. My husband told me that one bystander had singled out a member of MfE in the parade and hurled abuse at him, ‘Hey, you, fat c**t’ A steward asked him to moderate his language in the presence of women and children and the chant drowned out further foul language. The parade had moved on quite a way by this time so we decided to return to the green to see their arrival at the designated stop. By this time the students and UAF had a speaker to listen to, an older man with wild long grey hair. We could hear snatches of his speech, 1% of the population own 80% of the wealth, was one of his points.
14/4/2013 01:13:39 am

I really like it when people come together and share ideas. Great site, continue the good work!

23/5/2013 06:20:29 pm

There are many benefits in celebrating these days! Most importantly without ant discrimination like cast, religion and color everyone gather there and share that fellowship which is the best thing about it! All the best for such a gathering and hope it will develop good interpersonal relationships!

18/9/2013 05:11:15 pm

Thank you for another essential article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a complete way of writing

18/9/2013 04:00:34 pm

The reaction from the students was depressing. Older wiser heads in Trotskist circles urged them to be reasonable.


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