The numbers turning out to support the racist English Defence League (EDL) at protests over the past two weekends suggest that the organisation is in sharp decline in the North of England and all but finished in the South.
This follows a string of setbacks for EDL over the past year or two. In September 2011 thousands of people hit the streets of Whitechapel to stop them from entering the borough of Tower Hamlets. EDL supporters were harrassed all over East London and an EDL coach had its windows smashed as it left the area. Then in April 2012 Brighton Anti Fascists scored a spectacular victory when the EDL attempted to march through the town (pics). Later in September thousands of locals drove the EDL from Walthamstow and kept them out again the following month.
This year is looking no better for them. On February 23rd Cambridge saw its second protest by the organisation. The previous one had seen up to 300 people attend (albeit outnumbered by a counter demo by the UAF). This time they pulled in just 30 supporters who where seen fighting each other in an oversized pen and getting spectacularly drunk before leaving early. They were outnumbered by anti fascists by over 15-1.
This Saturday (March 2nd) saw no more than 450 people attend a ‘national’ EDL protest in Manchester. A similar number joined a counter demo by Unite Against Fascism and Manchester Against Racism and Fascism. Aside from the UAF around 150 militant anti fascists attempted to confront the EDL and were only prevented from doing so by a massive police operation. The EDL turnout was less than a quarter of the numbers seen when they last visited the city in 2009. Then as now they were outnumbered. Though this time the counter protest was only a local mobilisation as the date clashed with the UAF conference.
It is common knowledge that they are plagued by infighting and that many of the football hooligan firms that they relied upon have now deserted them. Most human beings are presently hoping, that at their present rate of meltdown, they will soon be little more than a bad memory. Though to be fair, they have given us a few good memories as well.
Click here for an in depth look at the politics of the EDL.
Photos by Guy Smallman