A massive hoo-ha erupted over the English Defence League’s (EDL) plan to march in Bradford on 28 August.
Various so-called anti-fascist (UAF) groups proposed an opposing march. The vast majority of Bradford’s citizenry wanted to get on with their lives, unencumbered by the pointless posturing.
West Yorkshire Police demanded of the Metropolitan City Council that it apply for a ban on marches that weekend. The council duly complied and the Home Secretary granted the request.
In the event, about 250 EDL and about the same number of UAF demonstrators turned up to hurl insults and a few rocks from the “Wastefield” site in the city centre, separated by 1600 police from 13 police forces. A few more “peace people” fumbled about with a little festival (?) as if we’d time-warped back to the 1960s.
So who gained from this game of charades? The EDL and UAF were exposed for the poseurs they are; the peace people had a nice day, the majority of Bradford’s half a million souls ignored it all but couldn’t reach what shops are left in the centre of the city, and the football club lost thousands of pounds because the scheduled match was moved to Friday night by the police.
And it was definitely the police who gained most of all. To be able to place 1600 officers and horses etc. in one city and co-ordinate their tactics was a major plus. To be able to track the people they wanted as they came in from Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, with the tactical support groups coming across the M62 three at a time during the morning, gave them useful know-how.
Protesting the cuts this winter? The boys in blue will be at the ready!