You may have read the account of our writer friend being targeted by supporters of the National Front. Here’s his account of the demonstration itself. Thanks for your contribution, comrade!
I arrived at the demonstration area about half an hour before the advertised start time and there was already about 20 people standing on Grey’s Monument with a large banner declaring ‘Nationalists against Groomers’ and smaller Union flags. The crowd had doubled in size after just 15 minutes and by midday there was around 100 people.
This wasn’t the drunken wannabes of the EDL (although there was a small group of EDL from Sunderland who were, somewhat predictably, already drunk) this group was predominantly middle-aged veterans of the far-right. The fascist insignia was proudly on display; Blood and Honour shirts, C-18 badges and swastika tattoos.
Their banners and placards featured Enoch Powell; an iconic image from a past which felt so out of place among the modern, metropolitan shopping crowd who fill Newcastle on a Saturday afternoon. I heard one passer-by trying to explain to her adult daughter who Powell was and it almost sounded like an old folk tale.
The demo was quite subdued for some time with only a few chants from the EDL supporters who, despite claiming to be against Nazis and racists, were obviously very happy to support the white-supremacists of the NF.
Then the mood slowly got more menacing as passers-by were hassled by NF members trying to force their leaflets on them. I saw people being harassed to take leaflets and one NF supporter seemed to be targeting women. He wasn’t the only one either.
They had one of their members filming the demo but when teenage girls walked by he was filming them too, walking behind them, leering. Even the female NF supporters voiced their approval of this utterly creepy behaviour, behaviour which made a mockery of the stated aim of the demo; to protest against sex offenders.
The almost non-existent police presence was either unaware of this behaviour or didn’t care. They didn’t intervene either when I was targeted by NF supporters or when others who were reporting on the demo were subjected to abuse.
Various people from the far-right were in attendance; local EDL and Infidels, regional NF organiser Simon Biggs, Kevin Watmough the Redwatch website editor and bogus poppy seller and even veteran odd-ball Richard Edmonds was seen shuffling about with his tatty carrier bag of apples!
Before the rain had started people had begun to drift away from the demo to the pub but once the heavens opened the NF lost a third of their group. The speeches were short and full of the expected anti-muslim, anti-immigration rhetoric. The irony of their claim to be peaceful protesters was not lost on this writer.
They left their demo early and trudged up the road in the driving rain to their rally at The Companions Club near St James Park. The pub has a reputation for not being particularly keen on non-white customers and their willingness to support the National Front will have only reinforced this reputation.
What is worrying is my last report on a National Front demonstration in Newcastle was in 2011 and they had the grand total of four people, three years later they have 100. There was no opposition other than the odd comment from passers-by and it appears to be self-evident that these people will grow if left to their own devices. It may only be 100 now but that’s where these destructive movements start. How much bigger will they be in another three years?