The EDL ventured to close their 2010 tour of England at the lovely cathedral city of Peterborough in the rural heartland of Cambridgeshire. It was news to me that this was a hotbed of radical Islam – although I was surprised to find a significant Muslim population in the town, and a number of mosques.
Background on EDL and latest views HERE
The policing tactics followed the usual formula of pushing the EDL into one of three pubs to get the vocal chords stimulated ready for the short march into the centre. A robust cordon was set up to contain the crowd and provide some protection for the local shoppers.
Initially it looked as though the numbers would be very low and then a huge swathe of supporters came over the brow of the bridge, silhouetted by the low winter sun. The estimate of the total was of the order of a thousand. As they marched from the bridge and past the entrance to the side road leading the site of the Peterborough Trades Union Council counter demonstration there was some scuffling largely as the Police seemed to have directed them into their own lines. The whole of the EDL were very soon within their pen and the rally commenced.
Early on in the proceedings a one minute silence was announced which was maintained perfectly, and then someone ( in the crowd, I believe) made a comment to break the silence; the crowd flared like a coiled spring resulting in some scuffling and throwing of “bangers”. A number of passing shoppers were disturbed and frightened by these events and people had to be escorted away quickly. This died down and the speeches began.
“Tommy Robinson” made the initial speech and was focussed this time on trying to re-assure everyone how supportive the EDL were of the Police and also how disgusted they were about the antics of the students and the damage being caused to public property, especially Churchill’s statue. There was an indication that the EDL were going to adopt a self-appointed position during the next student protests as guardians of the city’s monuments. It will be interesting to see how this manifests itself.
There were the usual array of speeches and a number of people were leaving early to get to the nearby pub before closing time. Fortunately for the Police once the EDL were over the bridge there was no way back over the river for some distance so was a convenient barrier. There were a few arrests which were more due to drunken exuberance than anything serious.
Some of the early leavers had been able to stay on the right side of the river and had made the way to the TUC event, and started creating some conflict at that event. By the time I arrived, on the water-logged muddy field, there was a group of 10-20 EDL facing off to 20-30 Muslim youths, together with a handful of Police trying to control the situation. Due to the conditions underfoot there was some sliding and falling over – had this escalated into a more violent conflict it could have deteriorated into a rare comedy moment. ( For those Monty Python fans it would have been a homage to the sketch of the Batley Townswomen’s Guilds re-enactment of the Battle of Pearl Harbour)
The EDL were led away back to their coaches, and the Muslim lads through town to the Mosque.Having seen the EDL perform on many occasions now, it never ceases to amaze me how blind they can be to how anyone will take their position remotely seriously, with their behaviour. The crowd have always spent a few hours drinking so in the main represent an embarrassing face to the public – chanting and singing the most inane songs that emanate from the playground. No doubt with them being drunk, they feel completely the opposite, and that they are the epitome of English comradeship and true national spirit – such is the lure of alcohol, to deceive and defend.
More Photos from the event HERE