The EDL had their first significant event outside of the capital since Tower Hamlets in early September right in the heart of the Midlands. They visited here a few years ago in the very early days and were subjected to aggression from the local population; this should have been an opportunity to redress these matters by force of numbers, and a more structured approach to articulating their point of view.
By lunchtime the EDL had all congregated in the Brasshouse, and Walkabout pubs on Broad Street. There had been talk of many meeting points with a walk down Broad Street to their final destination by the Conference centre. The numbers that had spilled onto the pavement were very low ( a few hundred) and by the time they were scheduled to move off most had had many pints of their alcohol of choice. As is usual at this stage, a number of bangers were thrown indiscriminately at themselves and into the general public causing alarm, if not real hurt. There was the occasional missile that was thrown mainly at photographers, and other media.
The walk to the main rally point was very short, and the police prescence became increasingly significant. The UAF were holding their counter-demonstration at the opposite side of the shopping centre, so there was little risk of a clash of the 2 groups.
When Tony Curtis, who is the regular MC, got up to speak, he took the opportunity to berate those members who had been throwing missiles, and bangers, and, to some extent the general unruly behaviour. This all fell on deaf ears as further bangers were let off in the crowd. Later on there was a minor fracas near the police lines which many people saw as an opportunity to break away from the interminable speeches, and enter into a bit of recreational violence. There followed aggression to the police, and bottles, and cans flying over for no apparent reason. The police were in no mood for letting this get out of hand, and quashed this very quickly. Their numbers swelled significantly and they formed a very strong line of men and vans.
The speeches seemed to go on for a long time, and the crowd seem to get fidgety very quickly. The rally was billed to go on until 4pm, but the majority of the attendees were back on their coaches by 3pm.
The leaders of the EDL must be getting increasingly frustrated with the tiresome nature of the majority of their membership who clearly have little intellectual involvement with the cause. Their conduct is now becoming a parody of itself, and, like unruly children, they have no control over their own behaviour. The ritual throwing of bangers into the road is infantile, and immature, and the singing of abusive songs just embarrassing from an adult group.
The comments on the Facebook page reflect the growing demise of this group, and the recognition that if they want to be taken seriously they have to rid themselves once and for all of the beer-drinking, abusive, violent and immature contingent who through a drunken haze feel that they are presenting a well-articulated political thesis masquerading as a clumsy, slurred, disjointed, selection of invectives.