Whatever happened to Free Speech? Cf UAF in Walthamstow and EDL in Westminster
Readers will remember the appalling way the EDL were treated while exercising our democratic freedom to meet and protest in Walthamstow last month. Today was set as the return to Walthamstow.
However last week Tommy Robinson and 53 men were arrested on the outskirts of London. Kev Carroll was arrested in Luton. Tommy Robinson remains in custody until after Christmas on charges concerning irregularities to the passport he used to visit the US for the commemoration of 11/9 last month. The other men are charged with conspiracy to cause a breach of the peace and allowed bail, on condition they do not enter East London. Paul Weston, leader of the British Freedom Party who was arrested for potentially causing a breach of the peace wile attempting to visit Tommy in prison has been released without charge.
Next the Home Seecretary Teresa May set a ban on all marches in four London boroughs for 30 days. Those boroughs were Waltham Forest, in order to prevent today’s proposed march, Islington, just in case anyone approached the Finsbury Park Mosque, Tower Hamlets, lest anyone contemplate a demonstration at the East London Mosque, and Newham (site of the proposed Megagmosque). According to the notice on WalthamForest’s website this order prevented ALL marches, except funeral processions and those commonly or customarily held in the area, which would cover something like the local Scouts annual St George’s Day parade. The Home Secretary does not have power to ban static demonstrations. However the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police issued an order under S14 of the Public Order Act 1986 banning any EDL event in London, other than a permitted rally outside the Houses of Parliament between 1pm and 2pm. One hour only, only in that spot. I was not served with S14 a notice but a man known to me has given me his copy which is below.
The UAF and their subsidiary organisation We Are Waltham Forest decided not to cancel their demo but to hold it as a “Victory Rally” As a former resident of Walthamstow who retains family connections I always had business there this weekend and decided I would lawfully go about it this morning. There was a strong police presence at all the transport hubs and railway stations. At Walthamstow Central Station UAF stewards were exhibiting their banners and attempting to sell their newspapers.
WF council had decided to hold a Family Fun Day to celebrate ‘diversity’ and ‘United, Strong, Together’ which I thought sounded rather newspeak. They hired a funfair which set up on the Arcade Site, rather later than advertised. On the Town Square there were marquees with table tennis and table football. Also stilt walkers, balloons and a man with bubbles to entertain the children. In the foreground officials of the PCS union gather.
All rides were free – dodgems, roundabouts, whirlimagigs. This is the festival of Eid of course. I’m no longer a council tax payer!
I noticed that the UAF rally was forming up in Hoe Street in the road. The police halted the traffic of the main road through Walthamstow from 11am and diverted buses, cars and an ambulance up narrow Church Hill.
As well as the UAF and the SWP and the Socialist Party there were supporters of other causes including, Tamils and Palestinians.
The MP for Walthamstow Stella Creasy (Labour Co-op) was in attendance with a senior Police officer, ostensibly ‘observing’. I don’t know who the young man on the left is.
Speakers were taking their turn from the back of a lorry hired for the purpose. A police line stopped futher movement towards Bell Corner.
They had rather over catered for attendees with more placards than you could shake a stick at lying in heaps on the pavement. This young woman couldn’t get any takers.
“Come to our demo and protest?”
“If you have not got time now, join us on the march afterwards”
I thought she had it wrong about a march – all marches being banned by order of the Home Secretary. A few minutes later on the other side of the road one of her comrades had even less luck.
“What this lot on about this time? Oh f**k ’em”.
As I walked about between the rally the family day and the market I caught other snatches of conversation. One young Muslim man was explaining to another that “It was if they showed that film, that film, they can’t show that film . . . !” referring to the trailer for the film Innocence of Muslims which the EDL had contemplated showing during the intended demo today.
One man saw a trading opportunity for his rainbow whistles and a chance to demonstrate. Do neither of them realise that under the sharia state which so many Muslims want the one on the right would be a slave and the left would be thrown off a mountain, or as Walthamstow only has hills, crushed under a wall?
Other traders in the market carried on as normal.
Most of the speakers that I heard were saying the same things – What a contrast to the 1st September when we had racists in our borough – the EDL is finished – smash racism – we love our diversity, etc. I couldn’t see Martin Smith or Weyman Bennet this time but I noticed that Stella Creasy was now ‘observing’ from a vantage point on the podium. Below she is talking to (I think) Sophie Bolt of WAWF, CND, and Hackney, hugs and kisses all round and it’s her turn to wear the comedy dead beaver hat which was being passed round.
The speaker having the bad hair day is Jean Lambert MEP, of the Green party, a former Walthamstow teacher. She is declaring that Waltham Forest does not need defending from the forces of Islam, thank you very much EDL, as WF is strong in its diversity.
Down at Walthamstow High Street I asked a policeman when the roads would be clear. About 3pm he thought. He said that the march (what march???!!!) was scheduled to move off at 2pm towards Bell Corner to the Town Hall. I was astounded. I didn’t want to wait until 2pm so decided to see what was happening at the Met Police approved demo in Westminster as that had a very short time span and was due to start shortly.
I arrived at Old Palace Gardens after it had started, just in time to see a small but aggressive contingent of UAF/students being led away by police. My title comes from the slogan on the back of the jumper of the man in the middle of this picture. It isn’t clear at that distance but it says “Whatever happened to Free Speech?”
Divisions had come from Newcastle and the Midlands and I was pleased to later meet up with friends from March for England. The chant was “We want our Tommy back”. The black flag of jihad was burnt. The Telegraph has some video here.
In the background the Houses of Parliament and the stature of Richard the Lionheart. At 1.55 by my watch the police opened the barriers and escorted the demonstrators our of the area. Some of us met for a drink in St Stephen’s Tavern.
The Waltham Forest Guardian confirms that the march ban was defied. On the UAF website yesterday, declaring todays event the “Victory Rally” Martin Smith said that the leftists were to ignore the ‘impossible to impose’ ban on marching. The list of speakers is here. Creasy is confirmed as speaking along with the rest of the usual subjects.
I can understand the legal difference whereby a S14 order can be imposed by the police on one event, but not another. It is discrimination, as my mother used to put it ‘making fish of one and fowl of the other’. It is objectionable. I think it was wrong. But I understand the law behind it.
I do not understand elected representatives and the Metropolitan Police facilitating a political march in the face of a ban on all marches in that borough put in place by the Home Secretary, while banning the march of another political group.
This is a breach of our right to free speech, free protest and free movement. This confirms the corruption in high places and that the traitors in authority will brook no dissent, allow no challenge. Now we truly know where we stand.
Photographs E Weatherwax and London Division. October 2012