UPDATE 25/04/14 Due to subsidence in the road on the march's route (even the streets of Brighton want nothing to do with them!), the route of the march has been changed. Stop the March for England are asking anti-fascists to assemble at the bottom of West St from 11.30 a.m but also to follow @stopmfe for constant updates.
Sparks fly - are you ready for the March for England? PROMO VIDEO
Brighton likes its quirky little annual rituals – the Festival, the Zombie Walk, Burning of the Clocks, White Night and, of course, Gay Pride and its attendant semi-official munt-fest at Black Rock. Now thanks to the antics of a few misfits from Portsmouth it looks like we can add the knuckle-dragging March for England to this roll-call of honour. Yes – everybody's favourite EDL tribute group has promised to return every year on the same day.
Traditionally among the feistier events in the city's calendar the day has had its ups and downs, but police and organisers have continually tinkered with the arrangements to guarantee satisfaction for everyone. This year looked liked it would be a re-run of 2013 but in audacious coup de theatre Sussex Police have decided to run the whole thing back to front. The march on Sunday April 27th will start at 12.30 p.m on the bottom of West St and will make it all of four hundred yards along Kings Rd eastwards before stopping just short of the Aquarium roundabout.
For those unfamiliar with this unsavoury outing – the March for England is held the Sunday nearest to St George's Day. In previous years the organisers have tried to pretend that it was a harmless family day out. This time round that whole pretence has been dropped and the MfE are proudly boasting of their association with a coalition of far-right racist groups like the English Volunteer Force and the North West Infidels. They've come together under the bigoted banner of the United British Patriots, wannabe pretenders to the English Defence League's tarnished crown. For a full fact-file on these nasties head here
In and of themselves the March for England, especially in the context of Brighton, are ludicrous – however what they represent, ultra-nationalism, is on the rise across Europe. Recent events in Ukraine wheren fascists Svoboda have entered government and in Hungary where the rabidly anti-semitic Jobbik are the third largest party in parliament remind us that hard times can lead folk to look for easy answers and the scapegoating of minorities. The entry of immigrant blaming UKIP into the political mainstream should give us all pause for thought.
The March for England hate Brighton – they've made that very clear. They find it hard to comprehend how a town populated exclusively by dope-smoking genderqueer libertarians (well, mostly) could give them such a hard time. In 2012 the march was diverted, in 2013 they were forced to march inside a metal corridor outnumbered ten to one. Every year they are met with a barrage of noise to drown out their message of hate and this year should be no different.
Tony Campbell of Brighton based Stop the March for England told SchNEWs “Brighton has become an emblematic issue on the far-right – we have drawn a line in the sand here. It's obvious that the racists have no base here"
For regular updates on the day follow @stopmfe on Twitter or Stop the March for England on Facebook
For an excellent film on the 2012 counter-mobilisation see This is not England this is Brighton.
For anti fascism in general Anti Fascist Network