Photo credit: rubberdreamfeet (Flickr, Creative Commons licence)
Before its protest in Dudley today, the EDL was looking ever stronger. Two thousand people turned up in Dudley - the sort of number that indicates a group is breaking out of its niche. There were rumours that more 'mainstream' groups like the UDA in Northern Ireland wanted to join in. Unite Against Fascism and various (understandably) angry local Muslims guaranteed photogenic chaos at each rally, fitting the EDL's narrative of radicals causing chaos on the streets.
But in Dudley today, the UAF were kept away. The racist ex-football hooligans were on their own, with only the police for company, and they happily reverted to type. As the Telegraph reports:
Some of the protesters broke out of a pen in a car park, breaking down metal fences and throwing the metal brackets at officers, who were armed with riot shields and batons. Members of the demonstration started fighting their own stewards who were trying to calm them down as they attacked the fences penning them in.Fighting their own stewards. That would be the slightly smarter thugs charged with making the whole thing look family-friendly then. It's hard to see how the EDL can look like a respectable mass movement now, and not just a collection of frustrated middle-aged men with beer bellies and football banning orders.
Nick Mainwood, 42, from Oldbury, West Midlands, said he tried to help an elderly woman who suffered a panic attack during the protest. He said: "I came down here for a peaceful protest but it was horrible, absolutely horrible."Nick Mainwood symbolises the EDL's brief respectability. His reaction to seeing its thugs up close shows why they won't last.