Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is known around the world for its street performance. The cobbled concourse up to the castle can be a challenge to navigate at the best of times, with its ceaseless array of fire jugglers, pipers and coach parties of European sightseers.
This afternoon, there was a different kind of performance on show, as around 40 supporters of the far-right Scottish Defence League returned to the capital for a protest “against refugees”. Events followed a familiar formula as a larger crowd of anti-racists met to oppose them. Both sides were kept well apart by police, with a large section of the street portioned off with metal barriers to contain each protest.
The SDL’s turnout was noticeably down on their last Edinburgh outing in October, although their numbers were boosted by a contingent from England of ex-EDL and ‘National Action’ supporters. As with last year’s demo, any suggestion that the SDL are pretending to be anything other than hardened neo-Nazis has been abandoned, with Combat 18 flags and sieg hail salutes on open display.
Anti-fascist strategy depressingly relied on going exactly where the police wanted their protest to go, while the SDL were allowed to roam in and out of their penned area and decamp to a pub afterwards. The fascist numbers were far from impressive, even by their own standards, with the usual assortment of keyboard fantasists, old NF types and balaclaved members of National Action, with a few kids in Stone Island get-up hanging around the sidelines. The Nazis kept themselves entertained by shouting “paedos” every time they got riled up by the constant chanting from the opposing protest. That was about as lively as it got, with the fash making a pretty half-arsed effort to break through the barriers when a few anti-fascists were escorted past by the police.
As the SDL left, one of their leading members – Marc Sturrock – was nabbed by the police, although the precise reasons for his arrest are unclear.
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