The TUC and Labour Party condemned the violence. But they had not warned in advance that yobs would not be welcome on the march because neither is ready for a full confrontation with the fanatics. On the march itself the TUC allowed the SWP to hand out banners and “brand” the demonstration as its own as it called in apparent seriousness for “a general strike now”.I do have some caveats.
The folly of ignoring or indulging the far left becomes apparent as soon as you realise that the similarities between the SWP and the BNP are more important than the differences. Both are hysterical totalitarian organisations that love vicious rhetoric and promote anti-Semites. The left wing press and the BBC will never acknowledge the overlap between fascism and communism, because they fear accusations of “betrayal,” and have a mental block that prevents them accepting that evil resides on the left as well as the right of British politics.
As a point of contrast, imagine how they would react if the BNP hijacked a Countryside Alliance march. The Today programme would have had a nervous breakdown on live radio.
As for the anarchists, let us be honest and acknowledge political violence is not always futile. If there isn’t violence, the media will give only perfunctory coverage to a demonstration, something that ought to worry my colleagues more than it does. Today’s proponents of breaking the law and scaring shop girls can also say that riots and a mass refusal to pay destroyed the poll tax in Mrs Thatcher's day. I am sure readers can throw the moral argument against political violence in a democracy in their faces, but for me the decisive point is that by the time of the protests against the poll tax exploded virtually everyone in Britain except Mrs Thatcher had accepted the case against it.
In the first place the BNP is not a party of the right but, I suppose, the media and many political activists see it as such.
In the second place, as I have been pointing out ad nauseam the groups that were smashing up private property to protest against the smallest cuts in government were not anarchists.
Thirdly, though this is a gift to the Conservatives, I don't suppose they will manage to take advantage of it the way Thatcher did in the seventies and eighties. I suspect the Cameroonies will once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
But I am glad that Nick Cohen, who was on the march, confirms my impressions about the marchers and the police, though I was watching from outside.