|Councillor Kieran Quinn|
On Saturday the English Defence League are planning a demonstration in Hyde, Greater Manchester after two white youths were attacked by a gang of Asian youths. I don't know enough about the EDL to support or oppose them, what I do know is that we are supposed to live in a democracy where there is freedom of speech and expression, and that includes groups or individuals whose views we may find abhorrent. Not in Hyde it seems, where the council and the Greater Manchester Police, yet again, are doing everything they can to ban the demo.
Tameside council leader Kieran Quinn is quoted as saying:
"Hyde is a diverse and peaceful community and we don't welcome outsiders coming in whose only intention is to incite hatred. We are not against peaceful protest, but people need to understand this is about a hate-filled group wishing to come to Hyde to share that hate and try and incite hatred, and we will not support that regardless of what group that comes from."
I have to say I haven't seen the EDL close up but what I have seen on TV is that whenever the EDL demonstrate against Muslim extremism, which they claim is their purpose, the violence has invariably been caused by their opponents, the Unite Against Fascism rent-a-mob of assorted hate filled Trots, Marxists and Che Guevara lovers. I have seen UAF and Occupy close up, and both are pretty hate filled and potentiually violent.
Now if demos and marches are to be banned because some jumped up councillor doesn't like the sound of the group, then we are in deep doodies. Remember Quinn represents a party whose government was responsible for bombing the crap out of Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sierra Leone and God knows where else. I'd call the actions of Blair and Brown a darn sight more hateful than waving a placard in Hyde against Al Quaeda and their pals.
Then when demos and marches are banned as a threat to public order, as happens, I can't help thinking that the door is wide open for any group to cause violence when their oppponents are on the streets and hey presto, you get your opponents banned. It is only a small jump from that to imagine the state using agent provocateurs for the same purpose.
If a perfectly legal organisation, be that the EDL the Socialist Workers Party or any other group wants to march or demonstrate, it is up to the powers that be, whether that is jumped up councillors like Quinn or Greater Manchester Police, to do all they can to ensure they can do it safely. They should not try to ban them because they don't agree with them. This is not yet a totalitarian state.