Who is really marching in Brighton on the 21st of April?
For five years the March for England event has taken place in Brighton, and the organisers have claimed they are ‘patriots’ celebrating St Georges Day. So why do this group of people travel from across the South East to mark an occasion that is celebrated nationally? Because the day is actually an excuse for various sections of the far-right to get together, drink and cause trouble. They hate Brighton for its openness and diversity, and they come to disrupt it.
Dave Smeeton(right) of MfE poses with Paul Pitt of Essex EDL. Essex Infidels is the nickname of the Essex EDL division.
So what is March for England
March for England was formed by a group of football hooligans in 2007, to bring together more of their sort on various far right marches. MfE’s organisers include former members of the 6.57 crew, a gang of football ‘casuals’ with close links to neo Nazi organisations Combat 18 and the National Front. Members of MfE have also been central to British National Party (BNP) branches.
But MfE is not a stand-alone group, it was central in the formation of the English Defence League. In 2009 MfE initiated a racist protest in Luton which resulted in scenes of violence and attacks on Asian businesses, individuals and places of worship. Out of this the EDL was formed.
The EDL itself is made up of lots of smaller organisations, and MfE remains very close to many of these. Together with five other far right organisations in the region it has formed the South East Alliance (SEA). Groups involved with SEA include; former EDL branches, Casuals United – the most unpleasant of the football hooligan element invlolved in the far-right, and Infidel Groups which make a point of promoting anti-Muslim hatred and violence.
Hatred, Racism and Homophobia
Like all fascist and racist street gangs MfE’s organisers use hatred and lies to try and split communities. For the people involved in MfE this hatred is mainly focused on racism and Islamophobia, but it doesn’t stop there. On past marches MfE supporters have shouted homophobic abuse at people from Brighton. Casuals United, a central group in MfE events, recently posted a story on their website attacking Sussex Police for taking action against people who shouted homophobic abuse at a recent Albion football match, saying: ‘Brighton police are falling over themselves promising mass arrests for a bit of homophobic chanting at a football match.’
MfE and the EDL, Truth and Lies
Dave Smeeton, MfE frontman, has constantly claimed his organisation is nothing to do with the EDL. But of course the truth is only thinly disguised. Earlier this year he spoke at a rally with a number of former EDL organisers, who are now establishing their own groups on similar racist lines. The Rally included a former Essex EDL organiser, a national EDL organiser, and members of the EDL from the south east. EDL flags were flown, whilst Smeeton and his EDL friends took turns to share a megaphone.
When Smeeton last came to negotiate with Sussex police he and his friends posed for photos with two flags; the cross of St George, with an MfE logo imposed on it; and also a Union Flag, with the name Essex Infidels marked across it. Essex Infidels is the nickname of the Essex EDL division. The same flag has been used to lead off the MfE march for several years.
Members of MfE and the EDL pose with their flags in Brighton. they had been to visit Sussex Police ahead of the MfE event for 2013
Last year the flag of the British Freedom Party Veterans Group was also flown at the front of the march. The British Freedom Party is the political party formed by EDL members.
An EDL member fails his literacy test when asked what the intitials on his flag stand for