On Saturday 25th, the March for England happened in Blackpool. Well, it was supposed to.
The March for England (MFE) is an event organised by a small number of far-right and nationalist types, similar to an EDL demo in the level of drinking, racism, and bad dress sense. Originally it was based in Brighton, but having been on the receiving end of large amounts of verbal abuse, disruption and other forms of opposition by vastly larger crowds of locals every year, the organisers decided to admit defeat after the 2014 march and find somewhere they thought was less likely to result in serious opposition – a small northern seaside town like Blackpool seemed ideal.
Having driven the MFE out of Brighton, antifascists were keen to avoid them starting up again elsewhere, so an antifascist counter-demo was organised to oppose and try to stop the march. A contingent from Leeds joined other northern and local antifascists in Blackpool for a day at the seaside.
♫I do like to be beside the sea!♫
After milling around the general area of the scheduled march route early in the day, antifascists congregated together and headed off south as a group, taking position near the Manchester pub on the Promenade, the road beside the sea front. As a line of police and police vans moved to head us off and prevent us advancing further towards the fascists in their pubs, people spread out to cover the road to stop the march from being able to pass along its announced route. Leaflets explaining why we were there were distributed to passers by, with a positive reception and shouts of support, and moods were kept high with the presence of a mobile soundsystem.
Having achieved our objective of blocking the march route we attempted to remain in place, and the police predictably tried to push us off the road. After a fair amount of shouting, pushing and shoving between us and the lines of cops, including several on horses, antifascists were forced off the road, however by this point it was clear that the MFE was not going to be coming down the Promenade.
♫I do like to stroll along the Prom, Prom, Prom!♫
Having successfully stopped the fascists from marching through Blackpool, we then held our own spontaneous march, strolling up the Promenade towards Blackpool Tower. A few small groups of fascists, clearly disheartened by their terrible day but brave with a line of cops between themselves and antifascists, came along shouting nonsense. Most were quickly bundled away by police before anything but insults or the occasional thrown orange could reach them, but one group wasn’t so lucky. Climbing onto a raised grassy area to taunt from higher ground, they got themselves into a scuffle they seemed badly prepared for. The cops intervened, and a few of the fascists got cuffed and taken to sit in the back of a police van to nurse their new headaches.
We finished our march by the North Pier, with no injuries or arrests and having successfully stopped the March for England, ensuring another miserable day for the far-right.
♫Beside the seaside!♫
♫Beside the sea!♫