Over the last couple of years the targets of the English Defence leagues disapproval have been many and varied.Firstly it was Muslims, Socialists and Trade Unionists,they have now moved on to students the anti-cuts movement and any organisation or grouping that could be described as progressive.
In recent weeks they have turned their attention to the Occupy/we are the 99% movement. People may remember there was a plan by the EDL to attack the St.Pauls protest on Remembrance Sunday. This resulted in 179 members of the EDL being arrested to prevent major disorder. In other parts of the country this has manifested itself in threats and violence towards the protesters,it was therefore not surprising when Portsmouth EDL decided to do the same.
People were made aware that something was going on when the Portsmouth Occupy meeting on 7th dec was infiltrated by the EDL.As people were packing up at the end of the meeting someone who was floating around the outskirts of the group announced he had acquired all the information he needed about Occupys activities.
The next day it became clear that there was to be an attempt to disrupt Occupys weekly event on the saturday.Uaf responded with a quick ringround to get people to come down to support Occupys right to peaceful protest.On the day there were about 25-30 people attending Occupys event.When the EDL turned up it was to verbally abuse members of UAF and then to hit the pub. It had already become clear that they were gearing up for a counter event on the 17th December, the 17th-18th weekend was planned to be a specific event for Occupy which became the Youniversity event.
EDL activists were trying to organise a counter-protest to take place against the Occupy event.The language being used was intemperate and frequently violent,and it was becoming clear they were hoping for some sort of physical confrontation.
For UAFs part we needed to affirm Occupys right to peaceful protest,but without distorting the nature of the event.We urged people to come along and support Occupy's right to freedom of speech and assemby without fear.
On friday 16th OP went into occupation of Victoria Park.
The following morning the Youniversity event started at 11 am.
The EDL had been planning on assembling in The Isambard Brunel.However we had tipped off Wetherspoons,and they were banned from the venue.
The counter demo that was supposed to take place simply did not happen.
Several dozen people tutned up at midday for OP's event, to take part in the series of talks that had been organised,there were talks on corruption of the market,alternatives to the banking system, trades unionism and wealth inequality.Over the weekend over 70 people must have participated in the event.There were plenty of lively discussions and by any estimation it was a great success.
As for the EDL on the day there protest was somewhat limited, three of there group walked past looking as if they were going to a This is England pub night.They stood, glowered,gave some constipated looks and wandered off.A little later another two walked past and hung around the main gate for twenty minutes.They decamped to one of their favoured watering holes in Edinburgh rd.There they appeared to spend time on their mobiles attempting to get some support down,but to no avail.
That was it.
The EDL seem to be in disarray nationally.There has been a split, with The North West Infidels taking a more classical fascist route.Rumours are rife that Tommy Robinson is due to leave.The attempt to march through Tower Hamlets in the summer was a dismal failure. Two years ago they were having marches of three thousand, now they can barely muster three hundred.Whilst the EDL are severely weakened they are down but not out.With the dole queues expanding things could look very different in a few months. There is no room for complacency.