As yesterday drew to a close, central London was turned into what looked like the aftermath of a particularly unpleasant far-right rally. That is probably because it was the aftermath of a particularly unpleasant far-right rally. Police officers were roundly abused, and so were journalists. Those stoking the paranoia that led their followers to behave that way remained silent about it. Which really wasn’t good enough.
Behold the architects of yesterday's thuggery
The bad behaviour came after both UKIP and Leave Means Leave held rallies, one at the south end of Whitehall, and the other in Parliament Square - within a few minutes’ walk of one another. Many in the crowd had spent some time in the Rub-A-Dub; others were continuing to consume anything alcoholic they could get their hands on as they pretended to listen to all the speeches, while in reality just looking for trouble.
The culprits were not hard to identify: UKIP leader Adolf von Batten for one - “UKIP leader branded 'dangerous' for spreading Brexit protest water cannon 'lie' - Mirror Online" … “[he’s] just been on Sky and told reporter he has from a very reliable source (or sauce) that 6 water cannons were on the motorway somewhere last night and are probably with the military - told they are illegal, he said the govt will make them legal to use them”.
Hope Not Hate observed “Generation Identity - whose ideas featured heavily in the Christchurch terrorist’s manifesto - are here”. Neo-Nazis. In London. Supporting UKIP. Also, “Absolutely surreal to mingle in Parliament Square and witness Whitehall full of fash ultras listening to weird hoarse-voiced Tommy Robinson screaming about Islam, refugees and English children”. That’s who was winding up the mob. And the result?
Georgina Stubbs observed “Treating the press like this has never and will never be ok. Ever. I’ve seen @Channel4News and @CNN on the receiving end today”. Bill Gardner added “Some weren’t too keen on the Telegraph either. I was called a ‘disgusting Jew traitor’ today”. Antonello Guerrera got it too. “‘Zionist! Scum!’. This guy marching for #Brexit outside Westminster has just attacked me with his rants just because I’m a journalist. Creepy and shameful”. Anti-Semitism from the far-right. What a surprise.
Peter Walker of the Guardian rightly called out those culprits. “Completely, utterly grim. Politicians who openly demonise the media - and the UK very much has them - play a significant role in this”, while over at his own paper it was getting yet more menacing.
As Yusuf Al-Islam noted, “DFLA steamed into the guardian handing a letter, demanding it be printed or threatening they'd be back with bigger numbers, asked for @OwenJones84 … complaining what is written about them by @guardian … Yes, this is the far right taking issue with freedom of press & making threats”. Stephen Yaxley Lennon’s confrontational doorstepping is behind that. Nailed on. And it’s totally out of order.
Tory MP George Freeman saw it too. “Disgraceful abuse and provocation of two young Police assistants by a drunken chanting mob. I’m afraid this is what Brexit increasingly looks like to a lot of people: thinly disguised political thuggery. Brexiteers need to come out and condemn it”. But Batten and Lennon won’t. They like it this way.
It’s time to call UKIP for what it has become: a cesspit of neo-Nazi intimidation and thuggery - which should have no place in civilised society. Media outlets take note.
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