Hundreds take direct action against the SDL in November 2009, Glasgow
Edinburgh City Council today denied permission to the far-right Scottish Defence League for a proposed march through the city centre next month. This is the first time that the SDL have gone before a local government decision making body, in the past having favoured circumventing official permission and going straight into negotiations with local police.
The march was set to have taken place on Saturday 10 September, reportedly to ‘commemorate’ the ten year anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. Following huge political pressure, the council today refused to grant permission for the march, which was to take a route from near the US Embassy to the Wellington monument off Princes Street, on fears that disorder could break out.
Such a move should be welcomed – albeit cautiously. Calling for restrictions and bans on the right to protest is dangerous territory for any progressive organisation to step into, having backfired in the face of the left on countless occasions in the past. However, despite the ban on marching, the SDL are standing defiant and are still calling for a mobilisation of their supporters on the 10th September in central Edinburgh.
And so we’re back to square one: the same situation as November 2009, when the SDL held their first ever demo, in Glasgow, and February 2010, when they attempted to march in Edinburgh. Since then, the rump group of around 50 hardcore supporters have held a number of lower profile demonstrations, generally in smaller towns across Scotland, and most recently in Irvine, to varying levels of success.
But the SDL have struggled to gain anything near the same momentum as their English counterparts, for a number of reasons. High among these is the sheer level of opposition the SDL have faced on the streets in Scotland, which has meant they’ve struggled to ever get off the ground, with thousands of anti-fascists facing them down (and winning) in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and in the latter case, maintaining a physical presence which prevented the SDL from being allowed, or able, to march.
With the SDL now gearing up for a static demonstration on the 10th, it’s imperative that anti-fascists once again organise and mobilise to oppose them en masse on the streets. What attitude the police will take to the SDL presence is entirely unpredictable, as previous demonstrations have showed, with the balance of forces on the day likely to be key.