Like many before the EDL march in Tower Hamlets, I’d argued for its banning but after last weeks show, l found myself being put in my place by a local Bengali boy, off Brick Lane. He simply said to me ” What EDL march ban? They were still able to come and make their presence felt and insult my families faith”. lndeed he was right given, the static march which did take place involved some 3,000 policemen to marshall and also drew out the anti-fascists out as well. This young boy’s perspective has had me thinking ever since.
Many like myself welcomed the ban by the Secretary of State, Teresa May, however, we did not appreciate the severity of the 30 day ban across several boroughs in East London. the result has been the curtailment of other demos and rallies like the East End Pride march on the 24th September and most importantly the Cable Street commemoration march on the 2nd of October.
So I’ve written to the acting commissioner of the MET, Tim Goodwin stating that the orginal application of the ban under Section 13 of the Public Order Act should have specified the particular class of public procession in the area. This distinction is clearly permitted by statute and would have avoided the “blanket” ban which has ensued. The blanket ban has been denounced by many as a serious attack on civil liberties. Martin Bright in his Spectator blog has put it well when he writes ” the whole point for those of us advocating a ban on the EDL was that there was a specific threat of violence associated with their extremist view. Such a measure suggest the police and government are suspicious of all protests…. And while l accept that these are particular difficult times for the MET in the aftermath of the riots, l can’t accept all street protest should be off limits.”
So not surprisingly, I’ve asked the commissioner to reconsider the MET’s position on this issue by applying for the current order to be revoked or varied so as to bring to an end this unnecessarily far reaching ban. I await his response and trust that both the East End Pride and the Cable Street commemoration march can go ahead without the threat of a banning order hanging over their heads.