Britain First blows and Britain First blusters. Britain First agitates with all they can muster. A “battalion” of six “patriots” assembles outside the council offices at Gun Wharf, on Wednesday 13th August, to protest against the proposed building of a mosque in Gillingham on the site of the Croneen’s car park, in Railway Street. They are the same faces who have disfigured high streets across North Kent with their hate speech and disingenuousness about supporting our troops and against animal testing. Masters of click-bait, are Britain First.
Gathered outside Gun Wharf is also a cadre of anti-fascist activists determined to show that Medway is a modern, inclusive and tolerant community. After the obligatory photo opportunity holding up the infamous ‘No More Mosques’ banner, the fascists file into Council Chambers. Engagement ensues. Their spokesperson, a bull-necked man on the verge of apoplexy, confronts the counter demonstration and unwittingly proves the best possible case for anti Britain First-ism. Apparently, they are only against “extremists” and, indeed, have Muslim members (!). So why then a banner against all mosques, why then invade mosques in paramilitary garb seeking to threaten, harass and intimidate? “Well, it’s a public building, innit?” Where’s Jim Dowson and his millions gone, oh, and why does Paul Goulding wear knickers on his head at the Cenotaph? Silence.
Inside, and to the meeting of Medway Council’s planning sub-committee. Respectful members of the Muslim community on one side, uneasy seating of Britain First and Anti-BF opposite. The meeting, and due process, begins. Concerns about the parking provision addressed, no further objections. Put to the vote. Passed by a clear majority, to the delight of the Muslim community and the consternation of Britain First. It’s all too much for their leader who starts spraying threats about; the police intervene and we file out, upbeat that the fascists have been denied a platform and that there’s been a victory for the process and for local community. The fascists look stunned – “You should be ashamed of yourselves!” they bray. “Ashamed”, I don’t think so, “proud”, well yes, to have scored another significant win over prejudice and ignorance. As one campaigner against Britain First wrote subsequently, “eternal vigilance is the price of freedom”.
Words: Guy Jordan