Left in disarray by the splintering of the far-right over the past 20 years, the party has dwindled to a handful of supporters. Yet to the horror of anti-nazi protesters, Kent Police have given the go-ahead for the NF to hold a march today between the Hoverport and East Docks at Dover, key points of entry into the United Kingdom.
The march is intended to end close to a hostel that has become home to some of the 1,000 or so Romany refugees from eastern Europe who arrived in Britain last month to a chorus of complaints about benefit scrounging. The asylum seekers have been dubbed "the Giro Czechs" by the British press. and the opportunity has been seized by the far-right who have descended on Dover circulating leaflets saying: "Dover In Crisis. Invasion Alert".
The first attempt at a public march by the NF in more than four years has triggered plans for a major counter demonstration. Protesters have pledged to form a human protective wall around the asylum hostel and coach loads of protesters will arrive this morning from London, Birmingham, France and other parts of Kent.
Julie Waterson of the Anti-Nazi League said that the Government was partly culpable for creating the conditions on which bigotry has fed. "It is horrendous that a Labour government who are verbally committed to anti- racism and saying they want to stop racist violence are allowing a demonstration and march around Dover where people who are fleeing persecution are being held," she said.
The controversy surrounding the Romany asylum seekers increased this week as a further coach load arrived in London.
The National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns, which is co-ordinating the Dover protest, blamed the march on Michael O'Brien, the immigration minister, who recently announced a reduction in the time allowed for asylum appeals.
Kent police said only the Home Secretary had the power to ban the march. A force spokesman said that the NF marchers will be limited to 50 and have been warned not to carry placards which might be "racist inflammatory abusive or insulting". A similar restriction on numbers has been put on the counter demonstration.
The Home Office said that Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, could only stop the march if a senior police officer applied to the District Council for a ban on public processions under the Public Order Act.Reuse content