On Saturday 30th January the National Front and other far right groups led a march in Dover. They faced opposition from hundreds of antifascist activists (including members of the UKC Student Assembly Against Austerity) that came from all over Britain, but some arrived from Ireland and France as well, giving the counter-demonstration a truly international character.
Various speakers gave their blessing to the protest including Keith Taylor, the Green MEP for the South-east region and Simon Bannister, secretary of the Dover and Deal Labour Party, who mentioned his anti-fascist activism in the 1970s. The main speaker was Diane Abbott, the Shadow Secretary for International Development. She made a point about how we must be united against fascism in order to defend the principles of peace, equality and freedom and she congratulated everyone who attended.
The penultimate speaker was a French woman who works in the refugee camp in Calais. She talked about how helpful the British volunteers were in aiding the suffering refugees. Before she could even finish, the march had already begun.
The first stage of the protest happened at the northern end of Dover and it finished in the Market Square later that afternoon. The police were active in creating buffer zones between the fascists and the anti fascists whenever it was possible. There were a few instances of confrontations where the National Front members and their allies threw anything they could find at the opposing crowd (including a huge block of cement), who were forced to retaliate leading to several injuries on both sides.
It was clear that the anti fascist activists outnumbered the ultra nationalists who came to Dover in order to supposedly express their solidarity with the British truck drivers who were arrested for accidentally transporting refugees. Even though they completed their march up to the docks they could not avoid being challenged by the police and protesters alike on many occasions during the day.
The inhabitants of Dover are known for being hostile to the presence of the far right in their beloved town. In fact one of the banners displayed by the Kent Anti-Racism Network at the Market Square before the protest had the caption: ‘Dover-fighting fascism since 1939’. A few months ago there was another fascist march, but it met almost no opposition and they ended up damaging property.