I left the city centre at about 5 already bumping into a few fellow antifash on the way. Getting to the meetup early things were looking good. Lots of our lot gathered around in smaller groups and plenty of cars ready to go. Got myself a lift and, in spite of the rush hour traffic, was at the Sainsbury's car park in Kimberley in plenty of time. Damn, this weather's miserable. And where have all those people from the first meetup point disappeared to? Our mass seemed a bit less than critical. Not many filth about though, although the SWP have gone straight over to have a chat with the senior officer (which bit of 'No comment' didn't they understand?). Everyone must be off on a reccy, sheltering from the rain, or giving their cash to Sainsburys. Eventually some banner and placard bearers got together and we headed out into the town.
In a pincer move of dangerous guile and cunning we approached the parish hall where the fash were due to meet from two different directions (OK, there was a small communication breakdown). In a bit of an anti-climax there were only a handful of coppers and no obvious fascist presence. We quickly moved into a line to completely block the front of the hall, preventing any movement in and out. After a bit of pushing and shoving with the outnumbered police we had a line several people deep across the driveway to the hall. If we'd moved a bit quicker we could have got the gate shut but it seemed not everyone cottoned onto the plan quick enough. Down at the other end people blocked the pedestrian entrance to the hall. No wannabe fascists were going to get into this meeting.
At this point, heavily flanked by his meatheads and the local plod, Griffin made an appearance on the hall steps. It turned out he'd already got here along with Broxtowe BNP councillor Sadie Graham and a couple of others (presumably local organisers). It was all too much fun for Griffin, stamping his little feet with delight and laughing until he was red(er) in the face and his pudgy frame shook. What he'd forgotten, of course, was that to have his meeting he'd need to get his followers in there too.
Slowly skinheads of various sizes started turning up and trying to get to their meeting. They were massively outnumbered and didn't look to stand a chance. Eventually the police managed to break a small handful through at the pedestrian entrance and arrested 3 from our side. Most of the boneheads were stuck outside in the rain looking miserable, having to put up with chants of 'Nazi scum, off our streets'.
Eventually, at about 8:45 (1 1/4 hours after the meeting was due to start) the assembled fash realised that this was not going to be their night and slunk off. 'It's like 1945 all over again' someone joked. The only people left on the other side of the street now were the assembled local kids. They'd seemed to be in support of the fash at first but I wonder what they thought then, to see them defeated and heading off to lick their wounds. Not such heroes now I reckon.
Still, I think it would have been good to have made more of an attempt to engage with the kids rather than standing around making jokes which often seemed to amount to what a bunch of chavs the skinheads are, or some version of Victory to the Workers. If we want to make our alternatives to fascism seem attractive I think there are better ways of doing it.
Now it was time for the nazis in the building (who'd been making desperate attempts to try and make it sound like they were having a barnstorming meeting!) to try and make an escape. After police negotiations with a very pissed off looking BNP security meathead the handful of people they'd got through before made a dash (with heavy police protection of course) to get out of the driveway of the neighbouring house. They were forced back into the building again looking shame-faced. Later again, stewards apparently entered into negotiation with the police to bring the 'meeting' to a close. Apparently we had to stand aside and let Griffin leave and agree to go home when he had. I'm not sure what we were meant to be getting out of this negotiation. I wasn't happy because it was only about 9:30 and the BNP leadership could easily regroup with the members who'd left together for a late meeting. Still, it seemed like a tactical mistake to split the group, so we made a space for the fuhrer's car to leave amidst angry shouts of 'Scum!' Sadie Graham and a few other hangers on appeared on the steps again in an attempt to laugh us off but they could barely conceal their rage.
After Griffin had gone it was time to wrap up and get out. There was a lot of backslapping going on, and it certainly was a victory for us, but it would be good not to relax our pressure on the BNP. They clearly are campaigning hard in Notts and Derbyshire, and are planning on holding their Red, White & Blue festival in the area again next year. Let's make sure we kick them out for good before we congratulate ourselves too much.