BNP leader congratulates demonstators who harassed Liverpool Larkin march

BRITISH NATIONAL Party leader Nick Griffin has congratulated far-right supporters who protested on Sunday against the holding of a march in Liverpool commemorating trades union leader James Larkin.

“Many congrats to patriots who stopped pro-IRA march in Liverpool yesterday,” the BNP leader declared on Twitter, before a video was later added showing demonstrators staging sit-down protests in unsuccessful efforts to stop the James Larkin Society march.

The demonstration is being seen as evidence both of jockeying for position within the far-right movement and as evidence that it is abandoning attempts to progress politically in favour of a return to 1970s-style street actions.

The James Larkin Society march – an annual event in Liverpool – was given permission by Liverpool City Council, who accepted that it was being held under a broad social justice theme and with the support of Merseyside Trade Union Congress.

University of Nottingham academic Matthew Goodwin, who studies political extremism in the UK, said: “It certainly appears to be the case that the far-right political parties are moving towards the more provocative street-based actions of the past.”

The period of the BNP’s bid to make ground politically – capped by Mr Griffin’s success in the last European Parliament elections – will be seen “as a temporary aberration” in time, Mr Goodwin told The Irish Times.

The party has been badly affected by serious infighting, caused both by divisions over party finances and charges of incompetence against the leadership from some of its rank and file, said the academic.

The BNP, which did badly in the May local elections in England, is losing members to the English Defence League – a group set up by Luton-born Stephen Lennon, whose mother is Irish – and a host of other more marginal outfits.

Meanwhile, Merseyside Police, who made 26 arrests, including three women, said the procession had “passed with limited disruption” and the few individuals intent on disrupting the march were dealt with swiftly by officers.

The need for a safe passage for the march was regarded as a priority by the police, who were taken by surprise last February when far-right protesters did stop a Republican march run by Cairde na hÉireann from making its way to the city centre.

The sectarian divisions that marked Liverpool from the Famine period onwards have largely receded into history, says Peter Day, an expert on the Orange Order in Britain.

The centre for the Orange lodges had been in Manchester up until the Famine, but their number grew rapidly in Liverpool in the face of sharply increased emigration when Protestants feared losing their jobs in the docks to Catholics prepared to accept less.

Later, the Conservatives, which had lost a long-held majority in the city, allied themselves with the city’s working class Protestants, though this phenomenon too has faded.

From The Irish Times 24.07.12. Story by Mark Hennessy, Irish Times London Editor


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