Fewer than 20 protesters turn up to support BNP rally outside Home Office in Croydon
The BNP had invited a 200-strong “pan-patriotic alliance” made up of right-wing groups but their numbers were dwarfed by anti-fascism protesters.
There was a large police presence in Croydon for the event, but they were barely required as the BNP’s numbers did not turn up.
The group had organised to meet at East Croydon for 11.45am to “march” down to Lunar House but only a few stragglers with flags ended up providing reinforcements to those already assembled after about 45 minutes.
At one point, a man and a woman tried to steal his flags before police restrained them.
The rally was staged outside Lunar House because it houses Croydon’s asylum seeker screening unit.
Mr Sturdy told the Advertiser the current refugee crisis made the rally “excellent timing” and said he would not let any refugees into the country because they would not go back after conflict in their countries had ended.
He pointed to the success of right-wing groups in countries like Italy, France and Croatia but blamed “lack of belief in politicians in this country” for the dwindling numbers in the BNP and the low turnout to the rally. However, he said BNP candidates did not act like typical politicians.
David White, of the Croydon Labour group, said: “From the days of Oswald Mosley in the 1930s it has been important to have a physical presence against racism and fascism and that’s particularly relevant in Croydon where we have such a diverse community.”
Most of the right-wing protesters chose to turn away from the anti-fascist group and face their flags and banners in the direction of passing traffic on the road.
Although one man, Jez Turner – who described himself as an ‘independent patriot’ – continued to retort back to the crowd through a loudspeaker, telling them they were “middle class traitors”.
The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union were one a of a number of unions who had a presence in the anti-fascism group.
A PCS spokesman said: “It’s disgusting to see even a handful of far right thugs trying to intimidate immigration and asylum staff and the people that need and deserve their support. The help and support we offer people who are clearly in desperate circumstances should be unequivocal.”
Clifford Le May, chairman of the Croydon branch of the BNP, previously told the Advertiser the turnout depended on what the weather was like on the day.
He said: “We’ve invited 200, but it’s an absolute lottery. It depends what the weather’s like. It could be that many or it could be 20 of us stood around in the rain.”
The weather was dry but chilly.