I was one of 30 people - from the 500-strong gathering of anti-BNP protesters - allowed within Derbyshire constabulary's 1.5-mile "official protest area". Tightly controlled under sections 14 and 14a of the Public Order Act and under constant surveillance, we marched up Denby Lane to the Bungalow, the hilltop site of the BNP's "Red, White, and Blue festival" (Czech far-right party activist to address BNP, August 16).
Heavily flanked by police, the half-mile walk was uneventful. My arthritis slowed me down somewhat (I'm 66). A police helicopter clattered overhead, and after passing the Bungalow we reached a grass verge, where some protesters were interviewed by the local press. After 10 minutes we walked back down the hill, again past the Bungalow; "festival security" filmed us from the gateway, and further down a few vehicle drivers, irritated by being slowed up, treated us to some foul language, while four middle-aged men at a pub jeered at us to "get a job", before we rejoined the main demonstration.
At no point did my wife and I, our comrades from Stoke-on-Trent or most of the hundreds at this protest see stones thrown, or arrests made. Indeed the assistant chief constable of Derbyshire said our behaviour was "impeccable". But what media reports there have been about the demonstrations focused only on disorderly events, and missed the fact that the vast majority of people taking part in marches of this type are law-abiding citizens, most with jobs and responsibilities, who worry about the rise of far-right politics in Britain, and in Europe.
I fear that this type of reporting may discourage many people from attending such events, as does the constant surveillance filming by police units.
My father, Charles Edward Honeysett, 1899-1982, served on the western front in 1918, spoke at open-air meetings and demonstrated against fascism in the 1930s, and had to serve Britain for six more years after being called up in 1939; for his sacrifice alone I have no alternative but to continue joining with all those good people with social consciences, and try to raise awareness of the ignorance, divisiveness and racism behind the BNP's "mask of respectability".