Anti-fascist groups are planning to “kettle” members of the British National Party at their annual gathering in a Derbyshire village, despite a heavy police presence.
Protesters, angered at the BNP’s success in the recent European elections, told The Times that they would attempt to trap the far-Right party’s political supporters inside the Red, White and Blue Festival.
Anindya Bhattacharyya, a spokesman for Unite Against Fascism (UAF), said that the plan to “kettle” the BNP — corral its members within a diminishing area — would show that most Britons were against the party’s position on race and immigration. He said: “We will be attempting to get as close as possible and make it clear, by the large number of people [protesting], that the BNP are the minority. We’ll kettle the BNP.”
Violence at last year’s event, held in the tiny village of Denby, resulted in more than 30 arrests — primarily because of clashes between police and protesters. Even greater disruption is expected this year after the BNP won two European Parliament seats, including the North West for the party leader, Nick Griffin.
Up to a thousand police officers, equipped with a radio-controlled aircraft to monitor crowds, are to be stationed in Denby for the three-day festival. A collaboration of anti-fascist groups, including trade unions and the UAF, will descend on the village on Saturday. They expect thousands of supporters. The protesters have been warned that they will be heavily restricted by the police, who will put roadblocks in place to prevent them from getting too close to the BNP event.
The organisers have discouraged protesters from becoming violent. Mr Bhattacharyya said that the UAF did not advocate violence and wanted only to make its “political presence” felt.
Simon Darby, the deputy leader of the BNP, said that the kettling tactic was “ironic” considering that left-wing groups had criticised police for using it during the G20 protests in London this year. “Besides, they would need tens of thousands of people to do that. The violent Left are always attacking us. I think this is all a bit of frustration [at the BNP’s election success]. They will cause trouble and we will get the blame for it.”
The party advertises the festival as a family outing to celebrate British heritage with a fireworks display and historical re-enactments. Residents, however, have complained in the past about violence and loud music.
Derbyshire Constabulary said that its operation was unprecedented and that all rest days for officers had been cancelled, a measure usually restricted to the policing of big football matches. A spokesman said: “Our main concern is to try as much as possible to minimise the disruption to local people who get caught up in all this.”
The festival, which is in its tenth year, was moved from Lancashire to Derbyshire three years ago. It will be held on a 34-acre property owned by Alan Warner, a local BNP member. The BNP has not applied for a liquor or entertainment licence but festival-goers are encouraged to bring their own alcohol.