Last weekend towns and cities up and down the country were confronted by the fear of civil disturbance on their streets as the English Defence League (EDL) held remembrance parades in support of the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby.
I should begin by saying that the EDL were, of course, entitled to hold a public parade and service as are others by exercising their democratic right to lawful assembly.
A right that we should all, in my view, hold to be inviolate even if we don’t personally like those or the views of those involved.
Northampton last weekend was no exception with pubs and other town centre businesses closing their doors because of the fear of disturbance, and especially the fear of a violent confrontation between the EDL and “Anti-Fascist” organisations.
As it turned out the fears were unfounded and the demonstrations went ahead and peacefully.
The impact on Northampton however with the cost to businesses, not only those that closed, but also the bus companies and the Borough Council’s lost parking fees at a time of economic difficulties cannot be ignored.
The cost of policing the event and the impact on the availability of the police to work elsewhere across the town has also to be considered.
What of course this all diverts attention from is that the brutal killing of Lee Rigby was being used cynically for political purposes and all of the “we are doing this because no-one else has arranged anything” is hollow posturing.
Will they now be holding a similar demonstration/event for every serving person who loses their life whether it is on active service, a vehicle accidents or any other way?
Of course they won’t.
What has been impressive is the reaction from those who are serving and have served in the armed services, the vast majority of who have condemned the EDL action and made it clear that the Exploitation of the Armed Services by any groups is not welcome.