This is what a “Scottish Defense League” rally outside the Scottish Parliament looks like.
You know how the police usually halve the numbers of any protest: with the SDL I think they double them:
Around 60 members of the Scottish Defence League gathered outside the Scottish Parliament and held a static protest for approximately 45 minutes.
At the same time, 250 members of the Unite Against Fascism group took part in a march from High Street, down St Mary’s Street and along Holyrood Road before holding their own demonstration at the south side of Parliament.
I saw two white minibuses in the car park just outside Holyrood. If those are what the SDL came in, they could have fitted sixty in – but I doubt it.
There was a good gathering on the High Street. Sheboom, the women drummers, were fantastic.
It became clear that the police had no intention of allowing the UAF march to set off in time to reach Parliament before the SDL: it fact, it seemed likely to me that the police might try to prevent the anti-SDL protest from ever reaching the Parliament.
So I headed off down the High Street just before twenty to one. The High Street below the Tron was empty of traffic: at the Market Street junction there were police and barriers, and I noted that below Market Street, into the Canongate, there were barriers at the entrances to the closes, preventing anyone from turning right and reaching the Parliament by an alternative route.
So I went down St Mary’s Street, and via Holyrood Road through Dumbiedykes on to Queen’s Drive. There were police vans on Viewcraig Gardens.
I intended to get up on to the Radical Road, from which you can get the best possible view of the Scottish Parliament. There is a footpath directly up from Queen’s Drive. It was steep and muddy, but I got to the viewpoint at five past one – when, according to police testimony, the SDL were having their rally.
And they weren’t there. They really just… weren’t there.
I went down the Radical Road again to join the anti-SDL march just before we reached Parliament, to be greeted by a line of police. And still, no sign of the SDL.
The two white vans that I think the SDL came in…
This is what last year’s STUC rally looked like from the same vantage point: