Vlad Tepes posted a pretty good TV news show about an EDL demo at which the UAF and other groups tried to force a violent confrontation. What is useful about it is that it's from the police point of view. It is vitally important to examine events from several points of view in order to understand them. The police were disinterested in the subject matter of the protests and were only interested in preventing a riot. Furthermore the police get a worms eye view of who is doing what at a protest that is often just as illuminating as the statements made by participants in a protest. Participants, it needs to be said, have considerable motive in delivering a, shall we say, not entirely disinterested spin on the events at a demonstration.
Even if the story was slanted to paint the police in a favorable light some interesting facts came through
1 The police were objective in how they prevented escalation. They did this by verbally warning people on both sides, either curtly or by way of lengthily explanation, and by promptly arresting people (on both sides)who were aggressive to them. - The left wingers said they weren't doing anything but they are trained to say that when arrested at demonstrations. I know that because that was what I was taught to do.
2 They noticed that a second, more threatening group arrived at the end of the demonstration. This second was an entirely Muslim group. The police noticed a) they intentionally came late in the protest b) they weren't saying the same things as the UAF/Left wing groups. The police noticed that this new group was only interested in trying to start violence against the Anti Shariah protesters.
3 The Police say on camera at the demo to each other that the EDL aren't a problem and they knew they would leave when asked. They weren't concerned with violence from the EDL at all. They were concerned with uninvited people that came to the protest who were members of The National Front (an actual fascist racist group) and the BNP (who knows what the hell they are now - aside from opportunistic and racist - don't spend any time wondering about that). Executives in the police have recently said they no longer believe the EDL to be a dangerous or extremist group and now realize that it's fundamentally different from nefarious groups such as the National Front. This is partly because of what the police have actually seen at EDL demonstrations and learned themselves through investigation rather then what has been reported in the media.
4 From a "keeping the peace" point of view the UAF/Left wing groups caused far more trouble, both individually and organized, then the Anti Shariah group. The police had to arrest 58 UAF/Left wing people and only 18 Anti Shariah protesters (I can't be sure of the precise number but it's mentioned at the end of the video). There is a specific reason for this. the UAF/Left wing groups see manipulating the police into arresting or using violence on demonstrators as part of a normal protest strategy. This paints them as victims and makes it look like the police have made a specific political decision to help whichever is the protesters oppressor du jour.
4.1 The Anti Shariah protesters on the other hand are not experienced protesters and don't want an antagonistic relationship with the police and really, really don't want to be seen by the public as anti social (they do want the government to see that they are angry though). They are English working class, which is somewhat analogous to American middle class and don't have an anti establishment point of view. They are in fact far less radical or right wing then Tea Party people. I would bet all of the bippies currently in my possession that they and their families have voted Labor (i.e. socialist (before Tony Blair at least)) for generations. I won't bet a single bippy they will be voting Labor again in the foreseeable future. This is important- they are an establishment respecting group. The goal of their political actions is to make the establishment aware of and respectful of their concerns and change it's policies. That is how free democracies work. It is fascist dictatorships like Nazi Germany and Iran that send thugs to physically attack people who won't shut up.
I argue that their concerns are in fact very liberal concerns and are based upon a respect for the true liberalism of political equality and human rights which started in the enlightenment of the 18th century and that they now see is under attack. A liberalism that is under attack by people who have said countless times in the press and court documents that they are actually attacking it and that it is their absolute duty to do so.
The Left wing mush heads I saw at that demonstration seem to think these people are fascists when in fact they are merely loud moderates. They are still thinking in terms of the 20th century's right/left polarizations which just do not apply in this issue in the way that the left thinks it does. Tactically they are playing the old stupid game of position. That is they see a group on one side of an issue and just decide reflexively to take the opposite side for a whole swath of cynical self serving reasons that have everything to do with political gain and nothing to do with a concern for equality. When protesting the first gulf war I found the whole anti war movement was engineered by socialist groups who I knew from reading their material would also have protested if the US had done nothing. But protesting a big news event was useful in drumming up membership from the ranks of college students who wanted to be like the romantic figures of the anti Vietnam protests.
Anyhoozle, here is the link to the actual video. I hope it is as illuminating to you as it was to me.
UK Documentary on police, the ‘Anti Fascists’ and the EDL