Scottish Defence League: Banned from marching in Glasgow but welcome to march through Edinburgh

The far-right Scottish Defence League has been given permission to march down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile during the middle of the Festival.

The group, which opposes what it considers to be a spread of Islamism, initially applied to stage their procession down the Royal Mile to the Scottish Parliament on August 24, but agreed to move the date to avoid clashing with the Festival of Politics. Supporters will now make their way down the Mile on Saturday, August 17.

Meanwhile, authorities in the west of the country have banned an SDL procession through a multi-cultural area.

Edinburgh City Council approved the march after consultation with Police Scotland, which said other events involving the group, an offshoot of the much larger English Defence League, had not caused trouble.

A counter-protest within the vicinity of the parade is expected, with the United Against Fascism group gathering wherever SDL events are held.

Coaches carrying the SDL will be met by police on the outskirts of Edinburgh and escorted to the start of the march.

In a letter to the council, ­Assistant Chief Constable Mike McCormick said: “There have been four main SDL events in the city over the past few years – February 2010, September 2011, May 2012 and September 2012. Although the February 2010 event was unstructured and required the attention of a sig­nificant number of police resources, the others have been more organised and there have been no significant public order issues at any of the events.”

The SDL yesterday failed to attend a meeting at Glasgow City Council as the authority refused permission for the group to march through the city’s Pollokshields district.

Police Scotland had lodged a strongly worded objection to the march, citing threats of widespread disorder, damage to community relations and, crucially, the experience of previous SDL events in the area.

As the group failed to appear, there was no discussion on ­alternative dates or locations.

A city council spokesman said: “Committee ruled the planned procession should not take place on Saturday. Any new date and route would have to be mutually agreed by the organiser, the council and police.”

Police Scotland said that, if the SDL attempted to stage the march regardless of the ban, it would be policed appropriately.

Objecting to the event, Police Scotland had said: “The presence of the SDL in Glasgow provides a significant risk of serious public disorder breaking out and as a consequence, serious disruption to the life of the community. Police Scotland strongly opposes any proposal for the SDL to hold a procession in Glasgow due to this significant threat to public safety and disorder.”

The move was welcomed by local Tory and SNP councillors.

The Herald, 26 July 2013

Update:  See “Anti-fascism campaigners angered over Edinburgh SDL march decision”, STV, 27 July 2013