Paisley was on alert on Saturday when a far-right political group arrived in town to demonstrate – but the protesters were outnumbered by cops.
Scores of riot cops lined the streets of the town centre to keep watch on the Scottish Defence League after speculation that their supporters were coming en masse. But the rally caused little more than a stir when only around 50 turned up and the protest petered out after a few wayward shouts to passing shoppers.
The controversial group, an offshoot of the English Defence League, spread their message against Muslim “extremists and jihadists”, with organisers claiming that ministers are making a stand against the “Islamist assault” which they claim is threatening British culture.
As well as being outnumbered by police, the SDL rally was also dwarfed by a counter rally by the Paisley and District Trades Union Council. Duncan Macintosh, spokesman for the trades union council, said:
“The Scottish Defence League’s small meeting in Paisley was met by our larger counter demonstration. News of their visit to the town leaked out only days beforehand, but local people responded quickly to calls to gather from Unite Against Fascism and Paisley and District Trades Union Council.
“The visitors were told clearly that they were not welcome in Renfrewshire by leaders of the SNP, Labour and Lib Dem groups of Renfrewshire Council, and spokespersons for the SSP and Solidarity. Derek Mackay, speaking as leader of the council, affirmed that ours is a tolerance and inclusive society in which the SDL’s divisive race hatred had no place.
“The large contingent of police brought in for the morning easily contained the aggressive behaviour of the visitors, and they soon left the town on a hired coach.”