The following is a report by a young postal worker that he sent to Billy Hayes of the CWU:
I am just writing to inform you about an incident that took place at a UAF meeting at the Railway Club in Bristol last night (17th March). In the very same room that you gave a speech in a couple of weeks ago.
The meeting which started at 730pm was arranged to discuss election strategy and to build support for the counter fascist operation that is taking place in Bolton this Saturday. Weyman Bennett was due to speak at this meeting but pulled out at the last minute. It was a public meeting and it was advertised as such. When i arrived there were about 35 people in attendance the usual type of people you would expect at meetings like this. Rob Wotherspoon (CWU), Trade Unionists, SWP, Socialist Party and Labour party members. The meeting was running a bit late as the replacement Guest speakers train was running late.
In the mean time 5 rather stocky looking guys one them had a skin head walked into the room. Obviously alarm bells started ringing they were all half drunk as well. They sat down to join the meeting, I had my eye on them as i am sure everyone else did. The chap with the skin head started to film the meeting on his mobile phone which the chair too acceptation too. then all of sudden another stocky looking entered the room, then another, then two more and then one more. the spread themselves around the room, to almost surround us . All in all I would say there were about 10 of them in the room at this stage and later I was told there were 3 or 4 waiting outside the club. I think we were all just waiting for the flash point at this stage.
The meeting was then opened to debate, there was a couple of contributions from the floor. then the ringleader indicated and was allowed to speak. He announced that he was from the EDL, That he was a serving Soldier. He said he was here because he had serious problem with UAF campaigning against them and that they were not racists or fascists the were anti-Islamic extremists . A few voices were raised in the audience, a few swear words were used by the EDL leader. The Chair did his best to maintain control of the meeting but the meeting deteriorated. Insults were flying around people were going chest to chest a few chairs were pushed around. the chap with the skin head resumed filming and taking photographs of everybody and then the Police were eventually called. I am sure that all this in on youtube today I haven’t looked yet.
While we were waiting for the Police to arrive I was chatting to one of the EDL members and to be honest with you they did not have a political argument between them. I asked the question what do you mean by Islamic fundamentalism? He couldn’t tell me. They all took offense to being called racists or fascists which surprised me. To be honest with you I think most of them had genuine gripes. The chat I spoke to was a Plummer who has been out of work since last May. Another EDL member was talking about the afghan and iraq wars. What I am saying is that there were a lot of waivers amongst them. a lot of them are clearly not Fascists the are just been used and manipulated by Fascists for thier own Political aims and objectives.
One thing about the tactics of the EDL. These guys were not from Bristol, some were sent to the meeting from a place in Wiltshire called Calne. I can only speculate why the didn’t send their members from Bristol, Maybe they didn’t want to expose there Identities at this stage from some reason. I think they may also have been hoping Wayman Bennett would be there.
For them I think they would class this operation as a success, they had a few beers, they stopped our meeting for 45 mins and they intimidated us. To be honest with it was one of the most frightening experiences of my life.
On the plus side it has exposed to me what they are all about, these are very dangerous individuals. So anyone holding a future UAF meeting, please make sure they have the numbers there to protected themselves. ultimately our meeting reconvened after they left so they really didn’t achieve much no matter what they may think.
This my account of what happened, as I have mentioned Rob was there as well so he may have things to add that I might have missed