Today I was in town keeping an eye on the place. Nothing unusual in that you might think. For some self-appointed reason that’s the kind of thing I do. But today I was there looking for fascists and making sure, in so far as I could, that they did no harm.
All week a particualrly nasty bunch of the species, who I won’t dignify by naming, had been threatening all sorts if they weren’t allowed to do their march. Their ‘right’ they’d been calling it. ‘Free speech’ they’d been calling it. This bunch of racist, Islamophobic, holocaust denying, white supremacist totalitarians who’d apparently written to the City Council threatening “an action-packed weekend of ethnically-enriched chaos and mayhem” if they were denied their rights.
Naturally I was curious to see how it all went.
Something about fascism they’d picked specially.
These and many and various other causes not photographed, all up and down the streets, speaking out as they have a perfect right to do. Some I agree with, some I disagree with and some I couldn’t care less about. But all going about their business peaceably, even the bagpipes. Not one of them, in my hearing anyway, threatening to send the city up in flames if we don’t all do what they say.
Also on Church Street, as ever, today’s quiet classical Greek Chorus of a man.
Possibly sensing the tension in the air he’s sweetening the atmosphere with his own gravelly rendition of ‘A spoonful of sugar’ from Mary Poppins.
Still have very mixed feelings about whether it’s a good thing or not to still have a street named after the island where the African’s captured into slavery were kept before being transported across the Atlantic.
Councillors Ann O’Byrne, Rachel O’Byrne and many trade unionists are here waiting.
I head up to Lime Street where they were due to be marching from.
And standing there witnessing things and taking my photographs in the middle of the Gyratory I’m saddened by what I can only describe as the optimistic aggression in the air.
Most people clearly are here to see that no harm happens to our place or our people from the visiting totalitarians. But some seem like they might be just a different sort of totalitarian. A suspicion deepened later when I see this photograph by, I think, Joe Thomas of the Liverpool Echo.
This look is never less than threatening. And not just to the people they mean to threaten. To me this look threatens us all with secrecy and violence. And I like it no more than the fascists I’ve come to see safely on their way out of here.
After a while nothing has happened and I’m picking up on Twitter that the fascists really have called off their march and left town. So I go off for my lunch.
And yes he’s done it again. Summed up the relieved mood of all of us.
“Speaking words of wisdom, Let it be!”
I go round to the Quaker’s for a peaceful sit and a quiet lunch. And I need and appreciate the peace.
Because today I have looked into the face of violence, and I didn’t like it anymore than I ever have done.
Later on it turns out the fascists never managed to leave Lime Street Station. Were in fact kept in the Left Luggage by the Police for their own protection. Now we can crow about this and call it a victory if we like. But I saw and heard some not fascist people there today prepared to do great violence. And I don’t call that victory at all. Certainly not a victory for free speech, for democracy, for decency or humanity.
My solution? I don’t have an easy one. People who don’t have peaceful intentions clearly have to be dealt with very carefully. But if they’re met with the same kind of violence they themselves are threatening, then where might that lead in the not too long run?
This was ugly though.