While the police battered anti-fascist protesters, Socialist Worker journalists witnessed the police getting matey with the racists of the EDL.
They allowed the EDL to gather without hindrance at their assembly point, with officers smiling and chatting to organisers.
The cops looked on as EDL members chanted, “Allah is a paedo” and “Allah, Allah, who the fuck is Allah?”
They arranged for the EDL to go into pubs, allowing them to have “one more pint” before joining the demo.
Only a tiny number of police escorted around 500 EDL members to Victoria Square to join 300 others.
We heard an EDL supporter commiserating with an officer for having to come out in the rain to deal with “that lot”, pointing to the other side of the square.
“If only they were as well behaved as you,” he replied.
Then up to 50 police officers turned a blind eye as the EDL hurled insults, and sticks and bottles at the Unite Against Fascism protest.
Even when EDL members lifted the metal fence on their side of the square, the police didn’t make any arrests.
When the police finally decided to move the EDL from the square, they only gently herded them back to the station.
The EDL boasted on its website that “there were many friendly conversations between EDL members and the ‘boys in blue’.”
The EDL leadership’s attempts to create a more “respectable” Islamophobic movement came through in the rally.
Amit Singh, a Sikh EDL member who has been revealed as a vicious Islamophobe, claimed that the EDL is not a racist or fascist organisation.
He said that the British National Party (BNP) is not welcome at their events.
But BNP member Chris Renton was seen chatting with Singh and other leading EDL members in Bolton.
Singh also claimed that the EDL are fighting against “21st century fascism – militant Islam” and that they are the “protectors of all creeds and colours of this land”.
Another speaker spoke about how the next stage in the EDL’s campaign is their protest next Saturday 3 April against a mosque being built in Dudley.