I don't subscribe to the views of either side in this little war of opinion, but I decided to pop over, just to see if the police were behaving themselves.
The EDL rally was held outside King Georges Hall and the UAF counter-rally was held over town at Sudell Cross.
I decided to visit the EDL demo first out of simple logistics - it was closer. Trouble was, there I stayed. Little did I know, anyone who crossed the police line into the demo area was staying there until the whole thing was over. They were letting no-one out, demonstrator or not.
Aside from the numerous coppers policing the event there was private security by Group Four and a mobile CCTV van from Blackpool.
All this is on the main approach to the main demonstration at King Georges Hall. I decided to head right on into the centre, take a few snaps and then move on.
Note the metal railings by the wall in this next clip.
Once I got into the main body of the demo, I noticed the police were erecting those metal railings around the perimeter of the protesters. I figured I should bug out straight away or else I would be stuck there for the duration.
I approached the last remaining gap and was stopped by a copper who told me I could not leave.
I simply looked him in the eye and told him I wasn't about to stay here and I'm going. I then walked past him and carried on.
Fifty yards or so further I got stopped by another copper and we had the same conversation.
Finally I reached the last police cordon and this time a firm no did not work. I was told no body was leaving until the demo was over. All I could do was wander aimlessly up and down the street for an hour and a half taking the odd photo.
There were other non protesters trapped behind the police line also. One old man had to stay there nearly as long as me until a copper finally let him through. He was an owd chap in a trench coat, probably in his late sixties or early seventies, obviously not a demonstrator or a threat of any kind. Never the less, he stayed
I did see a very old woman carrying a number of shopping bags walking aimlessly around the cordons. I saw her again about 15 minutes later and fortunately the police did let her out.
There were quite a number of people who wanted to leave the demo early, along with those who just got caught up in it so after and hour or so, a large crowd started to gather at the police lines. The coppers eventually got tired of everyone shouting and complaining so they decided to move us back. A number of coppers formed a skirmish line and started walking towards us while a couple of police horses got in front of them and started ordering everyone to retreat.
The demo broke up around 2pm and everyone who attended was filed out down this street towards the cordon, which by this time had been heavily re-inforced.
They still were not letting us out though. They got every one into the square in the centre of the crossroads then formed police lines around all sides.
They kept us there for about an hour before moving people off onto coaches and buses. This was where tempers began to flare. Everyone was tired, thirsty and hot and they couldn't go anywhere.
A couple of minor fights broke out with the police and someone threw a banger at a police horse which made us all jump, the horse included.
I managed to speak to one of the organisers at this point and asked him what he thought of the police response. Unfortunately I didn't get the video on that. I lost a fair bit.
He told me he was happy with the police. They had kept a peaceful demonstration, no arrests and no problems. All in all he was quite pleased with the way it had gone down.
He is probably a lot more used to this kind of thing than I am.
Eventually we were moved out of the square in small numbers. Some were put back on the coaches they arrived on, others were taken by bus to the train station. Another, quite big fight erupted at this point. I couldn't see what happened as it was hidden from view by some coaches. I thought about going in for a better look and some video but common sense (or lack of stomach) prevailed.
I hadn't come on a coach or the train, I came by car and parked on ASDA. A copper told me that all the local residents had to get on the bus to the train station and they could walk from there.
The buses actually took us to the Vue cinema before letting us go. The police operation at the Vue was the biggest I have ever seen. I got the impression we were being bussed into some kind of processing area before we were lined up and shot or something. A bit of an over statement maybe, but it was very unsettling. Look at the amount of coppers.
When we got off the bus, those of us not getting on the train were taken to another holding area. From there we were allowed to leave in groups of four. After that is was in the car and home.
Mrs Bucko has just asked me why I am constantly brewing up while writing this. If I had a little more experience I would have taken a couple of bottles of water with me.
When I got home I was so thirsty my kidneys were trying to jump out of my back. I'm only just getting right now. I have only been out of the house for four hours tops. How do you get so dehydrated in such a short time? FFS!
If nothing else, we still have the right to protest in Britain. However, all this gave me the impression that they are trying to make it so difficult that we just won't bother.
What a day! I need a beer.