Anti-fascist rally takes place in Preston city centre opposing Heritage and Destiny meeting

Posted on - 11th September, 2023 - 9:08am | Author - | Posted in - Politics, Preston City Centre, Preston News
Rally in Lune Street on Saturday Pic: Derek Barton

The leader of an anti-fascist rally held in Preston on Saturday says that it served as a reminder to far-right groups that they would be “opposed” if they tried to organise in the city.

The demonstration was staged in response to the planned annual meeting of a group called Heritage and Destiny, which describes itself as “a cross-section of 21st-century racial nationalist opinion”.

As the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) revealed last week, the Ribbleton-based organisation was holding its yearly gathering in Preston on Saturday afternoon.

Read more: Preston Catholic social club ‘tricked’ into hosting far-right meeting

The private event – at a venue that was not made public – centred around plans to honour and remember current and past far-right figures, including the 1930s founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists, Sir Oswald Mosley.

The meeting prompted a collection of Lancashire trade unions and the North West branch of the Unite Against Fascism campaign to mount a protest in the city centre at about the same time.

The Lune Street rally attracted around 50 people, who made speeches and then set off to raise awareness amongst Preston shoppers about the other event that was under way somewhere in their city.

United Against Fascism North West regional organiser Paul Jenkins told the LDRS that the protesters received “wide support”.

“We leafleted [passers by] with the reasons about why we were protesting and facts about the far right – and we had a good response from the people of Preston…because the vast majority are against fascism and against racism.

“A tiny minority [of others] have had to hold a secret national meeting – and I think that tells you everything – whereas we had an open public meeting, which was built on a united front of local trade unions and other people.

“The message is that if fascists try to organise in Preston, they will be opposed – they are not welcome in Preston or anywhere else,” Mr. Jenkins added.

Read more: Preston needs almost 400 more affordable homes each year to meet demand

He also said that it was important to be seen to respond to far-right groups – and claimed that evidence from Europe shows what happens when such a response is lacking.

“Years of campaigning against the far right in this country has had an effect – we’ve pushed back the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL).

“But we see in countries like Italy and France, the far right are part of the mainstream .”

Speaking to the LDRS before the Heritage and Destiny annual meeting, the group’s magazine editor Mark Cotterill said that he would not describe himself as fascist “in any way at all”, adding that he was “an English nationalist and a loyalist” who did not personally support everything that Oswald Mosley stood for.

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