Since the original incident last April, the Peter Tierney saga has dragged on for far too long. Antifascists (and, no doubt, fascists) in Liverpool will be very glad when it is over.
Nonetheless, whilst it continues, we cannot simply stand aside and ignore the fact that a high-profile member of the BNP is on trial for violent assault against anti-fascists and trade unionists.
Inside the Crown Court, justice may or may not be done. On the streets, the BNP have been holding protests in support of Tierney and his actions, handing out leaflets promoting their fascist politics, and trying to intimidate anti-fascists who stand up to them by sticking cameras in their faces and throwing jeers and insults. It was always neccessary to respond to this, and that is what Liverpool Antifascists have done and will continue to do.
Last time the BNP held a protest at the Crown Court, we turned our backs on them and blocked them from view with our banner. We have done exactly the same thing this time.
The BNP protest was even more farcical than last time. Not least because of the ten people present five weren't even from Liverpool, hailing instead from the North East.
As then, they held their banners up with props rather than people. But this time, they couldn't even be arsed to stand behind them, electing to sit or mill about aimlessly until they had to pose for a group picture.
Andrew Tierney of course had his trusty camera with him, but this time the role of idiot-provocateur was taken up by Gary Lucas, whose best jibe of the day was "you look like a girl from behind" to a comrade with long hair. I'm going to presume he's never said this to Peter Tierney, whose hair is often pulled back into a long ponytail.
Matching wits with him were the BNP's troupe of old battleaxe women, led by Hazel Hesketh. We simply couldn't contain our laughter when, passing us, they held their noses and said "pee-eww!" Or when Peter Tierney offered his hand to an antifascist, only to retract it and make a "nur-nurny-nur-nur" gesture. If he'd blown raspberries as well, it would have been a perfect routine. We didn't realise that the BNP barred membership to anyone with a mental age above six.
Once again, we turned our backs on the BNP and completely blocked their shambolic "picket" from view with our banner.
Whilst the simpletons skulked around, taking pictures and hiding hand gestures from the police, we talked to people and engaged with them. Not only were we able to drum up a lot of generalised goodwill and support, some of those we talked to went over to challenge the BNP. It's a positive sign, especially at a trial for violent assault, to find the public unafraid of the fascists and of openly disagreeing with them.
I sincerely hope that this will be the end of the Tierney debacle. It has dragged on for far too long, especially for the plaintiff. But, while it has gone on, it has shown the BNP for what they are - violent morons. As long as their politics is challenged, they are no electoral threat, and people like Peter Tierney and Gary Lucas couldn't make a coherent argument if they tried. But they are a physical threat, and even as the party drifts into irrelevance we need to be aware that the goons will continue to hang around like a bad smell. Indeed, if the party and its pretence of legitimacy disintegrates they may even become more dangerous.
Either way, the Tierney trial may well be their last hurrah as the English Defence League take over as the fascist organisation of the moment. What happens next will be very interesting indeed.