Newquay Fights Fascism

27th February 2023

A report back on the recent demo and counter demo in Cornwall from a West Country anti-fascist.


The Newquay demo against a hotel housing refugees was organised by local fascist and grifter Philip Milo Gregory. While I'd generally not bring up criminal records, it does seem pertinent in this case that among his various fraud convictions he also has a conviction for assault against a woman in Newcastle (some have suggested public comments he made indicate a transphobic motive). According to a claim his wife has made on the Facebook group "Hotels Housing Immigrants Back Up Group", Philip’s house was raided by a firearms squad on the morning of the demo, although she also claims he went to the demo. I don't think anyone spotted him there.

Meet-up and Main Demo

Finding and meeting up with the main crew was very easy and very safe. Numbers built steadily from about 10am, peaking at 300 (according to CornwallLive) around midday to 3pm, with 80+ people in masks/bloc. There was a clear plan to hold the space in front of the hotel, which has open glass fronting and large windows that would be vulnerable. Crews were loosely focused on protecting the left, centre and right of the building. Banners had been made using plastic barriers, which seemed like quite an effective way of making lightweight sturdy banner-shields. Messaging on the banners as clear ("Racists not welcome", "Fascists fuck off" "Refugees Welcome"). Some of the fluffier hippie types handed out flowers, which, in my opinion, was actually a nice shout. It softened the image a little and made it clearer we were there to protect refugees first and foremost. Someone on the beach, which the hotel overlooks, had drawn an absolutely fucking MASSIVE love heart (like, visible from fucking space) with the words "Everybody Welcome". Energy started high and kept up pretty much all day, with some very strong "Kernow, not England" messaging going on as well, which was a lot of fun.

Small numbers of fash started gathering on the opposite side of the road from 11:30am, again peaking at between 12pm and 2pm, Early discussions about trying to see them off in smaller numbers as they were arriving were decided against, in favour of holding the space in front of the building. Police appeared to have underestimated the size of both demos and were very slow to get more that half a dozen PLOs and maybe a dozen standard uniformed police there. It did look around 1pm-2pm-ish as though the fash might try to make a move. Their crowd was very much dominated by ex-EDL types, a fair few of whom were extremely obviously on coke from the get-go, and very antagonistic and looking for a fight. There were a lot of very knowledgeable locals who ID'd loads of the far right people attending. Aside from the maybe 30-40 actually "up for it" guys, it was largely people in their 50s-70s+ and a fair few extremely "call the manager" types.

Probably the most major downside of the day was that a bunch of (maybe 15 or so) school-aged kids who got roped into the fash demo. They were clearly not understanding what was going on, and just very into calling us "paedos". One of the locals on our side knew some of the kids, and said that some of their parents were also in the fash demo. There really wasn't any way to safely approach the kids to talk to them without risking an escalation with the actual fash, so that's something locals are going to be chasing up and trying to intervene with. In particular was one guy who spent much of his time mouthing off a lot before hiding behind the kids and getting them to throw eggs. There was a general attempt to try and disconnect from shouting matches with the kids, but this wasn't always easy with adults urging them on.

No major instances of escalation. Some exchanges of eggs across the road. Closest near miss was a guy who threw a vodka bottle, which didn't hit anyone. Bafflingly the police gave him all of about 2 minutes ticking off and then let him go again. One comrade got hit with a can of coke thrown from a car, but no one was injured. Local traffic seemed largely in support of us (about 4 to 1 in our favour I'd roughly estimate), and those drivers that were in support of the fash appeared, for the most part, to be people who had been in the fash demo and had left early doors.

The Very Good Plan

By about 3:30-4pm-ish, the fash demo had more or less entirely petered out, and they were down to about a dozen to 20 people. Most people wanted to stay holding the space directly outside the hotel, but our side easily had the numbers and the control of the space, so they could do that while a bunch of us crossed the road to put pressure on the remaining fash to leave. The police response was very quick, but also very light-touch, and we still managed to get up in the fash's faces and tell them it was going home time. Probably half of them left when they realised we were actually serious, and it prompted the cops to start getting rid of the rest of them. Zero arrests on our side, and it made it clear that we were the ones in control of the situation, and it really put an end to proceedings.

The Most Important Bit

The best thing about the day was that we achieved exactly what we set out to do, in terms of keeping the fash away from the potentially vulnerable front of the hotel, and demonstrated clear solidarity with the refugees inside. Large numbers of them were in the glass-fronted lobby watching it all unfold, with others at the windows, and the vibe was that they clearly knew why we were there and that we were 100% on their side. Exchanges of heart gestures, thumbs up and raised fists were obvious all day with some of the refugees holding up signs saying "thank you" etc. in the lobby, and also throwing flowers out of some of the windows to add to those the hippie crew had brought. At least one of our comrades managed to get a few teary hugs in with some of the guys inside the building, and it clearly meant a lot to them that people had turned out to support them.

Local Coverage

I've already posted links to some of the local coverage, and it is by-and-large, looking very good for us. Not positive per se, but just a statement of the facts (CornwallLive has done 1 (one) journalism). Coverage of PMG has painted him as just a violent scumbag and grifter (which he is), and makes the fash on the day look like absolute mugs (true) at best and riddled with actual Nazis (also true) at worst (they have reported that some of the fash were seen throwing up Nazi salutes).

In Conclusion

While the cops were very quick to respond to stuff, especially us at the end, they really weren't prepared for serious public order stuff with the numbers the fash had, and I genuinely think that if we hadn't been there in the manner and numbers we were, that hotel would absolutely have got attacked, and potentially in a much worse way than Kirkby due to the vulnerability of the frontage. Maybe I'm overestimating the fash there, but it very much looks to me like we actually prevented something that could have been extremely nasty.

The people who put this together in Newquay did an absolutely fucking incredible job. Really felt like properly comradely atmosphere, with clarity and unity of strategy and tactics, and this is a really good time to capitalise on this by building close networks in the South West and Kernow.

Onen Hag Oll.

Independent Tropical Kernow.

Luv refugees, 'ate racists, don't like it, there's the door.

Additionally we were sent this on twitter by Cornwall Resists

"Due to only having two weeks to organise, the costs of the protest on Sunday were mostly covered through loans from supporters of Cornwall Resists. If you can, please donate to or share our fundraiser."

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