The activists from March for England, a group that had worked closely, although not always seen eye to eye, with the English Defence League, for some years the UK’s most prominent anti-Muslim protest movement, gathered outside Brighton station. It was an excellent day for a St. George’s day parade: warm spring sunshine, just a light breeze. The activists, many wearing, wrapped in or carrying England flags, greeted one another, and shared a joke and a drink as their talk turned to the day ahead. The marchers enacted and expressed a range of emotions. There was evident excitement and anxiety as they discussed parade logistics. They expected a degree of opposition from anti-fascist groups: There always was in Brighton. For some, this was part of the attraction. Yet March for England had only managed to muster a small group today—150 or so—including a number of families and some marchers with limited mobility. There were also, as might be expected, expressions of national pride, felt most intensely during lustily sung renditions of “God Save the Queen” and “England ‘til I die.” National pride mixed with personal pride, appreciation of and respect for their fellow marchers: for being the people who had made the effort to be there and were willing to march despite the anticipated opposition. These feelings were however infused with and accentuated through other emotions and affects of loss, disappointment, embarrassment, and shame even, that in England today so few people seemed to celebrate St. George’s day. Some activists spoke enviously of other countries, such as the United States, France, and Ireland, where they perceived national days to be more widely and joyfully celebrated.
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