Published: 00:01, 07 April 2016
MP Charlie Elphicke has said he condemns both anti-fascists and far-right groups equally, after he faced criticism for his tweets during Saturday’s demonstrations.
The MP attended the protests between the rival groups in Dover at around 1.30pm and began live tweeting from the scene.
When he arrived on Marine Parade, he tweeted: “Militant hard left occupying port road at Dover. Unwelcome, damaging to our nation’s economy and the town. Go away.”
People on social media were quick to slate his remarks for their lack of balance.
"Being anti-racist and anti-fascist is not a “militant hard left” standpoint" - Kent Anti Racism Network
Twitter user StuC said: “Less welcome than the racist thugs are they? Well well. Who’d have thought it.”
Nick O Brien added: “But you’ve tweeted nothing today about the far right not being welcome. Appalling…”
An hour later, Mr Elphicke tweeted: “Fascists now marching to port. Equally unwelcome, damaging to our nation’s economy & the town as the anti fascists.”
Kent Anti Racism Network, who called the counterdemonstration, has now written a response to him.
It reads: “To Mr Elphicke, Your recent comments branding constituents as ‘unwelcome’ in their own town and telling anti-fascists to ‘go away’ are dangerous, misleading and hypocritical when you, yourself, describe Dover’s proud tradition of standing up to fascism; ‘the famous White Cliffs (became) the symbol of Britain’s defiance of Hitler’s Fascist threat’.
“Ever since the armed and violent National Front and their fascist cohorts came to Dover on January 30, you have equated them with those who oppose their right to march through our towns chanting anti-refugee slogans while giving Nazi salutes.
“Your later comments that the fascists were not welcome only materialised after you received huge criticism on Twitter.
“We believe that your target was clearly humanitarian anti-fascists. If the fascists didn’t march in Dover, then we wouldn’t have to oppose them.
“Being anti-racist and anti-fascist is not a “militant hard left” standpoint. We were decorating and waving off a convoy of aid for Calais, sending love, solidarity and warm socks to counteract the assorted fascists; who marched in Dover with the intent of stirring up racial hatred and perpetrating violence upon anti-fascists.”
Defending his tweets to the Mercury, Mr Elphicke said: “Both the fascists and the anti-fascists are different sides of the same coin of extremism.
“They both caused serious disruption in Dover. Few of the people are from anywhere near Kent and they’re not welcome here.
“The anti-fascists took a position contrary to what has been agreed with the police.
“The arrests and restricting public orders delayed the fascist march by an hour which is why there was a time difference in the reporting events from the scene.
“I condemn each side equally for the chaos, expense and disruption they have caused Dover and East Kent.
“These constant protests we’re having to put up with are too high a price to pay.”