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An Anti-Farage Protest At The UKIP Conference Ends In Clashes With Far-Right Groups

Britain First showed up to confront anti-UKIP protesters.

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An anti-UKIP protest has ended in violence after far-right groups turned up to confront the protesters.

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The anti-UKIP protest was arranged by a group called Thanet Stand Up to UKIP, which is aiming to prevent Nigel Farage from being elected in South Thanet in May's general election.

It is part of a broader network of Stand Up to UKIP groups that have disrupted UKIP events across the country – such as in Rotherham in early February, when dozens of protesters trapped Nigel Farage inside a UKIP shop.

Before the protest, organiser and socialist campaigner Bunny La Roche told BuzzFeed News that she didn't want to stop Farage from speaking, but did want to make life difficult for him.

"We want to give him a hard time, but we're not trying to stop them having meetings," she said. "We believe in freedom of speech, which is why we want to be noisy and make our voices heard against this racist party."

The group – largely comprised of trade union representatives, students, and anti-fascism campaigners – chanted songs such as "Nigel Farage Is Just a Pound Shop Enoch Powell" and "You're Just Another Tory Racist".

La Roche said the anti-Farage campaign had been planning the protest for months, and that it was just one of a series of events in the pipeline to disrupt Nigel Farage's election campaign before May 7.

"This is just the start, we're going to be doing all sorts of things," she said. "It's difficult to pin Farage down – his movements are very secretive and they send out decoys to try to fool us – but he won't escape us at the conference."

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"Nigel Farage looks like a scrotum."

Young protesters. 'Nigel Farage looks like a scrotum' #Ukipspring http://t.co/KK0oeP0AsK

However, the march soon ran into a dozen representatives of a small far-right group called East Kent Patriots.

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The leader of the East Kent Patriots, who didn't want to be named, said his group was there because it supports UKIP and wanted to "let Nigel Farage's voice be heard".

A week before the conference, the men warned the Thanet Stand Up to UKIP group that they would be at the conference by sending them a postcard which said "See you on Saturday, love East Kent Patriots".

"It's about freedom of speech," the leader of the East Kent Patriots told BuzzFeed News. "We're not going to let some commie scum come here and stop the meeting."

The men told the anti-Farage protesters to "have a wash", "get jobs", and "come over here and say that" when they were insulted.

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The two groups shouted at each other for a few minutes before the East Kent Patriots left to join the Britain First group nearer the conference hall.

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The anti-Farage march continued towards the hall, responding to pro-UKIP heckles from the sidelines on the way.

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Around 30 members of Britain First were waiting outside the conference hall, chanting "Smash the reds".

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Britain First is a far-right group created by former members of the British National party, and has a vigilante group called the Britain First Defence Force.

Steve Lewis, the "regional commander" of Britain First, initially refused to speak to BuzzFeed News due to "some pretty unfair articles" he said had been published about his party in the past.

However, he told us his group had turned up because "us and UKIP have very similar policies" – a claim UKIP strongly denies.

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Immediately, the Britain First members and the protesters confronted each other, and the situation turned ugly.

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The Britain First members shouted English nationalist slogans at the protesters, who responded by calling them racist.

Tensions were high and the police struggled to control the situation.

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Fights broke out between the rival groups.

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Britain First members complained that the police were being heavy-handed towards them, and were on the side of the Farage protestors. Police were called "socialists" and "traitors", and one Britain First member attempted to knock a police camera out of the hands of a policeman.

After a number of people were restrained by police, order was eventually restored.

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The anti-Farage march continued on to a Love Music, Hate Racism event, while the UKIP conference continued inside the hall.

Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.

Contact Jamie Ross at jamie.ross@buzzfeed.com.

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