Posts Tagged ‘anti-fascists’

November 2014 (4)

Saturday, November 28th, 2020

One of the more disturbing trends in Britain over the past ten years has been the rise of fascism, both in mainstream politics and also in the rise of various extreme right groups. We have a government which is increasingly prepared to act outside the law – prime examples including the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ set up by Theresa May, Boris Johnson’s attempt to close down Parliament and more recently to renege on parts of our agreement with the UK – and whose actions have encouraged extremist overtly racist and Islamophobic groups. But it isn’t just in the UK, and Germany, Poland and Greece are among other countries to have seen similar movements on a larger scale.

One of the nastier to crawl out from under the stones is the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn in Greece, where 50 leading members were then on trial in Athens for violent attacks, firearms and other offences. In the UK, New Dawn was set up in 2013 in support of the Greek organisation and, together with Polish neo-Nazis in the UK and British ‘White Pride’ supporters they had planned to march in London to the Greek Embassy to call on the Greek government calling on them to drop the charges and release the Golden Dawn leaders.

Their march was facilitated by the police and opposed by UK anti-fascist activists including Antifascist Action for Greece, Unite Against Fascism and many trade unionists, who gathered opposite the Greek Embassy an hour before the Golden Dawn supporters were due to arrive.

I don’t enjoy photographing extreme right groups, who tend to be hostile, and as usual I was threatened and spat at, though the police presence prevented any physical violence and stopped the press getting really close to the protesters. As a journalist I would have liked to have been able to talk to some of them, but this wasn’t possible, and their approach to the press generally is to shout insults and complain the press treat them badly by reporting their actions. I think we generally report accurately and if reports are bad it is because their actions are reprehensible.

Both police and protesters tried to prevent me and the other photographers taking pictures and, not unusually, I and others were threatened with arrest. A videographer with the protesters made a point of recording those of us who were taking photographs. Those of us who report on right-wing protests have become used to having our pictures posted on the web with the intention of provoking violence against us.

The main speaker at the event was Peter Rushton of the England First Party, associate editor of its magazine, Heritage and Destiny. According to Hope Not Hate he was expelled from the BNP in 2002, joining the more extreme White Nationalist Party, and later the British People’s Party. Reputed to be one of Britain’s leading Holocaust deniers they say he was a close friend of the banned terror group National Action.

I left after photographing Rushton speaking, walking through the police lines to make my way to Holland Park underground station. I thought it wise to leave the area before police allowed the New Dawn protesters to leave.

More at Neo-Nazi ‘Free the Golden Dawn’ Opposed.

Cable St Remembered

Sunday, October 4th, 2020

Back on October 4th 2006 we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Cable St. Then there were still quite a few people present who had their own memories of the day people from the East End fought police and fascist marchers, stopping them from marching.

In my account of the event I wrote (capitalisation added):

The man standing next to me quietly said “I was there” and later told me a little of the event and his life. It was the story of a typical East-ender of the era, 13 when it happened. His parents had arrived from Poland in 1912 and settled close to Cable Street, later moving to Brick Lane. Despite being Jewish he had gone to the Methodist Mission just down Cable Street and paid his penny to watch films of a Friday night. And like the rest of his friends, he went with the crowds to stop the fascists. Later, in uniform, he was a part of the army which went to europe to finish off the job in 1944, getting married shortly before he left. Still married after 62 years, he now lives with his wife in north London.

My London Diary – October 2006

You can read the story of one of the women who was there in 1936, Beattie Orwell in a long post on Spitalfields Life, published in 2018 when she was 100.

Max Levitas (1915-2018), perhaps the best-known of the Cable St veterans, and a life-long communist activist and antifascist fighter in the East End, led the march on the 75th anniversary in 2011 and made a powerful speech at the rally.

2016 was the 80th anniversary and was again marked by a larger than usual event, beginning with a well-attended rally in Altab Ali Park before marching to Cable St.

The march was attended by a very wide range of groups, reflecting the people who had come out onto the streets in 1936. Again on My London Diary I wrote:

It was the community that came out onto the streets. People from the mainly Jewish areas of the East End, trade unionists, communist rank and file and Irish dock workers. Men and women in a grass roots movement opposed to Mosley, people who knew that they would be the victims if he came to power. And of course the battle was not against Mosley, but against the police.

Of course there were communists and socialists among those who came out on the streets, and some who played a leading role. But it was essentially a victory for the working class left, for the anarchists and for many without political affiliations who came together spontaneously to defend their place and their people.

My London Diary – October 2016

Back in 1936 the Labour Party had urged people to stay away from the protest and go instead to Hyde Park, and even the Communist Party had opposed trying to stop Mosley until they saw that the fight was inevitable.

The march rather reflected this official caution, with marchers being told to keep to the pavement rather than march on the road. It was left to the anarchists and some of the more militant left to give a more authentic celebration of the event when they remained in front of the mural when the others left for the official rally at the end of the march.

Class War began their own rally, with Martin Wright as the only speaker giving a detailed account of the events of 1936 and their continuing significance, but this was interrupted when Italian communists and anti-fascist groups began their own very noisy performance with chants and flares.

Many more pictures from these events online at My London Diary:

Battle of Cable St 70th Anniversary 2016
Battle of Cable St – 75 Years 2011
Battle of Cable Street 80 Rally 2016
Battle of Cable Street 80 March 2016
Black bloc rally at the Cable St Mural 2016


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.