October 4th, 2006

breaking bad

No pasaran

70 years ago today working class Londoners took to the streets to protect the local Jewish population from Oswald Moseley's fascists. I put it like that to emphasise that this was an act of cross-religious and cross-ethnic solidarity, though the anti-fascist blockade obviously included active Jewish involvement as well as serving to protect the Jewish community.

In Cable Street the police tried to force the crowd aside to let the fascists through, and the local dockers, many of whom were Irish Catholic, threw up a blockade from torn-up paving stones. Famously, the old ladies emptied their chamber pots on to the fascists from the upper windows.

This was the Battle of Cable Street. It stalled fascism in Britain for the rest of the century. Today we must show the same level of solidarity with people of all religions, and all ethnic groups. We must not wait for privileged people to take the lead in our political movements.

Longer analysis of the background to Cable Street (written at the 60th anniversary) here.

Read how the Guardian reported the event back in 1936.