Eighty years ago today, in 1936, about 5,000 of Oswald Moseley’s Nazi Blackshirts, protected by 6,000 members of the Metropolitan Police, attempted an anti-Semitic march through a predominantly Jewish section of east London. They were confronted by 20,000 workers, residents, Communists, and anarchists, and battle ensued. Moseley’s men were quickly withdrawn, but clashes between police and protesters continued. In the end about 175 were arrested.
The battle had a number of important consequences: It led directly to the passing of the Public Order Act which banned the wearing of political uniforms on the streets which in turn led to a serious decline in the membership of the British Union of Fascists; it showed that working people would stand up to fascist thugs; and it led to the election of Communist leader Phil Piratin as MP for the area in 1945.
May the fascists of today understand that we have long memories.