Monday, 10 October 2016

The Cable Street Mural.

I had a sad Sunday - I'd been due to join the March commemorating the 80th anniversary of 'Cable Street' but I just wasn't up to it.

I thought I was and we planned to go but the combination of my back and the Chemo was just a bit too much.

It's sad because it would have been a chance to see some people I know and an opportunity to honour the people who took part in the original events back in 1936.

So what I am doing is posting some pictures I took of the Mural that was painted on one of the houses on Cable Street, which I took last summer when we had a day in the East End.

Here it is;

The events of 1936 were something of a turning point; Oswald Mosley, an establishment figure and member of the aristocracy founded the British Union of Fascists during the depression of the 1930's. He was getting a secret subsidy from Mussolini of £40,000 a year, an enormous sum for the times, which financed his private army. The government of the day was aware of this but it was a secret to everyone else.

His policy was to stage provocative marches and rallies and in 1936, in what was intended to be a big show of strength, he was due to march his fascist thugs through the East End of London. Back then it was a centre for immigrants; made up of the Welsh, Irish and Jews.

The people of the East End rose up and organised by the Independent Labour Party and The Communist Party they blocked the way.

Mosely and his men were stuck near the Tower of London, while 150,000 filled the narrow East End streets with barricades and armed themselves with bricks and Molotov Cocktails.

Cable street was the choke point and 6000 police attacked the people there with horses, cutlasses (really!) and even a plane keeping lookout overhead.

There was a fine old fight and in the end the people won.

It's commemorated on the mural;

I've had to cut it into sections because the design swirls around a pivot, to try to capture the chaos of that day. It's a remarkable piece of art and well worth a visit.

In the 1970's this area was a dangerous place - the march was due to start from Altab Ali park, named after the victim of a vicious racist attack in 1978.

Nowadays much of the old East End has been gentrified and has changed beyond recognition. Cable Street itself is completely different, even from my memories of the 1970's.

But the memory of 1936 lives on - for campaigners and for those who addressed the meeting at the end of the march.

Unmesh Desai, who was a leading figure in the Newham Monitoring project was there - they led the campaign to change the way the Asian and Bangladeshi communities were treated by the Police and fought against racism in the area.

Jeremy Corbyn was there not only as leader of The Labour Party but also because his Mother had been one of the many thousands of people who were at Cable Street all those years ago to make sure that "They shall not pass".

Sadly, I was there in spirit only but there was no where else I would have rather been.

No Pasaran!

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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