- Jeremy Corbyn among speakers at Cable Street commemoration
- Organisers link anti-fascism to anti-austerity movement
- Hope Not Hate representative condemns Haringey hijab snatching
Hundreds marched for the 80th anniversary of East London’s victory against fascism, in Whitechapel today. The march commemorated the day in 1936 when thousands of anti-fascism protesters barricaded Cable Street against Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists.
The march kicked off with cheers as Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) called for unity amongst communities and workers.
As the march moved from Altab Ali Park to Cable Street they chanted: “Fascists, never again! Racist murders, never again! BNP, never again!” One placard read: “Spit out the lies they forced you to swallow,” and another read: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything!”
Jeremy Corbyn, who spoke at the end of the march in St. George’s Park, near Cable Street, told the crowd: “Today, as we do every year, we take head on those that fan the flames of racism and xenophobia and try to divide us by hate, by prejudice and by racism.” He added: “London always has been, and I hope always will be, a melting pot of people from all over the world.”
Cable Street was known in the early 20th century for its large Jewish community who fled from antisemitic rioting in Russia throughout the late 1800s and from the Nazis in the early 1900s. Corbyn called them “The lifeblood of this community.” These Jewish Londoners were targeted and ostracised by the British Union of Fascists.
A representative of grassroots campaign Hope Not Hate said: “Only yesterday, in so-called multi-cultural Haringey, a woman had the hijab torn violently from her head. That’s going on in our communities day after day and that’s the sort of thing we have to combat.”
Intolerance and hate crime has risen in London since Brexit. Between 2015 and 2016 there was an increase of over 3000 incidents of hate crime in the capital, according to the Mayor of London website’s Hate Crime Dashboard.
This view was echoed by a representative of the Labour party, Asma Islam. She said: “The battle of Cable Street is still relevant today especially after the Brexit vote and intolerance towards immigration. I am a Muslim mother living in London and this is a big concern for me.”
The Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement said there has been a rise in “extremism, racism and antisemitism in British Politics.” He said “Ordinary Londoners have never tolerated that sort of bigotry and never will.”
Speakers at the march also used this year’s commemoration to call for an end to austerity. Frances O’Grady called for solidarity amongst workers facing the threat of being sacked.
O’Grady said: “This is not just about our history, this is about our future and the struggle against fascism, racism and antisemitism goes on.” She called on the public to turn the finger of blame from migrant workers to “greedy bosses and lying politicians.”