Why the ‘Battle of Wood Green’ was published
In 2002, on the 25th anniversary of a National Front march from Ducketts Common, Turnpike Lane, North London on 23rd April 1977 that was disrupted by anti-fascist demonstrators, Haringey TUC and the London Socialist Historians Group published a pamphlet to mark the event.
We are planning to re-publish the pamphlet for the 40th anniversary, as it was in 2002, and to place it on-line.
Haringey TUC was and remains of course the local trade union umbrella organisation that covers the area where the NF marched. The local TUC along with the Labour Party and many others were involved in the counter-demonstration in April 1977. The London Socialist Historians Group convenes the socialist history seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London School of Advanced Study in Bloomsbury. The IHR is the centre of research history in the UK.
The aim of bringing together Haringey TUC and the LSHG was to combine the importance of continuing activism against racism and fascism with some element of the rigour of the academy to make sure that the events of 23rd April 1977 were recorded and not lost as it were to history.
Socialist activists and authors Ian Birchall and David Renton wrote much of the pamphlet and I added details of what memories, at 25 years, we could glean from those who had participated. I myself was there in 1977 as a 20 year old student but my main memory of the day was that my parents were not hugely happy that I had participated in what turned out to be a rather lively afternoon. My aunt, on the other hand, a lifelong Daily Mail reader who hated Nazis, was pleased.
I did not include this incidental detail in the pamphlet. Rather we tried (in those pre social media) days to obtain memories from active participants and particularly from organisers via e-mail and from two events- a Trades Council meeting and a seminar at the IHR.
Obviously we could only ever be partially successful but we did gather a lot of useful detail.
Back in 2002 the priority was still the need to confront fascists organising and marching- particularly the BNP- and the pamphlet reflects that. Another 15 years on and fascists still need opposing- the EDL for example- but the bigger task is opposition to racism, both from the State and in terms of racist attacks and comments.
The 40th anniversary of the Battle of Wood Green will be marked at Ducketts Common on Sunday 23rd April from midday with a range of speakers and entertainment.
On Monday 24th April at 5.30pm the London Socialist Historians are holding a further seminar on the Battle of Wood Green at the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet St, London WC1. Entry is free without ticket. If you have memories of events 40 years ago or points about how it should be remembered as history, you will be very welcome.