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A brief note on trends in London cask ale

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2017 by kmflett

A brief note on trends in London cask ale

With the biggest cask ale showcase of the year just finished at Olympia, CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival, I thought I add a brief note on what I observe is happening to cask ale in London pubs.

Ive been a cask ale drinker since the early 1970s and I still drink it today. True I drink more in halves than pints now and I’m also not adverse to beer in other formats these being keykeg, bottle and can. I still think that properly served and in good condition there is little to beat cask.

That said I think it’s well appreciated that finding cask in such a state is no easy matter. Often it is not properly conditioned, tired because it’s been on too long and so on.

I observe, drinking in what would mainly be called craft beer pubs in North and Central London, that the number of handpumps in use is in slight decline. It’s quite usual to walk into to a pub that has 4-6 handpumps and find one or two not in use at that moment, whereas previously they would all have been.

Of course it’s the peak of summer and this may account for some of it, although I don’t think the August (lack) of heat is a factor currently.

I suspect that people are drinking good beer across a wider range of formats now and this means a slightly less strong throughput of cask.

It doesn’t mean the end for cask or anything like that and if fewer pumps means the beer that’s on gets sold more quickly it may actually end up improving quality in the glass and boosting sales.

But perhaps I’m wrong on all this and have just been in the wrong sort of pubs…

Articles

50 years since the Marine Offences Act: when Tony Benn outlawed pirate radio

In Uncategorized on August 14, 2017 by kmflett

50 years since the Marine Offences Act: when Tony Benn outlawed pirate radio

At midnight tonight its 50 years since the Marine Offences Act made broadcasting from a boat off the UK mainland illegal. That meant the end for most of the ‘pirate’ stations that had broadcast, primarily off the Essex Coast, although Radio Caroline continued and was joined for a period by Radio North Sea which was run out of Holland.

Many of the DJs on the pirate ships went on to work for BBC Radio One which was set up as the official alternative including of course John Peel.

The Wilson Labour Government had pushed through the measure- the Minister ultimately responsible being Tony Benn- because of concerns about how the pirate ships operated and also because of issues with interference with communications channels.

Benn was Minister for Technology in August 1967 but had spent much of the time since 1964 as Posts Minister. In his Diary he lays out a future for radio which the Act started to put in place. He noted a dislike of commercial stations and the people who ran them but wanted to promote both popular music on the BBC and set up a series of local radio stations.

Benn reports that the BBC showed no interest in devoting more air time to pop music as this would be pandering to popular tastes. Dominic  Sandbrook’s suggestion in his book White Heat, a social history of the 1960s, that the BBC was behind the 1967 Act appears mistaken. It was the Post Office and to some extent the Musicians Union, concerned that they and their members gained no direct benefit from records played on the pirates.

The reality is though without the pirate ships pop music culture would not have made the impact it did on 1960s Britain.

There was something of a radical element of shaking up the stifling conservatism of post-1945 British popular culture but the stations were commercial affairs. They were the forerunners of the independent radio stations that operate throughout the UK today and many of the leading DJs were hardly radical themselves. Indeed one, Roger Gale, became a Tory MP. He is currently the member for North Thanet, having previously joined Radio Caroline as a DJ in 1964.

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Campaigners say pogonophobia still an issue at BBC as Jeremy Vine shaves ‘holiday beard’

In Uncategorized on August 13, 2017 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front press release

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

14th August

Campaigners say pogonophobia still an issue at BBC as Jeremy Vine shaves ‘holiday beard’

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that pogonophobia, irrational dislike of the hirsute, remains an issue at the BBC after presenter Jeremy Vine shaved his ‘holiday beard’ on Sunday before returning to broadcasting this week.

Vine posted a picture of his beard on twitter together with a poll on whether he should keep it. Less than 30% thought he should shave his facial hair.

Vine’s beard was attacked by the pogonophobic Sun ‘newspaper’ which claimed it made him look like Jeremy Corbyn. Of course to pogonophobes anyone with a beard ‘looks like’ the Labour leader

The campaigners say that Vine’s beard dilemma came on the 4th anniversary of Jeremy Paxman’s decision to keep his own holiday beard in August 2013. He shaved it off after 147 days claiming that the BBC was pogonophobic and he had been pressured to shave.

BLF organiser Keith Flett said, of course its entirely up to Jeremy Vine whether or not he has a beard. However if a newspaper calls your beard ‘scruffy’ on Saturday, you don’t shave it off on Sunday. We think Vine should have kept the beard for a while and then decided its future.

 

 

 

 

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The Glorious Twelfth in Ambridge: Has Brian read the 1831 Game Act?

In Uncategorized on August 13, 2017 by kmflett

Ambridge Socialist

13th August

Poll

Has Brian Aldridge read the 1831 Game Act

The 12th August termed ‘glorious’ by some is the start of the annual grouse shooting season. It is a matter of considerable controversy focused around whether grouse moors create rural jobs and boost the economy or simply drain off public subsidies. That’s without considering the grouse who may cease to exist as a result..

In 2009 Brian was found planning a day’s shooting of Partridge later in August. Ambridge has no moorland, or grouse, but it certainly has shooting and game birds to shoot, at least if game keeper Will Grundy has been doing his job and his father hasnt poached them.

Yet under the 1831 Game Act the Partridge shooting season doesnt start until 1st September.

The Daily Telegraph became quite excited about Brian 2009 faux pas:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/6087808/The-Archers-mistakes-Glorious-Twelfth-for-start-of-partridge-season.html

Has Brian familiarised himself with the 1831 Act this year?

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The Battle of Wood Green 23rd April 1977

In Uncategorized on August 13, 2017 by kmflett

The Battle of Lewisham when a National Front march in New Cross was stopped by anti-fascists on 13th August 1977 had been preceeded by the Battle of Wood Green on 23rd April 1977.

Below are extracts from a pamphlet published by Haringey TUC on the 40th anniversary of the event. A rally and festival were held on Ducketts Common to mark the occasion with keynote speakers including Jeremy Corbyn.

The original pamphlet which it is hoped to publish on-line in its entirety included an introduction by David Renton and a conclusion by Ian Birchall.

The text below focuses on the events of the day itself only.

My thanks to David Renton for providing a copy of the original pamphlet (published 2002) and to Hazel Potter who produced a version which was sold on the 40th anniversary.

Ian Birchall’s conclusion is on-line here:

http://grimanddim.org/historical-writings/2002-the-battle-of-wood-green/

Keith Flett

14th August 2017

THE BATTLE OF WOOD GREEN

On 23 April 1977, a twelve hundred-strong National Front march through Wood Green was opposed by some 3,000 anti-racists, including delegations from Haringey Labour Party, trade unionists, the Indian Workers’ Association, local West Indians, members of Rock Against Racism and the Socialist Workers Party. While Communists and churchmen addressed a rally at one end of Duckett’s Com-mon, a contingent composed of more radical elements in the crowd broke away and subjected the NF column to a barrage of smoke bombs, eggs and rotten fruit. Eighty-one people were arrested, including seventy-four anti-fascists. Such are the bare bones of our history, but they explain lit-tle about what the National Front was, where it came from, and why so many people felt that it should be opposed.

What happened at Turnpike Lane?

Narrative: Keith Flett

The National Front demonstration in Wood Green on Saturday 23rd April 1977 was totemic. The confrontation which took place between fascists and anti-Nazis on that day, together with events at Lewisham on 12th August 1977 led to the foundation of the Anti-Nazi League and the marginalisation of the National Front as a political force.

Wood Green is also remembered as the first of a number of set piece confrontations, but one where the police, who were later, of-ten in huge numbers, to frustrate attempts by Anti-Nazis to stop fas-cist marches, had not yet developed tactics to deal with physical force against fascists. Hence there was a highly effective counter-demonstration at Wood Green which partly broke up the National Front march.

This confrontation did not happen spontaneously, although there were elements of spontaneity about it. It required both detailed organisational planning and extensive political argument and mobilisation before 23rd April.

Beforehand: considerable planning went into building the counter-demonstration both in terms of tactics and support. The Trades Council and Labour Party members both supported physical confrontation, not automatically, but after debate and argument in meetings. There was a planning committee for the anti-fascist mobilisation some of whose members still live in the area. From discussion it seems clear that much of the work of building the protest was a familiar routine to them and, indeed, would be familiar to anyone organising a demonstration today. Leaf-lets were handed out on high streets to members of the public and Turkish and Greek cafes on Green Lanes and West Green Road were leafleted and visited several times to mobilise this section of the community.

Organisationally, testing of red smoke flares tool place on Tottenham Marsh and quantities of flour, eggs and fruit were prepared. Some activists have suggested that the preparation had a degree of gender specifity to it, which would be much less usual in the labour movement 25 years on. For example, women were responsible for flour and eggs, while men did the testing of the smoke flares. However, members of the planning committee recall that the main aim was not to perfect military tactics but simply to get as many people there as possible. It was the mass mobilisation of local people not clever tactics that would defeat the fascists. Indeed, it appears that some of the tactics discussed would not have worked in the first place. One idea was to sabotage the traffic lights at the junction of Green Lanes, Wood Green High Road and Turnpike Lane until it was pointed out that the police were unlikely to stop the fascist march because a traffic signal was stuck at red.

On the morning of the march preparations were made at the house of a local activist. Bags of flour and rotten eggs and tomatoes were assembled ready to be handed to people in the crowd to throw at the fascist marchers.

On the day: attempts were made to smash the windows of NF coaches as they took fascists to the assembly point on Duckett’s Common. Not unusual in itself, this does however highlight an important point about the march and opposition to it. In general, the National Front marchers were not local people and there was a general resentment, summed up in the pages of the Hornsey Journal the following week, that fascists should not be al-lowed to bring their message to an area where it was not wanted and had little local support. However, it would be wrong to suggest that the anti-fascists at Turnpike Lane were entirely drawn from the immediate local area. The National Front march was seen as a challenge across North London. One person who had been on the planning team for the counter-demonstration recalls that, following an anti-racist demonstration in Islington on that Saturday morning, numbers had taken the tube to Turnpike Lane to join the anti-NF protest. One respondent mentions NFers and anti-fascists both directing people at Turnpike Lane tube. Fascists were directing people to Duckett’s Common at Turnpike Lane tube station, but they were out-numbered by anti-fascists directing people to the counter-demonstration.

A large number of Haringey Councillors, mostly Labour, but even the odd Tory, appeared on Duckett’s Common with a large banner opposing fascism. A picture of the Councillors and the banner appeared the following week in the local paper The Hornsey Journal, whose front page headline read: “Forty years on, the fear of fascism fouls our streets”. An editorial comment questioned why the police had allowed such a provocative march. One of the Labour Councillors at the time, and an organiser of the counter-demonstration, was Jeremy Corbyn, then a trade union official, now a Labour MP. It was not just Labour Councillors who were there. Discussions with Leyland Grant, the brother of the late Bernie Grant, MP for Tottenham, suggest that local activists from the Workers Revolutionary Party were also present. The WRP at this time was noted for usually not appear-ing on broad based protests, often preferring to call its own. In a sense to even suggest divisions at a local level, between Labour lefts, the far left and others is wrong. Political disagreements there certainly were, but many of the activists knew each other socially and were prepared to work together.

As soon as the NF march moved into Wood Green High Road, counter-demonstrators attacked and the march was split, with some NF supporters scattering. Memories of the use of flour and eggs are very common. As the NF moved into Wood Green High Road they were bombarded with flour, eggs, tomatoes and the shoes from racks outside the front of a shop on the High Road. Whether the shoes were later collected up by the shop owner, or whether they were left there deliberately in sympathy with the march is not known. Carol Sykes recalls carrying some balloons filled with paint or inky water, and some marine flares in a Sainsbury’s carrier bag, she notes “the old brown paper sort, not the plastic ones you get today”, and handing the bag over to someone at the corner of Wood Green High Road and Turnpike Lane. She then joined the main counter-demonstration.

The police then moved in behind the remainder of the march and tried to prevent counter-demonstrators from following. There were running scuffles as the police blocked the way of anti-fascist protesters. The police even stopped people walking along the pavement alongside the march. Remember, this was a busy North London shopping street at the height of Saturday shopping. John Robson recalls that “many of us were caught at the building works for the shopping city, where Boots now is. The police have let through the march, but we were kept from following.”

 

Robson argues that Tariq Ali led one group [the wrong way] down Alexandra Road back to Turnpike Lane and towards Hornsey and recalls telling him that the quickest way to Wood Green tube station was down Lymington Avenue. Robson says that “I got to the station for the passing of the march, but those who followed Ali never saw the march again as they got hopelessly lost”. Even so an account of the day published in the following week’s New Society does suggest that Tariq Ali did eventually man-age to lead a group of anti-fascists close to the NF meeting point. He is described as speaking “from a traffic-light junction box, with a loud-hailer.”

Some protesters were able, eventually, to follow the remains of the NF march to its destination. There were flights between fascists and anti-fascists in Broomfield Park and in Aldermans Hill, Palmers Green. Some of these may have been mobilised from Enfield and not been at the beginning of the march. A sizable number of anti-fascists did make it to near Arnos School in Wilmer Way where the NF held their rally. Significantly this was in Enfield, then Tory controlled, not Haringey. By this stage it was late afternoon.

Memory

Some people can’t remember anything that happened; others recall being there but that’s it. Nigel Fountain, who some participants recall being there, does not recall it himself, but has suggested a follow up volume on socialist amnesia. Tariq Ali has pointed out that this was a period of several years of such demonstrations and it is difficult if you participated in a number of them to be entirely sure whether you were at a specific event. This does suggest that this pamphlet has a very particular ‘take’ on events. Namely that most of the contributors were local participants, activists and leaders in 1977, and while they may have moved on politically and personally in the intervening 25 years, still either live in the area or have links with it. For them, 23rd April 1977 is not just a piece of political history but of personal history as well.

Sexism

One respondent felt that there was a clear, and sexist, division be-tween men and women on the counter-demo and hoped that we were not producing a hagiography [we’re not!]. Photos of the demo do in-deed suggest that the counter-demonstration was male dominated and this may have reflected the general profile of the left 25 years ago.

Fascists

Although we have not sought to discuss the events of 25th April 1977 with any fascists who were present on the NF march that day, the project has been widely publicised in North London and beyond. We had anticipated that one or two fascists, might at this distance have abandoned their dalliance with Nazism and have been prepared to come forward. However, none have. The only record we have therefore of the NF marchers is the New Society account published the week afterwards. This notes that “A striking feature of the NF supporters on Saturday was the number of teenage boys in the ranks”. Of the assembly of the fascist march on Duckett’s Common the report notes that “Groups of teenage lads wearing red roses on their denim jackets turned out of the Queen’s Head like guests at a skinhead wedding. Greasy-haired rockers with hunched leather shoulders, wore red roses. So did prim middle-aged couples, the wives in tweedy suits”. This last group, it may be suggested, were unprepared for what they were to meet as they turned into Wood Green High Road.

Hidden from History

Some felt that some of the things they did were personally or politically too embarrassing or awkward to appear in print even 25 years on. The Anti-Nazi League, for example, still exists and still has to mobilise regularly against Nazis. This pamphlet is a history of a local demonstration with some wider political implications, not a chapter in the history of the ANL. Such a history will need to be written one day, but not while the job of fighting fascism is on the agenda still.

Hence one activist, who was managing a socialist bookshop at the time, told us that he had been specifically asked not to go because of the danger of arrest and the implications this would have for the running of the bookshop. Others told us that they had been due to attend a delegate meeting of the International Socialists [now SWP] on the day and had been specifically told not to go, but had bunked off the meeting at lunch-time and gone to the demonstration. Another issue, perhaps the most puzzling to arise in the researching of this pamphlet is what route the fascist demonstration took when it left Wood Green tube station. The ‘common sense’ view amongst those that were there was that it continued straight on

Down Green Lanes to the Cock at Palmers Green, took a left turn into Bowes Road and then turned right at the junction with Wilmer Way and the North Circular Road where the venue for the fascist rally was. However, for a variety of reasons – police blocking the way or a focus on the ambush at Turnpike Lane – very few anti-fascists made it past Wood Green tube to ac-company the Nazi march. One that did was Dave Morris, then a North London postman, later known as an anti-McDonalds activist and a member of Haringey Solidarity Group. A photo that he has of the march not only suggests that far more fascists were able to re-group after the Turnpike Lane ambush than previously supposed [certainly several hundred] but that the route was different. It appears that the march continued on past the Cock at the North Circular Road to Palmers Green triangle. Here Enfield Trades Council and some local Communist Party activists rallied in opposition to the fascists. The NF then continued down Powys Lane into Wilmer Way from the north, skirting the edge of Broomfield Park. At least one person who has contacted us has referred to fighting between fascists and anti—fascists in the park itself.

Even less well known is what happened at the fascist rally itself. A report in New Society [28 April 1977] by Gavin Weightman noted that “Two men in khaki anoraks came out of the school, one, a barrister, nursing a bloody nose. They had been allowed into the meeting as observers. Then they were turned on, called ‘commies’, kicked and punched. Some NF members out-side jeered and laughed when they saw blood”. We have obtained some rare testimony from one of the people involved in this incident which is printed below, together with details of a further previously unknown confrontation which took place after the end of the fascist meeting at Turnpike Lane tube.

Perceptions

One of the hardest tasks of the historian is to capture what it was actually like and how people saw things for the period we are

covering. That we are looking at an event in relatively recent living memory does not necessarily make things much easier. However, while we may want to draw some political parallels and lessons from the events of 25 years ago, historically some things were different.

Wood Green was one moment in the rise of a fascist movement in 1970s Britain that culminated in 1979 and went into decline for a period thereafter. Yet the presence of fascists in North London had been felt for several years before 1977, they were an uncomfortable and unwanted part of the political landscape. The left of 1977 was much more engaged in fighting fascism than its counterpart 25 years later. Some of this is well captured in Nigel Fountain’s left-wing crime thriller novel Days Like These, published in 1985 which is set in North London and deals with the historic roots of British fascism. In 1977, unlike in 2002, socialists might well won-der if the people coming towards them in the street, or drinking at a nearby table in a pub were fascists. The threat of attack and confrontation never appeared far off, and did indeed, from time to time, actually happen. The shadow of fascism and fascists was ever present in the mind if not physically.

How the State reacted was different then too. Pictures of Wood Green show police shrinking back in the face of smoke bombs and missiles. They are pictured defending themselves with their helmets. There were no riot shields, visors or any of the semi-military equipment that later protesters were to find. But if the police were taken by surprise by the tactics of anti-fascists at Wood Green, so were the anti-fascists themselves. David Widgery in his book Beating Time estimates that even a year earlier protesters would not have attached the fascist march. That they did was per-haps a semi-surprise to them as well, even though they had planned for it.

The testimony of these who were there, however, suggests that the National Front was now seen as a very serious threat to the left and that the violent tactics employed at Turnpike Lane were not only necessary but would need to be repeated.

How they saw it:

memories and assessments from 23rd April 1977

From Beating Time, David Widgery et al, London 1987

P43: “The NF’s first big demonstration of 1977 was planned for April through a multi-cultural inner city suburb where long-standing Jewish and Irish citizens has been joined by post-war immigrants from the Caribbean, Cyprus, India and Pakistan – Wood Green. A loose alliance of political and ethnic groups including the local Labour and Communist parties united to oppose the Wood Green march. But there was considerable disagreement about tactics, with the leadership of the Labour Party and the Communist Party and the official ethnic bodies concentrating on pressure to get the march banned while they held a separate protest rally. The SWP led the argument for direct confrontation which was not, as a North London SWP organiser recalls, at all easy:

we were quite clearly the best organised. We always had the leaf-lets out first, we knew the terrain and we knew where we were going.

…while the worthies addressed a rather small audience in a local part the Front and their police protectors were faced with much more numerous better organised and determined opposition armed with smoke bombs, flares, bricks, bottles and planned ambushes. At Duckett’s Common where the pre-vious year the anti-NF forces would probably have been content to jeer there was a spontaneous move to block the road and physically attack the Front.

…A batch of dogged student lefties stoically chanting the NF is a Nazi Front were shocked into silence by the sight of a squad of black lads accurately hurling training shoes borrowed from Free-man, Hardy and Willis street display baskets. A smoke bomb bar-rage obliterated the honour guard’s spiked Union Jacks. For a moment the police line weakened and it looked as if they would not pass.”

 

John Robson, now trade union Chair of the London Underground Trains Council recalls that 25 years ago: “I was unemployed and re-member spending weeks prior to the march going around cafes and clubs in Green Lanes and West Green Road, delivering leaflets and post-ers. We visited hundreds of Greek and Turkish establishments and work-places to drum up support for the anti-Nazi counter-demonstration”.

Daniel Birchall, the son of a political activist, then aged six, recalls of the day that “I was taken off to Alan Watts’ house where everyone had gathered to put flour, tomatoes and eggs into brown paper bags. Some [people] were going to hide in the crowds and pretend to be passers-by rather than join the counter-demonstrations and then launch their attack on the NF from the sidelines. Some of the tomatoes and eggs might even have been rotten”.

Dave Morris, a member of Haringey Solidarity Group notes: “I was on the demo with some other anarchist colleagues. My memories are hazy but I recall being involved with a bit of a fracas in the High Road as police blocked public and protesters from walking down the pavement, alongside the march.

Somehow I got through, seemingly the only one who did at the time. For half an hour I walked alongside the fascist demonstration as it complete-ly dominated the streets, protected by police who cleared away most of the public in general. It was eerie – chilling in fact. After getting increasingly funny looks from cops and marchers despite my innocent whistling and hum-ming and pretending to admire the cracks in the paving stones, I sloped off.

I resolved that I would help mobilise for, and take part in future efforts to physically confront and prevent fascist marches. I had tons of arguments with NF sympathisers where I worked as a postman in the Holloway sorting office. There was at the time a 100-strong NF postal workers branch in the main Islington sorting office, and fascism seemed to be a real and growing threat.

However, going to Lewisham later in the year was a real turning point for me – the fascist march there was successfully attacked and then shep-herded away by cops to the middle of nowhere… then thousands of mainly black local residents, and many of the anti-fascists, tool over the streets in a show of force against the NF and the police that sent out an uncompromising message: ‘fascist activities will be crushed – the streets being to the people’.

The next day at work sympathy for the NF and overt racism seemed to have evaporated somewhat and gradually fell out of favour. Meanwhile postal workers all over London were taking solidarity action with the striking Asian women of Grunwicks, as company mail seemed to be continually getting diverted to New Zealand…”

David Bennie, one of the two anti-fascists mentioned in the New Society report has provided his diary entry for 23rd April 1977: “We walked to Turnpike Lane where the counter-demonstration was assembling in the presence of vast numbers of police. The rally had been banned but the local council yet was being attended by the vice mayor, the local Labour candidate Ted Knight [a fine battling leftist on Lambeth Council] and even a representative of the Tory opposition on Haringey Council. We met up with Steve and watched the Front march form up a hundred yards away, with plenty of verbal exchange between the two sides. It seemed incredible to me that the police could allow such an obviously explosive confrontation to occur.

The march started off and we were aiming to intercept. Soon I had lost Robin but managed to maintain contact with Steve. A little way along Wood Green High Road the march was attacked. Red smoke bombs filled the air and a battle was soon underway. Everything that could be thrown was thrown at the fascists in an attempt to stop the march. Police Horses appeared on the pavement, if shoppers got in the way that was their hard luck. I crossed the road to give myself more freedom of action. I picked up a policeman’s helmet and used it as my first missile of the day. I grabbed a Front flag, intending to throw it at them but others wanted to burn it. If they had man-aged to set it on fire I would have thrown it, the bastards should have been stopped. We didn’t stop the march but it was harassed every inch of the way.

Police horses separated the two groups some distance from the school where the Front was assembling and then a violent hailstorm dispersed the remnants of the counter-demo. We found ourselves walking past the school and I suggested that we try and go inside. The stewards at the ground’s entrance seemed amused at the idea and let us in. At this point Steve said we were crazy and left. There was some dispute at the door about whether to admit us but we finally got in and I heard a couple of minutes of the meeting. “If they’re black, send them back.” The atmosphere was one of rabid anti-intellectualism, clear-ly thought was a sign of weakness. Then somebody said, “they’re commies” and we were recognised as anti-fascists, which I thought was obvious anyway.

The mood was ugly so we made to leave but they weren’t able to re-strain themselves, we were jostled and pushed out. Robin, a yard behind me, received a number of blows and kicks until blood was coming from his nose. Some of this happened outside but police stood around nearby, ignoring it. As we left a guy writing for New Society interviewed us about what had happened.

We caught the tube at Arnos Grove but when it stopped at Turnpike Lane we heard shouts of “everybody off the train”. Soon the whole plat-form echoed to the chant of “The National Front is a Nazi Front, SMASH the National Front”. It seems that a few fascists had attacked a comrade with a bottle. I saw one large guy, barely able to stand, with blood running from his face and understood that two others were hurt. The fascists’ compartment was besieged; we were not prepared to let the train leave until the thugs were arrested for assault. Robin recognised one of them as one of our denouncers in the hall. They stood there, umbrellas in hand, trying to repulse us, with crazed looks on their faces, like bit part players from A Clockwork Orange until the police took them away. It was a marvellous experience of revolutionary solidarity against our most dangerous enemies.

It had been quite a day. I’d never been through a demonstration like it and left it determined that the National Front must be opposed with absolute ruthlessness wherever it dares to appear. Any illusions I may have had about non-violent means of opposing them were destroyed in that school”.

 

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The Ambridge Socialist: Crisis or no crisis, Alistair Lloyd is dull

In Uncategorized on August 13, 2017 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist

65 Years of the class struggle in Borsetshire

August 13th

Crisis or no crisis Alistair is Dull

The Archers is about rural affairs and how the class struggle impacts on them. In that framework clearly a vet of some sort is essential and Alistair Lloyd has been fulfilling the role for many years. From time to time Alistair has an existential crisis of some sort which some might say that given he lives with Saint Shula is no real surprise. Currently he is having a crisis. Matt is pressuring him and Alastair think his past transgressions may be revealed to his new business partner Anisha. Alistair has been tempted to start gambling again.

The problem is Alistair is dull, really really dull.  Could not his crisis not be covered elsewhere by the BBC, indeed isn’t this in part what Ambridge Extra was for?

Racism in Borsetshire

Its unclear who the local youths are who have been attacking fruit pickers. What is clear is that as usual PC Harrison Burns is not on the case. The Ambridge Socialist is considering holding an Ambridge United vigil on the village green.

In other news

Jill remains in campaigning mode. The Ambridge Socialist approves.

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Opposing fascists in Lewisham 13th August 1977

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2017 by kmflett

The Battle of Lewisham 13th August 1977

13th August marks the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Lewisham, when the fascist National Front were stopped by anti-fascists from marching in the area of London around New Cross.

The NF’s provocative march came just months after the Battle of Wood Green when the fascists attempt to march had resulted in it being split in two by anti-fascists.

It was part of a strategy of tension by the fascists designed to whip up racist sentiment and show that they controlled the streets.

As events at Lewisham 40 years ago on Saturday underlined, they did not.

A coach load of anti-fascists left Wood Green tube station on the morning of 13th August and I was one of them.

Memory is a doubtful thing and Ive been at many anti-fascist protests over the years so one tends to blur into another.

The only real abiding memory I have of Lewisham is of at one point being in a group that had ended up on the wrong side of police lines. These days we’d probably have been arrested. In 1977 the police loaded us on to a London bus and told the driver to take us back over to the anti-fascist protest.

As often on such occasions there was a division between those who wanted to protest at the fascists and those who wanted to stop them. I would invariably be on the latter side ( and still would). This was before the Anti Nazi League was formed but the confrontation with the NF at Lewisham was certainly one of the motors for it.

The Observer has published a good account of what took place on the day:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/aug/13/battle-of-lewisham-national-front-1977-far-right-london-police

It underlines that the NF chose to march in the area because they had been gathering local support in some quarters. It also points to the use by police of riot shields for the first time and the hardline tactics used against anti-fascists. In part these were likely to have been developed after the earlier Battle of Wood Green on 23rd April 1977.

There is one gap in the report. It notes that 4,000 protesters ‘turned up’. Of course they did not just turn up any more than the NF did. They were organised. Local churches and the Communist Party organised the morning march. The confrontation was certainly rooted in the local community but organised by the far left, the Socialist Worker and others, the Labour Party and anti-racists

As the Socialist Worker headlined after the event ‘we stopped the Nazis and we’ll do it again’.

Indeed, they should never pass.

Details of what took place and the 40th anniversary events are here:

http://www.gold.ac.uk/events/battle-of-lewisham/

As events at Charlottesville on 13th August 2017 remind 40 years on, there must never be a let up in physically opposing fascists.