Thursday, October 12, 2006

Celebration in Cable Street

HUNDREDS of people gathered in Cable Street in London’s East End to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street, where Sir Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists were prevented from marching by hundreds of thousands of East End people who came out and blocked the streets.
There was a brief procession with banners, including many trade union banners, a special Cable Street community banner and a replica of the banner of the 15th battalion of the International Brigade. It went from Shadwell Underground Station to the small park behind St George’s Town Hall where there were stalls and food vendors.
It was a light-hearted affair, in very pleasant autumn weather, without heavy speeches but lots of music. Poet Michael Rosen opened the event and introduced his father, Harold Rosen, a veteran of the Battle of Cable Street.
Harold gave an account of the battle and of the feelings at the time, when Italy and Germany had already turned to fascism, there was a fierce war against fascism going on in Spain and no one knew for certain who would win – in the East End or in the world.
The entertainment included Spanish flamenco dancing, a local Bangladeshi folk group and a cracking kletzmer band, Kletzmania, that sparked an outbreak of spontaneous dancing – very rare at left-wing events.
The audience included many well known faces: Bob Crow of the RMT transport union, Matt Wrack of the Fire Brigades Union, local Respect MP George Galloway and Communities Minister Ruth Kelly.
New Worker sellers sold out and wished they had brought more copies of the paper and a good time was had by all.