In 1936, the biggest countries in Europe had fascist governments: Germany had Hitler, Italy had Mussolini, Spain would have Franco.
Sir Oswald Moseley wanted Britain to have a fascist government too, so he created the British Union of Fascists.
They were known as ‘the blackshirts’, like the other fascists their main platforms were anti-communist and anti-Semitic.
They had the support of the press baron Viscount Rothermere who owned the Daily Mail, his paper carried the headline: “Hurrah For The Blackshirts”.
To demonstrate their power, the blackshirts planned a mass march into the centre of London’s east-end, it was scheduled for October 4th 1936.
Fascist politician William Joyce later said, “I know the east end, it’s where those dirty Jews and cockneys live, they will run back to their holes like scared rabbits.”
Thanks to Rothermere and the Daily Mail, Moseley had a lot of middle-class support.
6,000 police were sent to protect his uniformed army of blackshirts.
But the east-end took a different view, a lorry was overturned as a barricade, 250,000 Jews, gentiles, dockers, and communists turned out to make sure the fascists wouldn’t march through east London.
The main battle took place in Cable Street, so violent was it that the battered blackshirts ran leaving the battle to be fought with the police.
The protestors used an abandoned tram as a barricade; the police used horses and truncheons, the protestors used whatever they could find: sticks, bricks, table-legs, even full chamber-pots.
By the time it was over 150 people had been arrested, 170 people and 70 policemen were injured, but the main result was the ‘Public Order Act 1936’ was hurriedly passed.
This made it illegal for anyone to march in public wearing a political uniform.
Senior Labour politician Herbert Morrison said it “smashed the private army and I believe commenced the undermining of fascism in this country.”
Historian William J. Fishman said “I was moved to tears to see bearded Jews and Irish Catholic dockers standing up to stop Mosley. I shall never forget that as long as I live, how working-class people could get together to oppose the evil of fascism.”
According to the modern Antifa movement “This was the moment at which British fascism was decisively defeated.”
In America, the New Yorker’s Daniel Penny says, “For many members of contemporary anti-fascist groups, Cable Street remains central to their mythology, a kind of North Star in the fight against fascism and white supremacy across Europe and even the United States.”
That’s how the Battle of Cable Street is remembered now, there’s even a 300 square metre mural celebrating it.
Of course, it wasn’t seen like this at the time.
The Times condemned the actions of the anti-fascists and said “this sort of hooliganism must clearly be ended, even if it involves a special and sustained effort from the police authorities.”
Charlie Goodman was 21 when he was visited in prison by Mr Prince from the Jewish Board of Deputies.
Mr Prince asked him what he was charged with, he said “fighting fascism”.
Prince said, “You are the kind of Jew who gives us a bad name. It is people like you who are causing all the aggravation to the Jewish people.”
The point being, we should do what we think is right and not look for agreement or praise.
Do what we think is the right thing without expecting gratitude.
As Mother Theresa later said:
“If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.”