No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75

This week marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street; Left Foot Forward’s Cormac Holligsworth recalls the historic anti-fascist events.

This week marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street, and today, a 96-year-old veteran of the fight against fascism, Max Levitas, will speak at a commemorative march and rally, on a platform next to the newly restored Cable Street mural.

The march will assemble at 11:30 at the junction of Braham Street and Leman Street, near Aldgate East tube, ending with the rally at 1:00 at St George’s in the East Gardens, Cable Street (see map).

Mr Levitas will recall how, in October 1936, every entrance to the East End was blockaded, while Irish dockers and Jewish tailors built three barricades across Cable Street to prevent an invasion by 3,000 uniformed fascists.

He will be joined today by representatives from Bengali and Jewish organisations, trade union leaders and local political figures. They will urge marchers to celebrate the spirit of Cable Street by campaigning together to send a powerful message of unity against all who sow division and hatred in Britain today.

Here, Left Foot Forward’s Cormac Hollingsworth pens an imagined letter from a Cable Street veteran to a newly elected politician:

Dear Newly Elected Representative,

I am a veteran of the Battle of Cable Street when I made a stand to protect our public streets against the extremist black-shirted British Union of Fascists.

It was 1936, before the full abominations of the totalitarian regimes were visible. At that time, the public authorities were not aware of the threat of totalitarian ideologies. While Hitler had written “if outvoting them takes longer than outshooting them, at least the results will be guaranteed by their own Constitution”, many thought he would protect them against Stalin, while both slaughtered tens of millions.

You now have no such excuse. You know the industrialised slaughter the modern state can inflict when controlled by a party of a totalitarian ideology.

You shouldn’t be naïve about extremists at our fringes. If you allow them access to the public streets, they will abuse the responsibilities that you instinctively follow. And by denying their responsibilities, they seek to take control of the public street.

Their strategies haven’t changed – they use “the big lie” to undermine the truthful and fact-based responsibility within our freedom of speech; they will pursue an insane partisanship that will be motivated by “the worse it gets the better”, undermining our social contract; and don’t be fooled by their offer of alliances against a different foe: it was a social democratic party who let in Lenin; it was a right wing that made Hitler Reich Chancellor.

Painful as it may seem, there are moments where you can save the public streets only through bipartisanship.

But don’t imagine the weight of this responsibility to be too great. Trust in the fact that your many allies in preserving the public streets are your fellow participants. If you look around you will see how many already recognise their responsibility to preserve the public streets: thousands of people who’d never done political activity volunteered for Hope Not Hate to stop the BNP last year.

And “no platform” is now strongly supported from the Charities Commission, to the Church of England, and even to Her Majesty’s summer tea party.

In 1936 the Metropolitan Police were enforcing the BUF’s claimed “right to free speech” – that’s why we crowded Cable Street; in 2011 the Met protected Cable Street from the EDL, just as their fellow forces had protected their local communities in Bradford, Leicester and elsewhere.  These are all proof of how much we have learned the lessons of the 20th century.

I hope you never face an organised totalitarian mass movement. But if you do, remember the courage of the citizens of Cable Street, and know the British soul will never be lost to the extremes if the defenders of the public streets stand firm.

No platform. No Pasaran.

A veteran of Cable Street

See also:

NUJ: EDL thugs “violently attacked” journalistsShamik Das, September 6th 2011

Getting to the roots of far right xenophobiaDr Matthew Goodwin, April 9th 2011

If the EDL find a British Geert Wilders, the political scene could changeGeorge Readings, March 7th 2011

Searchlight’s ‘Fear and Hope’ paints a fascinating and concerning pictureGeorge Readings, February 28th 2011

BNP’s Oldham candidate shows the party’s as racist as everChris Tarquini, January 5th 2011

47 Responses to “No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75”

  1. Darren Lewis

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/Uqwlu2PF by @CormacHolly @HopeNotHate #CableStreet #BattleofCableStreet

  2. Rachel Burns

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/Uqwlu2PF by @CormacHolly @HopeNotHate #CableStreet #BattleofCableStreet

  3. David Erswell

    If you're in East London this morning, I recommend Cable Street 75 //t.co/NuMEcddz #Nopasaran #CableStreet

  4. Cormac Hollingsworth

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/UhtjlPVv @HopeNotHate #BattleofCableStreet they made a stand and inspire us still

  5. Robbie Dolan

    If you're in East London this morning, I recommend Cable Street 75 //t.co/NuMEcddz #Nopasaran #CableStreet

  6. Ellie Robinson

    RT @CormacHolly: No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/qttWInjs @HopeNotHate they made a stand and inspire us still

  7. Andrew Pakes

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/UhtjlPVv @HopeNotHate #BattleofCableStreet they made a stand and inspire us still

  8. Political Planet

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: This week marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street; Lef… //t.co/jk5b16h4

  9. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75 //t.co/Zjno9SQ1

  10. Bill Cawley

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/Uqwlu2PF by @CormacHolly @HopeNotHate #CableStreet #BattleofCableStreet

  11. Ruth Smeeth

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/UhtjlPVv @HopeNotHate #BattleofCableStreet they made a stand and inspire us still

  12. Tyrannyofthemajority

    Nice to see you championing liberalism against authoritarianism.

    ‘You shouldn’t be naïve about extremists at our fringes. If you allow them access to the public streets, they will abuse the responsibilities that you instinctively follow. And by denying their responsibilities, they seek to take control of the public street.’

    Censoring people whose opinions you don’t like?

    Is that really a good idea?

    I think even extremists should have freedom of speech. Then people can see how stupid their views are. Or maybe you assume the public are so dumb and bigoted that they can be duped by any passing fascist into becoming a ravening nationalist mob?

    The BNP and EDL, despite the hype, are small fringe groups and don’t look like changing into anything more than that any time soon.

    It’s censorious people like you who are the threat to liberty at the moment.

  13. Nick Lowles

    RT @CormacHolly: No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/qttWInjs @HopeNotHate they made a stand and inspire us still

  14. Nick Lowles

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/UhtjlPVv @HopeNotHate #BattleofCableStreet they made a stand and inspire us still

  15. Nemesis Republic

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/UhtjlPVv @HopeNotHate #BattleofCableStreet they made a stand and inspire us still

  16. John Hedges

    RT @EllieCRobinson: RT @CormacHolly: No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/C1XgWevt @HopeNotHat… (cont) //t.co/qtKA95gi

  17. Tasha Alden

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/UhtjlPVv @HopeNotHate #BattleofCableStreet they made a stand and inspire us still

  18. UNISON Housing Assoc

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/UhtjlPVv @HopeNotHate #BattleofCableStreet they made a stand and inspire us still

  19. Stuart Freedman

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/Uqwlu2PF by @CormacHolly @HopeNotHate #CableStreet #BattleofCableStreet

  20. Stuart Freedman

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/Uqwlu2PF by @CormacHolly @HopeNotHate #CableStreet #BattleofCableStreet

  21. Richard Hardy

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/UhtjlPVv @HopeNotHate #BattleofCableStreet they made a stand and inspire us still

  22. Richard Hardy

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/UhtjlPVv @HopeNotHate #BattleofCableStreet they made a stand and inspire us still

  23. Kirsty McNeill

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/UhtjlPVv @HopeNotHate #BattleofCableStreet they made a stand and inspire us still

  24. Kirsty McNeill

    No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75: //t.co/UhtjlPVv @HopeNotHate #BattleofCableStreet they made a stand and inspire us still

  25. sarah coften

    RT @leftfootfwd: No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75 //t.co/7TDCowZj

  26. sarah coften

    RT @leftfootfwd: No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75 //t.co/7TDCowZj

  27. Cormac Hollingsworth

    Q.E.D.

  28. Irene Burton

    RT @leftfootfwd: No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75 //t.co/0a1JR0Ui

  29. Irene Burton

    RT @leftfootfwd: No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75 //t.co/0a1JR0Ui

  30. Anna Gillespie

    RT @leftfootfwd: No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75 //t.co/0a1JR0Ui

  31. Anna Gillespie

    RT @leftfootfwd: No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75 //t.co/0a1JR0Ui

  32. Yvonne Lee

    RT @leftfootfwd: No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75 //t.co/1INHY1J1

  33. Yvonne Lee

    RT @leftfootfwd: No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75 //t.co/1INHY1J1

  34. George

    I am a little confused by conflation in this article between the Battle of Cable Street – a rejection of a repulsive movement and its physical intimidation of the East End’s Jewish citizens – and no platforming people like the BNP and EDL who, repulsive as they are, do not represent a threat at all in the order of fascists in the 1930s.

    Would be interested to hear the author’s justification for treating the two as though they are the same.

  35. John Ruddy

    RT @leftfootfwd: No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75 //t.co/LNqCv1t3

  36. John Ruddy

    RT @leftfootfwd: No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75 //t.co/LNqCv1t3

  37. Rónán Burtenshaw

    No platform! No pasaran! #CableStreet 75 years on //t.co/Zscofdgf via @leftfootfwd

  38. Rónán Burtenshaw

    No platform! No pasaran! #CableStreet 75 years on //t.co/Zscofdgf via @leftfootfwd

  39. Ziggy Stardust

    MT @RonanBurtenshaw: No platform! No pasaran! #CableStreet 75 years on //t.co/KCFt334E via @leftfootfwd #edl #UAF #AntiFA

  40. Ziggy Stardust

    MT @RonanBurtenshaw: No platform! No pasaran! #CableStreet 75 years on //t.co/KCFt334E via @leftfootfwd #edl #UAF #AntiFA

  41. Mr. Sensible

    Tyrannyofthemajority, half the problem with the likes of the EDL is that, wherever and whenever they turn up, there’s trouble.

    I think it is important that we remember the spirit of Cable Street, and the fight against extremism.

  42. Robert the crip

    Trouble is also around when you have Muslim fanatics who will tell us Blair brown Cameron is dead long like the what ever it is they believe.

  43. :::

    RT @leftfootfwd: No platform no pasaran; The Battle of Cable Street 75 years on //t.co/35CB3LWI

  44. London IWW

    FYI, Interesting: No platform no pasaran; Cable Street 75 //t.co/D6kB3VuX

  45. Leon Wolfson

    @3 – Really? Seen the hate crime stats recently? And a LOT of hat crimes are not being reported to the police by the victims. (As I haven’t, and won’t unless I was needed hospital treatment after being attacked and hence would need to report to stay out of legal trouble)

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