Provocative processions
Oliver Kamm: Cable street protesters were wrong
08 Jan 10

Oliver Kamm responds to my post on Anjem Choudary’s proposed march through Wootton Bassett, where I asked if previous attempts to stop provocative processions, such as Oswald Mosley’s attempt to march through Cable Street, were wrong:

Yes, those who tried to stop the British Union of Fascists from marching in the East End in October 1936 were wrong. The BUF had a democratic right to march in peacetime, and the attempt to stop them did them a power of good. Mosley was looking for a way to call it off anyway, so that he could get to Berlin and secretly marry Diana Mitford Guinness in Goebbels’s drawing room (which he managed to do two days later). Support for Mosley in the East End increased after the Battle of Cable Street, as did antisemitic violence. Thugs attacked Jews and their properties, in the so-called Pogrom of Mile End, a week later.

In the end, despite an appalling failure among leaders of the main parties in the 1930s (Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain, Herbert Samuel and the ineffably foolish George Lansbury) to recognise the threat from the dictators, it was democratic politics that defeated Mosley and secured economic recovery, not opposition on the streets. When he was interned in 1940, Mosley was a permanently discredited figure.

Read the full post here

By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.