Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Battle of Cable Street

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street. I remember my mum telling me her story of that amazing day ... How her family forbade her to go, but she (ever the rebel) sneaked out anyway. Her eyes shone with pride as she told me how she watched from the street corner as the dockers swarmed like the cavalry to join the Jews, united in their determination to stop Mosley's fascists marching through the East End.

They shall not pass, was the slogan. And they succeeded! It was the unprecedented solidarity between disparate communities that made victory possible. So often we allow our perceived differences to divide us, blinding us to our common cause.

On that day, 70 years ago, everyone saw the truth in the statement, 'Together we are powerful!'


Anonymous said...


That's an interesting story and one that proves the point that our history may not be too far away from any of us, should we choose to find out about it. Connecting with our past is good for our understanding of the lives our family members have led to enable to us to get where we are today. Your mother's courage being a case in point.

I recently saw a programme from the BBC's "Who Do You Think You Are?" series - the one with David Tennant. A Scot, he discovered his family had great connections back to Northern Ireland and the history of NI was investigated and told, in trying to explain the actions of his forebears. It made for excellent viewing (and I'd not seen the programme before).

My own shock once came from watching a documentary about the history of the deaf. My father is deaf, through a hereditary condition that can now operated upon successfully. The documentary informed me that had he been born just five years earlier, he'd have been placed in a home, with no chance of a normal life.

We're often grumpy about today's cultural conditions, but sometimes we need a reminder of how lucky we are. And we need to learn from the past, to try and ensure it doesn't repeat itself. Sadly the human race doesn't too well on that one. But any and every reminder plays a part in correcting that.

Anonymous said...

I'd not heard of this before. Fascinating. Thanks Debi.

The Wandering Author said...

I'd never heard of this before. It is both encouraging to see that they were stopped, and horrifying, to read about their "success" a short while later. It is a sobering reminder that if we don't all keep opposing such ideas, they may well gain followers.

Debi said...

Thanks for these thoughtful and thought-provoking comments.

Cfr - Your comment made me think that we're all 'making history' all the time. For example, I have a vision of my children talking to their children and saying that when they were young there was ICE at the south pole!

As for the lessons of Cable Street, absolutely! The dangers arising from intolerance are always there and we must always be vigilant in spotting and opposing them.

Marie said...

That's a wonderful story, Debi. I saw something about this on the news the other day.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this mega thoughtful comment Debi. I find it so scarey that it only takes one manic person with a grudge to start actions against another group. But it goes to prove that common decency and sense will always prevail.

Crimfic is right about the point made about her father. During the twenties and thirties people were put into asylums for having epilepsy, dsylexia and for having a baby out wedlock. I find it very heartbreaking and scary that this is very recent history.

A lot of people disregard history, but it needs to be made sense of and learn from it and go forward.