In last week’s local and European elections, the British public rejected fascism at the ballot box. To celebrate this important event, British Future headed to London’s East End today to host a “funeral for fascism.”
A horse-drawn hearse carried a coffin, with flowers reading “RIP Fascism”, down Cable Street – location of the 1936 “Battle of Cable Street”, one of the pivotal moments in Britain’s rejection of fascist ideology.
The procession culminated in a “wake” at Wilton’s Music Hall, where a party celebrated Britain’s rejection of fascism with music and speeches from those who have stood up to attempts to introduce fascism to Britain.
Unmesh Desai, coordinator of East End anti-fascist campaigns since the 1980s, reflected on the violence of the NF and the BNP, and efforts to overcome this. Edie Friedman, Director of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality, read out an “Open letter to Nick Griffin,” and John Biggs, Labour Party politician, spoke of the positive forces in British society.
Britain’s young people in particular have no time for the ideology of the far right. New YouGov research shows that three-quarters (74%) of young people are comfortable with the fact that Britain is more ethnically-diverse than it was 20 years ago. This contrasts with just a third (32%) of the over-60s who think the same, suggesting that support for the likes of the EDL and BNP may soon be a thing of the past.
First-time voters also feel much more positive about the benefits that immigration can bring to Britain, with nearly a third (31%) giving immigration a very positive score of 8-10 when asked to rate its impact on Britain.
“The whole fascist tradition never understood this country,” said Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, at the event.
“This country has a shared pride in World War II and what that was – an anti-fascist war. We have a shared pride in that because of the people who fought in it – people from every community in Britain.”
For Katwala, we’ve moved beyond the slogan ‘send them back’ because “there’s nowhere to send us back to.”
“People who have come here, made their lives here, brought up their children here are equally British.
“If you’re a patriot you love your country. You want to say what’s wrong with it, but also you love it. The BNP hated Britain and that’s why I think modern Britain has no place for them.”
At the same time, each speaker asserted the need for honest conversations about Britain’s problems and challenges. Biggs likened fascism to a vampire in the coffin, while Sunder cautioned against “complacency”, saying that we must continue to address the issues of identity and integration.
To a chorus of cheers, Sunder concluded:
“We will have those debates but we won’t need fascists to contribute to them. So good riddance, rest in peace, but don’t call us.”