Maurice Podro, the last surviving member of the 43 Group, died in June. He was 91. The group fought against the postwar fascism of Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts using many of the tactics still favoured by anti-fascist organisations today. Like many Jews returning from the war, Podro was devastated to find fascism thriving in the UK. Mosley had reappeared with a new party, the Union Movement, which, like the British Union of Fascists in the interwar years, sought to stir up resentment against Jews in working-class neighbourhoods by holding rallies at such places as Ridley Road Market, home to East London’s largest Jewish community. In April 1946, the final report of the government committee on fascism concluded it would be neither ‘desirable’ nor ‘in the best interests of the Jews themselves to introduce any special measures against anti-Semitic propaganda’.
Last Wednesday afternoon, Clément Méric, a 19-year-old university student, was punched by a skinhead wearing brass knuckles on rue Caumartin in Paris. He fell and his head hit a pole. He was declared dead the following afternoon.
On their Twitter stream, the English Defence League announced that they’d be meeting at the Lord of the Moon pub on Whitehall before marching to Downing Street, but the Moon didn’t want them and closed for the day. Instead they gathered at pubs around Trafalgar Square (including Halfway to Heaven: ‘loads of patriots here,’ someone tweeted – did they realise it's a gay bar?). As I passed the Silver Cross on the corner of Whitehall and Craig’s Court, a group of EDL marchers were chanting ‘who are you?’ at a busload of tourists, who were taking photos. Football casuals and hardened racists drank in the sunshine. There were cries of ‘Sieg Heil!’ from the crowd as the police pushed them back onto the pavement.