Sunday, October 18, 2009

Arthur Groves - Cable Street

Fifty years after the
Battle of Cable Street
Arthur's still putting two Left feet down against extreme Right

By Tim Mansel Uxbridge Informer 23rd October 1986

When the word went round two weeks ago that British National Party activists were on their way to Uxbridge, a group of protesters gathered to greet them.

As they waited patiently outside U
xbridge - tube station, one of their number could have been forgiven for allowing his mind to take him back to the days of Sir Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts and in particular one Sunday in October 1936.

For East Ender Arthur Groves, now a Hillingdon Labour councillor, was among the masses who prevented Mosley and his men marching through the East End's Jewish quarter in the so-called Battle of Cable Street.

The failure of that march is widely believed to mark the beginning of the decline of the Blackshirt movement.

Arthur, 74, lived at 438 Cable Street with his wife Ethel and remembers the occasion well.

"On that Sunday morning all the Blackshirts were massed up by the Tower of London," he recalled. "They were going to march through where all the Jewish people lived and meet up with another mass and assemble for a meeting in Victoria Park.
"They thought they were going to take over at that stage and they started on the Jews, because they were the weakest people.

"But as soon as the word went round, masses of people started moving into the Aldgate area and around the Tower of London, and soon there were so many that they were pushing the trams back, which were hefty, great things in those days.


"Eventually the chief of police came through and told Mosley ' no march', and that was it, they never started."

Arthur also has chilling memories of the rise of the Blackshirt movement in the East End at the beginning of the 30s.

The movement would recruit boys as young as 11and 12, who would often be out on the streets at night more senior members, aged 19 or 20.

"They weren't concerned
with just Jews," said Arthur. "Anyone who was walking around would get attacked.

The Jews were justn excuse." He remembers one particular night when he was coming back from his brother's house at Bow.

"We used to go up there for a game of cards every now and then, and one night as we walked out to get a tram, there was this sudden shout of "Jew boys."
"We could see these yobbos, nine or 10-year-olds,and with them were these two massive blokes.

"I can still picture one of the
m. He had his hands in the pockets of his sports jacket and when he pulled them out he was wearing knuckle dusters.

"But then one of them said 'It's okay, they're not Jews' and we got away."
Now 50 years on, Arthur is still campaigning against the influences of the extreme right and he spent four or five hours two weeks ago preparing to protest against a threat which that day hardly materialised.

"It's a bit different nowadays," he said, "and Saturday was certainly quieter."

Councillor Arthur Groves Hillingdon Labour Councillor 1986-1990
died July 1994


Anti Fascism - Uxbridge 1986

A BNP day of action planned for Uxbridge on 11th October 1986 was announced in the local newspapers, but with just three days notice anti fascists mobilised over 250 to meet the challenge, under the traditional ant-fascist slogan of "No pasaran - They Shall not Pass". The Anti Fascist group included a large number of Labour Party Councillors, Labour Party members, trade unionists, Brunel Students, Christians and West London Anti Fascist Action (AFA).

(photo above Mosley floored in Manchester)

With anti-fascists stationed at the Uxbridge underground ticket booths, few fascists chose to leave the platform. Millson himself stated they were met by "an enormous number of red trouble makers"

On the day Millson was soon caught and only because AFA members were not 100% sure if in infact it was Millson was he saved from, as one AFA member described it "a real good reeducation" that option was however advised against by local Quakers present, instead he was told in no uncertain terms to get out of town, which he did via the nearest routemaster bus, but without a bag of fascist literature

Not for the first time there were those, especially amongst the Conservative party (with a few exception, Cllr Kester for one) who condemned the anti fascist mobilisation.

However, the local papers and people knew that by supplying an overwhelming force in "taking the streets" Hillingdon had once again defeated fascism.

The local paper headline proclaimed " BNP action flopped because of large turnout of anti fascist"
If anyone had any doubts about Millsons fascist credentials, they only needed to read his later quotes in The Guardian stating "I would describe myself as a fascist. My main aim at university has been to drum up as much support as possible for racialism ." (Guardian, July 5, 1986 and repeated again on February 5, 1997). Unsurprisingly he subsequently rejoined the Conservative Party.