Posts Tagged ‘Argyll’

David Rosenberg on Tory Support for the British Union of Fascists

October 9, 2018

Last week, David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group put up an article describing the events culminating in the ‘Battle of Cable Street’. This was an attempt by Oswald Mosley and his thugs in the British Union of Fascists to terrorise the local Jewish population by marching through the East End of London. He didn’t get very far.

Rosenberg’s article describes how Mosley and the rest of his thugs were beaten off, despite a police presence to guard them, by an anti-fascist coalition of Jews, including the Jewish People’s Council Against Fascism and Anti-Semitism, Irish Catholics, trade unionists, the Communists and Independent Labour Party, as well as the Labour League of Youth. This was despite advice from the Board of Deputies and Jewish Chronicle that Jews should remain indoors and not attempt to resist the Blackshirts marching through their neighbourhood. The confrontation between Mosley and his thugs, and their defeat by working class, radical Jews and gentiles, has become the stuff of legend. I’ve heard folksongs about it. It’s naturally celebrated as the time working class Brits very definitely showed ‘No Pasaran!’ to Fascism.

The article’s also worth reading for what Rosenberg says about the support for Mosley in the Tory party and the House of Lords. I think it was Rosenberg, who was so shocked by the current president of the Board, Marie van der Zyle, who declared that the Tories were ‘good friends of the Jews’, that he put up a list of notorious episodes of anti-Semitism in the party. Of their support for Mosley and the BUF, he writes

Two major parliamentary debates on antisemitic terror in the East End took place in 1936. MPs detailed the wave of attacks on their Jewish constituents, but the only response Home Secretary John Simon could muster was to call for “all sides” to behave reasonably. Pathetic, though perhaps better than the sniggering of Tory backbenchers in the House in 1934 after violence erupted at a 15,000-strong fascist rally at Olympia in June that year.

The rally audience included 150 MPs looking for political inspiration, while
House of Lords members turned up in black shirts. The violence at Olympia was one way. Eighty anti-fascists needed medical treatment, yet Tory MPs parroted the BUF line that anti-fascists had attacked Mosley’s thugs. William Greene, Conservative MP for Worcester asked in the House: “Is it not a fact that 90 per cent of those accused of attacking Fascists rejoice in fine old British names such as Ziff, Kerstein and Minsky?” Frederick MacQuisten, Conservative MP for Argyll enquired: “Were some of them called Feigenbaum, Goldstein and Rigotsky and other good old Highland names?” A fellow Tory MP, Captain Archibald Ramsey frequently railed against what he called the “Jewish
imperium in Imperio (empire within an empire),” claiming that the correct term for “antisemite” was “Jew-wise”.

There’s also a photo of Captain Archibald Maule Ramsay in dress uniform. He was one of the most venomous and splenetic of British Fascists in this period. I think he was the head of one of the various pro-Nazi, British anti-Semitic organisations.

Rosenberg’s article concludes

As recent political interventions have shown the “advice” offered to the Jewish community from its self-defined “leaders” has not improved in the decades since. The current Board of Deputies president, Marie Van der Zyl displayed either political ignorance or amnesia when she told an Israeli news channel recently that the Conservative Party have “always been friends of the Jewish community”. Meanwhile, anti-fascists must face up to the renewed threat to minorities, not just here, but elsewhere in Europe and America. We still have much to learn from those who united in resistance and built an anti-fascist majority in their communities in 1936.

https://rebellion602.wordpress.com/2018/10/03/he-didnt-get-to-first-base/

He’s absolutely right. On this side of the Pond the past few weeks have seen UKIP’s party conference, which under Gerard Batten has become much more openly racist, and which as speakers Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars, Carl Benjamin, AKA Sargon of Akkad and ‘Count Dankula’, all of whom have extreme right-wing, anti-feminist and Islamophobic views and are fiercely opposed to immigration. The EDL are back on the rise and over the other side of the Atlantic Donald Trump has very strong connections to the Alt-Right and real anti-Semites. In Europe, ultra-nationalist, racist and anti-Semitic parties have taken power in Hungary and Poland. And the Tories, who have now allied themselves with Far Right parties like the Sweden Democrats and True Finns, aided the Hungarian president, Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party last week by voting against an EU motion censuring them.

We do need a revived antifascist movement, both here in Britain and abroad, to combat this. And this means a revived local, working class activism. Margaret Hodge, the Blairite MP for that part of the Metropolis allowed the BNP to take control of Tower Hamlets council because she did precious little to oppose them. As a token of their appreciation, they sent her a bouquet of flowers when seven of them got elected to the council. As the Jewish bloggers have pointed out, it was when activists from the left of the Labour party and other radical groups started traipsing round the borough knocking on doors and alerting local people to what the BNP really represented, that the Nazis were finally voted out.

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Sneck! Mutant Bounty Hunter In Radio 4 High Culture Shock!

April 7, 2015

Strontium Dog

Mutant Bounty Hunter Johnny Alpha, AKA Strontium Dog, from 2000 AD, drawn by Carlos Ezquerra

I’ve published a few pieces recently about comics, and particularly 2000 AD. Last week it was reported that Judge Dredd was going to be taking on Nigel Farage in the form of a hate-mongering politico, Bilious Barrage, in Mega-City 1. Now in today’s Radio Times there’s also news that another favourite from 2000 AD will get a mention on radio: Johnny Alpha, the mutant bounty hunter and hero of the strip Strontium Dog. He’s due to get an appearance on a programme about a new cycle of poems about the element, from which he and the other Search/Destroy Agents took their name The (Half) Life of Strontium.

The blurb in the Radio Times says Strontium is the 38th element in the Periodic Table and was discovered in 1792 by miners in the Scottish village of Strontian. Robert Crawford’s new suite of poems elaborates on the connections between the village in Argyll, the bomb that dropped on Nagasaki and the mutant bounty hunter, Strontium Dog.

The programme’s on at 4.30 pm. on Radio 4 on Sunday, 12th April.

The strip took its name from Strontium 90, one of the radioactive elements in nuclear fall-out. The Strontium Dogs were mutants, who were legally prevented from holding any other jobs on Earth except as bounty hunters because of their mutations. The strip combined detective adventures in a kind of future galactic Wild West, as the strip’s hero, Johnny Alpha, and his norm partner Wulf Sternhammer, roamed space bringing criminals to justice.

Alpha took his name from the alpha particles emitted by his mutant eyes. In the strip these gave him X-ray vision and the power to read minds. In practice they’re very weak. You can block them with a sheet of paper. Not that science fact necessarily gets in the way of a good tale. 2000 AD generally had a strong satirical edge, and wasn’t averse to tackling serious issues. In Strontium Dog the strips’ creators used the mutant hero and his deformed friends and enemies to explore issues of racism, prejudice and the British class system.

Alpha’s father was a ruthless right-wing politicians, Nelson Bunker Kreelman, who was determined to carry out a policy of mass murder to cleanse an irradiated Britain of its mutant population. Alpha’s own mutation was carefully hidden in order to safeguard his father’s reputation. In the event, Alpha rebels against his father, and leads a mutant revolt from one of the ancient symbols of British identity, Stonehenge.

The mutant’s victory is limited, however. Although they are tolerated, their opportunities are very limited. They are segregated into mutant ghettos, and are very much second-class citizens. When Alpha and Wulf travel, they are forced to find accommodation in the hold or in the second class cabins, as mutants very definitely may not travel first class with ordinary humans. And the discovery of mutant relatives, especially offspring, is still a major source of shame for respectable middle class Brits.

In one strip, the king of Britain, Clarkie II, attempts to bridge the divide between norm and mutant by marrying a young mutant lady with a duck’s bill from the Milton Keynes mutant ghetto. This is a step too far for his subjects, and the idealistic king is hounded, forced to abdicate, and flee into space.

It’s a slightly irreverent, but also curiously sympathetic look at Prince Charles’ actions at the time. This was before his marriage with Lady Di fell apart, and the Prince was still popular with many Brits. He also appeared to be genuinely and deeply concerned with the plight of his poorer subjects as Maggie’s recession threw millions out of work. And so the strip’s creators, Aaln Grant and Carlos Ezquerra, were able to present a fantastic version of the Prince of Wales showing his social concerns in the future. In this case, it was marrying well out of his class with a mutant girl from the wrong side of the tracks.

And what Crawford’s poem also shows us, is that apart from great literature, the major figures of British arts also started off like the rest of us: reading and enjoying the four-colour funny papers. They’ve now grown up, and Dredd, Alpha and the rest are heading upmarket alongside . At least on the radio.

Reagan Dog

Never afraid to treat authority with the amusement it deserves: Strontium Dog and his partner, Durham Red, rescue a Ronald Reagan kidnapped by time-travelling aliens.