City & East AM Unmesh Desai feels Battle of Cable Street is relevant today

PUBLISHED: 10:15 19 October 2016 | UPDATED: 10:15 19 October 2016


They shall not pass! was the call that brought out 300,000 east Londoners in 1936 to protest against attempts by Mosley’s Blackshirts to stage a provocative hate-filled march through the East End.

The Battle of Cable Street has passed into East End folklore and on its 80th anniversary was marked by a number of events this month including a march and rally in Cable Street.

I was privileged to be asked to speak at the event alongside 93-year old veteran, Max Levitas, and Jeremy Corbyn (Labour leader). I spoke about the relevance of Cable Street to what is going on around us today and how in Newham we – all of us – had worked to build a cohesive society.

In a fast-changing and uncertain world, and with a recent rise in post-Brexit hate crime, unity has never been more essential. Fascism thrives on hatred and division and it can only be defeated through hope and unity. I later joined Stephen Timms at a solemn ceremony organised by the London Jewish Forum and attended by Mayor Khan. All in all, it was a moving day which brought home the importance of passing those messages on to future generations.

On a different note, one of my priorities has always been to campaign for a better deal for east London. This means more river crossings. It is scandalous that east of Tower Bridge we have no bridges until we reach Dartford. Mayor Khan has announced a DLR crossing at Gallions Reach and a series of enhancements to the Silvertown Tunnel to make it greener and more public transport-focused.

Newham Mayor, Robin Wales, has voiced concerns over the tunnel’s impact in Newham and vowed to push for more to be done to fully alleviate local concerns such as a discount scheme for local businesses and residents on any new tolled crossings. I fully support Newham’s call for a road crossing at Gallions Reach to help tackle congestion in the area.

I will also keep the issue of the DLR extension to Barking Riverside on the agenda. Better transport links are vital for the London moving east agenda! More from Unmesh


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