Letters to the Editor - December 2011
A selection of readers' correspondence with the editor, Paul Lay.
Share your thoughts with the readers of History Today.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or post to
25 Bedford Avenue
Daniel Tilles’ argument (‘The Myth of Cable Street’, October 2011) might have had credibility at the time of the event but, with 75 years of hindsight, it is not supported by the facts he presents. Antisemitism had been rife in Britain from the time of the first Jewish immigration waves at the end of the 19th century, giving rise to the Alien’s Act of 1905 and continuing after the defeat of Germany and Italy in the Second World War and the revelations of the Holocaust.
Tilles quotes a figure of 100,000 protesters barring the passage of the Blackshirts. The majority of these would not have been Jewish. The threat of Fascism had already been recognised by the British working class and opposition to the movement already expressed – Tilles himself quotes the 1934 Olympia event. This threat was realised by the events of 1936 when British volunteers went to Spain to support the Republic, while the West’s establishment pursued a policy of malevolent neutrality as Germany and Italy were allowed to rehearse the Second World War.