Rise Against Racism
“We can no longer ignore the rise of far-right politics in our society”
Haringey Labour’s Rise Against Racism launched in spirited style on Saturday 3rd November. Over 200 enthusiastic supporters came along to the Karamel Club to enjoy an day of music, politics, comedy, poetry, and local history.
Rise Against Racism was born when three members of Haringey Labour Party determined to do something about the rise of the far right in the UK that would make a difference locally. As a new generation confronts rising levels of racism and fascism, Rise Against Racism aims to activate members of the Labour Party and our local communities and provide a local rallying point for opposition.
The event was kicked off by Steve Hart, Labour Party member and Vice Chair of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR). He described how racism and fascism are on the march in Europe. He also warned against complacency here in Haringey at a time when the far-right Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) is confident enough to hold a meeting on our patch in the Beehive pub in Tottenham.
MP Catherine West attended to lend her support and read a poem on the theme of Welcome. The poem was written by a local Year 6 pupil as part of Haringey Welcome’s poetry competition, their contribution to Refugee Week 2018.
The Battle of Wood Green
Prominent figures from the anti-racist movement presented personal reflections on the movement’s history as part of a discussion about the Battle of Wood Green. These included Syd Shelton, photographer and founder member of Rock Against Racism, whose work captured the spirit of the time; David Rosenberg, author of the Battle for the East End, Jewish responses to fascism in the 1930s; Narendra Makanji, long time Haringey councillor and fighter against racism; and Jan Nielsen, anti-racist, active socialist, and a student at the time of the Battle of Wood Green. The panel also included Lucy Toothpaste who wrote the first overtly political punk fanzine, Jolt, and worked on Rock Against Racism’s magazine, Temporary Hoarding.
Before the debate began we remembered the victims of the horrific antisemitic attack in Pittsburgh with a statement read by Julia Bard of the Jewish Socialists’ Group.
Racism and Islamaphobia
A second panel, on Racism and Islamaphobia included Asad Rehmen, Director of War on Want; Barbara Ntumy an anti-war, anti-racism and anti-austerity campaigner; and campaigner against racism and Islamophobia Maz Saleem, daughter of 82-year-old Mohammed Saleem, murdered in Birmingham by a far-right Nazi terrorist. The panel also included Noel Park councillor and solicitor Khaled Moyeed, who has helped victims of Islamophobia through the Islamophobia Response Unit, and is an adviser to the Muslim Council of Great Britain.
After the panel, Lowkey gave us a memorable performance including the heart-rending Ghosts of Grenfell, ending with the names of all who died in the tragedy.
An afternoon of music
The afternoon and evening was filled with music from great bands and individual performers, including: gypsy musicians, The Romany Diamonds; singer-songwriter Maya Kelly; the popular alternative folk and rockabilly musicians Steve Puddle and his Bivouac Band; all-female folk group Dana Immanuel and the Stolen Band; and rounding off the evening, Busking Brixton Bluesman, Errol Linton and his band.
Popular spoken word artists Potent Whisper and Oracy Chambers performed while humour was provided by our own Wanda Barbara (aka Tottenham member Barbara Lisicki) and bitingly original poet, Janine Booth.
The evening closed with a DJ set from Lloyd Coombs.
Following the launch, we’re be building support for anti-racist and anti-fascist events locally, particularly within Hornsey & Wood Green and Tottenham CLPs. There are over 8,000 members of the Labour Party in Haringey and our aim is to rally them to take action. We will support the campaigns of local organisations like Haringey Stand Up To Racism, Haringey Welcome Refugees, and others, to build a broad united front to challenge the far right.
You can support Rise Against Racism by joining us at the #NoRacismNoFacism march in Central London on Sunday 9th December, 12pm.
See more here: https://www.facebook.com/events/323977288186837/
At the launch, David Rosenberg paid tribute to Max Levitas, a veteran of the Battle of Cable Street who recently died aged 103 — “a hero of the anti fascist, anti-racist movement and the movement for justice and equality”. One of the last conversations Max had, he told us, was about #N17 the National Unity March. As David said:
‘you owe it to Max, not just to attend yourself, but to get loads of others there too’.