By 1976, the National Front had become the fourth largest party in Britain. In a context of national decline, racism, and fears that the country was collapsing into social unrest, the Front won 19 percent of the vote in elections in Leicester and 100,000 votes in London.
At Lewisham in August 1977, fighting between the far right and its opponents saw two hundred people arrested and fifty policemen injured. The press urged the state to ban two rival sets of dangerous extremists. But as the papers took sides, so did many others who determined to oppose the Front.
An anti-fascist campaign was born, which combined mass action to deprive the Front of public platforms with a mass cultural movement. Rock Against Racism used punk and reggae music as a weapon against the right. Hundreds of thousands of people painted out racist graffiti, distributed leaflets, persuaded those around them to vote against the right. It was one of the biggest mass movements that Britain has ever seen.
This book tells the story of the National Front and the campaign which stopped it.
“I was gripped and loved the way it took me through different elements of popular culture, personal reflection, policy. It is the best account of the relationship between punk and the Anti-Nazi League / Rock Against Racism.” Lucy Robinson, Professor in Collaborative History, University of Sussex.
“A must-read for anyone who wants to understand the post-war history of racist and fascist movements and the strategies of resistance to them.” Hsiao-Hung Pai, author of Angry White People.
“Dave Renton’s book helps us understand a pivotal moment in the defeat of fascism; it addresses the militant tradition of anti-fascism with real consideration.” Louise Purbrick, contributor to Physical Resistance: A Hundred Years of Anti-Fascism.
About the Author
David Renton is a British barrister, historian and author. His previous books include Fascism: Theory and Practice (1999), Fascism, Anti- Fascism and Britain in the 1940s (2000), This Rough Game: Fascism and Anti-Fascism (2001), British Fascism, the Labour Movement and the State (2004) (With Nigel Copsey), When We Touched the Sky: The Anti- Nazi League 1977- 1981 (2006).