From fascists in Chelsea to Heathrow activists

On the campaign trail this last week I saw the dark ugly face of British facism alive and well; going to the main rally of the ‘Stop the Heathrow expansion’ and working with Trade Unions for the ‘London Living Wage’ campaign.

On Sunday afternoon during the League Cup final between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspurs, l saw firsthand British fascism in a long while. Not since my schooldays had l seen Chelsea fans chanting anti-semitic comments at Spurs with real intent and venom. It shocked me to the bone.

The ignorance of the Chelsea fascists could not be more pronounced. The irony being that their team is now managed by an Israeli and owned by a Russia Jewish billionaire. So while it has become a slur to be labelled as a Muslim in the US – see the leaking of a photograph of Senator Barak Obama in traditional Muslim dress – and Islamophobic headlines are a daily occurrence in the UK, we should not lose sight of the fact that anti-semitism is alive and well on our doorsteps in London at the beginning of the 21st century.

The rally on Monday night at Westminster Central Hall highlighted well the deep concerns that many west and south-west Londoners have over the proposed expansion of Heathrow. At times it felt like a rally for the Lib Dems and Tories but thankfully Labour MP John McDonnell stole the show with a brilliant speech. That’s not surprising. The issue is dear to his heart as the expansion of Heathrow would destroy his constituency of Hayes & Harlington.

One of the best things the present government has done was to introduce the minimum wage. But the figure of £3.60 was never enough for London’s workers when it was brought in, and the £5.35 currently paid is not enough now.

Because of the additional housing and living costs in the capital, the London Living Wage campaign has argued for a rate of £7.20 per hour. This would particularly benefit low paid employees such as cleaners. l was delighted to be joined by the trade unions on Saturday lunchtime as we discussed their consultation with central London cleaners from all over the globe.

The meeting took place during the lunch break at a Unite Against Fascism conference – a brilliant event. l was grateful to end the week contributing to two positive campaigns after my depressing brush with the far-right.