Rock Against Racism: a timeline
Rock Against Racism (RAR) lasted from autumn 1976 to winter 1981. Key figures included Red Saunders, Roger Huddle, David Widgery, Clarence Baker, Andy Dark, Ruth Gregory, Syd Shelton and many other besides. The best histories of Rock Against Racism are David Widgery's book Beating Time (now sadly out of print) and Alan Miles' film Who Shot the Sheriff?
The following helps to explain where Rock Against Racism came from:
National Front formed. Leaders included John Tyndall, Andrew Fountaine and
A. K. Chesterton.
Arrival of Kenyan Asian refugees. April: Enoch Powell's 'River of Blood'
speech. Dockers march in support of his anti-immigrant message.
Election: Conservative government formed. Ten National Front candidates
obtain a total of 11,449 votes, at an average of 1,145 where they stand.
Arrival of Ugandan Asians. Unofficial strikes by dockers and printers
bring an end to Edward Heath's Industrial Relations Act. December: NF
candidate wins 2,920 votes at a bye-election in Uxbridge.
Allende's government overthrown in Chile. Twenty-four building workers
tried from North Wales at Shrewsbury for offences under the Industrial
Relations Act. May: NF candidate wins 4,789 votes at a bye-election in
February: General election, results in hung parliament. Fifty-four National
Front candidates obtain a total of 76,865 votes, at an average of 1,423
where they stand. April: Portuguese revolution. October: General election,
Labour government formed. Meanwhile, ninety National Front candidates
obtain a total of 113,844 votes, at an average of 1,265.
forces withdraw from Vietnam.
Soweto uprising. Arrival of Malawi Asians. They experience hostile
coverage from the Sun and Daily Mirror.
National Front receives widespread press coverage. Council elections:
eight National Party candidates in Blackburn elections receive on average
40 per cent of the vote. National Party and National Front meet growing
anti-racist resistance. Many local umbrella committees formed and
counter-protests in London, Bradford and elsewhere. Eighteen people
arrested at Notting Hill Carnival. August: beginning of Grunwicks strike.
Eric Clapton speech. Roger Huddle, Red Saunders and others form Rock
January Unemployment stands at 1.2 million
January Disputes within the National Front. John Kingsley Read
attempts (and fails) to expel John Tyndall
James White bill attempts to remove abortion rights
to Work demonstration
Harold Wilson resigns as prime minister, replaced by James
Strikes on Liverpool docks, among engineers in Kirkby and
Fiftieth anniversary of General Strike
Press scares against Malawi Asians
Local elections. National Party wins two seats in Blackburn,
Front secures nearly 15,000 votes in Leicester.
Gurdip Singh Chaggar murdered in Southall
Sixty London dockers sign an open letter welcoming Malawi
National Front candidate wins 3,255 votes at a bye-election
Start of Grunwick strike
Sounds, NME and Melody Maker publish the
letter that leads
the formation of Rock Against Racism
Strikes at Trico succeed in winning equal pay
Eighty thousand march in London against public sector cuts
Twenty-five thousand march against racism.
Sex Pistols' 'obscene' interview with Bill Grundy
Following success in spring local elections, the National Front announces
plans to stand in more than 300 seats in next general election. Further
violent clashes, culminating in anti-fascist success at Lewisham in
August. Anti-Nazi League formed in November, with Paul Holborow, Peter
Hain and Ernie Roberts as three leading members. Local groups set up in
most cities in Britain
Twenty-five thousand strike in Sheffield against job losses
Unemployment reaches two million
National Front candidate wins 2,955 votes at a bye-election at
Tory Gravesend council bans Sikh festival
Three thousand confront National Front in Haringey
Local and GLC Elections. National Front receive 5.7 per cent
the vote where they stand, pushing Liberals into fourth
in nearly one quarter of constituencies.
Police anti-mugging arrests in Lewisham
Queen's Silver Jubilee
Fighting between police and pickets at Grunwicks
Tom Jackson of the post workers' union calls an end to
action in support of strikers at Grunwicks. Mass
NF members attack 'Lewisham 21' protest, many injured
Unemployment reaches 1.6 million
White-collar APEX union calls off Grunwicks pickets, threatening to
stop the workers' strike pay
Battle of Lewisham
Anti-Nazi League formed
East bye-election: National Front candidate fifth with 725 votes
Thatcher's television interview: 'People are rather afraid that their
country might be rather swamped by people with a different culture.' First
Anti-Nazi League Carnival, afterwards Communist Party of Great Britain
agrees to back the Anti-Nazi League.
National Front candidate wins 2,126 votes at Ilford North
April First Rock Against Racism Carnival
Anti-Nazi League conference
Manchester ANL Carnival, also events in Cardiff and London
Demonstrations to remove NF from Brick Lane
Second London Carnival
revolution, Shah toppled. Idi Amin driven out of Uganda. Strikes by
bakers, journalists, social workers and lorry drivers. April:
General election, Tory government elected. During campaign, Blair Peach
killed at Southall. 303 National Front candidates obtain a total of
191,719 votes, at an average of 633 in each seat. Not one of the NF
candidates manages to save their deposit. Following this setback, National
Front splits into rival factions, and is now clearly in decline.
Rise of British Movement, as a violent home for ultra-nazi former members
of the National Front. Large number of racist attacks. Anti-Nazi League
re-launched on a new basis, specifically to confront BM. St. Paul's riots
Combined far-right vote in 1981 Greater London Council elections is just
2.1 percent. But continuing racist attacks, notably against New Cross
thirteen. Anti-Nazi League members participate in Campaign Against Racist
Laws. Youth and international conferences, anti-fascist marches in Oxford,
Leeds, Coventry and elsewhere. Toxteth riots, July. Anti-Nazi League
slowly wound down from autumn 1981 onwards.
Growth of fascist parties in France, Germany and Austria. Anti-Nazi League
re-launched and confronts the British National Party in East London.
National Party candidates elected to councils in Burnley in Oldham. Other
BNP councillors follow in subsequent by-elections.
anti-racist coalition launched, Unite Against
Rock Against Racism: the Return
Steel Pulse, Carnival