IN 1936, Oswold Mosley’s British Union of Fascists attempted to march through London’s East End. Clad in their signature black shirts and protected by mounted police, thousands gathered to mark the fourth anniversary of their racist organisation’s founding – only to come face to face with tens of thousands of people who had come to protest against Mosley and his followers.

Trade unionists, British Jews, communists and anarchists turned out to stand with the largely Jewish and working-class community. They were beaten by mounted police, who smashed flag poles and ripped Royal British Legion standards to shreds in the ensuing violence.

Despite this, the protesters, with their greater numbers, were able to build barricades in Cable Street, where police were pelted with the contents of chamber pots by women in the houses lining the road.

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Ultimately, police instructed Mosley to leave, deeming the threat of further unrest to be too great. He retreated and the Battle of Cable Street became a milestone in the fightback against fascism in Britain, commemorated time and again in murals, events and popular culture.

Today, the fight against fascism is too easily condemned by the same hand-wringing liberals who would proudly cite such past victories over authoritarianism as an example of Britain at its best.

As with the Suffragettes, modern retellings of resistance movements often wash off the bloodstains that come with every fight for equality, lauding its principle cast while neatly skipping past the bombing campaigns and self-sacrifice that were the painful cost of progress.

It is a reminder of two things: that liberalism cannot, in its meekness, defeat fascism, and that police forces will always be wielded against movements for change. As they were in Cable Street, they are now used against anti-genocide encampments at universities and those prepared to throw a milkshake at a fascist.

Elitest political commentators will decry the politics of antifascism and the left today as extreme when, for all the broken windows of Barclays Banks and tipped statues of slavers, this seems a mild time indeed when compared to the days not so long ago of the poll tax riots.

Those outraged by a milkshake-covered Nigel Farage (below) would likely sit in smug complacency as fascism continues to rise in the West, content to feeling superior to the “violent mobs” on the actual front lines – condemning them in the present only to praise them 20 years from now.

The far right is making gains across Europe and the climate is perched on the brink of cataclysm – all while our pockets are emptied and prices rise. These are fertile grounds for fascism, which only ever provides tantalisingly simple (and wrong) solutions to our very real problems.

I won’t lie that the prospect of Reform UK overtaking the Conservatives, potentially reducing their numbers to a handful of whatever rats have yet to flee the sinking ship, holds a delicious schadenfreude. But what of the election after this one?

Should Labour win in the numbers expected, and should they continue on the path well tread by their Conservative and far-right compatriots, we will find ourselves in five years facing an altogether more powerful and authoritarian threat.

Without real solutions to real problems, Labour will leave room for fascistic opportunists such as Farage to seed the idea that their failings stem from not going far enough on immigration and so-called culture war issues.

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Where an outright rejection of the far-right is needed, they will instead legitimise the ill-founded claims of the likes of Farage. In their weakness, Labour will find itself the vehicle for something altogether worse.

Look to the US to see this play out in real time. Biden’s ineffectual government has laid the grounds for the potential return of Donald Trump and his far-right foot soldiers.

Once upon a time it seemed a universally acknowledged truth that we don’t platform and debate fascists and Nazis. Yet our state broadcaster has instead done the opposite, relentlessly spotlighting the likes of Farage, so excuse me for having nothing but respect for anyone delivering a cold beverage straight to the gurning maw of authoritarians like the leadership of Reform UK.

Farage has dismissed the discovery of links between his candidates and the fascist New British Union (NBU) as nothing of concern. One in 10 Reform candidates is “friends” on Facebook with NBU leader Gary Raikes. Links with the far-right riddle the Conservative Party too.

Karl Popper’s Paradox Of Tolerance outlines that “in order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance”.

That means no more pitiful defences of those who would strip the rights of immigrants and minorities without a second thought. It means keeping fascists off our streets. And it means that pelting the likes of Farage with whatever comes to hand is not only morally justifiable – it is necessary.