Black Man

Album: Breaking Glass (1980)

Songfacts®:

  • Paradoxically, this Hazel O'Connor composition from the film Breaking Glass was inspired by a white man who was killed by a police officer on a demonstration. The free spirited O'Connor obviously empathized with him, but she may have had second thoughts if she'd known the full facts about his death.

    On Sunday, April 22 1979, the far right National Front held a pre-election meeting at Southall Town Hall in West London; the following day was St. George's Day, which is of great significance for British nationalists. Since its inception the National Front had been smeared as a Nazi party. While it was true that a number of Nazis and former Nazis could be found within its ranks including higher up, the NF was founded by a British patriot, AK Chesterton (1896-1973). The cousin of the author GK Chesterton, he had fought for Britain in both world wars, and founded the League Of Empire Loyalists.

    All through the '70s the Anti-Nazi League followed a policy of confrontation with the NF, disrupting their meetings, marches and rallies with violence, and using intimidation and blackmail against any organization that had the temerity to hire it a venue. The Anti-Nazi League (sometimes known by the humorous acronym ANAL) was a front for the Socialist Workers Party, an organization which in spite of its heavy Jewish membership was no friend of Israel and had often caused concern with the Jewish establishment by mixing anti-Zionist rhetoric with its professed anti-Nazism.

    Blair Peach, a New Zealand born teacher and an active member of the Socialist Workers Party, was one of the demonstrators who attempted to disrupt the town hall meeting. While the "Nazi" meeting was peaceful, the counter-demonstration was anything but. This time however the police gave as good as they got, and then some. Peach was struck on the head - allegedly with a lead-filled cosh - by a member of the Special Patrol Group, a task force that was set up in 1961 to deal with serious crime but had increasingly been used on violent demonstrations. He never regained consciousness, and died the following day. The following year an inquest returned a verdict of death by misadventure.

    In 1980, the leader of the National Front, John Tyndall, broke away to form the New National Front which later became the British National Party, and 10 years on the NF was a shadow of its former self. Ironically, Prime Minister Gordon Brown adopted the phrase "British Jobs For British Workers" totally oblivious to the fact that this was a National Front slogan in the 1970s! >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England

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