The Anti-Nazi League carnival of 1978

It’s still a day I look back on as mystical and magical. On the 30 April 1978, I went on the Anti-Nazi League march from Trafalgar Square to Victoria Park in the east end of London – and there, your humble scribed aged 15 at the time, saw The Clash and several other legendary bands play. What a time to be alive!

Though I should remove my rose-tinted spectacles at this stage of the blog post. Because it was also a time of racist attacks – especially on Asian people – unbridled bigotry in the tabloid press and the National Front (the main extreme Right party) doing well in local elections.

We had a handful of wannabe Hitlers at our school but they were rather pathetic suburban poseurs. But more worrying, the skinhead scene had been infiltrated by extreme Right groups and there had been some high profile murders.

So, a group of us went on the tube down to Charing Cross to join the demo in Trafalgar Square and a VERY long march to the Mile End district of London. Not sure you’d get anybody to march that kind of distance these days! But all that roller skating and cycling round on Chopper bikes meant we were always up for some exercise – especially in a good cause.

I actually got separated that day from the group and ended up marching on my own. There were so many people that it was useless trying to find my mates again. I have a small confession to make and that is I didn’t pay too much attention to The Clash on stage in Victoria Park and much preferred the Tom Robinson Band. I’ve been kicking myself ever since.

Tony McMahon remembers the Anti-Nazi League carnival in 1978

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