The Communists on May 1 assembled on the Embankment at 2.30, and by 3.30 were filing past where I stood in the Aldwych. Sincere lovers of spectacle would certainly have welcomed better weather. It was a day to ruin the most carefully prepared pageantry. Few of the tableaux stood up to the storm.
A papier mache globe, with the Fascist states marked a sinister yellow, was sadly squashed in on the Pacific side, and even the loaves and fishes" more Arms n ean Less of these "failed to look appetising.
The marchers marched cheerfully, alternating " The Red Flag " with " All for a shilling-a-day," but they straggled. Considerable contingents of students in cap-and-gown took part, and there was a phalanx of medicate dressed for the theatre.
The Coloured Variety Artistes' Union, in bedraggled turbans and a group of clerics, one with an enormous pectoral, were depressing. It was quite a thrill to see the massed banners and proud bearing of the International Brigade, an officer with a militiaman's hat and tassel remained true to the Spanish Army tradition and marched in the midst of his men.
However, the elements were pitiless and long before the marchers reached Hyde Park the best of them were a little downhearted, except for an utterly impassive group of Chinese. The marchers dispersed upon arrival at Hyde Park after the briefest of harangues. The plan to sing the Internationale at midnight in Whitehall did not materialise.
SUNDAY, MAY 7
The Fascists who assembled on the Victoria Embankment at 4 on Sunday had what they already call " Mosley weather." Their column was not nearly so long as the Communist one, but was marshalled in close array, and being without foreigners must have numbered at least as many voters as the other. I should not like to hazard figures but it was certainly the biggest Fascist march I have yet seen and I have seen all the most notorious ones— Victoria Park, Trafalgar Square, Bermondsey, etc,
The marchers went in three main bodies, men in front and bringing up the rear and the women's contingent in the middle. Mosley himself marched behind the first banner.
Credit must be given to the Fascists for an excellent turn-out and a skilful use of what trappings are left them by the Public Order Act to obtain the best effect, and it was remarkable to see the number of older men with medals and boys with Territorial Army badges. Many hands were raised in salute in the crowd at the departure point, but I was anxious to see the reception of the procession in a working-class district, so I took train to Angel and walked to the Penton Road,
" Mosley is Coming "
The route of the march from Penton to Ridley Road lay through some of the poorest quarters of this part of London, and it cannot be claimed that the marchers evoked much enthusiasm en route. On the other hand there was very little expressed opposition, no trace of that indignation which was so noticeable in Bermondsey in 1937. Comment on the streets was goodhumoured, and only here and there was a voice raised in protest or more often a hand in salute.
The walls were liberally daubed with " Mosley speaks " and similar advertisement and only in one place had these inscriptions been disfigured. " Mosley is coming " had been changed to "Hargreaves is coming " and the Social Credit double-K painted over the Flash-and-Circle.
At a junction of three roads we were jammed tightly around the speaker's van, and the crowd extended back on all sides as far as eye could see. A friendly police officer, who was sanely sceptical of the whole thing, estimated the crowd at 20,000, but even with the loud-speakers it is doubtful if many could hear.
Mosley's speech was a popular tirade against the Labour Party and International Finance, which drew roars of approval. His voice became hoarse at times like Hitler's, and he drank from a glass of water at frequent intervals. At times he was cuttingly to the point. " When Hitler makes a peace-speech they say he is frightened of us, so let's keep on arming. When he threatens they say he means war, so let's not slacken our re-armament programme."
From Our Own Correspondent
In Birmingham Catholics were not shy at putting Catholic social ideas before the May Day crowds.
Seven young men were on the streets at the start of the Labour procession. They distributed nearly a thousand copies of the Catholic Worker before the Daily Worker arrived,
Up and down the closely-packed crowds they pushed their way, handing out papers to every man who would accept one; the bitterness of some few who refused anything connected with Catholicism was positively startling. but generally people took and read while they waited for the start of the procession.
Also on the street even younger men (some mere boys) were selling the May issue of the magazine of the Young Christian Workers. At all the strategic corners on the procession there was a member of the Y.C.W. with his bundle of magazines,