Blair Peach RIP

Blair Peach is in the news this week … it was confirmed that the police almost certainly killed him in April 1979 while he was demonstrating against the National Front. I remember him from posters around London when I first lived there, soon after his death, and from Linton Kwesi Johnson’s tribute (below). This piece was written by his nephew.

I looked at MyT yesterday and saw a post on Peach by a BNP member. A usually rational blogger commented that ‘As he was a teacher, at least there are plenty of under 40’s about who did not get brainwashed by his particular hang-ups when at school.’ I found this highly repellent … Peach worked for ten years with special needs children, and anyway, why was fighting Nazism in 1979 so different from fighting it in 1939?

I went to see Linton Kwesi Johnson in Dublin a couple of times in the early 1980s. This music brings happy memories of nights in the Television Club in Dublin and the George Robey in Finsbury Park.

Author: Brendano

I am a 54-year-old freelance editor living in rural Ireland with my wife, Pauline; our 21-year-old daughter, Susanna (when she’s not away at university); and two terriers. Our son, Sean, died suddenly on 17 October 2010, aged 19.

66 thoughts on “Blair Peach RIP”

  1. .. but I suppose that since the National Front morphed into the BNP, then the author of said comment was taking a political stance, rather than delving too deeply into the facts of the case.

  2. It’s hard for me to believe the BNP even exists. I almost fell off my chair at first mention of it some weeks back.

  3. Thanks for the comments. Araminta, the person who made the comment was an elderly and old-school Tory, I would say, and normally well balanced, which is why I was surprised … I’d have expected it from a BNP member.

    cpb … nothing as far as you’re concerned, obviously.

  4. Brendan,

    In my country “nationalism” is on the rise too. I guess it’s like an instinct when people feel their culture or country is under threat. We have talked about it before when we were talking about the flags.
    In my opinion Europe in general is losing the gain. Lesser scientific production and knowledge, ageing population, and less control over the colonials. And there is the “clash of cultures” propaganda and Islam.
    I fear fasism will welcome more and more supporters in Europe.

  5. Having had a friend who was forever demonstrating ‘for’ or ‘against’ something or another, I rather lost patience with the whole demonstrating scene – and I don’t feel much different 40 years later.

    I, also, have no time for any group that decides to ‘demonstrate’ against another group who are exercising their right to free speech. If that group is stirring up violence or hatred then the law should deal with those people and not another mob – that way always leads to violence with the police in the middle trying to stop two groups from tearing each other apart… a plague on all of them.

    Do not get me wrong, the police have no business in killing anyone – but if one goes out to commit violence (and certainly my friend expected and enjoyed the fray) then one cannot expect to be treated like a group of children on a day out in the park.

    What I find appalling about this case is the fact that it has taken so long for the police to acknowledge culpability. Being the enforcers of the law gives them no right to be above the law, and clearly, in this case, they decided that they were above the law and they failed to enforce the law against one of their own.

  6. Good morning, Levent. You paint a gloomy picture … you may be right. Certainly the far right is making gains in countries such as Hungary, which is worrying.

    In the UK the BNP has done a good job of marketing itself as less ‘extreme’, and this, combined with the stupidity of the government, means that more people will vote for it, unfortunately.

    Back in 1979, when Peach died, there was no Islamic scare and no ‘flood’ of immigration, amd people had little reason to worry about their culture. The National Front were racist thugs, pure and simple.

  7. no need to snap. i was merely suggesting that working with special needs children isn’t necessarily a guarantee of character. Harold Shipman devoted his life to medicine, that didn’t make him a good man. The sentence merely seemed out of context with the rest of your blog, that was all.

  8. Boadicea, I knew a lot of people like that too. In fact I did plenty of demonstrating myself in the 1980s … there was much worth demonstrating against, in Ireland at least.

    Yes, the law should deal with people stirring up violence or hatred. I think you may be incorrect in stating that counterdemonstration ‘always leads to violence with the police in the middle trying to stop two groups from tearing each other apart’. In 1936 the police sided with the Blackshirts in Cable Street. For the National Front to march in Southall (deliberately chosen as an Asian area, obviously) in 1979 was not very different, I would say, from the Blackshirts marching through the Jewish East End.

    I can’t agree with wishing a ‘plague’ on Nazis and anti-Nazis alike.

  9. It was not CONFIRMED Brendano,

    It was deemed likely that Mr Peach was struck by an officer on riot control and that he later died as a result of his injury. A world of difference.

    Surprise surprise 14 of his loony left activist mates were happy to say it was the pigs what murdered him.

    Peach and his ‘campaigners’ went looking for a fight, they found one. It is sad but was also completely unavoidable.

    To quote the report.

    “To appreciate the atmosphere the crowd was in excess of 3,000. 345 arrests were made, 97
    police officers injured, 39 prisoners injured, 42 cases of damage to property and 25 (1 fatal) members of the public injured.”

    and the left wing activists at Peaches funeral?

    “The funeral of the deceased was akin to a potential demonstration with Left-wing political elements most prominent. Associates of the deceased see it as a ‘cause celebre’ and will endeavour to obtain maximum benefit for their purposes and whatever happened would never be satisfied.”

    Have you ever been on riot control Brendano? I have trained for it several times as a protester and as riot control. It is highly realistic and when they kick off it is a very scary situation.

    I am not saying he deserved to die, but I refuse to accept it was murder either. This mob went looking for bother, they found it.

  10. Whether you agree or not Brendano, it is my opinion that pro- and anti- demonstrations alienate those in the middle – people like me.

  11. I didn’t snap, cpb … that was just your interpretation. It’s not a matter of character … the idea that someone is better off dead because they might have infected the minds of special-needs kids with leftie ideas just seems particularly abhorrent to me. I very much doubt that politics intruded in Peach’s work.

  12. Thanks Ferret…

    I hadn’t realised that it wasn’t confirmed – that’ll teach me not to check!. Your last sentence says what I was trying to say – you just said it better.

  13. Ferret, I didn’t say it was murder and I didn’t comment on the actions of the police. You seem to be arguing with what you wish I had said. Of course the Socialist Workers Party made as much as they could of his death … I have no time for the SWP, but they and others were right to oppose the National Front.

    Those who fought the Nazis in the Second World War also went looking for trouble and found it. If you don’t find it there is a danger that it may eventually find you.

    Boadicea, my point is that there is no comparison between people like Peach and the Nazi thugs, and no virtue in being neutral between the two, in my opinion.

  14. Boa,

    Typical Brendano, start with a leap of speculation then pile on the hyperbole and bias from there.

    The NF were racist thugs its true, but this lot were anti-NF thugs pure and simple. You said it far better than I ever could Boa, mob rule is no way to settle anything.

  15. ok, i get your point now, i misunderstood what you were saying. but i still don’t see why it matters that it was special needs children he was teaching. but i accept we are circling around a relatively minor issue

  16. FFS Brendano,

    “Ferret, I didn’t say it was murder and I didn’t comment on the actions of the police.”

    Then WTF exactly does;

    “it was confirmed that the police killed him in April 1979 while he was demonstrating against the National Front.”

    mean?

    Whether you think you meant it or not, I am telling you what it says.

    Peach was no angel, he was an active member of a group every bit as extreme as the NF.

  17. Yes, Boadicea .. you ought to check everything I say in future, just in case. What Ferret says can be taken at face value, of course.

    As I said, by concentrating on the actual mechanics of his death Ferret is missing the point, and now you are too. That is not what my post is about. I had thought that ‘confirmed’ was a mere fact. Read the Wikipedia section on ‘The Cass Report and inquest’ if you are interested.

    According to Wikipedia ‘The conclusion was that Blair Peach was killed by a police officer, but that the other police officers in the same unit had refused to cooperate with the inquiry by lying to investigators, making it impossible to identify the actual killer.’

    The Metropolitan Police Service reached an out-of-court settlement in 1989 with Peach’s brother

  18. I am not neutral between the extreme left and extreme right – I am opposed to both.

    They are both as bad as each other – neither are prepared to listen to anything but their own opinions and both use violence to silence debate.

  19. Again, Ferret, I didn’t say it was murder and I didn’t comment on the actions of the police. I cited an action of the police without comment. I use language carefully, and I can’t deal with those who don’t.

    I am not responsible for the fact that you prefer self-indulgent emoting to facts and logic, or that you don’t appear to understand the English language. It’s just the way you are. You see what you read into what people say, not what they actually say. You are not alone in this, unfortunately.

  20. Why was the establishment police above the law? Simple the British inability to effectictively demonstrate when their rulers are failing to provide them with the democracy and liberty that a modern country should offer. Demonstrations are an essential part of a modern democracy and are necessary to curb the power of an overweeninbg state.

  21. Boadicea, the NF in 1979 was concerned with using violence and intimidation against non-white people. This is what those who opposed the NF were opposing. There was no group of people in society that they threatened, apart from the self-appointed fascists. The ‘they are both as bad as each other’ argument therefore is simplistic and doesn’t wash, in my opinion.

  22. RoO – no one is denying the right to demonstrate, just how seems to be the problem… and from what I’ve seen of French demonstrations they are not particularly orderly either…

  23. Oh really Brendano,

    Nice assumption there. It is NOT confirmed. it was never proven it was simply likely. And that settlement as you so politely put it came straight out of the taxpayers pocket.

    A little thing called innocent until proven guilty. No evidence, no case. But it seems this is not important to your point now does it?

    I have no doubt you use language carefully Brendano. No-ne could be as wrong as you are by accident.

  24. Brendano – I don’t think you’ve ever met a NF member… no they weren’t pussy-cats, but as Ferret says, neither were those opposing them.

  25. Demonstrations can and often do create problems of public disorder, though intelligent organisers do everything they can to avoid violence which ill serves their cause. But rulers aren’t wilting violets, left to themselves they become ruthless, it is the power of the street that ultimately controls them, not parliaments which one way another always finish up on the establishment side of the equation. For the rulers to stay in touch with vox populi and not push the bucket too far.The rise of the BNP is the result of the failed immigration policies. I do not support the BNP or the FN but I understand why they exist.

  26. Ferret, I didn’t read the reports closely, and was under the impression that it had been confirmed … I have added ‘almost certainly’. That was not an important aspect of my post, which is not about blame or the actions of the police … it is concerned with the memory of Blair Peach, who, in LKJ’s words, ‘took a simple stand’ against the fascists, as many had done before.

  27. Very Good Brendano,

    So you admit you chose to believe whatever fitted your idiotic romantic ideal of the anti skinhead freedom fighter and argued the toss with absolutely no factual basis what so fucking ever.

    Like I said typical Brendano.

  28. Ferret – we firmly believe that the cold is due to a swine flu jab. I am indefinitely postponing my own jabs…

    ‘E’ll ‘ave to make do with yesterday’s chicken curry… 🙂

  29. Ferret, you merely show yourself up with this kind of overwrought bluster.

    I did not ‘argue the toss’ that the police killed Peach.

    If it pleases you to base so much self-righteous belligerence and emotion on the fact that the police only ‘almost certainly’ killed him, you are to be pitied.

  30. madeoforleans :

    The rise of the BNP is the result of the failed immigration policies. I do not support the BNP or the FN but I understand why they exist.

    Agree – on all counts. Popular discontent will always find a means of expressing itself.

  31. Haven’t time to vent my entire spleen on this but I just feel it’s disgusting that in a “democracy” it took the death of another man at the hands of the police, to bring this buried report on an unlawful killing by police to the public attention.

    A complete disgrace. The police should not be allowed to investigate themselves. Ever.

  32. Oh dear Brendano,

    “If it pleases you to base so much self-righteous belligerence and emotion on the fact that the police only ‘almost certainly’ killed him, you are to be pitied.”

    The ‘likely’ claim is neither here nor there. The whole Peach thing has no effect on me what so ever. It was over 30 years ago and people who play in the middle of the road do not get my sympathy when they get run over.

    You still refuse to understand that my argument is with you and your misrepresentation of the facts of the matter. What further amuses me is that after writing this precious blog within which you even suggest a comenter should read the police reports and come back with a genuine argument, you admit you didn’t read them properly yourself. Did you simply choose to believe the lyrics of some hippie song written by some othe SWP looney?

    I think you did.

  33. Ferret, I have made my points above, and you have wasted enough of my time with your silly posturing. I have better things to do.

    I initially wrote ‘it was confirmed that the police killed him in April 1979’ by way of explanation of why Peach is in the news this week and why I am posting this blog. I thought this was the case; I now accept that the police report only stated that the police almost certainly killed him, and have edited the post accordingly. This was not an important aspect of the post, which was intended to honour an opponent of fascism.

    The idea of Linton Kwesi Johnson as hippie is at least amusing, so thanks for that.

  34. Also, Ferret, your ‘you even suggest a comenter should read the police reports and come back with a genuine argument’ is another example of your failure to understand English. I never said anything remotely like that.

  35. Of course Brendano,

    And Wiki is without doubt the definitive authority on everything.

    Oops sorry, of course not. That would be you.

  36. I don’t think anyone here is defending the mess that the police made of the investigation, or the time it has taken to produce a report.

    What I do question is the ethics of mob rule – whereby one mob, of whatever flavour, is intent on silencing another mob, of an opposite flavour. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how anyone can defend the use of violence as a political means and describe one side as ‘heroes’ and the other as ‘thugs’ – they are all thugs.

    I also wonder why anyone should be surprised that people get hurt, and possibly killed, during this kind of mob action.

  37. And I would have thought ‘hippie music’ would be some long-haired, wild-eyed fish farmer tootling on his flute over a meandering ‘rock’ background.

  38. Boadicea, what you say is too general, in my opinion. One needs to look at individual cases. Were the people who fought the Blackshirts and the police in Cable Street in 1936 really ‘all thugs’?

    I don’t approve of mobs either, but I can see that there is a world of difference between Nazis and people who will oppose Nazis by any means necessary because they find Nazism abhorrent. I don’t think it’s fair to describe the latter, across the board, as ‘thugs’. I knew many people of that sort – serious anti-fascists – and they were good people. A member of the NF at the time cannot possibly have been a good person, in my opinion.

    As I say in the post, why was fighting Nazism in 1979 so different from fighting it in 1939?

  39. Brendano,

    “As I say in the post, why was fighting Nazism in 1979 so different from fighting it in 1939?”

    That comment is not only ridiculous, it is highly disrespectful.

  40. It’s a question, not a comment. I respect everyone that fought Nazism, so how can it possibly be disrespectful to anyone?

  41. Because you idiot,

    During the war many died to protect us from invasion and preserve the rights of the British to exist. One of those rights was free speech.

    Your lefty pinko dead hippy thug hero died trying to deny that right to others.

    The first group were heroes who deserve our respect, Peach was a left wing, extremist thug.

    I was hoping I did not have to spell it out, but it seems you genuinely are that stupid.

  42. ‘Peach was a left wing, extremist thug.’

    Can you support that, Ferret? Chapter and verse, please.

    Do you realize how utterly stupid and pathetic ‘lefty pinko dead hippy thug hero’ makes you look? You really have a serious axe to grind, don’t you? There are some major neuroses in that pink, furry little noggin of yours. Mind you don’t show too much, now … I suspect that it’s all rather ugly. No wonder you always stood up for the BNP on MyT.

    People like my uncle did not die just to protect their country in WWII. They also fought the evil ideology of Nazism, as Peach and his friends were trying to do. The idea that they fought so that Nazis could march unhindered on the streets of London is laughable. Many of them would have taken a highly robust approach in that situation, as the people of the East End had done in 1936.

  43. A member of the NF at the time cannot possibly have been a good person, in my opinion.

    So I’m being ‘too general’, am I? What about the above statement? Before you start labelling my comments as being ‘too general’ take a look at your own.

  44. I am getting a little tired of people putting halos on the extreme left and horns on the extreme right when both try to silence the other by violence.

    Peach and his friends would probably label me as right-wing (and incidentally I also taught special needs children) and try to silence me for standing up for everyone’s right to express their views freely.

  45. Boadicea, perhaps you can enlighten me as to why a good person would join an avowedly racist organization based entirely on hatred of non-whites.

    As I noted above: “In the UK the BNP has done a good job of marketing itself as less ‘extreme’, and this, combined with the stupidity of the government, means that more people will vote for it, unfortunately.

    Back in 1979, when Peach died, there was no Islamic scare and no ‘flood’ of immigration, amd people had little reason to worry about their culture. The National Front were racist thugs, pure and simple.”

  46. The notion that people like Peach would probably ‘label’ you and try to ‘silence’ you is fanciful in the extreme, Boadicea. Did that ever happen?

    With the NF, it wasn’t just a matter of expressing views. It was a violently racist organization.

  47. Brendano,

    Civilised people, i.e. those who are not thugs, do not resort to violence to express their disgust.

    As soon as you employ mob rule you are as bad as the perceived enemy.

    I stand by my statement because it was true. Look at the way his co-thugs martyred him.

  48. As I said, you never met an NF member of that time.

    I knew one extremely well – he did not like the fact that the area of London that he grew up in had ‘no go areas’ where people were afraid to walk for fear of violence, where muggings took place on a daily basis (and the statistics were hidden), where suspicious deaths could not be investigated for fear of being called racist, where children were not being taught (because the immigrant population needed to learn English first), where council housing and nursery places went to immigrants, and where the PC of the council was already pulling out books with references to coloured people … do you really believe that the problems of immigration have only occurred in the last ten years… ?

    There were areas even then, as you yourself have shown, where the indigenous population felt they were under threat and no one was listening…

  49. Ferret, you got extremely self-righteous, uppity and abusive over my saying, in all innocence, that it had been confirmed that the police had killed Peach (as was reported in Araminita’s Times link, incidentally).

    Then you called Peach a thug, and you can’t support it. Thugs carry out thuggish actions. Can you demonstrate that Peach ever carried out a single thuggish or violent action? No, of course you can’t. You’re trying for guilt by association. What a joke.

    I went on many demonstrations in my time. I am not, and have never been, a thug … I am the most gentle person imaginable. And there are many like me.

  50. Bearsy, is it acceptable (to you; I don’t care) for Ferret to call me an idiot and stupid? Does the following not constitute ‘playing the man’?

    ‘So you admit you chose to believe whatever fitted your idiotic romantic ideal of the anti skinhead freedom fighter and argued the toss with absolutely no factual basis what so fucking ever. Like I said typical Brendano.’

    Some clarification would be appreciated.

  51. Bearsy,

    In all fairness, I have not held back on calling Brendano some choice adhoms too.

    He is simply defending his corner in that respect. Put the kettle on chum I have a feeling this is going to be a three bagger. :o)

  52. Boadicea, you have made yourself abundantly clear. You don’t know – you simply assume – that I never met an NF member. I don’t know either.

  53. Ah Brendano,

    And there is the rub. You rip me a new one because I have no proof that Peach was an activist, pinko, left wing thug. But where is your proof that the police killed him, you have none because there isn’t any.

    Ergo, QED, thats a wrap, he shoots he scores and thats all she wrote. Goodnight all and try the fish.

    I win.

  54. Right – point made Brendano. But you do make the assumption that none of them were good people, when it would appear that you don’t even know whether you knew any…

    It was my ultra-left wing friend who went out spoiling for a fight against the ‘forces of darkness’…

  55. Way back whenever Ferret, I remember you saying that the lawyer from Chelsea who was shooting at passers by deserved to be ‘taken out’. When I politely disagreed with you stating that the police should have done everything in their power before opening fire you displayed such a demonstration of anger that I never entered into discourse with you again.

    After careful investigation regaring this case, it emerged that the lawyer had been under severe personal stress and had not fired his gun for twenty minutes. When he was shot dead the gun was in his non firing hand, i.e. his left hand.

    There is no doubt in my mind ferret that you would also be able to rustle up some sound reasoning why Ian Tomlinson and De Menezes were killed. Heaven help your logic and reasoning if it were found that the police were ever found to have been at fault.

    You may not like protests and demonstrations but sometimes it is used by people as a last resort (e.g.miners strike in the 80’s) to change policy. And through the course of history, policy has indeed been changed.

  56. Katy,

    If you are holding a weapon in either hand which you have been firing in a public place, you should expect to be dropped on the spot. I see no problem with the actions of the marksmen. By offing that lunatic they expended aproximately 37 pence worth of high calibre bullet and saved the sane tax payer a fortune in court costs.

    I have no problem with protests and demonstrations. Where in any of my comments here do you see me say that I do? I do have a problem with subversives who infiltrate demos with the express intent of causing a riot or confrontation with the authorities.

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