Militant anti-fascist selected for GLA seat

(left to right) Unmesh Desai, Labour candidate for City & East at this year's GLA election; Sadiq Khan, Labour candidate for Mayor of London; John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets; and Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham.

(left to right) Unmesh Desai, anti-fascist street fighter turned GLA candidate; Sadiq Khan, Labour candidate for Mayor of London; John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets; and Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham.

Militant anti-fascist Unmesh Desai will be Labour candidate for the Greater London Assembly this year in the City & East constituency, which includes former BNP strongholds of Barking & Dagenham, Newham, and Tower Hamlets as well as the City of London.

He replaces John Biggs, who has represented the constituency since the GLA was created but was last year elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets following a bitter struggle with independent Muslim powerbroker Lutfur Rahman.

In recent years Unmesh Desai has been a classic Labour Party careerist, and has strongly endorsed the British establishment’s ‘Prevent’ strategy against Islamist extremism.

But nationalists will remember his younger days as a notoriously hardline anti-fascist.  He was part of a faction known as the ‘squaddists’ who were expelled from the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party for advocating violence against the NF, BNP and other nationalists.

During the 1980s he worked with fellow ‘squaddists’ in Red Action and Anti-Fascist Action, then co-founded the Newham Monitoring Project, a group of Asian ‘anti-racist’ activists who for years were closely associated with Searchlight.

(Several H&D features over the years have detailed the violent history of these organisations.)

Eventually Desai became a Labour councillor in Newham and is now very much part of the mainstream Labour establishment.

It remains to be seen what the many devout Muslim voters in Tower Hamlets will make of Desai, who is from a Hindu Indian background and once stated: “Searchlight is my bible”.

 

Comments are closed.

  • Find By Category

  • Latest News

  • Follow us on Twitter