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  • Writer's pictureHarjot Sidhu

A CONVERSATION ABOUT APRIL 23rd 1979, THE NATIONAL FRONT & THE MURDER OF BLAIR PEACH

Updated: Mar 21

The below is a short piece intended to accompany a longer audio conversation, about the events of April 23rd 1979.


LISTEN TO THE FULL CONVERSATION VIA THUMBNAILS BELOW AND DOWNLOAD ON YOUR DESIRED PLATFORM (REMEMBER TO SUBSCRIBE OR FOLLOW THE PODCAST FOR EASE AND FOR FUTURE EPISODES)





OR, SEARCH FOR 'LONDON WRITING GUY' WHEREVER YOU GET YOUR PODCASTS.


Mention Blair Peach, or April 23rd 1979, to anyone that has any connection to Southall and you’re likely to draw one of many reactions. Shock, anger, frustration or utter despair. Perhaps all of that and more. The story of that day has a personal connection for me. My grandad, Giani Darshan Singh Boparai, was present on the day. Having formerly held the position of President at the Indian Workers Association (IWA), he was one of thousands of protestors that came out to protest when the National Front decided to hold a meeting in Southall town hall. Giani Darshan Singh Boparai was also involved in managing and liaising with the local community on the day, which was made up of a large South Asian and West Indian population. This community saw the National Front meeting in their town as a provocative act, as they naturally would.


The police were seen to be protecting the National Front. From the recollections told to me by my parents and my elders, the police began attacking peaceful protestors at random. It is widely accepted that the Met police and the Special Patrol Group (SPG) used unnecessarily violent and heavy-handed tactics to manage the crowd. Blair Peach, a teacher from New Zealand, was unfortunately murdered as a result of a blow to the head from a police officer. A report was carried out into Blair Peach’s murder, which revealed that Blair was almost certainly killed by police at the demonstration. However, the report was covered up and hidden until 2010, only being released due to fact that it held similarities between Blair Peach’s death and that of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests, in 2009.


This conversation is with Ravi Jain. Ravi, who at the time was the General Secretary for the National Association of Asian Youth. I speak to Ravi about the events that led to this day and the day itself, the political and social climate at the time, as well as the actions of the Met police on April 23rd 1979. Given the current ongoing SpyCops scandal and inquiry, the events of the day are still very topical.



Southall is changing. Those that have lived around the area for long enough will have seen that change taking place before their very eyes. High-rise flats and a renovated train station for the purpose of serving the Elizabeth Line are just some of those changes. Inevitably, this brings with it a changing demographic. How many of the now residents of Southall are aware of what happened on these streets, over 40 years ago? On the same streets they walk every morning, towards Southall station, on their way to work? On the same streets they joyfully stroll down, shopping for this summer's wedding, carrying a cup of Chaiiwala's infamous Karak Chaii?


This story must never be forgotten. It must be told and told again.


LISTEN TO MY CONVERSATION WITH RAVI JAIN





OR, SEARCH FOR 'LONDON WRITING GUY' WHEREVER YOU GET YOUR PODCASTS.


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